Aputure 120Dii Light Review for Wedding Filmmakers (vs Practilite 602)

(lo-fi hip hop beats) – Hey guys, my name is Matt Johnson and my current favorite light for lighting receptions at weddings is
this, the Practilite 602. But at $960, this is
definitely not a cheap light and I’ve had a lot of people ask me for more affordable options. Enter the Aputure 120D mark II, it’s $745, it is still quite expensive but definitely a step down in price from the Practilite. Today I’m going to be reviewing
the Aputure 120D mark II and I’m gonna be telling you if you should purchase this
light for wedding filmmaking. Of course, I will also be comparing it to the Practilite 602. And I’m gonna start off this review by spoiling the conclusion. For those of you who don’t
wanna watch me ramble for a while about lights. If you film weddings primarily, I think that the Practilite 602
is the perfect light for wedding receptions. But if you film weddings
as well as other things. Commercial shoots, advertisements,
talking head interviews, YouTube videos, anything else like that, then I would wholeheartedly recommend the Aputure 120D mark II. Wanna know why I say that? Well you need to watch
the rest of this video. Let’s continue with this review
of the Aputure 120D Mark II. We’ll start off in a
bit of a strange place with this review, the packaging, why? Because most of the
lights that I’ve bought, you’re lucky to get
anything more than just the light in the box. When you buy the 120D, you get this swanky hard-sided foam bag, look
how fancy this thing is. It holds the light, the
dish for the front of it, the control box, the
remote, all the cables. I love that this is included
when you purchase the 120D. For comparison with my Practilite, it came in a cardboard
box, with a power cord and the barn doors, that’s it. When I bought the
Practilite, I also purchased a pelican 1450 case with foam to store it. Which added about $125
to the overall price. With a cost of over
$200 more than the 120D, I really wish that the Practilite came with some sort of carrying case. Moving on, let’s talk about
one of the first things you probably noticed
about the 120D, the size. Straight out of the box
at almost five pounds, the 120D is not a massive light but you will need to
make sure that you buy a decently sturdy light stand to hold it. I would also make sure you use a sandbag to keep it from falling over. I wouldn’t buy some
super cheap light stand and expect it to support this light. I will link to light
stands that I recommend as well as all the lights and accessories down in the video description,
next to the light button. Keep in mind that the physical light isn’t the only part of the 120D. You are also gonna need to be able to run a cable down to the not-so-small
control box for the 120D, which is how you handle
powering and dimming the light. Thankfully, it does come with a nice strap that you can use to hang
it from your light stand. In comparison, the Practilite 602 doesn’t require a control box and all the controls are built
into the side of the light, making it noticeably more
compact to transport. You should also know that
this light’s five pound starting weight is not
even its final form. In fact, one of the reasons
people love this light is its near infinite level of versatility. Aputure makes a lot of useful
modifiers for this light and because it uses a Bowens mount, you can actually add a ton of accessories from other manufacturers
to this light as well. This versatility is going
to come at two costs though. First, the 120D really is
going to get significantly larger and heavier when
you add these accessories. Second, this versatility
has a literal cost. These accessories are not cheap, so you’re gonna need to be
ready to spend some money to kit this light out. Straight out of the box,
you get a small beauty dish to put on the front of this light, which leaves the front LED chip exposed. If you want to use this
light to brighten up a reception dance floor,
you are going to need to purchase accessories
to cover up this chip, unless you want to do
deal with wedding guests complaining that you are
causing actual blindness, using this light because it’s so bright. And this is the point
where the Practilite 602 really starts to shine as
a wedding filmmaking tool over the 120D in my opinion. Out of the box, the Practilite comes with a Fresnel lens on the front. It has a beam focusing knob on the back. It comes with barn doors that you can use to block the light from spilling off onto the dance floor and
the light will accept Profoto light modifiers. Oh and you can adjust the color temperature too, which is amazing. Let’s compare these features
to the Aputure 120D. As I said, you do get a
nice big case to store it, with a beauty dish for the front. There is no way you can focus the beam of this light out of the box though. There’s no Fresnel lens either. Thankfully, Aputure makes
