Over the last few years more and more manufacturers have released affordable LED lights for video productions. When it comes to LED lights, everything below 400 $ is considered “cheap” for one light. One of the first LED lights we bought was from Litepanels. It did a good job but the price of the light was not exactly low. 450 $ for a small on-camera video light is a bit too much in my mind especially when you don’t use it every day.
Most of the time we use products from Dedolight (Dedo Weigert) for interviews and commercials but then recently discovered Aputure. They have a line called Amaran AL-528 that can be considered affordable. We tested two of three available versions: The AL-528C which has a wheel to regulate brightness from 10-99% and a wheel to change the color temperature from 3200K up to 5500K for daylight. On the AL-528W only the brightness can be changed. The lights have a fixed color temperature of 3200K but a diffusion and an orange (daylight) filter is included to simulate are warmer look. The AL-528W is priced at 180$, the AL-528C at 210$.
I tested the two lights on different shoots over a period of two months and I haven’t had any problems so far. As you can see in the video review they can handle some rain, although they are not water proof. I’ve read that some people had issues with flickering. I haven’t experienced that issue so it’s hard to say why that happens in some cases.
What I like most about them is the beam angle of 75 degrees that is ideal when you want to light relatively wide. The size is a huge factor as well. Especially when travelling a lot small lights can be useful. Just like most other LEDs the Amarans have a display on the backside to show how bright the light actually is in percent. The only thing that I found a bit problematic is that the brightness starts at 10% and not zero. 10 % can be a bit too bright in situations where you don’t want the audience to notice any sort of artificial light, especially for dark scenes. As I mentioned in the video the lights are designed for small setups like an interview with one or two people. For that sort of situation the lights should be in a three meter range but not further away. If you want to light a whole room you would need quite a couple of these but that’s not the sort of light I would use to light more than just a person. They are as big as an iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab and come in small water proof cases. Batteries are not included but you can get some cheap ones from Sony (NP-F750) on eBay or Amazon and they last for a few hours.
Unfortunately we can’t share commercial work we done with it at this point of time but might be able to do so in the future. Below is a BTS pic from a shoot we did for a local news site here in Frankfurt. Even outdoors on a grey winter day the LEDs did a good job.
Combing the W and C is possible although you should keep in mind that the color temperature of the included orange filter for the W version is warmer than the 5500 Kelvin of the C version.
The price difference is not so huge so I would recommend the C version that lets you change the color temperature. I don’t know any other brands that produce LEDs for that sort of price. The usual price for one light doesn’t start below 300$ so I am pretty impressed by AL-528 series.
Written by Moritz Janisch