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This $28 light stick adds drama to photos and video without breaking the bank

The only thing better than one of these lights is two of them. You can even play with 20 different built-in effects.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Reviewed by Amy Lieu
Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light emitting a red light

Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand 

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

If you want to take your photography or videography to the next level, there's one accessory that I highly recommend getting: a light. 

Getting good light on the subject -- whether that be you in a selfie, product photos for Etsy or eBay, still life, vlogging, or whatever -- can make a massive difference.

Also: This $17 headlamp is as close to perfection as lights get

Problem is, finding a decent light that doesn't break the bank is tricky. Professional photography gear can set you back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.

So, imagine my surprise when I found a light that was packed with high-end features, and a rechargeable battery, for only $28.

The Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand ticks all the boxes for me. 

View at Amazon

Neewer TL96RGB tech specs

  • LED count: 96 RGB
  • Color: Full RGB range
  • Output: 6W, 800 lux/0.5 m
  • Illumination angle: 120°
  • Color temperature: 2500K (warm white) to 8500K (cold white)
  • Brightness adjustment: 0 – 100%
  • Power: 2500mAh rechargeable lithium battery USB-C charging
  • Battery life: 2 hours
  • Attachment features: Magnet and ¼-20 screw thread on both ends
  • Display: OLED
  • Special effects features: 20
  • Length: 10.8cm/4.3 inch
  • Width: 4cm/1.6 inch
  • Weight: 134g/4.7oz 

I like this light; I like it a lot.

Everything from its compact size, brilliant battery life, super light output, and the dazzling array of colors it can create make it an absolute powerhouse.

Also: My favorite USB-C accessory of all time scores a magnetic upgrade

On the back of the unit are four buttons -- on/off, up, down, and mode -- along with a small OLED display and a USB-C charging port. The buttons allow you to control the color, intensity, and mode of the light, as well as choose from 20 different effects -- such as cop car, lightning, fireworks, TV, candle, pulse effect, and more.

TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand emitting a blue light

The cool "Cop Car" blue light mode

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

The controls are easy to master quickly, and quite simple compared to some other portable lights I've used that use fiddly rotating wheels and tiny buttons.

The OLED display on the back gives you an easy-to-read yet discreet overview of what the light is doing.

OLED display, charging port and controls on the back of the Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand

OLED display, charging port, and controls are seen on the back of the Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

There's a ¼-20 tripod screw thread top and bottom for attaching the light to tripods and stands. The back of the light is also magnetic, allowing it to be stuck onto metal surfaces.

Battery life is a very acceptable two hours, but the lights can also be run from power banks or wall chargers, allowing for unlimited run time.

Also: This $30 USB-C cable includes a surprisingly awesome feature

The only thing better than one light is, well, two of them. And Neewer knows this and offers them in a twin pack. I find that by having two, I can get far better control over the lighting, and generate truly professional results from two lights that I can slip into my pocket. 

Two Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand emitting red and blue light

Two lights are better than one!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

They are also super useful for illuminating objects in my light box when taking product photos.

Product photography in my light box

Product photography is displayed in my lightbox.

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

If you're looking for a light -- or two -- to help take your photos and video to the next level, the Neewer TL96RGB magnetic handheld light wand is perfect. The price and ease of use make them great for beginners, but the great light output and cool features mean they'll also be relevant once you've made the leap to being a professional. 

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