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Aputure MC 12 Production Kit review

MC 12 all colors

Hot of the heals of the MC 4 release, the MC 12 Production Kit, which includes twelve MC lights in a kit is now ready to go. A little background. The Aputure MC lights are small compact lights with full-color spectrum tunability. Check out my hands-on review for the full details on the MC.
These lights are fun to use as practicals and special effects. I find myself grabbing one or two when shooting product broll to add a little color or accent. The output of the MC isn’t considered bright at 5 watts, but they are not designed to be the main source. The lights are fun to use, and the more you have the more creative you can be with them, especially when used with the Sidus Link® Mobile APP control.

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What’s Included

  • (12) Aputure MC RGBWW LED Lights
  • MC 12-Light Wireless Charging Case
  • (4) Silicone Rubber Diffuser
  • (4) Cold shoe Ball Heads
  • Power Cable
  • D-Tap to D-Tap Power Cable
  • (8) Adhesive Mounting Pads
  • (2) USB Type-C Charging Cable

Introduction

The MC 12 is a twelve MC light kit in a portable hard case that doubles as a charging station.

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It can be powered with AC power or 12V DC Power via D-Tap. A larger capacity battery is required that can draw a minimum of 120W.

MC 12 Production Case

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The hard case is very durable and includes 12 charging pads and a laser-cut foam insert in the lid that keeps the MC lights in place when the lid is closed. The kit will be popular for rental houses as it’s ready to go out the door in a single kit.

It’s important to note that the case is not waterproof. Due to the larger 180W power supply, it generates heat, so vents are present on the sides to keep it cool. The lid should never be closed while charging. The 12-Light Charging Kit uses active cooling. The fan is very quiet in fact I can’t hear it at all.


MC 12 Production Case Specs

Charging Output 12x Wireless Charging Pads 3x USB 5V/2A
AC Power Input 100V-240V AC
DC Power Input12V-16.8V
Rated Current 8A
Max Power Draw180W
Max Power Output150W
Dimensions43.67*38.38*13.49cm 17.19*15.11*5.31in
Weight (Total) 9.2kg / 20.3lbs
Cooling Method Active Cooling

With twelve MC lights, you will need a case to keep them together without banging into each other while in transport, so might as well include a charging solution, right? That’s the two things the case does very well, but with a few caveats.

Aputure MC Charging Pad
Charging pad for wireless charging.

If you have a smartphone with wireless charging, you know, it takes longer to give your phone a full charge. I have a few Anker cradles around the house and in my office. Instead of laying the phone down on the counter, I just place it on the Anker wireless charger. It’s very convent and quick. My wife hates cables, so this makes her happy. Happy wife… happy life! 😀

Aputure MC Cover

The MC lights have this same option, as well as USB, for much quicker charging. It’s good to have options. Using the same idea the MC 12 charging case makes charging and topping off the MC straightforward with no clutter from 12 cables. Without the case, you would need twelve DC cables coming off two power strips as most don’t have 12 AD+C inputs.
If you need a quicker charge, the case has three USB 5V-2A inputs as well.

Charging Times

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Fresh MC’s with the plastic film still in place charging up.

The MC will last for approximately two hours at full brightness and fifteen hours at minimum brightness.

MC 12 kit USB
3 USB 5V2A inputs for a quicker charge

It takes approximately 90 minutes via USB PD, approximately 2 hours via USB DC 5V/2A and 3.5 hours via Wireless Charging. Need it fast? USB PD power is a good idea to have on set. Each charging pad has a LED light that changes color when charging. Red is charging, and Green means done.

MC 12 charging iPhone
Topping off the iPhone XR

Need to top off your phone? Lay down the phone in place of the MC light, and it starts charging. As long as your smartphone centers up on the pad, it will charge.

Kit Usability

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The kit comes in at 9.2kg / 20.3lbs with everything you need inside the case. I like this design better than the MC 4, as it requires a second case for the cables and accessories. With the MC 12, it’s all in one case, but there is a catch.
You only get four silicone rubber diffusers and cold-shoe ball heads. While this might be enough for you, it will limit the options, especially for the diffusers, if you want to use all 12 MC’s at the same time. Aputure is selling a kit with eight of diffusers and ball heads to round out the kit. The MC 8-Light Accessory Kit is not available yet but should be in November 2020.

