Stoked! We Like The Luxli Viola On-Camera LED, So We're Giving One Away

It recently became clear that we needed a small, bi-color, diffusable on-camera (or almost on-camera) light. Then we learned about the Luxli Viola, tested it with a little help from our friends, and liked it so much we decided to give one away:

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2017 Lighting Gear of The Year: Aputure LS Mini20 LED Flight Kit

They aren't general purpose lights; they won't light up an entire room; and the daylight heads (two of the three in the flight kit) shine at a constant 7600K, too blue to be considered "daylight." Yet the LS Mini20 LED Flight Kit is my pick for 2017 Lighting Gear of The Year. Here's why.

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Kamerar's D-Fuse: Light Modifiers for Aputure's Excellent Amaran LED Panel

It was Aputure's $299 Amaran HR672C  [B&H|Amazon], an ipad-sized, bi-color LED panel with high color accuracy, wireless remote control, and dual Sony NP style batteries all tucked away in a small travel case that put the final nail in the coffin of my ARRI Softbank IV Fresnel Lighting kit. I kept pestering the guys at Aputure to bring out some light modifiers for it, which they subsequently did with their $49.95 EZ-Box and Grid combo  [B&H|Amazon]. Now accessories manufacturer Kamerar further burnishes the Amaran line's reputation with their own dedicated versions of these modifiers for the same light, the $29.95 D-FUSE Soft box [B&H|Amazon] and $24.95 Grid [Amazon]. They're easier to set up and take down than Aputure's originals, but they're not without issue either.

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Sony a6300 Usable Video Up to ISO 25600? Oh Baby! (Yeah, OK, it Depends)

In part 2 of my just-created series entitled "How Much Low Light Capability Does One Really Need How Often?" I conclude Sony Senior Technical Manager Mark Weir was spot-on when he told me that the a6300 has an extra stop of low light sensitivity over the a6000. Not earth-shattering, but you know what? I think it's pretty amazing - and I think I will rarely need more. For now.

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Litepanels Astra Soft Bi-Color 1x1 LED Panel: Beautiful Light, Beautiful Design

Litepanels basically created the market for LED panels, but competition has grown fierce. Good thing they’ve updated their panel technology, added more sophisticated control (including smartphone app), amped up their industrial design, raised output, and lowered price. It will still be too expensive for some, but it will definitely be well worth it for others – especially those who intend to use them day-in/day-out both in studio and on location. The Astra 1x1 Soft Bi-Color adds to the Astra family the best built-in diffuser I've ever used. 

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When Customers Talk, Aputure Listens

I loved the Aputure Amaran HR 672C  when it first came out, but really wished light modifiers – soft box, grid and snoot – were available for it.  I wasn’t alone, and Aputure listened. How about that?

 

Back in November 2014 I reviewed a small LED panel  the size of an iPad by a company I’d not heard of before: Aputure. The Amaran HR672C was great.  In fact, it was the impetus for eventually selling off my ARRI Softbank IV kit and going all-LED.

Fast forward to NAB 2015, where I connect with the Aputure guys in person. Good people.  Heck, they even asked for feedback on their products which – never one to be shy – gave them.

Fast forward a little bit more and now it’s the fall and the Aputure team is at Photo Plus Expo in New York.  They show off a prototype of a diffuser and egg crate for the HR672C. A little bit after that, I (and I imagine, a bunch of others) get a package with a beta version of the diffuser and a note asking for additional feedback.

Then there’s a Facebook group, which Aputure uses to solicit even more feedback. 

About a month ago (sorry it has taken me so long to report on it), another package arrives in the mail. This time it’s the final product, the Aputure EZ Box Softbox Kit  [B&H|Amazon]  for the 672 and 528 LED panels.

This is way cool.  It’s simple, small, inexpensive at $45 + shipping, and folds up into practically nothing.

While one might expect it to be too small (its surface area is only 1.5x the panel’s own diffuser), given the size of the LED, its price point, its intended use and its output, I think they’ve hit the nail on the head. What I can tell you is that it made a noticeable, pleasing difference when I used it as a key light in a two light set-up for my recent comparison of Sony’s new a63000  [B&H| Amazon]  to the a7R II  [B&H|Amazon] and FS5.

Which, I must confess, surprised me. I liked it.

Do I wish it were even bigger? Yes, but I’m afraid the light output would drop off too quickly. Do I wish there was an egg crate and a snoot, too? Yes, and I hope they come.

To me, the Aputure brand is about excellent value, original products, and nice people. If you own either LED panel, this is worth a close look.

Full disclosure: Aputure sends me stuff from time to time for review.  It often ends up somewhere in my bat cave under a pile of something or other, but I think I’ll leave the EZ Box on the HR672C permanently.