Aputure MC Review: Best portable budget LED light?

aputure mc video light

The Aputure MC is a super compact RGB light with a heap of really nice features for portable lighting on the fly.

 

I’ve used this one a bunch over the last few videos and found it to be a great option to set up quickly for product lighting or  if you need colour accuracy when your setting up scene lighting this is a great option.

 

It’s currently $150 dollars which I think is value for money considering the features Aputure has packed into this one so lets take a look at what it comes with.

 

aputure mc carry bag

What’s Included

 

Inside the box you get:

this little pouch to keep it protected with a clip attached to it, makes it easy to clip attach to your backpack or on a belt loop

a diffuser

USB C to USB A cable

some sticky velcro pads for attaching to light shades for example

aputure mc hot shoe mount

a hot shoe mount to attach it to the top of your camera for interview style video or photography.

 

aputure mc

Build Quality

The build quality feels quite premium on this one with the buttons and controls being responsive, the body is made from a combination of aluminium and plastic with of course these super strong magnets on the back, theres also this red accent around the outside of the led panel which looks really nice too. 

aputure mc oled screen

 

 

The OLED screen is bright enough for you to easily see what settings its on everything is reasonably spaced apart, which makes it easier to read.

 

The MCs size is a little larger than a credit card and about a fingers width wide, making it a great choice if your looking for a small form factor light.

 

What it is

The MC has a brightness rating of 400Lux and has full HUE, saturation and intensity control meaning you have the power to reproduce any color you want. 

aputure mc colour wheel

There is 3 main lighting modes HSI, CCT, and FX. HSI is for your colours, CCT gives you control over a white light with a bicolour range of 3200K to 6500k and FX is a set of 9 built in lighting effects which can come in handy for a whole range of movie style scenes.

 

Theres Faulty bulb

cop car, 

paparazzi, 

Tv

lightning, 

fire 

 

Also, magnets! These two on the back are very strong they stick to anything that’s metal they’re even strong enough to hang off a wall stud if you can find one which makes it a very versatile little light for quick run and gun type setups.

aputure mc magnets

They’re strong enough to were you don’t feel like the lights going to easily come unstuck even if the surface it’s mounted to is mobile.

Speaking of being mobile it makes a great on camera light to use when your vlogging, easily  bright enough to use as a key light for those purposes or even as an extra source of light for low light video or photography.

 

Charging

 

So what about charging, well there is two ways to charge this one you can use the supplied USB C cable port to plug in which takes 2 hours for a full charge.

There’s also wireless charging so it will work on one of those wireless charge pads but won’t charge up as quickly, taking a little longer at 3.5 hours.

aputure mc charging

There is also the option to plug this light into a power bank and run it for as long as the power banks battery has power which makes battery life a non issue,

 

One thing I did notice when running this light off a power bank though is that the light will heat up quite substantially but if your not holding onto it and have it mounted instead that’s not really an issue but something to keep in mind.

 

The shorter USBC cable you use the better and if you want maximum light output while using a power bank it’s output should at least be 5V 2Amps to ensure you both charge the internal battery of the MC and keep it so that it can retain a 100% light output. 

 

Anything less than 2Amps of output from the power source your connected to will affect the lights maximum output by 20% increments all the way down to 0% depending on the power source, just stick to the recommended 5v 2amps and you shouldn’t have any issues

App

Next up is the Sidus app which allows you to have complete control over the light wirelessly, so you can change the HUE, saturation, Brightness and turn on the different effects as well. 

 

I found this really useful if you’ve got the light setup in a tricky spot and can’t easily get to the manual controls. 

 

There’s also this neat colour picker feature that makes it so you can colour match any image you point your phones camera to. You simply take a picture of your subject and the light will match up to the colour instantly and re-create it illuminated through the light and all you have to decide is how bright you want it.

 

And from what I’ve experienced, its quite accurate which is a big time saver, so you don’t have to sit there trying to get the light colour right instead it’s so much easier.

 

The MC when paired with other lights uses a mesh network so that each new light acts like a signal booster, effectively increasing the strength of the network with each light thats added.

 

So as long as your lights are within 80 metres of one another you can setup a range of lights up to 400 metres away and still be able to change each of the lights settings.

 

MC kits

The MC can also be purchased in a travel kit of 4 or a production kit of 12 and the case itself has wireless charger pads built in so you don’t have to deal with a bunch of cables running everywhere.

picture credit: Aputure website

On the side of the MC are manual controls which included a control wheel that also acts as a button when pressed in to navigate through the lights menu settings

 

Beside that is the on/off switch along with a USB C port for charging.

