Aputure announced the LS 300d II at NAB 2019, and I had a look at the new updated version at the show. The update is substantial. Aputure introduced the LS 300d back in 2017, and with a lot of user feedback, the Mark II was born with an all-new controller that has a fanless power ballast integrated into it. This might be the most significant part of the update as the original has a fan that is pretty loud and requires a long power cable to get it away from microphones. I use the 300d a lot in my studio setup without issue, but the long cable to get the ballast away is a must.
What’s New With LS 300d II? A lot!
While the fixture looks similar, the updates are vast from an all-new controller to a case that doubles as a seat.
Included in the Kit
- Aputure LS 300d II
- Controller with built-in ballast
- Modifier/Reflector 2.0
- Quick Release and clamp
- Neutrik Power Cable
- Neutrik XLR cable to fixture
- Hard Case
- Shoulder strap
Output, CRI & Kelvin Performance
Let’s just get to it. I know you want the nitty-gritty. The original LS 300d output, color, and Kelvin are pretty good. Check out my original review of the LS 300d. So, how much output does the new LS 300d II have? Well, to find out I took some measurements with a Sekonic C-700 at a distance of 1m (3.28ft).
Above you can see that the 300d II using the modifier produced an output of 45,600lx at a distance of 1m (3.28ft). It also recorded a Kelvin color temperature 5197K.
The output is impressive when using the new Modifier 2.0. It has a 55° reflector as opposed to the originals 60°. By slightly narrowing the beam and adding a new redesigned inner shape and coating of the reflector, Aputure was able to increase the output of the 300d II by more than three times when compared to the original modifier design. Impressive, to say the least.
As for Kelvin. The color temperature of the light was more than 300K off being a true 5600K source. This isn’t too far off and if critical color matching is needed, adding a little CC gel will correct it without knocking the output down too much.
It was interesting to see that the Kelvin color temperature of the fixture changes slightly depending on whether you are using it with or without the modifier.
This could be caused by the new coating that is present on Modifier 2.0. Very interesting, indeed.
You can see the output for the light without the modifier attached. The light recorded an output of 11,800lx and a Kelvin color temperature of 5352K.
Head to Head
How does the 300d II compare to the original when it comes to output and Kelvin color temperature?
|Aputure 300d w/ COB upgrade||Aputure 300d II|
|Output: 12300lx||Output: 11800lx|
|Kelvin Color temperature: 5583K||Kelvin Color temperature: 5352K|
|Output with modifier: 10700lx||Output with modifier: 45600lx|
|Kelvin Color temperature: 5583K||Kelvin Color temperature: 5197K|
The original 300d COB had a green cast issue that was fixed with a new COB. This also increased the output to 12,300lx. With the V1 modifier attached to the new LS 300d II, I got a reading of 15,300lx. That makes the 300d II 3000lx brighter. The new Mark II has approximately 24% more output. The Kelvin color temperature is also closer to true 5600k on version 1.
The new modifier has a whopping 366% more output than the original modifier. I had to do a double-take on the results. With the overall improved build and increased output is impressive. This seems to be a theme here with the LS 300d II.
Now that we have seen the output and Kelvin color accuracy let’s have a look at color rendering.
Above you can see the color rendering scores for the 300d II. The light had an average CRI (R1-R8) of 97.0 and an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 95.64.
These results are very impressive. As far as color rendering scores are concerned, with an extended CRI (R1-R15) of 95.64, the Aperture 300d II is right up there with some of the best lights we have ever tested.
So how do the color rendering scores compare to the original 300d? Below you can see a comparison table.
|Aputure 300d II||Aputure 300d w/ upgraded COB|
|CRI (R1-R8): 97.0||CRI (R1-R8): 96.5|
|Extended CRI (R1-R15): 95.64||Extended CRI (R1-R15): 94.32|
|R9 (red): 91.1||R9 (red): 83.1|
|R13: 98.7||R13: 99|
|R15: 97.7||R15: 97.8|
As you can see, Aperture has managed to increase the color rendering scores while also increasing the lights output. Sometimes manufacturers increase the output by sacrificing some of the color accuracies, but that is certainly not the case with Aputure.
Above you can see the spectral distribution of the 300d II. The light has a really nice full-color spectrum for a 5600K fixture and no big spikes.
This is one of the best spectral responses I have seen from a 5600K fixture.
Above you can see the spectral response of the original 300d. Aputure has significantly improved the spectral response on the 300d II.
LS 300d II Controller
I mentioned earlier the controller is a big update with the new all in one design without a separate ballast, and it’s built like a tank. The controls are similar to the original but with more features to choose from.
The antennas are now inside the controller. I always felt I was going to break those off. It hasn’t happened, but it did worry me. Not anymore! With the build being much improved, the overall weight is now 2.270 kg or 5 lbs however, the length is much shorter. I’ll take the increased weight for fewer components and overall better build quality. Setting up the new 300d II is also faster with fewer cables and clutter.
The controller is fanless and uses heatsinks to keep it cool, making it completely silent. This alone is a significant improvement.
