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Aputure NOVA P300c RGBWW LED Panel Review

NovaP300c 0045 copy

The NOVA 300c is the new flagship light from Aputure. It’s packed with features in a brand new form factor for Aputure that includes RGB, effects, and gels in a fairly compact fixture that is bright. This is also Aputures first full-size RGB light. Aputure started with panel fixtures like the Amaran HR675 LED panel. I had a pair of them, and they performed well for their price. The only issue is the build. They addressed that with the Tri 8 panel and the Light Storm LS1. The Light Storm COB models have also been very popular. I use them a lot and they perform perfectly.

The NOVA P300c also is compatible with the free Sidus Link mobile app to control the parameters of the Nova as well as other compatible lights in Aputure’s lineup. The NOVA P300c retails for $1,699.00 for the fixture alone or in a kit that includes a hard case for $1899

NOVA P300c RGBWW features

  • 300W RGBWW LED Soft Light Panel
  • Up to 9000lux at 1 meter
  • CRI & TLCI >95+
  • Soft 120° Beam Angle
  • Fully Tunable CCT from 2000K to 10000K
  • Tunable Green-Magenta Adjustment in CCT Mode (Full Plus/Minus Green)
  • RGB Color Tunability with Hue, Saturation & Intensity Control
  • Industry-standard X,Y (CIE 1931): Color Coordinate Adjustment to Match Other Lights
  • >90% of Colors Within Rec.2020 Color Space
  • 300+ Industry-Standard Gel Presets Built-in
  • 15 Built-in Lighting FX: Cop Car, Lightning, Paparazzi, Candle, Fire, etc.
  • User-Programmable Presets
  • Stepless Dimming from 0 to 100 % with no color shift
  • User Programmable Presets
  • Sidus Link App Compatible (Sidus Mesh™)
  • Onboard 5-Pin DMX512 In & Out
  • Extendable Control Box w/ Lightning Clamp QR Plate
  • 0.6m & 3m-long Head Cables for Flexibility & Organization
  • 4-Pin XLR DC 24V(15A)-48V(7.5A) Battery Input
  • Built-in Internal Ballast
  • Neutrik powerCON Locking Power Cables
  • Dual Junior/Baby Pin (28mm/16mm) for Mounting on Any Stand
  • Handbrake-locking Yoke with 360° Tilt
  • Accessory Slot Compatible with Nova P300c Softbox & DOPchoice RABBIT-EARS®

What’s In The Box

Nova P300c In The Box

  • Aputure Nova P300c RGBWW LED Panel
  • LED Panel
  • Control Box
  • Lightning Clamp
  • Neutrik powerCON AC Power Cable (19.7′)
  • 5-Pin Male-to-Female XLR Head Cable (9.8′)
  • 5-Pin Male-to-Female XLR Head Cable (2′)
  • Limited 1-Year Warranty
Aputure Nova hard case

Aputure’s custom hardshell case is nice. It features a retractable handle and wheels with laser-cut foam for a tight fit. The case retails for $250. It is heavy, and that is no surprise. At this time, a soft case simular to Aputure cases that come with the Light Storm COB fixtures is not available.

More kits will be available that include DoPchoice NOVA P300c RABBIT-EARS modifier and Aputure’s own custom NOVA P300c softbox.

Build Quality

The NOVA P300c has been in development for a while now, and I’ve seen the changes over the years. At first glance, the new fixture shows how far Aputure has come from the early years of the Amaran products. The NOVA P300c is a solid fixture with a heavy-duty build. Aputure clearly wants to get the NOVA P300c into rental houses, but more importantly, it should last a long time in your kit.

The body is all metal with plastic ends. On top is a nice wide handle for carrying the fixture.

The yoke is thick with good rigidity and a reinforced center where the light stand mount is. It holds the fixture firmly when mounted to a light stand. The mounting post is both a baby pin receiver and a 1-1/8″ Junior pin for combo stands. The knob on the mount is plastic with metal threads for tightening down.

