Aputure LS 600d Pro – Field Review

December 10th, 2020 icon / message-square 22
Aputure LS 600d Pro – Field Review

HMI can’t help but be looking over their shoulder. High-output lighting sources capable of mimicking sunlight or moonlight over large areas used to be the sole province of hydrargyrum medium-arc iodide lighting (HMI for short).  Enter the new LS 600d Pro fixture from Aputure. It’s part of a group of high-output LED sources that are starting to hit the market with the result that the 600d Pro could become the flagship on indie film and commercial productions in the years to come.  Field review below:

Although we’ve known about the $1890 600d Pro for a while with the manufacturer providing iterations of the build during events pre-pandemic, the fact is it’s finally here in the flesh, and that’s an achievement in itself. There aren’t many LED fixtures that can boast this output/cost-to-size ratio.

Aputure was nice enough to send me a 600d Pro for testing. At CineD we really do try to use the kits we review in a professional, real-stakes environment and the result of this particular shoot is below. It’s from a recent project for the good folks at Nerdist in collaboration with Ubisoft. Happy viewing!

Shot with the Aputure 600d Pro, 300X, MC and 300D MK II. Also several Nanlite Dyno and Rosco Fixtures. DP Credit: Graham Sheldon

The reliability of Aputure products has improved immensely over their MK 1 line of lights and I didn’t have any concerns about throwing the light into the mix on a fast-paced professional shoot.

600d Pro
Warning – the Fresnel 2x is not recommended for the 600d Pro when the fixture is used at 100% output. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Gaffer Arthur Garcia and I used the 600d Pro in various spots throughout the video. It was also used for the bright red logo in the wide shots of the interview setup.

That logo was simply red party gel doubled up over a custom Rosco gobo. Using the Sidus Link App, we maintained Bluetooth mesh control over the fixtures on set, but know that the 600d Pro does have built-in wireless DMX capabilities.

lighting on set
Aputure 600d with 19 degree Spotlight Attachment being set by Gaffer Arthur Garcia. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

First Impressions of the Aputure 600d Pro

If you’ve used an Aputure 300x or 300d MK II (review here), then you can expect the 600d Pro to feel somewhat larger right out of the box.The semi-rigid rolling case that you may be used to from the MK II generation of Aputure lights has, with the 600d Pro, morphed into being nearly double the size and now comes with wheels.

The following ships with the 600d Pro:

  • Lamp Head w/Bowens mount
  • Control Box
  • 55 Degree Hyper Reflector
  • 5-Pin Weatherproof Head Cable (3m)
  • AC Power Cable (6m)
  • VA-Remote RC1+
  • Lightning Clamp
  • Rolling Case
Ballast comparison
Control box for 600d Pro on left and 300d MK II control box on right. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

The control box/ballast of the 600d Pro feels very substantial and is bigger and heavier as compared to my Joker 800 HMI ballast or previous Aputure ballasts. While I have no concerns with placing the lamp head on a C-Stand, once you add the heavier ballast to a C-stand, you might want to consider a rolling combo stand for quicker movement around set.

Ballast

If you have experience working with larger HMI or Tungsten fixtures, none of the weight increases here will bother you. However, if your experience is using a 120d MK II-sized light and control box, then the 40 lb. 600d Pro package will feel like a big increase in size.

All of the quality of life improvements present in the Aputure MK II line carry over here with the 600d Pro. Everything from being able to dim in flicker-free 0.1% increments to the excellent lightning clamp to the variety of effects options are all here. The control box menu is also extremely easy to navigate at this point. And the build quality of the box itself is also way better than MK I versions.

Use Cases for the 600d Pro

The 600d Pro is the kind of high-output fixture (close to a 1200W HMI) that would feel right at home outside a window bouncing daylight into the room or in the woods providing shape to a flat scene in the shade. While the light is rugged enough to survive light rain or water spray, you should cover the fixture during inclement weather. Of course, there are a variety of other use cases and while I didn’t have a chance to try it, the 600d Pro would likely make a heck of a book light key for interviews.

Aputure 600d Pro vs 300d mk II
Lamp head comparison between 300d MK II and 600d Pro. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Although I don’t own batteries with a high enough output to power the 600d Pro to 100% (they are hard to find), if that’s your goal, you’ll want 26V/18A or 28.8V/16A batteries. Or you could use a block battery with 3-pin XLR capable of sending 48V/18A DC power to the control box (easier to find, but more expensive).

You can still power the 600d Pro from a generator or wall power (more than two of each can run off the same circuit). If you’re used to filming with HMI solutions, none of this will be new. 

For Aputure users the self-test for deciding if you need the 600d Pro in your kit is an easy one – are you running your 300d MK II or 300x (at 56K) at 100% output constantly? If yes, it might be time to upgrade to the 600d Pro.

Forza 500 lamp head on right and 600d Pro lamp head on left. Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Competitors

  • Nanlite Forza 500 – The Forza 500 daylight fixture occasionally goes on sale for a few hundred dollars off the list price of $1849 and while the output is less, you get a Bowens mount for accessories.
  • Hive Lighting Super Hornet 575-C – With a price tag over $6,000, the 575-C is in a pricey league of its own with the ability to project tons of different colors and effects.
  • Mole Richardson also has a variety of high output LED fixtures, but these tend to be vastly more expensive when compared to the 600d Pro and physically very large in my experience.

Conclusion:

With a less than $2000 price, the 600d Pro is positioned to be a popular item for rental houses. For any gaffer or owner/op not put off by the size, the 600d Pro can be expected to surpass the daylight 300d MK II.

Aputure 600d Pro
600d Pro with Fresnel 2 attachment. f10 Fresnel coming soon I’m told! Image Credit: Graham Sheldon

Even bigger sets needing higher-output lights will be impressed by the 600d Pro as the appetite for hand-burning lights drawing tons of power is waining in the production community. When you pull the 600d Pro out of the case for the first time, you get a real sense that the 600d Pro is a future-proof purchase. This is where we’re headed and it’s shipping now.

What do you think? Is the 600d Pro worth the price of admission? Will you be adding it to your kit? Let us know in the comments below!

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