Product Review: Manfrotto Hybrid ML 840 H LED Light

Manfrotto ML 840 H
with diffusion gel on a film camera.

You can flash it, soften it, angle it, pivot it and even dim it down. It mounts on DSLR cameras, stands, camcorders, film cameras, and micro 4/3rds cameras.

Manfrotto’s bright, rechargeable Hybrid ML 840 H LED Light fits snugly into your camera’s hot shoe on top of your DSLR, film or micro 4/3rds camera. No batteries are needed, because it has a built in lithium battery. A synthesis of LED lighting and flash, Manfrotto’s hybrid light is positioned midway between a flash strobe and a continuous light, creating a cool new way to light videography and still photography, especially for night or low light shooting.

The light is balanced for daylight at 5600° Kelvin. It beams out a continuous light for 1.5 hours operation after a 6 hour charging session. With a well-crafted dimmer knob on the side, a hot shoe and tripod mount for landscape or portrait framing, the ML 840 light is easy to use.

Manfrotto includes three gels that slip easily in front of the 84 LED array: a 1/4 amber warming gel, a clear white diffusion gel and a daylight/interior correction filter. With the gels, you can easily and professionally add what used to require expensive warming filters.

The image below shows what the light looks like: 1) without a gel, 2) with the clear white softening gel, 3) with the slight amber warming gel, and 4) with the full amber warming gel.


The company has been making lighting and camera supports for 40 years and their experience shows with design, such as the 3 diffusion gels that slide easily in front of the 84 LED array. There was no holder for the gels, so including one would have been a good idea, since in my experience plastic gels can get scratched with use.

While ball head tripod foot on the unit did not appear sturdy at first, in practice it worked well, slid easily into the flash hot shoe and allowed for portrait and landscape orientation.

The Flash

Triggering at 1/1000th of second, the ML 840 H flash worked consistently through all testing when connected to my camera with the sync cable. Notably, the unit stayed cool with no heat issues. The flash increases the video output by 2 stops. The light is most useful in low light and for fill flash. Its presence in the scene, as a fill light in bright sun for example, is not overpowering. Manfrotto designed a flash “ready light” on the back of the MH 840, where it is easy to see. I would have preferred having the power indicator light on the back as well as it was difficult to see in daylight due to its placement on the bottom of the unit. The unit connects to the camera with a standard sync cable.

Since it is lightweight, hand holding the unit off-camera lets you put a touch of warm side light on your photo subject. It is dimmable from 1% to 100%.

The unit compliments your strobes, but will probably not replace them. Its touch of soft amber toned light for video interview work is a strong point. I noted consistent color on all exposures. The spread of the LED’s light is directed to a medium size focused beam, so the light appears more natural when you are using a portrait lens. With a wide angle lens, the light does not look as natural, at least when the unit is mounted on the camera hot shoe.

This new lightweight unit with its LED and flash lighting will open up new possibilities for videography and still photography.

You can view an edgy video of night shooting with Manfrotto’s LED lights here:

Add this to your Holiday Photographer’s Toolkit list.

Jimages Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ****

Visit the Manfrotto Hybrid ML 840 H LED Light webpage for more information.

by Jim Autin, M.A. www.
Review and photos: © 2012 Jim Austin. All Rights Reserved.

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