The tilt-lock is nice and big, making it easy to tighten down in position. It only has one locking mechanism for quick adjustments. The LED fixture isn’t balanced on the yoke, so when you loosen the fixture it will tilt up.

The power connectors are the tried and true Neutrik brand and feature the PowerCON locking connectors and power cables.

The NOVA P300c Weight & Size

Aputure designed the NOVA P300c as an all-in-one fixture with the ballast built into the light. It is not removable. This can be a good thing and bad as it adds weight to the overall fixture without the option of having it separate and placed on the ground or clamped to the light stand.

I’m not a fan of separate power ballast for the most part as setting them up takes longer, and you end up with more cables to manage. The NOVA P300c is a heavy fixture coming in at 23 lb / 10.43 kg. This includes the yoke, cable, frame, mount, and receiver. By comparison, the ARRI Skypanel S30 fixture weights 17.2 lb. And the separate power supply weighs 5.5 lb. for a combined weight of 22.7 lb. For its time the S30 was considered a heavy fixture however, many larger fixtures are heavier these days. After looking at several other fixtures in the 1 x 2 range, the NOVA P300c is not overly heavy or large.

Being more in the heavy class means you need a light stand that can support it. Light stands in this class are generally more expensive and heavy. You will want at minimum a stand like the Matthews Maxi Kit Steel Stand (9.5′) max height that supports up to 25 pounds. A combo stand is also a good option but generally heavier. I love my C Stands, and most are capable of holding a maximum weight of approximately 22 lb. Just make sure you have a little wiggle room at the top end of the capacity for a stand.

Panel Size

Nova P300c 1

NOVA P300c front panel is 16″ x 11″, which is a little smaller than a 1 x 2 panel that is usually close to 12″ x 24″ in diameter and larger than the standard 1’x 1′. I like the size as it’s a little bigger than the ASTRA panels I use a lot, but not huge and feels easy to work with, plus doesn’t take up a lot of room. One issue with longer lights like the Light Storm COB 120d and 300d II is they are long and not as easy to tuck away in tight rooms.

It sits nicely behind a 4 x 4 with some leaking due to the 120-degree beam angle if 3′ from the frame. It’s a very wide beam. A 1 x 2 LED panel light is pretty big. When compared to the ARRI S30, the front panel is 14″ x 11.8″, so it’s similar in size but 2″ taller in about a 1′ less in width.

Keeping It Cool

Most LED lights with higher output have fans, and the NOVA P300c is no different. The fan does make some noise, but I didn’t find it to be an issue. In the menu, you can set it to AUTO, and the fan will kick in only when the fixture gets hot. That’s how I set it up, and in my 78 degrees home, it never came on or overheated. The operational temperature is -10~45°C or 14°~113° F

Controller

The metal controller for the Nova P300c is a nice size and simple to use. It’s light in weight with a good build. The controller mounts on the back of the light fixture with a quick-release clamp. Another option is to hang it on a stand with the removable safety metal cord. I’m glad the cable is removable as it gets in the way if I’m not going to use it.

NovaP300c settings
NovaP300c controller on stand

Another option is to mount with the included QR clamp that fastens to the light stand. It’s good to have options. For mounting on the back of the fixture you can use the included 2′ power cable or the also included longer 9.8′ version. With the controller mounted on the back and the supplied 2′ cable, the NOVA C00c is nice and tidy.

NovaP300c HSI

I found having the option to use the controller off of the fixture to be a very good option. Since it is compact, it can be laid down close by or attached to the stand. If the fixture is flat up against a wall or high up on a stand getting to the back can be difficult. Having easy access to the controller is very helpful. You also have the Sidus Link option. More on that later.

The controls are simple and very easy to figure out. The large type helps see the selection buttons without squinting and the menu LED screen is bright and clear. On the side is a USB input for firmware updates.

