Lighting manufacturer Aputure has released the Spotlight Mini Zoom designed specifically for their small 60x and 60d LED COB fixtures. How does it compare with the larger Aputure Spotlight accessory and how versatile do the 60d and 60x fixtures become with this attachment? Let’s find out.
In some respects, the Aputure Spotlight Mini Zoom might be the accessory I didn’t know I needed. Let me explain – the normal-sized Aputure Spotlight Mount meant specifically for the 120D MK II, 300x and 300D MK II line has served me very well over the last year on a variety of shoots, and the variable zoom nature of the 60x and 60d meant I already had a focusable light for a variety of circumstances.
Aputure Spotlight Mini Zoom
It is also worth pointing out that the price tag of the Spotlight Mini Zoom (SMZ for short) is $499 and comes in a good $80 over the $419 price of the LS 60x lighting fixture it was designed for; meaning it may not fit in everyone’s budget. It also matches the cost of the larger Aputure Spotlight Mount although that mount isn’t variable and only includes a single fixed degree lens and no iris for its $499 price tag.
For me, the build quality, capabilities, and included accessories of the Spotlight Mini Zoom justify the cost alone, but the same may not be true for everyone.
First impression and learnings
The Spotlight Mini Zoom accessory (compatible with the 60d/60x) makes very hard cuts of light and zoom to 15-30 degrees possible, in a way that a fresnel style light can’t. I used the new Mini Zoom on several different shoots during a month of testing and learned a couple of things right off the bat:
- This accessory makes the already excellent 60d and 60x operate more like the industry favorite Dedo light ecosystem at a lower overall cost versus an LED Dedo. Given the size of both Aputure fixtures along with the Mini Zoom, the entire fixture is slightly larger versus a Dedo, but you can still get precise cuts of light with a minimal overall footprint.
- You do occasionally see a bit of light leak when the spotlight is attached. This is something to be aware of, but it has never caused a problem with any of the projects I was shooting because the leak would often be out of frame. Nothing a bit of black wrap can’t fix.
- The Mini Spotlight Zoom doesn’t fit the 60d or 60x by using a Bowens mount (like its older cousin) and instead just slides into place. The fixture can still spin in place when mounted to the Mini Spotlight and I actually prefer the Bowens lock on the larger spotlight accessory. A particular gaffer I worked with actually thought the connection was a bit safer when the light was mounted upside down, but I personally didn’t have any issues with the light falling or even being close to losing connection with the Mini Spotlight.
- The case for the Spotlight accessory is actually larger than the fixtures themselves. Not a deal-breaker, but something to keep in mind if you’re trying to build a series of 60d/x fixtures as a simple 3-light interview kit. In general, the Mini Spotlight might be mini when compared to the larger Spotlight, but it more than doubles the size of the tiny 60d/x light. The overall weight is still perfectly fine for a C-stand, but I wouldn’t recommend mounting the SMZ with the light on a small light stand.
The Spotlight Mini Zoom ships in a soft case that you’ll be familiar with if you’ve used any of the more recent generations of Aputure products. Again, one of my favorite parts of the Aputure ecosystem is present here too in the form of a bunch of free accessories like a whopping 15 free M-Size Gobos, Gobo Holder, and an Iris (not included in the larger Spotlight kit).
I don’t care if the kit costs an extra few bucks if it includes many of the tools I’ll need on a day-to-day basis (other manufacturers please take note).
You get the more popular styles of gobos included in the kit, such as window blinds and various organic tree limb and leaf shapes along with a few more Avante Garde geometric shapes that could be handy in a pinch, but I don’t see myself using those very often. Keep in mind that the larger Aputure Spotlight uses B-Size Gobos, so they are not cross-compatible.
When I first began throwing the 60x/d into rotation on sets I was concerned it wouldn’t have enough output to compete with uncontrollable ambient light or even to compete with the 300d and above level of fixtures. I was surprised to learn that I haven’t had that issue yet — mainly because of how I’m using these lights.
You could absolutely build a 3-light interview kit out of these compact fixtures, but you can’t compete with windows and they won’t help you outside. Where they perform spectacularly well is when there is a hair light or in product photography or to highlight a small point of interest in the corner of a frame. For that use — they are becoming a permanent sight on my sets.
The Spotlight Mini Zoom is another impressive accessory from Aputure and I’ve found myself taking it into the field more and more. Accessories are a notorious weak spot for other manufacturers more focused on their flagship fixtures and less on the ecosystem surrounding them and it is nice to see Aputure continue to prioritize this part of their product lineup at prices that don’t seem overblown for what you’re getting.
If you’re already a fan of the 60d/x then this Mini Spotlight Zoom opens up a world of other use cases, but if you find yourself using your 120d MK II and 300d line of fixtures more then maybe the larger Spotlight accessory makes more sense for your workflow.
Aputure LS 60 Softbox
Along with the Mini Spotlight Zoom Aputure also launched the LS 60 Softbox today, also aimed at 60x and 60d owners and priced at a very affordable $59. This softbox is a bit more compact than the other Aputure softboxes and includes two types of diffusion (1.5 stops and 2.5 stops) and a 45-degree control grid. Again, you aren’t starting with a ton of output from these fixtures when compared to their bigger cousins, but in a controlled environment, you can absolutely build a handy compact 3-light kit with these fixtures.
What do you think of the Aputure Spotlight Mini Zoom? Will you be adding this accessory to your kit? Let us know in the comments below!