Video calls and meetings have been common for several years, but they have exploded in the pandemic era. With more and more of us working from home, it’s becoming more important to invest in how we present ourselves digitally. We’ve all been in a Zoom meeting with the one person that has really poor lighting, or the person who has a distracting background.
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The HumanCentric Video Conference Lighting system aims to help you present yourself in a higher quality, professional manner. Ask any photographer what the most important part of a scene is. They will say lighting. You can have the best camera in the world, but the image quality is ruined with bad lighting. That’s where these HumanCentric lights come in. They claim to enhance any webcam you may be using by giving you natural looking lighting, so you can look your best over video.
In this review, I’m going to take a look at the HumanCentric double light system. I do many tasks that require a webcam, like video game streaming, video conferencing, and recording YouTube videos. I’ll put these lights to the test, and let you know if they are worth the investment.
Unboxing the HumanCentric lights was pleasant, with nice and simple packaging. Included in this double light version of their kit is the two lights, power cord, cable management clips, a USB converter, and the user manual. I was really happy to see the USB-C to USB-A converter included. My PC is older and doesn’t have a USB-C port to use, and I think many people will be in the same boat until USB-C is more widely adopted.
Installing the HumanCentric Video Conference Lighting system is pretty simple. Each light has a mounting bracket pre-installed. You just set it on top of your monitor, and then adjust the angle of the bracket to hug the back of the screen. The lights tilt and swivel so that you can always find the perfect angle. In my case, I am installing the double light kit, so I put one light on each side of my 27″ PC display.
The rest of the setup was just as easy. The lights daisy chain (you can have up to 4 lights connected) so you plug one light into the main light, and then you plug the power cable into the main light. The power cable connects to a USB power source. This can be your PC, monitor, or even a USB power brick. In my case, I used the included USB-C to USB-A converter and plugged directly into my PC.
HumanCentric gives you some cable management accessories, including a clip that is suppose to allow the remote control to hang somewhere easily accessible. I allowed mine to just hang to the bottom right of my display for easy access.
There is no other setup required. There isn’t any software to install, you control everything from the controls that are on the power cord. This is an advantage to other video conference light systems in my opinion. I don’t want my PC bloated with tons of software, especially for something as simple as a light. The fact that this HumanCentric double light kit is plug and play is a big plus.
As you can see from the previous photo, I’m coming from a basic ring light webcam. And while it was better than no light, I found it to be a bit too intense, and too focused. It would sort of wash out my face on video, and I found the direct light to be pretty distracting when doing my gaming streams for hours. My initial impression of the HumanCentric system is that the light is much softer, and much more naturally distributed. I’m guessing this is due to the bar shape of the lights, compared to the ring of my previous light.
The controls are very intuitive. Like I mentioned before, basic controls are a plus in my book. You have brightness up and down, color control, and an on/off button. You can quickly and easily make adjustments on the fly, without having to try to fumble with PC software.
Speaking of brightness, these lights get pretty bright. I was using one of the middle settings in a darker room during the day. The double light kit will have more than enough brightness for most situations. You can also adjust the light color to get that perfect balance between the existing lighting in the room. In my case, I have a couple of wall lights that are around 2700K, and I was able to dial in the HumanCentric setting perfectly in seconds.
Check out the before and after photos above to see the effect that proper lighting has on your presentation. In the before picture, the left side of my face is covered in a shadow. My skin tone sort of blends in the the rest of the room. There is a large shadow on my shirt from the microphone. Overall, it just feels stale and lifeless.
Now look at the after photo. The shadow on my face is gone. The microphone shadow is much less pronounced. Since the subject, me, is under much better light, the auto white balance of the camera has adjusted so that I seem like I am popping out of the background. In the before picture, I sort of blended in to the rest of the scene. The major advantage of lighting is that is sets you apart from the scene, and the HumanCentric double lights achieve this perfectly in my opinion.
What I Liked
In my time with the HumanCentric Video Conference Lighting system, here are the positives that stood out:
- Expandable from 1 to 4 lights
- Simple setup
- Easy controls, no PC software required
- Good range of brightness and light colors
What I Didn’t Like
There are a few negatives, though:
- Brightness might be limited using the included USB-A to USB-C converter
- The light bars are pretty large
- Cables can get messy behind your PC without cable management
Overall, I would highly recommend the HumanCentric double light kit for anyone who streams, video calls, or works remotely and needs to video conference often. There is such a benefit from proper lighting as you can see from my before and after pictures. This double light kit makes it super simple to achieve. Just plug and play. Easily adjust the brightness and color temperature on the fly.