User Programmable Presets

NovaP300c controller

The controller has four user-programmable presets that can save different lighting options. You are not stuck in HSI or Kelvin only as all parameters available such as effects and gels can also be saved as a favorite preset.

The NOVA P300c is fully DMX compatible for incorporating it into larger arrays in a grid.

RGBWW

Red
Green
Blue
White
Warm White

RBGwiki

We have come a long way from a single diode LED light fixture. Adding colored diodes or RGB to the mix changed everything with rich colored lighting, and created problems. In the early days, RGB lights used those colors mixed together to create white. The quality of the white light wasn’t as good as dedicated 3200 and 5600 kelvin LEDs. Adding a third white diode to the mix allows for brighter definitions of color and hues, as well as improved near-seamless transitions between colors and helped a lot to clean up the 3200K-5600K color.

Along Comes Warm White

To get even better color performance, a 5th Warm White diode was added into the mix. This helps get more accurate kelvin as well as enhanced RGB color performance. The downside is you now have 5 LEDs in a fixture that will require more energy and creates more heat. This is partially why RGBWW fixtures are heavy. They need more space for cooling and power to operate.

Output

NovaP300c LED lights

The P300c is a 360-watt fixture, so that alone will make it a high power light. Also, Lights that have more than one type of diode will have different output depending on the kelvin setting due to the way the LED’s work together to create the desired color.

I tested the full range at 2000K, 3200K 5600K, and 10,000K. All measurements are from 1 meter with the Sekonic Spectromaster C-700.

  • 2000K – 6100 lux
  • 3200K – 8500 lux
  • 5600K – 9600 lux
  • 10,000K – 8910 lux

The most common kelvin settings are 3200K and 5600K, and the NOVA P300c performs very well with a range from 8500 and 9600 lux.

The light can be dimmed very low for super subtle lighting.

Color

NovaP300c 2 side by side

The Nova P300c can produce more than 90% of the colors within the Rec.2020 color space. The P300c features HSI, RGB, and industry-standard X, Y color controls. This gives up to 1 billion color combinations and precise color matching. 

RGB lights are fun and all, but if you want to use them as a key or combine them with other bi-color lights being accurate is important. Let’s see how the Aputure NOVA P300c stacks up.

3200K

With the P300c set to 3200K, the Sekonic recorded a value of 3107K.

NOVA 32000k 01 3107K ColorRendering

At 3200K the fixture performs very well with an average rating of 96.3 CRI and an extended CRI of 95.64. All but one the R11 green was under 90 at 87.8 CRI. All the shades that are in the skin tone range also look very good.

NOVA 32000k 01 3107K SpectralDistribution
NOVA 3200k 01 3087K WhiteBalance

The actual Kelvin temperature is warmer than the set 3200K by 113K.

5600K

When set to 5600K the Sekonic recorded a value of 5426K.

NOVA 5600k 01 5426K ColorRendering

At 5600K the NOVA performs very well with an average rating of 96.6 CRI and an extended CRI of 95.34.

NOVA 5600k 01 5426K SpectralDistribution

The NOVA P300c has the ability to adjust +/- green. This is very handy when mixing different brand lights together.

NOVA 5600k 01 5465K WhiteBalance

As with 3200K, the 5600K setting is also warmer by 135K.

This is not a significant difference and probably wouldn’t require CC to match other fixtures, however, you can dial in the exact match if you use a meter or a camera that gives the values.

RGB Output

In HSI mode, I wanted to see how bright the NOVA is. I started at 1° and took LUX readings along the way to 360°. The brightest color is the very slight blue shade of 195° it came in at 5930 LUX. The lowest output color is 240° deep blue that came in at 1440 LUX. Below are some of the readings I took as I dialed through the colors.

