Sometimes you have those shoots where you don’t need a bunch of big/bulky equipment to get the job done.
I was, and still kind of am, a mostly run-and-gun shooter. Most of the time lighting a scene or subject must be done quickly. without sacrificing quality. So what’s the compromise?
We wanted a small but reliable lighting kit and after doing some digging, we picked up the Aputure MC 4-Light Travel Kit. While the price tag is on the higher side compared to other options, they haven’t let us down yet.
The Aputure MC 4-Light Kit
This particular kit came with four lights in a hard shell case with wireless charging (which technically isn’t completely wireless by the way since you have to plug the case into the wall), two diffusion rubbers (should come with four but whatever), and two Cold Shoe Ball Head Adapters.
The ability to charge all four lights with just one cable is neat and they charge pretty quickly using USB-C. Wireless charging from the wall will take a bit longer though at around three and a half hours, so just be prepared for that. The case also has two five amp usb ports which is handy on set to recharge or power other devices like a phone or even a wireless video receiver like our Teradek Bolt 4K LT 750 Wireless Transmitter and Receiver Kit.
The lights use Sidus Mesh technology so you can control everything from lighting pattern to temperature and intensity from the free Sidus Link app. You also get a readout of what each battery is at so you’re not left guessing how long they have before they die. It dynamically updates based on settings like intensity. At max brightness they will last around two hours and at minimum brightness they can last up to 15 hours.
Apparently Sidus Mesh allows 100 devices to be connected to a network at once so you can technically run 100 of these things at once, if anyone does this please send us a video.
Also this is the first mini LED kit that offers fine CCT control so you can accurately get any color temperature out of these things. After some readings taken on our Sekonic Spectomaster Meter (401-800) with all of the lights together, the Tungsten reading was around 3100 Kelvin and the Daylight reading was around 5400 Kelvin. Not perfect but very close.
Aputure also claims that these lights have a CRI of 96+ but our color meter showed 95 to 95.5 for both Tungsten and Daylight. You can point your device straight at a light source and the lights will match that color temp in seconds. To our surprise, the accuracy when doing this is pretty solid. It’s not perfect but the fact that it gets you in the ballpark at all with just your camera is a nice feature to have in a pinch.
The Results are in: I Love this Kit
I personally love the versatility of these as accent lighting. The backside of the lights are magnetic so you can stick them on any metal surface. We used them for music video accent lighting as they add another layer of depth to these scenes. We also stuck them under some dark cabinets for a shoot we did for the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and with the right color temperature they look extremely natural, almost like they were built-in to the cabinets.
If YouTube reviews are your thing, I shot this product video of our RED Helium with just these lights. Also if you’re constantly on video calls or stream on Twitch, these work great as a webcam light or background light. The practical uses for these are really endless if you think about it.
With all being said, my final thoughts are this is a great piece of gear that we didn’t really know we needed.
Small, simple, and you can keep them in your bag and use them almost spontaneously. Like I said before, they work exceptionally well with run and gun setups and for shoots where you can use a bit of accent lighting. They aren’t powerful enough to be used as a key light on professional shoots but will work fine as a natural light source for Twitch or Zoom calls. The price tag compared to other options from NanLite or Godox is a bit on the expensive side, but Aputure is a great brand to get behind compared to the others and I think these are worth the extra cash.
Like most things in the film and photography world, it really comes down to your workflow and how well you would be able to utilize these lights in your kit. However, I do think every run-and-gun shooter should have a kit like this in their arsenal. Find what works for you and get creative with it!
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