Underneath the light is a ¼ inch 20 thread for mounting to tripods or camera rigs easily as well.

On top is an OLED display that lets you know the battery level, blutooth connection and mode and adjustment levels of the light.

Manual Controls

A long press in of the control wheel will bring you to a main menu where you can select which mode you want the light to be in.

 

For example if you select HSI it will then give you options to change the levels of intensity, HUE, and saturation by using the control wheel and to change between the three you simply press the control wheel in once.

Press and hold the wheel once more to return to the main menu and next up is FX.

This allows you to select between 9 different special effects, including Fire, Cop car, pulsing, Party, Lightning, TV, Faulty Bulb, Fireworks, or Paparazzi.

 

BT makes it so you can reset the Bluetooth connection if your having trouble seeing it on your smartphone or need to un pair it from a group of lights to use with a different setup which is neat.

 

CCT is a white online light where you can change the colour temp from 3200k to 6500K press the button again to switch to the intensity level, I like how you can fine tune the intensity by 1% increments I know it’s not the case for other LED lights of this size and cost to be able to get such a fine adjustment which is a real benefit of the MC, you know sometimes you just want a very dimmly lit light in a background that isn’t too over bearing.

 

Conclusion

So to recap, wireless charging, wireless control, well designed app, super bright for the size, portable, and magnetic mounting, makes this one a very versatile light and well worth picking up if your a content creator 

 

That’s everything from me, if  guys are interested in picking one of these up there will be a link down below.

 

If you enjoyed this post make sure to leave a comment down below and consider checking out some of the other reviews!

 

Aputure MC

US (affiliate link) https://amzn.to/39Je2Bh

AU (affiliate link) https://amzn.to/3ayRxhG

GoPro Hero 8 Review: 2020

Today I’ll be reviewing the GoPro Hero 8 Black.

 

I’ve been using the GoPro for the last few weeks and have been testing out all its features in video and photo-taking.

 

So today, I’ll be giving you guys some insight into what the Hero 8 does well and some of its downfalls.

 

Before we get started though, I also made a YouTube Video reviewing the GoPro which you can check out down below if you prefer video.

 

Contents

Design Voice Controls
Features Video
GoPro Colour Profile Livestreaming
Microphone Cons
Menu System / Presets Conclusion


Design

Design-wise the Hero 8 has a small pocketable form factor with a grippy textured body. The lens is quite large in comparison and a microphone is positioned right beneath.

GoPro Hero 8

On the side of the camera, you have the mode button to switch between time-lapse, video and camera modes, and a long press will power the camera on and off. 

 

There’s an additional microphone right beside the mode switch to pick up more sound.

 

The other side has a detachable battery door, which pops off quite easily, and inside is the battery, SD card slot, and USB C port. 

 

 

Underneath is 2 mounting fingers which make it easy to attach to the wide range of GoPro accessories. The main ones I used were the helmet mount, and chesty for mountain bike riding, running and hiking but there’s so many too chose from.

 

I also used the chesty mount on my dog who is a medium-sized dog, he’s a Staffy so it’s well suited for medium to larger breeds but not so well suited for smaller breeds.

 

Once the mountings are extended they uncover a speaker used to playback the audio from the footage which is reasonably loud given its size.

 

gopro hero 8 speaker

 

The touch screen on the rear is responsive and has a clear display to show what’s in the frame for each shot.

 

gopro hero 8 touch screen

 

On top there’s a large button for recording and taking photos which I found to be reasonably easy to operate whilst holding onto the camera with a single hand.

 

To test how long the battery lasted, I did a battery rundown test with the camera set to continuous recording at 4k60 fps, with high bit rate recording at 100mbps, GPS and wireless-enabled. 

 

The 1200 milliamp hour battery lasted 50 minutes before completely running flat, which I guess is to be expected given the micro size. The hottest the camera got in that time was just 32 degrees celcius.

 

In case you owned previous models of GoPro, those batteries are all compatible with the Hero8 but some features aren’t available such as Hypersmooth stabilization set to boost and a few other features.

 

You could squeeze some extra time out of the batteries by disabling the GPS and wireless connection, turning off the recording lights and changing the settings to completely power down the GoPro when you switch it off,  because even if you do power it down you might not think it but it’s still using battery. 

 

This is because it’s by default set to standby to quickly power on and be ready for the next shot or video,  so all these little things will get some extra run time out of the battery but if your out shooting for a full day I would take back up batteries with you.

Features

 

Onto the Hero 8 features now with Hypersmooth definitely being a standout, it removes shakiness out of the footage eliminating the need for a gimbal when recording video.

