The the latest LED panel light from Aputure is the HR672. We’re testing the bi-colour version so it ‘s badged the HR672C. The 672 in the name refers to the number of LEDs on the panel, so they’re more tightly-packed than the 528 in the previous model.
Aputure have recently begun using high colour rendering index LEDs across their products with a 95+ rating, and whilst there is an argument that CRI is not a good measure for LED light quality, it certainly can’t hurt to have a high CRI, though the claim of “perfection” on the box is perhaps a tad optimistic for anyone!
Inside the packaging you get a rather nice carrying case, as with their prior LED panels; again with the CRI boast prominently stitched into the material.
The case contains a wealth of goodies, namely a power cord, with an appropriate plug on it for whichever country you’re buying in; a power supply with a 1.8 metre cable from the PSU to the light.
There’s an adjustable bracket which screws into the LED panel and sits on top of a regular light stand so you can point the panel at various angles; and two Sony NP-F type batteries are also included for lighting on the run where there’s no mains. Each battery has a claimed 6.6 Amp-hours, that’s 47.5 kilowatt hours of runtime.
One nice touch, if you’re handy with a soldering iron, is a pack of spare LED bulbs (in case any should blow up on you presumably). Both colours, 5500 and 3200k are included.
And – this is rather good – there’s a remote control, which does a lot more than just on/off but controls 3 channels of 4 banks – and we’ll come back to that later on.
Finally, there’s a shoulder strap for the bag if you prefer not to carry by the two handles.
As for the LED panel itself, it’s the same size as prior models, which is nice and compact; a diffusion screen is included which simply slides down over the LEDs and doesn’t do an awful lot if we’re honest. It’s also very fiddly to remove as the plastic tab to pull it out is tiny and the filter clips in so as to offer resistance to removal. A bit of force does the job though.
Down the side there’s a panel for cooling, not that the LEDs get that hot in our experience. Another panel along the top of the back means heat can escape without the need for any fans, which is always a relief since that means no noise when filming.
Two battery compartments sit horizontally along the top of the back of the panel; the batteries simply click in and both are required to make the light function if you’re not on mains power.
Speaking of which, a rather small and potentially flimsy 3-pin socket is used for the input from the power supply; we’d advise making sure the cable’s not strained when plugged in; don’t leave the PSU dangling as shown in our video!
Usefully, the batteries will charge on the panel as long as the power is supplied, even if the switch is OFF, so you don’t need to already own or go out and buy a Sony NP-F charger. A segmented green LED indicates that charging is underway.
There are two control knobs on the C model of this light, one for brightness – 10% up to 99%, the other for colour temperature, 3200 Kelvin to 5500. The fixed colour-temperature versions just have the brightness knob. Depending which knob you’re turning, the indicator panel shows either the percentage brightness or that colour temperature in hundreds of degrees.
Underneath the indicator, two buttons that assign this particular panel to one of the 4 groups and 3 channels available for remote control. In this way, you can set up a total of 12 different banks of these lights, each bank then able to be controlled from a single remote, by choosing the bank and channel first then adjusting the light.
Oddly, whilst all four groups can have their brightness controlled remotely, only 2 of them – marked C and D – enable to you to change the colour temperature. Presumably Aputure imagine you won’t have all colour changeable versions of the LED in your setup, so you’d assign any fixed colour versions you have to channels A and B where you can change the brightness – and put any of the bi-colour versions on channels C and D, if that makes sense. Either way, it is a terrifically useful and flexible little remote set up.
Our video includes a number of tests demonstrating what the panel’s like in action. Remember that as as the bi-colour version, this is the dimmest panel of the range, since only half the LEDs will ever be at maximum brightness – either the daylight set or the tungsten set.
In the first test, we pointed the light from a distance of 1.3 metres at a flat blank wall. We can’t absolutely guarantee that the paint is uniform but it gives an idea of how evenly the light falls at a variety of intensities and colour temperatures.
The next test is how well the panel performs as an interview key light, again at a variety of intensities, distances and colour temperatures. Clearly the light falls off substantially with distance but that’s not specific to this panel – that’s just the laws of physics.
Finally, just what temperature IS the light anyway? Rather than use anything so traditional as a light meter, we fired up a three camcorders and told them to take a reading on a photography white balance card firstly with the light at 3200K then at 5500 Kelvin.
We conclude that there’s a lot to like about these LEDs. They’re compact yet bright enough to be used for interviews, provided you get them close to your subject. They’re light enough to be carried around – even a full three-point lighting setup would be practical for the solo shooter. They run on batteries and mains, which is handy for portability too. And the remote control system gives excellent controllability if you’ve more than one set up. Finally, the lights are (as these things go) not too costly.
The only possible caveat is that because of the plastic construction, they may not take much rough-and-tumble in the field but if you’re going to be beastly to them then perhaps you deserve what happens.
If you’d like to buy one of these lights after reading this and watching our review, we’d be very grateful if you’d do so via our Amazon link as that way we get a small commission to keep the website running. Thanks. The links are:
HR672C (bi colour): http://amzn.to/16JUA3Y
HR672W (fixed daylight colour temp): http://amzn.to/1E3F3L7