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Aputure Amaran AL-MX videolamps throw impressive light, accurate colour

The size of a pack of cigarettes but a lot heavier; that was the first thought that came up my mind when I first got the Amaran AL-MX in my hands. Aputure’s smallest on-camera LED light throws 2400 lux at a distance of 30cm, 880 lux at 50cm and 200 lux at 1m, according to the specs. It does all this with a CRI/TLCI of well over 95 and colour temperatures of between 2800K and 6500K.

The Amaran AL-MX has a battery life of four hours continuous use at the lowest output and half an hour at the highest setting. The battery is a built-in 3.7V 1800mAh Li-ion. A USB-C interface allows recharging the battery in a few hours. The brightness can be set in four steps, from 20% to 100%. The same switch allows you to set the CCT range with adjustments also in fours steps from 2800K to 4300K to 5000K, 5500K and 6500K.

In the box come two thick rigid plastic diffusers that you mount onto the AL-MX using magnets, two velcro strips to fix a large plastic diffusor sheet, a couple of 3M sticky mounts with velcro, some rubber bands, a charging cable and a universal cold shoe mount. Despite the fact that the Amaran Al-MX is sold as an on-camera light, it can be used on a tripod or just standing on its edge, on a table or other flat surface.

Those are the specs and content of the package. Now for the testing results.

I tested the Amaran Al-MX at a distance of 75cm, which is what I think to be more or less the distance this light will be used at most often. The light’s colour output is very stable. It starts at a slightly lower colour temperature of 2600K but my light’s highest cold temperature did not surpass the 6200K mark. For the purpose this LED light will be used the most, the range is generous, notwithstanding the highest value being off by 300K.

In terms of light output, the Amaran AL-MX does very well. At the lowest setting, the output at 75cm was 125 lux. However, at its highest setting, the output was 350 lux, which is more than you’d expect from reading the specs. With boost mode on (60sec max), the output was 470 lux. That’s quite impressive if you consider that a comparably sized Akurat Lighting A1 V-White on-camera LED light — touted to be the standard on-camera light at some European TV stations — only outputs 200 lux at its highest setting.

Of course, with all the pluses this light has going for itself, there are some minuses as well. For example, you can power the Amaran AL-MX from a USB-C power bank that delivers 5V/2A. However, you can’t power the light from a Sony NP-F battery nor from an Anton Bauer power pack and a D-Tap connector isn’t available — all of which are features that are optionally available with an Akurat A1.

The issue here is whether you really need those anyway, with a new Amaran Al-MX at full brightness and fully charged battery running not for half an hour, as it says in the user guide, but running eight minutes short of a full hour — or 51 minutes and 58 seconds to be exact. During that period, the quite large red heatsink — which is a nice design touch in my opinion — became very warm but not really hot.

In short, the Amaran Al-MX is better than the standard on-camera light for many a TV-station and it gives back a good deal more than you bargained for. It’s cheap too, at about €150. Can you do better? Sure, you can. Aputure has another Amaran that is more powerful, a tad smaller, with an even longer battery life in-between charging, and with waterproof sealing for up to 10m deep diving. It’s the Amaran AL-MW which I reviewed earlier this year.

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