The LS 300d II now has some built-in effects similar to the LS 120d II.
built-in lighting FX
- Faulty Bulb
- More coming in future firmware updates
Mounting Options for the Controller
The new quick-release design is a big upgrade from using a strap. On the side is a mounting plate that pops into the locking stand clamp. The whole thing is very solid and secure, plus it’s easy to take off.
On top is a military-grade paracord strap for hanging on a light stand lock down knob. This could be a great counterbalance on the end of an arm as well. It’s nice to have options.
The side with the QR plate has metal feet added for setting on a flat surface or the ground.
On both sides are where the V-Mount or Gold Mount batteries slide on. A nice upgrade is the option to use one battery but at the cost of half the output. Aputure recommends a 15 amp continuous discharge batterie with 12-16.8 volts.
The controller has a USB input for future firmware updates.
Upgraded Power Cables
I like that Aputure includes a high-quality 6m or 20-foot NEUTRIK cable with the 300d II. This might allow me not to have to grab an extra stinger.
By utilizing a standard 3m or 10-foot male-to-female 5-pin XLR, you can easily replace the header cable in a pinch if lost or damaged. An optional 7.5m 5-pin XLR is also available, letting you keep your control box within arm’s reach while giving you the ability to rig your light anywhere you want, from a menace arm to a tall goalpost rig.
Seems a lot of new lights these days are using a smartphone to control them. The 300d II also will be compatible with an app at a later time however, the kit includes a wireless remote. I do prefer a dedicated remote so my iPhone isn’t draining on set controlling several lights.
A new feature I like is the fixture can be powered up using the remote without having the fixture powered on first. This is handy if the controller is not reachable. Simply double press the power button and the C300d II is powered on and ready. The remote controls the output level as well as the special effects offered.
Output from 0%-100%
Aputure added the much wanted 0%-100% step-less dimming control. Now you can use the LS 300d II in low- light environments or go full blast when needed. Another new setting for DMX use is four different dimming curves: Linear, Logarithmic, Exponential, and S-Curve.
The 300d Mark II also features a “studio mode” that allows the lights to turn on and be controlled immediately upon receiving power, making it perfect for DMX lighting grids.
Redesigned Carrying Case
Most cases that come with products don’t work that well and get replaced. The newly designed LS 300d II case is one I would use. The new 300d Mark II carrying case has ABS honeycomb walls with a soft exterior lining that can support up to 100kg or 220 lbs. Pull the fixture out then use it as a seat. Sorry apple box 🙂 The bottom of the case is also covered with an easy to clean, slash-proof material.
The new yoke allows for 360° of rotation. This allows the head to rotate all the way around. The handbrake locking mechanism from the LS 120d Mark II is now on the LS 300d II.
The COB (chip on board) design is quite impressive. It is made up of a bunch of micro diodes making one very bright source. It’s a blast of light that goes everywhere. This could be handy using it without a modifier to bounce into a corner for a very wide soft light. Direct it’s harsh. I do like the design and options the COB offers. When paired with a diffusion modifier the COB light is very soft and versatile.
Sidus Link App Control
An addition to the control wheel, the 300d Mark II also features DMX512-compatibility, a new 2.4Ghz Aputure Wireless remote with an FX toggle button, and the ability to be controlled by the Sidus Link App using Aputure’s Bluetooth mesh network protocol.
Using the Sidus Link app, you’ll be able to access all of the functions of the control box, in addition to being able to save presets, finely tune and trigger additional lighting FX, as well as install firmware updates, all from your smartphone or tablet.
Featuring all-new Bluetooth SIG mesh network technology, the 300d Mark II will also the first app-controllable Aputure lighting fixture.* This technology will allow you to control an LS 300d Mark II from up to 400 meters away, by linking multiple lights up to 80 meters apart.
*Support for the Sidus Link app on iPhone, iPad, and Android will be released at varying times throughout 2019
The Versatile Bowens Mount
The Bowens mount makes the 300d II compatible with a wide verity of 3rd party accessories including the popular Aputure line of diffusion modifiers. The Light Dome II and Light Dome Mini II work really well with the LS 120 and LS 300d fixtures. Even better is the updated Light Dome II that sets up in seconds.
The updated barn doors and new Fresnel 2 round out the available options Aputure has… oh wait. The highly anticipated Aputure Spotlight will be a very nice addition too with the updated 300d II. Always one more thing. I will say Aputure has created an ecosystem around the Light Storm COB line with a lot of options available to get the most out of it from hard light, focused with filters and soft using the Light Dome diffusers plus the many other modifiers available for the Bowens mount.
Here is a funny story. The 300d II arrived at my house on Saturday at around 3 pm, giving me only 24 hours to evaluate and test the new fixture. While I wish I could have done some real-world testing, it just wasn’t possible in the extremely short amount of time, I had with the 300d II before release.
I will be using the LS 300d II in the next few weeks and report back if I find anything not working correctly however in the short time I had to use and test the light I’m impressed with it overall and feel Aputure took the 300d to a whole new place. With one of the best spectral responses, we have seen from a 5600K fixture Aputure sure looks to have a bright future for the Light Storm 300d II.
Retail price is $1099 and available today, July 22nd. This is the same price the original was offered at and now the 300d Mark I is discounted with $270 off making it $829. Would I go for the savings? Nope. The updates and upgrades are worth the extra cash.