Accessory Drawer

MC 12 drawer
missing from the drawer is the AC power cord that is in use.

On the side of the MC 12 case is a pullout accessory drawer that locks into place with latches. Inside the drawer is where the accessories are stored including four silicone diffusers, four cold shoe ball heads, eight adhesive mounting pads, as well as power cables, an AC power cable, D-Tap Cable, and USB Type-C Cables. There is a little more room in the drawer for extra small items.

Usability

With 12 lights, you have a lot of options, and using them all at the same time could be a little confusing. Personally, I like having groups of four of six. This is more manageable. You can use all twelve at the same time, but keeping track of each can be a challenge. I might bust out the good ole label maker and give them easy to see names for faster ID.

IMG 2952
The whole MC kit ready to pair

Before you can use the MC’s with the Sidus Link you have to pair them. However, when shipped in the Production Kit, the MC’s have not been previously paired, so they are ready to add to the Sidus Link app.

MC BT Reset

If you want to add an MC to the Sidus Link, this is done in the MC menu. Navigate to BT and set to reset. This will make the MC available to pair. Once it pops on the screen you can add it to the app and start designing your lighting setup.

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After pairing you have MC info like power left and status

With the Sidus Link, you can identify each MC light by tapping on the gray circle to the left of the MC name of the light.

MC 1Version ID
MC firmware and fixture ID

Each MC has it’s own ID and firmware version displayed on the MC’s menu in the VER section. The MC will flash an SOS pattern. You can then grab it and place it where you want and adjust the parameters of the light.

IMG 2960
Grouping options

With the Sidus Link, you can create scenes with up to 25 MC’s, however, Bluetooth connectivity allows up to 100 devices at the same time. Try keeping track of all of those!

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The cool part of this is you can program them to fire at different stages and set the color output. It’s really cool but a little time-consuming. The amount of control is huge, and it’s up to your creativity to create a scene with the lights.

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Like all creative tools, it’s up to use to figure out how to use them to the fullest. The MC lights with the Sidus Link are a very powerful combination with so many options like kelvin temp, full-color HSI, special effects, and gels to name a few.
As I mentioned, the MC is more for accents lighting and adding interest by using them in the backgrounds. When you have several, it gets interesting as you can create scenes in the app and add several of the MC’s to create a look. It’s very easy to do.

One thing to note is you can’t have the same MC in two different scenes when already included in one. You need to reset the Bluetooth and add the light to the new scene. The good news is that it’s simple to do.

Mars 300 Pro Hero
Four MC’s grouped in a scene with the Sidus Link

I have four that I dedicated as a group for product shots. Now I can control them all simultaneously or change them individually for the look I want to create. I can modify each one’s color and output or have them all be the same color and output, all without touching the actual MC. Very cool!

Firmware Updates

The MC’s can be updated with the Sidus Link by selecting the light and taping on the three dots to the right. You have the option to rename, reset the name to original, and update.

Final Thoughts

The Sidus Link is a big deal for Aputure. It’s a central hub for all lighting fixtures going forward. Think of it like buying a Canon EF mount camera. You are going to buy EF lenses to work with the camera. Aputure is building an ecosystem of lighting fixtures that all work together easily with the Sidus Link app. While the app is relatively new, it works rather well and will get better over time. Bluetooth reliability has come along way, and you will get an occasional disconnect with it. The good news it’s very fast and simple to reconnect the MC or reset it.

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My home studio has three Aputure lights on one scene, 300x, NOVAc, and B7c, and it makes it so easy to adjust the three lights with the app individually all in the same group without having to find each fixture. Creating a dedicated scene with lights you use is very cool.

Keep in mind these are not high output lights and work best in darker settings. It’s trial and error to get the look you want, and its fun to design with. The production kit works very well in keeping the MC’s from getting banged up due to the foam insert in the lid that keeps them separated. While the charging pads do take a lot more time to charge, it’s very convenient to top them off.

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The Aputure MC 12-Light Production Kit retails for $1499 and is available today for preorder.

The MC 8-Light Accessory Kit has no finalized shipping date but is expected to be available in the next couple of months.

If you already have several MC’s the MC 12 and MC 4 charging cases will be available to buy. They both will start shipping early November. Pricing hasn’t been set yet.

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