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Review: Aputure Amaran 200d & 100d Budget COB Lights

Aptuture Amaran 100d 200d on black

Lighting fixtures spread the gamut from super expensive to low budget, and meeting in the middle is always a good place to be for the budget filmmaker. The higher-end products have better build quality with a lot more features, plus they will last longer under professional frequent use.
If you don’t need those extra features and want to save a few bucks, the Amaran line At $299.00 Amaran 200d & the $199.00 Amaran 100d might be a good option.
Since the new Amaran 200d and 100d lights are an offshoot of Aputure, they also have the Sidus Link feature to control them with the app. This one feature is a good one, as mixing them in with existing Aputure lights and using the app to change the output is a breeze.

200d &100d Key features

  • 5600k
  • Universal Bowens Mount: Wide Variety of Accessories
  • Built-in Umbrella Holder
  • Sidus Link App Control
  • Compact Lamp Head with Built-in Controls
  • 0-100% Brightness Control
  • Quick brightness control button from 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 100% output
  • 8 Built-in Lighting FX: Paparazzi, Fireworks, Lightning, Faulty Bulb, TV,  Pulsing, Strobe, Explosion
  • 48V DC Power Input: AC & Battery Power Options

Build Quality

Something has to give to offer a product for less. The Amaran 200d & 100d fixtures are mostly made of plastic instead of metal. They also don’t have a yoke or ratcheting lockdown. Does this make a huge difference?

Aptuture Amaran 600d lockdown knob

In some ways, the yokeless design is nice, as the fixture is fairly light, so it doesn’t require one. The tilt range is excellent. The light can be point straight down or up unobstructed.
The lockdown knob is large and is easy to lock in place. It doesn’t have the pull-up and relocates the position option like the Light Storm.

I like this design a lot, but you have to carefully loosen the lockdown when a softbox is attached. The rear handle is in just the right place for this. Yes, you can use one with a Bowens mount adapter. Aputure also introduced a new 33.5″ Light Dome SE for the Amaran lights that are a tad smaller in depth.

Aptuture Amaran 600d simple rear controls

The connectors are less robust, mostly made of plastic. The AC input is a 3-pin XLR locking cable. The cable connected to the fixture is also a lighter gauge and is fairly long at approximately 16′.


The ballast AC cable has a locking input to prevent accidental unplugging. This could happen since the ballast can be hung on a light stand lockdown knob with the included cable.
The AC cable is very short. In fact, it’s too short. I have so many of these types of AC cables that plug into a ballast that I have bought over time. Unfortunately, they don’t have the locking feature. You are going to need an AC extension cord for the Amaran 100 and 200d fixtures.

Bowens & Umbrella Mount

Aptuture Amaran 600d umbrella holder

The Bowens mount is an excellent option on the Amaran 200d & 100d fixtures. The fixture can easily hold a small Chimera softbox or Light Dome Mini. My favorite Light Dome is a little heavy for the lightweight Amaran, but it will hold. I’m not sure Aputure approves of the use of the big boy diffuser. My concern would be stripping or damaging the mount.
An umbrella mount is located on the mount. I like this as umbrellas are very inexpensive and easy to soften the light for headshots and interviews.

Controls

Aptuture Amaran 600d Menu

This light is straightforward to operate. The menus consist of a wheel that doubles as a push-in button. The on/off button is on the right bottom side, just under the Bluetooth reset button. The dial adjusts the output from 1%-to 100% in 1% increments. If you push the dial-in, it increases the output by 20% increments from the existing setting. If the setting is in between, it jumps to the next level. For example, if the light is set at 32%, pushing the INT button will bring the light to 40%. This is a good way to increase light output quickly.

Sidus Link

nova p300c Sidus Link

With compatibility with the Sidus Link, the 200 series can be fully controlled with the app. In fact, if you want to use the special effects modes, you have to use the Sidus Link app as there is no way to program the fixture with the onboard menu.

Color Accuracy

To test the color accuracy, I used a Sekonic C-700-U Spectrometer. The results are positive. Both fixtures are rated at 5600K, and they hit the mark very well. Let’s start with the 200d with and without the reflector.

I would say the average CRI for both 200d and 100d is 94.74. It varies slightly but not a big difference. As for kelvin they both the 200d looks to be closest to 5600K, and the 100d is about 100K warmer. In the real world, they would perform perfectly fine at 5600K.