HSI Lux Output Readings

  • 001° – 5330 (Red)
  • 090° – 5280
  • 127° – 4830 (Lime)
  • 150° – 5110
  • 195° – 5930 (Very white)
  • 200° – 5460
  • 240° – 1440 (Deep blue)
  • 270° – 2490
  • 313° – 4950
  • 330° – 4610 (Magenta)
  • 340° – 4480
  • 360°- 4700 (Red)

The colors are very saturated with good output. The 120-degree beam will fill a room with color.

Gel Presets

The P300c has 300 Rosco gel filter options all at a turn of a dial. The gels simulate Rosco’s CalColor, Storaro, and Cinelux varieties.

Source Mode

In Source Mode you can select up to 40 different presets for a baked-in color look. Below is the full list of options.

Incandescent

  • Incandescent
  • Tungsten Bulb
  • Incandescent
  • Halogen
  • Antique Bulb
  • Warm Antique Bulb
  • Christmas Lights
  • Night Light
  • Infrared Heat Lamp
  • Grow Light

Fluorescent

  • CFL Soft White
  • CFL Bright White
  • CFL Cool White
  • CFL Daylight
  • Cool White 1
  • Cool White 2
  • Cool White 3
  • Warm White
  • CFL blacklight

Discharge

  • HMI
  • High-Pressure Sodium
  • Low-Pressure Sodium
  • Mercury Vapor
  • Metal Halide
  • Ceramic
  • Carbon Arc
  • Xenon

Other

  • Candle
  • Gas Fire
  • Sun Direct
  • Sun Overcast
  • Sun Blue Hour
  • Mobile Phone
  • Computer Monitor
  • Electroluminescence
  • Blow Torch
  • Road Flare
  • Amber Caution
  • Green Traffic Light
  • Yellow Traffic Light
  • Red Traffic Light
  • Blue Glow Stick
  • Green Glow Stick
  • Red Glow Stick
  • Yellow Glow Stick
  • Pink Glow Stick
  • Violet Glow Stick

Effects

NovaP300c effects

The Nova P300c is Aputure’s first fixture capable of supporting the full library of 15 lighting FX. The controller has a USB input for future updates. Aputure can introduce even more lighting features in the future.

nova p300c Lighting Effects
  • Fireworks
  • Paparazzi
  • Faulty Bulb
  • Lightning
  • TV
  • Pulsing
  • Strobe
  • Explosion
  • Club Lights
  • Candle
  • Fire
  • Welding
  • Cop Car
  • Color Chase
  • Party Lights

Softness

The NOVA P300c is a soft source due to the attached milky panel and wide 120-degree angle, but I would add a softbox or punch it through a diffusion frame for shooting talent to get the light very soft. The fixture has plenty of output for this type of setup. Adding a soft box will help a lot and DoPchoice and Chimera have options and Aputure’s very competitively priced option. At $149, it is an excellent place to start, and you might find it to be plenty.

NOVA P300c sample no disffusion set at 10 1

I set the light up just off camera right and set the output to 10% with the fixture approximately five feet away. The C300 ISO 620 at 2.8 with 2 stops of ND.

NOVA P300c sample with disffusion jpg

With the Aputure Softbox and 40-degree grid attached, the P300c doesn’t get that much softer. This is due to the 1/4 diffusion. I would prefer a much thicker type at 1 full stop. The 40-degree grate is focusing the light much better as you can see the background is darker.

Something to keep in mind when using a softbox the down tilt range is much less as the box hits the yoke.

Aputure NOVA P300c Soft Box

NovaP300cSoftbox 0002
Aputure NOVA P300c Softbox

The NOVA P300c has an accessory slot to slide a frame that mounts the Aputure Softbox. The frame is rigid and somewhat heavy. This is a good thing as if it gets bent, it won’t slide easily onto the fixture.

