Affordable LED Production Lights - Aputure Amaran HR672S
Investing and upgrading video and filmmaking gear is pretty much inevitable if you own and run a video production company. Of course renting equipment is and always will be important, especially for bigger productions. However as a freelance filmmaker and cameraman in Austria, I like the flexibility that comes with owning my own professional equipment. It gives me the “luxury” of being spontaneous and ready to produce, film and edit projects for clients who call me up at the last minute and need a video produced, shot and edited “yesterday” ;)
I’ve had my trusty soft box lights for years now when filming videos. They’ve been very good to me and I’ll continue to use them on my video shoots, however for a while I’ve felt the need to upgrade and add some good quality LED lights to my equipment list.
The problem is that good professional LEDs can get pretty expensive. If you don’t do your research and end up buying cheap LEDs with no regards to its’ Color Rendering Index (CRI) you’ll most likely wind up with lights that will eventually cast a “green spill” on whatever it is you’re filming. CRI refers to the quality and accuracy of the LED color. Basically the higher the CRI value, the better the quality and accuracy of the light (100 CRI being the highest value).
The Aputure Amaran HR672 has a CRI of 95+, which they proudly display on the lights’ carrying case.
After researching online and getting opinions from colleagues who also work in the video and film industry here in Vienna, I decided to purchase the Amaran HR672S LED spot light from Aputure. The HR672 series comes in three variations: The “W” series which has a wider beam angle and serves mostly as a “flood light”, the “C” series is bi-color with a variable color temperature ranging from 3200-5500K, and finally the “S” series which serves as a spot light.
I opted for the “S” version since I didn’t want to sacrifice brightness during my video productions. It emits 18,800 lux compared to the 7,300 lux and 6,620 lux of the “W” and “C” versions respectively. I’d rather gel my lights if I need a different temperature, and diffuse the light myself if I need it softer.
It emits 4636.8 lumens of light, which is equal to about a 400W incandescent light. While filming outside it’s strong enough to act as a fill or accent light, and inside or at nighttime it’s great as a key-light. These LEDs are extremely portable and lightweight, about the size of an iPad, so they’re great not only for bigger video productions but also for the sole videographer, cameraman or filmmaker during run-and-gun video shoots.
The light comes with two plastic diffusers that snap in front of the LED (one tungsten and one diffusion), however from my experience it doesn’t do much to dissipate the light.
When filming interviews I usually like to have a soft dissipated light on the subject, so adding a simple diffusion in front of the HR672S does the trick quite nicely. Aputure also sells a softbox/diffuser that can be mounted in front of the LEDs, however from the information I read online it seems like it takes up a while to assemble, so for now I’ll stick to my own diffusing methods since most of the time my video productions schedules are pretty tight. And as a working cameraman and videographer in Austria who half the time is filming and lugging gear around alone, the less equipment I have to carry, the better.
The kit comes with an adjustable bracket, so it pretty much attaches to any light stand. It runs on two Sony NPF type batteries and I was very impressed that two heavy-duty batteries were also included in the shipment. In order to charge the batteries you plug the power supply directly to the panel itself. A great feature about this is you can use the lights during your video productions while at the same time your batteries are being charged.
Another highlight is that you can control the brightness (or color temperature if you have the “C” version) remotely, making it extremely convenient for any cameraman, videographer or cinematographer on set. This means you don’t need to physically go to the lights and control the intensity manually, but simply stay behind the camera and adjust the brightness accordingly while looking through your monitor or viewfinder.
The lights are definitely not perfect, for example the three-pin socket in the back is a bit flimsy when connected to the panel and would definitely get damaged if accidentally yanked during a video shoot. My solution was to use a velcro strap wrapped around the cable and light-stand to keep the tension out of it. The panels are made out of plastic and would definitely not survive if dropped on the floor. Also, removing the batteries from the LED panel isn’t very smooth and requires a bit “force”.
But all in all there’s really no point in complaining. When it comes to video production lighting gear these LEDs gives you (in my opinion) the biggest bang for your buck in this price range (€250 - €300). I would definitely recommend it to any working cameraman, cinematographer, filmmaker or videographer who is looking for compact good quality LED lights to use in their video productions.
Posted by Vitor Goncalves
Vitor is a filmmaker, cameraman and editor based in Vienna, Austria. He is the owner of Reel Arts Media.