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The team at Aputure via Kayell Australia (thanks) sent me the Aputure Light Storm COB 120D LED studio light to try out and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing! I had planned a day’s worth of food shooting, but that wasn’t to be after the client delayed the session. So I went about doing what I like to do and photographed myself holding a coffee in preparation for a portrait series I’m working on called “In My Shed” which is literally just that, but more on that later… Back to the light, and what a light it is!
The Aputure Light Storm is an LED light with only one light source, as opposed to a panel with lots of little LEDs on it. The COB stands for “chip on board” which is basically multiple little versions of those LED’s you’re used to seeing, but all mounted on a board with a blob of phosphor flowed on top of them.
The phosphor is the bit that gives the LED light its color temperature (The D or the T) The version I have is called the 120D, the D is for Daylight. This means it’s closely daylight balanced, as opposed to the other model, the 120T which is more closely tungsten balanced. If you’re super interested in how they’re made, search on YouTube, it’s pretty interesting. Anyways…
I must admit, when I first started talking about the C120D with some industry peers, the initial feedback I got was, “It isn’t built very well.” and, “It won’t be bright enough for what you need to do!” but I pressed ahead despite those second-hand reservations and I’m very glad I did.
The unboxing part is always exciting for me, new gear and all that, and this little fellow was no different. The Aputure Light Storm COB 120D kit comes with its own semi-rigid case complete with a small reflector, power supply, cables and a remote control with a working distance of 100 meters. Everything you need to be up and running with some stunning light in less than five minutes is included.
So, I say stunning light, and I guess, like almost everything in photography, that’s a subjective statement. But I really love the light this unit produces, in the situations I’ve used it. I held off working on this article as I wanted to get some good use in with the light as I’d originally planned for this review. That was to use it as my key light for food photography.
I prefer to use a big soft window for food photography, but sometimes you don’t have that option, so you need to create your light. I typically use a Jinbei HD600 which is a portable studio flash. It’s a great unit, but I wanted to try out a constant light source and see how that worked for what I was shooting.
Let’s kick it off with your dinner and dessert. Thanks to Trackside Noodle Bar for letting me use these images! There are images that they’re going to use in their marketing and menus. Entree and dessert for you, mains we’ll have a little bit later
I think the best bit, given I’m not a full-time photographer and I don’t shoot as often as some of you, is that using LED lights means that I see exactly what I’m going to get.
So you light your scene and adjust it, and you can see the adjustments immediately as the light source is always on. You can do the same when you use strobes or flash, but you need to make an exposure to check (I’m shooting a Sony a7rmk2 and so I see what I get on the screen at the back).
I find it super easy to set up my plate of food, use the light’s remote to back off the power if I need to do so, and click – job done.
When I came to the main course, I wanted a bit of light coming back in from the left of the plate. So a really simple bounce card (aka white square of card that can stand on its own) sitting out of shot on the left and I was good to go. You can see my hand-drawn “artist’s” impression of my setup, below.
Or, as a real photo, without my awesome drawing skills!
A funny thing happened on this journey. As I mentioned at the start, I did a little self-portraiture in my shed for a project I’m working on. I shared the image with Aputure and it’s now in their catalog! So, that was kind of cool…
For this portrait, I had the light set up outside the shed window, the camera on a tripod being controlled via my iPhone which if you look really closely, you might spot on the window ledge (Sony’s Playmemories app). I could adjust the light power from inside the shed using the controller. The light was running on a vLock battery, I used the Core SWX Slim which meant I could take the light anywhere, I also used a Bowens S Mounted 90cm deep para reflector.
The summary, after working with this light for a couple of months is that it’s a great unit! Well built, plenty bright, easy to transport. I only have one minor negative point, and it’s that the controls have to be so big, but then the light itself is quite compact, so I guess all the controls and battery mount have to go somewhere! Like I said, minor.
The Aputure Light Storm COB 120D LED studio light is a fantastic addition to my regular portrait and food photography kit. This is a five-star review of a well deserving product! Let there be light.
Disclaimer: this product was provided to the author for review, but all reviews on dPS are 100% unbiased opinions of the author.