Amaran 200d Bare

Amaran 200d With 55° Hyper Reflector

Amaran 100d Bare

Amaran 100d With 55° Hyper Reflector

Output and 105° Beam Angle

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100d with Hyper Reflector from 1-meter

As you can see with the hyper Reflector attached, the hot spot is very strong. In general, both the 100d and 200d have a tighter beam angle, and the reflector does make it noticeable.

Reflector 2
On the left 120d reflector and new Amaran Hyper Reflector o the right

To get around this, a less focused reflector modifier should be used and probably should have shipped with one. If you have an earlier 120d fixture or a non-Hyper model, then use that as it does a much better job of evening out the beam.

Reflector 2 sample
200d at 100% with original 120d reflector from 1-meter

I don’t see any advantage of the Hyper Reflector with such a tight hot spot.

For me, this isn’t a deal-breaker since I don’t use these types of modifiers. The only time I would is bouncing off walls or cards. I like softboxes, and both work very well with heavier diffusion fronts and internal baffles.

If using a Fresnel, the same issue will be present since the beam is inherently tighter. This is a drawback of the new Amaran 100d and 200d fixtures. If you need the broader beam, then the Lightstorm or LS fixtures might be a better option as they have a wider beam angle.

All output readings are from one meter to the front of the COB.

Amaran 200d With and Without Reflector

  • Bare bulb 9570 LUX
  • Reading from the center of the beam with 55° Hyper Reflector 75,900 LUX

Amaran 100d

  • Bare bulb 4980 LUX
  • Reading from the center of the beam with 55° Hyper Reflector 45,300 LUX

Fan Noise

Seems reviewers are having an issue with the fan noise from the 200d. While it is louder and has a slight tone to it, I can’t hear it unless I put my ear up against it.
I used it for live shots in my living room and it was a non-issue. In fact, I didn’t hear it. Outside of controlled studio spaces with no ambient sound, I don’t it will be a problem.
Never the less Aputure is updating the fan with a firmware update soon. I didn’t have issues with it but if they can improve it then why not!

Battery Power Option

This will disappoint some folks, as the Amaran 200d and 100d fixtures don’t ship with an external battery power option. This is because they require 48v DC power, and no ENG batteries have this high voltage available from D-Tap. A controller would have to be used with mounts for two batteries, when combined, would deliver 48v. If this were added to the Amaran fixtures, the price would go up a lot and not be in the budget lighting space anymore.

The Amaran 200d and 100d option for DC powering would be a battery bank, and those are expensive. I don’t feel this type of affordable fixture would be purchased with the idea of also getting a battery bank since other options make more sense, like the Light Storm 120 and 300 COB lights.

NovaP300c power staion

Aputure is working on a battery bank that uses two V Lock batteries in tandem to power 48V fixtures, including the NOVA P300c RGBWW LED Panel.

You do have some options 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. Again, if DC remote powering is important, these are not a good option. It adds a lot of expense.

Pros

  • Lower-priced high output fixture with a good build
  • Lightweight
  • Smaller than Light Storm options
  • Excellent color accuracy
  • Good output
  • Bowens mount opens up usability for modifiers.
  • The cable from ballast to fixture is long.
  • Minimal fan noise

Cons

  • It could be susceptible to damage with all plastic design.
  • No case included.
  • Ballast isn’t built into the fixture.
  • Included AC cable is short.
  • The beam angle is tighter than I like.
  • The user needs to purchase a 48v battery option.
  • No access to special effects without Sidus Link.

Final Thoughts

The Aputure Amaran 200 series is a perfect fixture for the budget-minded content creator, filmmaker, or owner-operator. While the build quality isn’t at the same level as the current Aputure Light Storm series, it isn’t garbage by any means. Take care of the light, and it will last for many years. If you have a dedicated studio space using the Amaran 200 series fixtures makes a lot of sense since they won’t be packed and transported. Something to think about.

Another plus is all the Bowens Mount modifiers you have available and Aputure has a lot of options including some new ones. I really like the new Light Dome SE as it’s a perfect fit. While the beam angle is tighter than I like, I personally don’t have issues with it. I tried a few different softboxes, and it wasn’t an issue. I like these lights in modifiers.

The new Amaran lights are priced very competitively at $299.00 for the Amaran 200d & $199.00 for the Amaran 100d.
Shipping will start on January 14th.

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