an accessory Fresnel lens with a focusable beam you can
put on the front for $120. Want barn doors so you can control the light spill on the dance floor? Those are an extra accessory
as well that sell for $60. Out of the box, the 120D costs $745, whereas the Practilite 602 costs $965. But to get the Fresnel
lens, focusable beam and barn doors, you’re
gonna be adding $180 to the cost of the 120D,
bringing you to a total of $925. Suddenly, the cost of the Practilite isn’t sounding so crazy, is it? There’s a lot more that goes into a light than just the accessories
available for it though. One of the most important
things you need to consider is the light quality. The 120D and Practlite 602 both claim to have a CRI in the high 90s
and I have zero complaints about the quality of skin tones and colors I’m getting from either of these lights. They’re both beautiful in my opinion. Unlike cheaper LED lights
that I’ve used in the past, I’ve not needed to color correct out weird green or magenta shifts in my skin tones with these lights. Light quality is where I will say that the Practilite wins for me, from a color temperature
standpoint though. Having a variable color temperature on a wedding day where
I can dial in my light to match the color temperature of a room is so helpful and I do not
want to discount that fact. That said though, having a
high quality daylight balance light like the 120D is
not the end of the world if you’re filming a wedding. You could add some color
gels if you needed to and I shot weddings for many
years using an Arri 150 light that didn’t have a
variable color temperature and it still worked great. The 120D’s color may not
be 100% ideal for a wedding but if you find yourself
filming a lot more than weddings, such as commercial shoots, interviews, talking
heads, anything like that where you have more
control over the lighting than a wedding, I think the 120D, with its greater
versatility of accessories and far greater brightness
will serve you better. Let’s talk about that brightness, which is one of the areas where the 120D is far away my favorite
over the Practilite. From a sheer raw power standpoint, the 120D is significantly
brighter than the Practilite and most other LED lights that
I’ve used for that matter. If you were planning on using the 120D to light a wedding reception dance floor, you only need one and I highly doubt that you are ever going to need to turn it up to max brightness. To measure this brightness,
let’s do something more real world than
pulling out a light meter. I put the Fresnel
attachment and barn doors on the 120D and put both lights approximately 14 feet away from a wall. With both lights dialed into approximately the same beam angle of 40 degrees, both set to the same 5500
Kelvin white balance, not like the 120D has a choice. I even turned the Practilite 602 to its maximum, 100% brightness. I filmed the wall the
Practilite was lighting with my A7S2 and I was able to achieve a proper exposure of 0.0
on the camera’s metering by setting the lens to a 5.6 at ISO 250. I then turned off the Practilite
and turned on the 120D. And with those same settings
of F5.6 and ISO 250, I was able to hit the same
0.0 level of exposure meting with the 120D only set to 55% brightness. What does this tell us? The 120D can hit almost double the level of
brightness of the Practilite. From a light that is still
this comparably small, that is very impressive. Now I do want you to be
aware that the Practilite has a boost mode that
boosts brightness by 140% but that is at 4500 Kelvin
and this is only available when the light is plugged in to AC power. Because I prefer to avoid
using cords that people could trip on, I love battery power so I couldn’t use boost mode anyways. When I was doing my brightness testing, I noticed that the Practilite was able to focus its beam noticeably
wider than the 120D. According to its specs, the Practilite has a 15 to 80 degree beam angle, versus the 120D’s 12 to
40 degree beam angle. The Practilite’s beam
can go twice as wide, so if you need to put your Practilite up against the edge of a dance floor because the room is so
small, you are still gonna be able to light
the entire dance floor. Matt, does this mean that the 120D sucks for lighting a reception dance floor? Not at all but this does mean that you may need to set up further away from the dance floor to
get the beam wide enough to light the whole floor. Thankfully, because the
120D can get so bright, it makes more sense for me to recommend you put it further away
for the dance floor anyways and just turn it up a bit
brighter to compensate. I said I loved using batteries earlier, whenever I use my lights
at a wedding reception, so let’s talk about battery life. I use V Mount batteries
for both these lights. Usually this beefy 150 watt
hour battery from Juicebox. With the 120D set to 100% brightness, you can expect to get 45 to
