New Aputure MT Pro Lighting Review – Who Is It For?
The Aputure MT Pro, first announced alongside a coming MC Pro update at NAB 2022, is a unique 1-foot $199 RGBWW tube light with built-in Lumen Radio CRMX and a whopping 36 individually controllable pixels in that same small footprint. With banner features like that, it is undeniable aimed at “Pro” users (it’s in the name after all), and yet it ships with a tiny tripod that seems aimed at desk-based content creators. These wireless DMX features mixed with a tiny desk tripod is a bit of quandary and it’s a quandary that I’m excited to explore in this review of the Aputure MT Pro.
The Aputure MT Pro is being marketed as a tube light and it is indeed a tube light, but I would say the design is more of a half-tube. This is important to consider because in this configuration you aren’t getting quite as wide a beam angle as, say, with the amaran T4c RGBWW tube.
Somehow Aputure has crammed a bunch of features into the petite 1-foot MT Pro:
- 36 Pixels (think of these a bit like the light engine “zones” in the Nova 600C, but they’re each 0.3 inches wide)
- Lumen Radio CRMX Control
- Integrated Battery
- Bluetooth Control over Sidus Link
- Green and Magenta +/- Control
- CCT Mode with 2,000K to 10,000K range (expandable in Sidus Link to 1,500K to 20,000K)
- HSI, RGB Modes (no X/Y)
- 7 Built-in Pixel Effects (these are effects that make use of those 36 previously-mentioned pixels)
Aputure MT Pro: First Impressions
The Aputure MT Pro lives in a world of its own and it is tricky to find a comparable product in the 1-foot integrated battery tube category. BB&S Lighting makes a single color 1 foot fixture called a “pipeline“, but, beyond the dimensions, it is different in every way.
Two 1/4″-20 mounting points are at the base of the MT Pro and on one side, while two built-in magnets complete the mounting options on the exterior of the matte black fixture.
A bright LCD screen for manual controls dominates the back of the device alongside a “menu” and “back” button paired with a small wheel that makes navigating the menu easy. This might be my favourite LCD screen on a smaller Aputure product to date – it’s easier and faster to navigate than the original Aputure MC, for example. The tiny letters “CRMX” are visible above the LCD screen and that is just a hint of the wireless control potential for the MT Pro.
The MT Pro base kit ships with an Aputure branded tiny tripod, USB charging cable and grid that all fit into a tiny molded case that isn’t much larger than a school lunch box. The case itself does the trick, but there isn’t much wiggle room for adding additional accessories. You could fit a hefty magnetic 1/4″-20 mount like this one in there in a pinch if you were looking for a heavier duty magnet compared with the built-in options.
Oddly, the MT Pro has an internal battery (100 – 120 minutes of battery life at full output), while the amaran tube series has user replaceable batteries. Whenever possible, I would prefer to have user replaceable batteries so I don’t have to send the entire light in for repairs.
The included kit grid is excellent and retains its shape well when mounted on the light. Grids/LCDs are strangely a tough accessory to get right and I tend to prefer the DoPchoice versions versus any “kit” grids. Here is a rare exception – this grid doesn’t feel like an afterthought at all.
As I alluded to in my introduction, the addition of the tiny tripod in the kit is a bit perplexing. I’m a Union DP working primarily in Los Angeles, but also traveling globally and I’ve rarely had the occasion to use a tiny tripod like this – with the rare exception of zoom calls during the ongoing pandemic. To me, the introduction of Lumen Radio CRMX (something very few home content creators are going to need) is a bit in conflict with the small included tripod that home content creators might often need.
All of this spells out that Aputure might be a bit unsure of their target audience for the MT Pro. I’m never going to complain about the introduction of a “free” accessory in a kit, but I might have suggested leaving this accessory out and knocking a few bucks off the list price, while making the tripod an a la carte option for buyers.
Which leads me to…
The Perfect User?
Who is the Aputure MT Pro meant for and for what filming scenarios? Again, as a professional user in the TV, Film and Digital space, I’m going to want and need different features and please let me know in the comments if you think I missed any use cases from your perspective.
The MT Pro’s size (1-foot) and weight (0.86lbs) mean it’s the perfect hallway or general set practical light or the perfect steadicam or gimbal-top fixture to add a bit of fill on a long moving shot. Given how useful I think this particular fixture is for practical lighting, I’m hoping that Aputure will release a kit of 6, 10 or even 12 of these in an integrated charging hard case. I could see myself using a bunch of these in a single shot and given the CRMX wireless integration I could use a CRMX transmitter (my favourite lately is the Litepanels Apollo Bridge), set addresses on these lights and really give myself a ton of control over these fixtures at a distance. Gaffers and lighting designers everywhere love the Lumen Radio CRMX protocol (over a decade old at this point) and it’s easy to see why.
Given its many pixels, I can also see the MT Pro as being very useful for process car or effects heavy productions that might want to extend a background from a given LED volume.
The MT Pro gives us a glimpse at what a more pro-aimed future might be for the amaran T2c and T4c fixtures that recently started shipping. Even as I’m just diving into what the MT Pro has to offer, I’m already thinking how useful this platform would be as a 2-foot, 4-foot or even 8-foot fixture. Imagine the fun you could have with 288 controllable pixels in a hypothetical 8-foot MT Pro! Be still my beating heart.
For those users who may never enter the wide world of DMX there is still the excellent Sidus Link App, controllable over Bluetooth. And with a simple Bluetooth reset on most new Aputure fixtures, you’ll be able to connect quickly and get to filming. The MT Pro, paired with the Sidus app, also especially makes sense when used with the Music FX setting where you can set different colors to match the beat of a given song. Plenty of concert or live event applications open up there.
If you’re a content creator simply looking for an at-home desk 3-light setup, then I’d argue you don’t need the advantages of wireless CRMX integration in the MT Pro or the natural up-charge that comes along with that feature. Depending on how complex your home studio is, then you might be just fine with a few amaran T2c fixtures.
Output & Kelvin Handling in CCT Mode
I went ahead and tested the output using lux and color handling (using Kelvin) of the Aputure MT Pro at a distance of three feet with my Sekonic C-700U Spectrometer. Here are my results, each with a target of 5600K with no accessories or modifiers attached.
A result of 5438K is close to the 5600K target and a good overall result – notably this score isn’t quite as good as the recently-released Aputure LS 600C Pro. Throughout all my testing I landed at a CRI average of 96. I also double checked Aputure’s advertised output for the MT Pro (they tested at 1.5 feet) and their results were very consistent with mine.
Now for a target of 3200K:
A result of 3140K is even a little closer to the target of 3200K when compared to the results at the daylight end of the Kelvin range. Finally, let’s try a target somewhere in the middle at 4700K:
Another good result of 4588K with the target of 4700K and I even see a slight output spike at this kelvin in CCT mode of 414 lux and 38.4 foot candles when compared to the other two targets. No concerns here in my testing and it is nice to see my numbers lining up closely with the manufacturer provided data (not always the case in the industry at large).
The Aputure MT Pro feels like the start of something bigger. Astounding pixel density mixed with wireless CRMX and fantastic output (when compared to the size) all come together in a place that makes me wanting more. To be clear, I’d want both more MT Pros in a travel-friendly multi-unit rolling hard case and more length out of the MT Pro line in the form of a 4-footer and beyond.
My guess is that home content creators will be best served with the amaran branded tube lights and that professional full time filmmakers will want several MT Pros in their kit at minimum. The Aputure MT Pro is shipping now and retails for $199.
What do you think? Will you be adding the MT Pro to your lighting kit? Let us know in the comments below!
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