The tiny MC light from Aputure has had quite the journey existing first as a standalone product and then being bundled into a 4-light kit and finally a 12-light “production” kit complete with hard case and accessories. What else is there to say about the newest form of the Aputure RGBWW MC fixture now in larger kit form? Quite a lot actually.
Aputure MC 12 Light Kit – First Impressions
The Aputure MC 12-Light Production Kit feels destined for rental houses or professional owner operators at first glance. Out of the box, it feels engineered for professional use in the field, and linking everything to my Sidus Link App on my iPhone took only a few minutes.
The exterior itself feels like it can take some real hits in the normal course of production and the case becomes a wireless Qi charging station through the use of a standard OSHA style charging cable that is easy to find on most sets (common with monitors and PC’s especially) — the 4-light MC kit uses a proprietary power cable that would be tricky to swap out in an emergency.
When the 4-light MC kit first started shipping over the summer I had a few quibbles in our first look article. For one, the soft accessories pouch exists separately from the hard case for the 4-light kit making it yet another item you’ll have to remember to bring or you could find yourself short on critical items in the field. That’s no longer an issue with the 12-light kit and all the accessories fit neatly into a hidden slide-out drawer that is accessed on the side of the case. This hidden compartment has a Dan Brown DaVinci Code feel to it and it’s sort of exciting to slide it out and find the following accessories:
- 4 x Silicone Rubber Diffuser
- 4 x Mini Cold Shoe Ball Head
- 2 x USB-C Charging Cables
- 3m Adhesive Mounting Pads
Another minor quibble I had with the 4-light MC Kit is that it didn’t ship with enough diffusers or ball head cold shoes for all the lights included in that kit. The same is true here and this time the accessory drawer certainly has enough space to fit more than the above list so I’m a little unsure why Aputure didn’t decide to include more accessories. For me, the rubber diffuser accessory specifically makes the MC fixture work a little better as an in-scene background practical, and new owners of the 12-light kit may want to purchase a few more a la carte accessories to add to the kit.
I asked the Aputure marketing team about the number of included accessories in the kit and they responded:
“The 12-Light Kit comes with four of these sets [Rubber Diffuser/Ball Head] because it is what is able to cleanly fit inside of the accessory drawer, including the cables. The reason the accessory drawer was created was to take advantage of the empty space left by the case’s power supply. The power supply takes up one of the lower sections of the case and dictates the case’s minimum depth. With the remaining empty space, we decided to make it useful by inserting the drawer, which, while having the benefit of keeping everything very neat and compact, provides limited space for storage.”– Aputure Team
For those wanting an equal number of accessories per MC light Aputure is also coming out with an 8-light kit:
“We anticipated, that while some people may be satisfied with the accessories that come with the Production Kit, other users, and rental houses, might appreciate the ability to have a diffuser and ball head for each light.
In the next couple of months, the MC 8-Light Accessory Kit will be available and purchasable and will include 8x silicone diffusers, and 8x cold shoe ball heads, enclosed in a durable EVA foam case, to balance the protective qualities of the case and lightweight design.”– Aputure Team
It also sounds like empty 4-light and 12-light charging cases along with a la carte MC accessories will be available “within the next few months.” Exciting news there!
Check out the introductory video from Aputure for the 12-light kit below:
A quick note about weatherproofing: The 12-light Production Kit does have large cooling vents on the sides (see image below), so this might not be the kit you want to leave in the rain. As I mentioned, it seems absolutely about to take some physical hits in the equipment van or during the normal course of production.
By now you may have read my initial field review on the Aputure MC and the breakdown of the 4-Light MC kit and many of my thoughts on the MC fixture can be found spread out over those two articles, but I’ve now had the opportunity to spend some real time with the MC over the months. In my opinion, I’ve found the MC fixture great in a variety of scenarios (this list is obviously different for everyone):
- Background in-scene practical (becomes a more pleasing pin-point source to my eye with the diffuser).
- Table Top – App control and the wide variety of available colors and effects make this a no-brainer. The attached magnets make mounting especially easy.
- Eye-Light – Dim down the MC to a few percentage points in terms of output and put it next to your lens close to your subject and you’ll have a great eye-light.
- Live Streaming – Lately I’ve been doing more live streams as a result of the pandemic and the MC finds an easy home on my office desk!
I’m aware this is a DP cliché, but I found the 4-light kit to be fine for things like live streams and table top commercial uses, but I always wanted more MC lights for highlighting different elements in the background of shots. So, what is the perfect number of MC lights to have at your disposal you ask? Twelve! For me, the answer is twelve. You folks in the music video world may laugh at that and need more, but over the past few weeks of shooting I’ve been very happy with the size of this kit and I’ve found that I might use as many as eight MC lights in a given scene and leave four charging in reserve to swap out as the battery dies.
You’ll want to have a charging rotation plan in mind for most shoots because the Qi charging does take a few hours to charge all 12-fixtures to full. Like the 4-light kit, the 12-light kit has several USB out ports for charging additional MC lights or your favorite mobile device.
A few well placed MC lights should also excel for interior process car filming, but I haven’t had an opportunity to test that theory out yet. The Sidus 1.2 update complete with the Sidus Pro FX setting seems great for this, but more on that in a followup article.
Are you primarily looking for a high CRI fixture to swap out existing house lamp practicals? Personally I would suggest waiting for the Aputure bulb for that specific use case. Some early details on the bulb HERE.
A little back of the envelope math tells you you’re paying a touch over $400 for the wireless charging case if you factor in the $90/each cost of the twelve MC lights. You’ll also have to consider not having quite as many accessories versus purchasing the MC lights individually, but the cost of the case seems right to me considering the power input options and the three available USB out ports. This all adds up to a contained package that’s easy to use in the middle of a fast production day and the value there should not be taken for granted.
For those interested in occasionally renting your kit out the 12-light kit is the perfect size versus the 4-light kit or some a la carte DIY solution once you add a few additional accessories. If you already enjoy working with the Aputure MC light then the 12-light Production Kit is the perfect turn-key option.
The Aputure MC 12-Light Production Kit is shipping now for $1,499.00.
What do you think about having a 12 light kit? Is this something you can see yourself using during your production? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.