 

I found out of the four stabilization settings, Hypersmooth set to “ON” worked well whilst only applying a 10% crop to the frame, which isn’t much at all and still allowed me to get everything I wanted into the shot.  

 

I took some footage side by side with stabilization turned on and off to give you an idea of the difference it makes when you’re doing any kind of action sports.

 

This is where the Hero 8 really performs well, eliminating the need for any extra stabilization equipment, letting you focus more on capturing the kind of video you want.

 

The second most noteworthy feature is Timewarp, which allows you to record a time-lapse in 4k resolution and switch to real-time mid-way through recording.

You are able to do this by simply by tapping on the screen which slows the time-lapse down to realtime, to return to time-lapse mode you just tap the screen again recording speeds up.

 

I found this to be useful if you really want to highlight certain parts of time-lapse if your walking around, instead of just capturing one scene like in normal time-lapses it gives you a lot more flexibility.

 

There are also 4x digital lenses to capture the best view of what your up to, including a super wide 16mm lens, Wide 16-34mm, Linear 19-39mm, and narrow 27mm. 

 

For me, keeping it on Superview which uses the wider lense is great for action sports and point of view perspectives, capturing both the activity and some scenery into the shot, giving it a better overall look.

 

People forget that GoPro actually started out as solely a camera that took pictures, with no capability for video. Improvements have been made in photo taking as well. It isn’t as powerful as some of the flagship smartphone cameras, which is kind of odd to consider.

 

With a 12 megapixel camera which when coupled with the SuperPhoto preset really enhances images with more detail and sharpness when taking photos with HDR it removes motion blur, so both of these presets turn out some really nice images.

art mural on building

 

There is also the ability to shoot in RAW which any serious photographers out there will love for the extra flexibility it provides in post. These images were shot in RAW to give you an idea of how you can enhance them using Photoshop to allow you to give the image your own personal touch and look you were going for.

GoPro Hero 8 RAW photo

above: RAW unedited photo

RAW photo GoPro Hero 8

above: photo after edit

LiveBurst is another feature that is similar to what you get on your smartphone where you take a lot of images in a very short amount of time.

 

It takes 90 images in a 3-second short video, recording 1.5 seconds before the shutter button is pressed and 1.5 seconds after. This makes it easy to scrub through each frame and pick out the perfect shot you want or share a 3-second video clip in 4k resolution.

 

Another time-lapse mode available is Night Lapse,  I had it recording whilst digging up the backyard for a good hour to make some veggie patches. It captured everything quite well and even caught the sunrise in the background.

 

GoPro Colour Profile

When shooting videos I was impressed with GoPros color profile. It’s close to representing what the eye sees and especially in well-lit conditions when the camera’s sensor is getting a lot of light.

example of gopro colour profile

above: Screenshot from Video shot with GoPro Colour profile

 

The sky looks vibrant, trees and grass, and even people’s skin tone was close to spot on, overall the image has a nice graded look to it. Most serious video creators though will want to use the flat shooting profile to have that extra flexibility in post, similar to shooting photos in RAW.

 

For most users though, GoPro Colour will do fine. 

 

Microphone

 

The internal microphone picks up decent quality audio, but I did find that even though they say the wind noise reduction is there I had it set to auto and still noticed quite a bit of wind noise getting through when mountain biking.

 

Another point to keep in mind is that when using the Timewarp feature slowing down to real-time there was no audio being recorded which isn’t great if you’ve decided to capture a special moment mid time-lapse that the audio is an important part of.

 

Who knows maybe with a firmware update they could make the microphone work during a time warp when switching to real-time.

Menu System / Presets

 

Navigating the menu system to change settings on the camera was really easy, within just a few taps you can change video settings, switch between time-lapse and photo, and the display itself is easy to see and responsive. 

 

One of the main problems previously for a lot of people who owned GoPros had was knowing what settings to adjust for different video shooting situations. 

 

On the Hero 8 they’ve made it super easy by creating 4 pre-made movie shooting presets that make it really easy to just choose a preset and point and shoot.

 

In particular, I found the Activity preset was well suited for action sports and any kind of activity where you are moving around a lot.

 

It also extends the time you can shoot using a resolution of 2.7k 60fps instead of 4k, so, smaller file sizes. The other 3 presets include Standard 1080p 60, Slo-Mo 1080p in 240 frames a second which is a lot of fun, and a more Cinematic shot in 4k 30.

 

If there’s one thing I would change about the presets though, it would be the ability to change the names of custom presets you make.

