Ulanzi VL49 Review (Cheap Video Light!)

Over the past few months, I’ve been rapidly growing the site’s YouTube channel, and I eventually realized that the natural light coming through my windows, while nice, wasn’t quite enough.

Why You Can Trust Us

Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I’ve had my site for years and have been building a YouTube presence for a while (full site history). I’ve now had this Ulanzi light for a couple months and use it for every video (read how I review/test gear).

I knew I needed something to boost my lighting game, but I live in a tiny apartment without much space to put up light stands and whatnot, so that lead me to the Ulanzi: a small, on-camera light cube.

So, in this review, I’ll be covering my impressions of this tiny little light cube after a few months of daily use for video content. Let’s dive in!

  • Very bright (adjustable)
  • Small and compact (no-bs)
  • Good battery and USB-C charging
  • Three cold shoe mounts
  • Cheap construction
  • No diffuser (had to DIY)
  • Screw mount feels flimsy

Verdict: Bright lighting, small, and charges over USB-C. A no-brainer if you want better video lighting on an extreme budget. Keep reading my impressions or check out what others have to say (affiliate link).

Design

So, first off, let’s talk about the actual physical design of the light. It’s a cube, literally just a tiny plastic cube with a light attached to it.

It’s certainly not fancy, and it’s not going to win any beauty contests, but it’s functional. Mine didn’t come with a diffuser (I don’t think it’s supposed to), so I fashioned a really awful DIY diffuser out of tissues and scotch tape. It looks dumb, but it works!

me holding the ulanzi vl49
My DIY “diffuser” made out of scotch tape and tissues. It works great.

Functionality

The first thing you’ll notice is that the cube has three cold shoe mounts. I attach my microphone to the right side typically, but you could even purchase more lights and chain them together. I love the flexibility.

On the back, you’ve got a couple buttons: two arrows that adjust brightness, an “M” button that shows battery percentage (more on that in a second), and of course an On/Off switch.

Although some people might think it’s a bit lackluster, I love how simplistic and no-bs this thing is. Turn it on, hit a couple buttons, and you’re golden.

mic attached to ulanzi vl49 cold shoe mount
The cold shoe mount is great for attaching my mic! You can even chain together lights if you want.

Battery Life

As for battery life, it depends on what level of brightness you’re using. When shooting at level 3, I’ve noticed I get roughly 3 hours of battery life. Sometimes a bit higher, sometimes a bit lower.

Using higher brightness levels will reduce it, of course, while using lower brightness will prolong it. When it finally does die, you can simply plug it in via USB-C. No fussing around with batteries or any sort of silly proprietary chargers.

usb-c cable plugged into ulanzi vl49
Battery life is pretty decent, and it can be charged with just any USB-C cable.

Brightness/Light

As for the light portion itself, it offers 5 different levels of brightness. The lowest setting is pretty tame, while the highest setting will literally burn out your retinas. Awesome!

When I record videos, I tend to sit a couple feet from the camera. With my DIY diffuser, I find that I can typically set the light to level 3 to get good results (feel free to check out my YouTube channel if you want to “see” it).

As I mentioned in the beginning, my studio gets decent natural light, so I also took it into a closet in my house. In relative darkness, it provides decent results. Frankly, if you’re shooting at night or in a dark room, this little light cube probably won’t be the magic solution for good lighting. Still, as a supplement/fill light, I love it.

me giving thumbs up
Setting 5 in a very dark room (about arm’s length)

Should you buy?

So, should you buy? Yeah, probably. This light is stupidly cheap, so even if you don’t end up liking it (I was doubtful), you can either just eat the $20 or send it back for a refund.

If you’re a casual content creator looking to spice up your lighting just a little bit, it’s hard to go wrong with this thing. I’ll leave a purchase link below, thanks for reading!

Buy from Amazon <– affiliate link, so I get a (very very tiny) commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support! <3