Aputure NOVA P300c Softbox

  • 70x50cm Rectangular Softbox for LED Panels (approx. 27.5x20in.)
  • Compatible with the Nova P300c
  • Softbox Brack Fits Seamlessly into Nova P300c Accessory Slot
  • Includes ¼ Grid Diffusion Sheet
  • Includes 40° Fabric Light Control Grid
  • Includes Carrying Bag to Store Accessories
NovaP300cSoftbox with grid

It ships with a removable 1/4 grid diffusion and a 40° grid. It would be nice to have a full set of different cloths for even softer light as 1/4 is a little light for my taste. Hopefully, Aputure will have other strengths available to purchase as I like full grid and full magic cloth similar to the Light Dome II a lot.

Nova P300c 13
The Aputure softbox comes with a carrying case.

Other Softbox Options

SNAPBAG on NOVA P300c
DoPchoice NOVA P300c Softbox

DoPchoice makes excellent products, and they designed a 35″ x 24″ x 10″ softbox for the P300c. The design is a Snapbag that slides onto the fixture without a frame and attaches with straps. They have four diffusion options and two sets available.

DoPchoice SNAPBAG Nova P300c Diffusion Covers

Another option with DoPchoice is the RABBIT-EARS system. With that, you can use several other softboxes such as the huge Octo 5’and 7′ modifier. I will have the 5′ and a few other options soon from DoPchoice to review with the NOVA. I’m looking forward to that!

Chimera Pop bank
Chimera Pop bank

The Chimera option is similar in design and comes in at 27.5″ x 20.75″ x 10″ and includes both full & half Chimera Cloth front screens.

The downside to panel lights with softboxes is the depth of the box isn’t very deep. You can’t get the same type of softness as you would with a much deeper Light Dome II with a 300d. The front of the LED source in the Light Dome II is 34.8 wide and 24″ deep from the front of the diffusion. It also has a small diffusion sheet inside the Light Dome II that softens the source even more. The DoPchoice Snapbox at 10″ is much less and doesn’t have the extra diffusion inside however the NOVA P300c has a milky front panel. The key is having the source farther away from the diffusion for maximum softness.

SNAPGRID on NOVA P300c
DoPchoice SNAPGRID

With that 120-degree beam controlling the light spill with a grid will be fairly easy. Again DoPchoice and Chimera have them.

Sidus Link App 

nova p300c Sidus Link

Aputure has put a lot of effort into Sidus Link, knowing it will be used in a number of fixtures. The small and mighty MC light was first since it is an RGB light and is capable of full control wit the app, but the NOVA P300c is the first full-size Aputure fixture to utilize all the features of Sidus Link.

Here is an interview I did with Ted Sim on the functionality of the Sidus Link for iPad.

Usability

The overall size of the NOVA P300c is fairly compact but is heavier than your everyday 1×1 LED panel. You need a stand and possibly rigging that can handle the 23 lb weight. Transporting a light in this weight class is also a little challenging. While the hardshell case is very good, it’s also heavy at approximately 24 lb. That brings the NOVA P300c in the hard case to 47 pounds. Traveling with a few of them could be an issue. For me, it’s not as I don’t fly with gear that often.

IMG 2767

No matter how good something can be if it’s a real chore to work with, then it’s maddening. The NOVA P300c is very easy to operate. The controller is simple and well laid out in an easy to manage and hold size. It took only a few minutes of exploring the menu to figure it out and make setting changes.

I have the Fotodiox Factor 2×1 and it is very big and tough to transport. I think Aputure hit a sweet spot with the size of the NOVA P300c as it fits in between a 1×1 and 2×1 very nicely.

Playing Well With Others

Bridget Home Anchor Setup

Due to the pandemic, I have a remote studio set up in my dining room for my wife to anchor the newscast from home. I set up the NOVA P300c as a fill with an added diffusion frame to soften it. The Light Storm 300d II with Light Dome II softbox is the key. The top light is a Quasar Science Xcrossfade tube LED. I think it looked great. Both these fixtures are very bright and I had them set around 18%. I love having a lot more output than I need.