 

Yes, there is a long list of names to choose from, but sometimes you want slight variations of an already named preset, and it would be really convenient to name them individually so they’re easy to find without having to dig through each preset menu.

 

Voice Controls

 

Voice control is a handy feature and supports a total of 14 different commands.

My experience with this was the picture, video and time-lapse ones worked reliably but it was a little hit and miss. Some didn’t work at all, so it pays to check the picture was taken or it’s started recording.

 

If your hands are full though or you’re in a precarious place trying to take a photo, I can see how these would come in handy. The standard start and stop recording or take a picture worked pretty consistently though.

 

Video

 

The Hero 8 Black will record up to 4k 60fps at it’s maximum quality however Hypersmooth Boost stabilization is unavailable at this setting, it is however available in 4k30.

 

There is also the option to record with a bit rate of 100mbps which is great for capturing the highest possible detail, but there is a slight trade-off of larger file sizes.

 

If you want the best possible quality footage then recording with a flat color profile and low sharpness will give you a completely different looking video after editing in post.

 

For those underwater diving enthusiasts out there, the Hero 8 can go down to a depth of 10m, any deeper than that though and you’ll want to use the enclosure accessory which allows for a total depth of up to 60m.

 

Live Streaming: YouTube, Facebook Live

 

You can also live-stream to YouTube, Facebook Live, and Twitch not Instagram though as it’s not yet been enabled on the platform.

 

Cons

 

So far I’ve covered all the features and great parts of the camera but there are also some downsides.

 

The battery door for one is definitely not ideal, the door actually detaches super easily, and to remove the battery there is this little plastic tab that seems too basic for this camera.

 

It would of been better I think if they incorporated the same design as you would see in a DSLR where theres a small spring and latch that locks the battery in place and you simply move it aside to release the battery which brings me to the location of the SD card.

 

You can’t physically remove the SD card without first removing the battery and even then you will want to have pretty good dexterity in your fingers to release it from the card bay.

 

I feel like this could have been positioned somewhere a little more user friendly instead of having to remove the battery completely to gain access to it.

 

The menu system did freeze up on me a few times which left me having to power down the camera and restart it. 

 

I also had a few instances while shooting in burst mode at 12 megapixels where the camera completely froze after taking the shots. Which again I could only get around by powering it down and turning it back on again, and the images hadn’t processed or saved to the SD card which was kind of disappointing.

 

My only concerns with this camera are how unprotected the lens is and rear LCD though there are screen and lens protectors available you can also subscribe to GoPro plus for $5 a month which gives you a maximum of 2 replacement cameras per year if anything happens to it in that time.

 

If you want to keep the lens damage free I would either invest in the screen protector kit ($20) or for another $80 you can get an enclosure called a Super Suite (links down below).

 

Conclusion

 

Apart from those couple of points, the GoPro Hero 8 performed really well for what I was using it for. The lens captures a sharp image and the higher bit rate for recording in both 2.7k and 4k makes it an ideal pocketable action camera.

 

The GoPro audio and light mods available make it a lightweight option for vloggers too, so it’s well worth considering if you’re looking for a super lightweight setup for vlogging.

 

All in all, this is definitely an impressive little camera for taking traveling or on an adventure, with some powerful features that will serve anyone looking to up their video game, and still be able to take really nice images. 

 

The thing to consider is if it serves a purpose between a larger DSLR camera and your smartphone. 

 

I think for action sports or outdoor activities it definitely has a place, smartphones definitely burn through battery shooting in 4k though and DSLRs can run a much higher price. You definitely need to carry extra batteries on board if you are out for a full day of shooting with the GoPro however.

 

What makes the GoPro so good is its the small form factor. GoPro is pretty well known for having a rugged build and the quality of video and images they can produce are impressive.

 

I can definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a super small pocketable camera to take traveling. It’s also perfect for recording some interesting point of view shots in whatever sport your into without having to worry about shakiness in the footage.

 

There will be a link to the GoPro Hero8 along with some of the accessories I used to film below.

 

Amazon Links GoPro Hero 8

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/2AWlVVu (Australia)

(PAID LINK)https://amzn.to/3gT7TmN (US)

Chesty Accessory

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/2CsoWgF (Australia) (PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/3iU9z17 (US)

Helmet mount

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/2Zku0fM (Australia)

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/2C3UklG (US)

Enclosure (Super Suit)

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/2OuOrAN (Australia)

(PAID LINK) https://amzn.to/32igRWq (US)

Lens protector kit https://gopro.com/en/au/shop/mounts-a…