Little lights are finally getting to the place where they are starting to be pretty damn useful. While a decade ago you might have an on-camera unit that put out little power, required a cable running to a battery on your belt, and petered out quickly, LED technology is allowing for the creation of small, light, powerful units that last a long time on a charge that genuinely serve a purpose on set.
Whether it's mounted to the camera for a bit of eyesight or fill, hidden in set for a "special" light on a key prop, or strapped to an underwater rig, it's easy to find uses for little LED's when you need them. Aputure, one of the leaders in that field, has just released their new MW unit, which brings their "chip on board" technology (best known from their popular 300D) to small units for the first time, creating a versatile, bright, powerful little do everything unit.
Introducing the Aputure Amaran MW
In contrast to units like the Blindspot, another ultra bright that has been popular but uses the common Sony LP battery format, the MW has an internal battery. While this might be initially frustrating, the 80 minutes of time you get at full power, or 24 hours you get at low power, should be plenty for more applications, and the internal battery has one huge benefit: this little puppy is waterproof to 10 meters. That means not only is this a great unit for working in the rain or doing a special light in an aquarium, it's a full on dive light. It charges via USB-C, with a rubber port cap to ensure waterproofness.
While the unit itself can't change color temperature and is only 6500°, it does come with pre-cut color filters of tough plastic that mount with the included clip to make it easy to dial in the precise light you are looking for. With a high CRI it should create accurate color reproduction and pleasing skin tones.
On top of that it comes with pre-programmed effects including lightning, paparazzi, TV effect and more that should make it a valuable component of a lighting setup and useful for storytelling. It also comes with an included diffuser for taking the edge off.
One thing we especially appreciate in the design is that the 1/4" thread mount appears to be fully replaceable. There are two little screws holding it on, and as many filmmakers know the hard way, 1/4-20 mounts sometimes strip through no fault of the user; lights get knocked off their mounts, someone on set grabs it at the wrong angle, or you cross thread it in the middle of the night. Generally once you strip the mount the whole unit is toast, so it's nice to see details like a replaceable mount to keep these units alive even after some wear and tear.
Another thing to be conscious of is that packing that much light into such a small package is going to kick up a lot of heat. We had our hands on one, and it gets warm. This isn't going to be a light unit for hand held work without sticking it on some sort of arm or handle to protect your fingers, or wearing leather gloves. Of course, cooling is built in with the fins, and the accessories are all clearly designed to handle that level of heat. And that heat won't matter at all underwater.
- Twice as bright than the Amaran MX, the previous brightest mini LED on the market
- Chip on board LED technology (same LED type as the 300d, first in a mini LED)
- 5 Special Effects: lightning, TV, fireworks, paparazzi, and faulty bulb
- Built-in lithium battery
- 80 minutes @ max output, 24 hours @ minimum
- Charge time: 2 hours
- CRI and TLCI rating: 95+
- IP68 dust and waterproof up to 10 meters (32.8 feet)
- 5500K daylight balance with 6 gels: CTO, CTB, 1/2 CTO & CTB, 1/4 CTO & CTB
- All-metal body design