Bridget Home Anchor Setup NOVA fill

This will be my setup going forward, but I probably will replace the RoadRags diffusion with a softbox on the NOVA. My only issue with the Aputure softbox is the 1/4 discussion fabric isn’t enough as I prefer a full stop grid or Magic Cloth much more.

Portable Battery Power

There is no included battery powering options for the 360-watt hungry fixture. It will require up to 15 amps of continouse power draw at 24V or 7.5 amps at 48V, however, Aputure is releasing a portable 48V powering solution soon. The power station accepts 2x 14.4v eng batteries and output 48V DC.

NovaP300c power staion
Aputure portable 48V powering solution

You do have options already on the market from Hawk-Woods, Blushape, and Fxlion, however, you need at least two 26v camera batteries, and those are expensive if it’s something you require. You could rent them from your favorite rental house or thrown down about $3K in cash for a Fxlion 1232Wh 15/28/48V Lithium-Ion Mega Battery

Comparable Products

It’s not easy to compare products as features and price play a significant factor. I did a quick search on B&H for RGBWW fixtures in the same power output class of 360 watts. The NOVA P300c sits somewhat alone. The $1799 Rayzr 7 MC400 Max is a close match for output and has a 400-watt power consumption.

If I drop the power to 325 watts the $3,795 Litepanels Gemini 2×1 RGBWW LED Soft Panel pops up but that light is also bigger as it’s a 2×1.

When compared to other fixtures I think it’s important to compare the power consumption and the Lux output as powering a fixture with a single ENG battery is much more cost-effective than a battery power station that is needed for high wattage consumption fixtures over 200 watts.

I feel Aputure somewhat modeled the NOVA P300c after the ARRI Skypanel S30-C’s size as it’s not a traditional 1×1 or 2×1 like the S30.

Conclusion

When I first opened the box and started working with the NOVA P300c, I was a little skeptical. It’s heavier than any of the fixtures I use on my productions. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be, but the output and color accuracy is a big plus, and the price is very competitive in its class. I do like that the light is not a 2×1 as those are just bigger than what I need. Sure it’s great to have a bright, broad source, but I tend to use lights with modifiers such as a softbox or punched through a frame with diffusion. The P300c 16″ x 11″ panel size fits my needs in that respect.

The Nova P300c sits in a strange place. It’s compact but requires a lot of power at 360-watts. That alone pushes it into another category where 2×1 panels live in and the larger panels are usually brighter. Being a 360-watt fixture requires a separate battery powering solution, and that will add more expense beyond purchasing larger high voltage batteries. A battery power station is basically, what you will need. You can easily spend as much or more than the NOVA its self on a battery powering solution.

RGB lights are very popular, and the Sidus Link app gives you a lot of control over multiple Aputure compatible fixtures at the same time, but you are paying a premium for those features. Aputure has done a very good job delivering quality white light with an RGBWW light. You just have to need the versatility of RGB lighting to justify the added expense.

Having more power than you need is always a good thing. The P300c delivers a broad 120-degree light source with plenty of punch. Add a 40-degree grid to control the light even more. it’s good to have a lot of options. It would have been cool to have a removable front panel for an intensifier panel that narrows the beam angle. At $1699, it is an expensive fixture for the indie filmmaker or small production company, but I feel the NOVA will give you a lot of use for many years due to the excellent build quality and Aputure support.

Overall I like the NOVA P300c. It fits into my workflow very well. It’s bright enough with excellent color quality, and the RGB output is also very good. It is smaller than a 2x,1 making moving it around a little easier. I don’t need special effects, but it’s nice to have them if a situation calls for it.
All in all, the NOVA P300c delivers on a quality build with excellent CRI and output at a competitive price. It’s great to see a small company grow as Aputure has over the years. I cant wait to see what they come out with next!

The NOVA P300c retails for $1699, and Aputure Softbox is $149 USD. Both are available today worldwide.

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