50 minutes of battery life. Considering the brightness of this light, I’m very impressed that
a battery of this size is even able to power it for that long. Keep in mind also that I highly doubt that you’re going to need
to be powering this light at 100% brightness at a wedding. I also tested the battery
life with the brightness set to 55%, aka the max
brightness of the Practilite. The 120D lasted for over five hours, significantly longer than
the 50 minutes at max power. So depending on the
length of your reception and how bright your light is running, you should be able to
make it through reception with one battery but I
would probably get two just to be safe. In comparison, with the Practilite set to maximum brightness,
I was able to get over five hours of battery life. This is easily enough to get through a full wedding reception
and because I usually run my Practilite at 50 to 60% brightness, I usually end the night with over 75% of battery life remaining. The last thing that we need to talk about is of course, wireless
control of the 120D. In the very nice case
your light comes with, you’re gonna notice this little guy. It looks like a baby television
remote from the 1990s. This remote lets you
turn on and off the 120D, as well as adjust its brightness level. It uses the 2.4ghz wireless spectrum, so it has quite good range
and it should let you control your light, even if you are all the way across a reception hall. On the other hand, you
have the Practilite, which has an iPhone app that will let you adjust your light’s brightness and white balance over Bluetooth. I know some of you are
skeptical about using an app, I was too but having used it for years, it is quite reliable and quite useful. If I had to choose between
using a smartphone app and a remote, I would probably go with the smartphone app actually because I’m guaranteed to
always have it with me, I don’t have to remember to
carry around this remote. You should also know
that Aputure is working on a wireless dongle
that is going to let you control your 120D using the
sidus link smartphone app. That is not available yet at the time of making this video though. So for wireless control, both the 120D and the Practilite give you a good way to wirelessly control your app. I’m gonna say that they
tie in this category. Let’s wrap this thing up. As I said at the start of this video, if you primarily shoot weddings and you want a compact light, the Practilite 602 is
still my favorite choice. With its compact size,
variable color temperature, focusable beam and wireless control, I think it is the best
spotlight you can purchase for a wedding reception. But because the Practilite
is such a good spotlight, it doesn’t feel as versatile
to me in other areas. It does support attaching
Profoto light modifiers but even with a soft box attached, its limited brightness makes
it feel a bit less versatile. So if you film weddings
as well as other things, commercials, advertisements, talking head interviews, YouTube videos,
anything else like that, I would wholeheartedly recommend
the Aputure 120D mark II as the light that you should buy. It is significantly brighter
than the Practilite. Aputure makes amazing lighting modifiers that are easy to use. The Bowens mount makes even more lighting modifiers available to you and I’m kinda in love with the soft light I can get from their light dome soft box. Overall, I think you will get more use out of the Aputure 120D
than the Practilite 602, if you film more than just weddings. For me, I’m still gonna be using the Practilite at weddings but for YouTube videos like this, oo that 120D with the soft box,
that is calling my name. Speaking of calling my
name, I need some music for the outro of this video. If you make YouTube videos
as well as wedding films like I do, then you’re
gonna be highly interested in this video’s sponsor, Musicbed. The weather’s been getting colder now, which means you’re probably hunkered down in your editing cave, all bundled up like I’ve been editing wedding films. And you’re probably gonna need some music to license for those films. I’ve been using Musicbed basically since I started filming weddings and in my opinion, they
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your wedding films will never have sounded so good. With that, thank you so much for watching. I hope this video was helpful to you and gave you some great insight into which one of these lights that you should purchase for wedding filmmaking or anything else. It is also a huge help to me if you would consider liking this video and subscribing if you wanna see more videos like this in the future. Do you want to see more lighting videos, possibly cheaper lights
than this in the future? Please leave me a comment
down below and let me know. Thanks so much for watching
and have a good day. (upbeat dance music)


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