NAB 2016: Aputure COB 120t affordable 1500 watt equivalent LED hard light

Aputure launched several new lights at NAB this year. Alongside the diminutive LS-C20, which we previously reported, they also had a new high output single source LED hard light, the COB 120t.

The big news with this light is that Aputure claims the light has a super bright 1500-watt-equivalent output, coupled with high colour accuracy (claimed 98.4 TLCi), all for a low price starting at $589 US. On top of that, the light can be battery powered – something that a lot of equivalent powerful lights from other makers can’t do.

Being a single source light means that the shadows are well defined, unlike with a regular LED panel. It also makes it easy to use with light modifiers like a Fresnel, umbrella, or parabolic dome. Where the design departs from those of more expensive fixtures from ARRI, Litepanels or Lupolux is that there is no integrated Fresnel system. Aputure have opted instead for an old school Bowens S mount for a Fresnel add-on and other accessories. The S mount is commonly found on photographic strobe head and you’ll probably be familiar with these if you ever did studio photography in the past. The advantage of using these is that there are plenty of cheap compatible light modifiers out there already. Aputure’s Fresnel accessory can adjust between a 42 and 12 degree beam angle. In addition, Aputure will have its own low cost umbrella and 3ft parabolic diffuser. The parabolic diffuser is particularly interesting as it costs just $150 US.

The light can be dimmed directly, or remotely using Aputure’s own controller. It runs cool, but there is still a quiet fan inside to keep the temperature regulated. It needs an external power supply which can run either on mains, or from a V-Lock or AB battery (you need to specify the adapter plate). This makes it very versatile for news and documentary shooters.

Looking at the light my main concern for news users would be around its ability to withstand the elements. There doesn’t appear to be any weatherproofing which is unsurprising given the price.

The first version of the CB 120t is due out at the end of May for $589. Initially it will be available as a tungsten light, with daylight and bi-colour versions coming later. Pricing for the daylight and bi-colour versions wasn’t given at the show, but expect them to be more.

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