The Aputure Tri-8c is a beast of a light. If you came here for a "yay or nay" then here it is in a nutshell: it's awesome! You can dial the colour temperature in, it's portable, built like a tank but not too heavy, comes in an amazing case, is battery powered or mains powered.... it's just so well thought out. I love it.
You're waiting for the other shoe to drop, right? Well the only negative I can find is the price. It's a bit pricy, but then again all the good things in life usually are.
I've held off reviewing this light for a number of weeks because I didn't want to be one of those reviewers that lifts a product out of a box and re-words the spec sheet. I wanted real-world examples to show you, and enough time and experience to formulate my own opinion. So here it is.
What do I use it for?
This light is amazing for vlogs, or interview situations. I suppose there is a lot of overlap. It's wonderful for many reasons. First off, you can tailor the intensity of the light to your room. If your recording room is tiny (like mine!) then sometimes you have a payoff with lighting. Good lights are generally overpowering and don't look great, and cheaper, dimmer lights don't look great because they're cheap. Can't win.
Except now you can.
Now, I can change the intensity with the tap of a button on a remote control. How fancy. I can watch my monitor in real time and it has made my setup time ridiculously speedy, and much more consistent.
The colour temperature versatility is a game changer too. No more morgue lighting with my cheaper LED lights. No more too-warm and sickly lighting with my lamp lights. Now I can subtly make my key light warmer and my hair light cooler, or vice versa. Again, at the touch of a button. What a time to be alive!
I took the Tri-8c to a pre-wedding shoot, which happened to take place in a tattoo parlour. How cool? There was a puppy too. But that's a story for another day. The tattoo parlour was an amazing idea in theory, until I saw how dark the place was. It was a cave. But fear not - I stuck the Tri-8c on a light stand, put on the diffuser (which comes with the light) and off we went. Suddenly the place had atmosphere. It wasn't overpowering - I didn't want to bleach the place out - but now I had great, predictable, reliable lighting, in a fantastic environment. Superb.
When I'm shooting stills, I like to light the first dance scene with an off-camera flash. That of course isn't an option with videography. Often in the past I've been at the mercy of whatever lights the evening entertainment brings. But with my new lovely light from the Gods, I can now guarantee that I'll get awesome, atmospheric, romantic lighting, no matter the venue. I started to use it as a key light during this particular wedding, but I quickly transitioned to using it much like I use my flashguns for stills: as a hair light. I stand opposite the light, which I have on a lovely warm temperate setting, and put the couple between us. This halo light, and the odd warm flare, makes for amazing footage. And when I orbit around the couple, the light transitions seamlessly to a key light, then back again. I love the effect it creates. I'll be taking it to every paid job I do now, just in case.
Yes, the Aputure Tri-8c is expensive, but it is so so versatile. I get so much use out of it. I want to use it even more going forward. I have an idea for some rembrandt style low key portraits, and some run-and-gun video with my assistant using the handy handles on the back. The creative possibilities are numerous, and I haven't even begun to explore them all. It's a piece of kit that I know is built to last, and believe me, it'll be used and abused for many years to come.
You can check it out here: http://geni.us/3ORYcG
and check out my video review here: