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Have you been there? You know, you or a buddy drops the hammer on a quality animal at last light and you want to get some good pics/video to share with your friends via text message or on your social media platforms — but there isn’t enough light to do it justice? Or maybe you want to film some scenes around the campfire, but the flames don’t give off enough light, and appears to be moving and uneven. Or maybe you even want to punk your buddy and video him (or her) in their sleeping bag with terminal bedhead.

I have faced all of these situations — some, many times. And I’ve tried lots of ways to light up the scene, employing everything from crappy flashlights to vehicle headlights. Nothing has ever been just right. Until now.

Now there is the SureFire FirePak. SureFire is well-known as the maker of some of the world’s best flashlights. With the FirePak they’ve let some of their lighting wizardry creep into the world of smartphones. The FirePak Smartphone Video Illuminator + Charger lighting system allows you to pack a potent light, cell phone charger and a lower lumen general lighting solution in a compact package that’s easy to recharge.

As smartphone cameras continue to evolve, I find myself using my phone to shoot a high percentage of both the photographs and video footage I use professionally. The FirePak helps take this to another level. It’s comprised of two items — the light itself and a custom case for the phone. It’s easy to employ this gem. Encase your phone, then slide the light onto the case when you are ready to use it, and detach it when you’re done.

The unit features two high-performance LEDs; the light output is shaped by two specially-designed reflectors that create a blended beam with up to 1,500 lumens at an effective range of 50 feet. What’s unique about the pair of LED lights is they have asymmetrical 10mm reflectors with one offset in one direction and the other offset 180 degrees. This combination produces full-frame illumination designed for a smartphone’s 16:9 HD aspect ratio. This helps to eliminate both dark spots and vignetting. It has four output levels starting at about 100 lumens that are selectable remotely via a free Bluetooth app (I downloaded it in seconds) or manually with the integrated slide switch, so you can adjust the amount of light to fit the situation. You get about 1 to 1½ hours of light at the highest setting and as much as 10 hours with the lowest setting. To recharge the unit you simply use the micro-USB cable provided with it and you’re good to go. It also features a full USB type-A port so that you can plug your phone into it and use it as a battery bank as well when you find yourself low on power.

One thing I really like about this unit is that it can be used as a serious flashlight when you’re not using it for filming. I can see myself using the brightest light to help me blood trail after dark, picking up bright eyes on the way to a treestand before daylight, and more. You can also prop the unit up away from your phone and activate it remotely via the Bluetooth app up to about 30 feet away, allowing you to customize the lighting for your filming.

The bottom line? This is a really cool and practical solution for illuminating your smartphone’s camera. The amount of battery life you get per charge is enough, and the product itself is built with the same quality that SureFire’s flashlights are built with — and that’s good enough for many military, police and firefighting units around the world. Like most things in life, you pay for quality — especially when it is a professional piece of equipment. This gem has a MSRP of $299, but you can use promo code GMFIREPAK to get it for $149 + a free phone case at www.surefire.com.

It’s hard to describe in words all this unit can do. For a cool video showing just how this thing works, go here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KayPsJBzvfc. For more information, visit. http://www.surefire.com/firepak.html.

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