When we caught up with Aputure back at NAB, there were two things we were most excited for: the company's very sophisticated RGB color picking light and a whole host of revisions and accessories for its mainstay 120d units.
While "revisions" aren't often exciting, these particular revisions are actually very useful. With the 120d, the two standout features are an improved yoke and simplified cable maintenance on the power pack.
The biggest improvement over the first generation is the redesigned yoke. Whereas the first release had a plastic knob, the new version has a heavier duty metal assembly that holds the unit more tightly. The yoke improvements are key because of how frequently this light unit gets rigged into a lighting box of some sort (either the official Light Dome or another product), creating a very front heavy unit.
One of the major frustrations of users of earlier Aputure lights had been the unit slowly sagging. We got our hands on a pre-release Mark II and did a small shoot with it and were very impressed with its ability to hold not just the official light dome, but also a 6-foot dome we rigged so it that was larger and heavier than we generally risk with the 120d. The new yoke was much more secure and the light didn't sag at all once it was set.
The other major revisions are 30% more light output and better cabling. While 30% more light output is appreciated, this unit serves more as a fill light than a key light for our uses, and thus is frequently dimmed down, so we didn't find ourselves saying "wow, it's brighter." It is, indeed, brighter, but that wasn't the major improvement for us.
We did find ourselves thinking "this cabling feels more secure," which is especially appreciated on a light that we move around set so frequently when dialing in a fill level.
Aputure has updated its accessories, with the biggest news being an automatically pop-uppable light dome. One of our biggest frustrations with the previous light dome was its difficult setup/breakdown, and Aputure has listened to its users and responded with a light top that pops up like an umbrella, which will be very much appreciated.
On top of that, the company has also rolled out a set of barn doors, lined in velvet, the first such velvet lined barn doors that we have ever used. The idea is that by lining the inside of the bar doors in velveteen material, more light will be absorbed, leading to a cleaner edge to the shadow. In practice (since we don't have non-velvet barn doors for the same unit) we do not have anything to compare it with, but it is well built, easy to use, lightweight barn doors that are truly appreciated.
It's very hard to demonstrate "velvet" photographically, but this image should show it's texture.
Now we are all impatiently awaiting some of these revisions to trickle up to the popular 300D, a light we do key with in some interviews and would love more power from. Since the cabling is quite clunky, we would appreciate the unified power pack. That being said, the 120D Mark II is a great start. It's available now, so check it out.
- 5500K Color Temperature
- CRI/TLCI: 96/97
- 18 dB Quiet Fan
- Onboard DMX
- Wired Controller Box
- Wireless Remote with 328' Range
- V-mount Battery Plate
- Includes Dedicated Carrying Bag