Today I’m talking about one of the best values in my constant light kit.
As someone who writes a column for Fstoppers, I often have the pleasure of reviewing the curse, photo and video gear at times as well. It’s often a new product on the market that I’ve contacted for a review unit. Sometimes it’s something I saw on set or used by a colleague that I wanted to put through its paces. And sometimes it’s a product that I bought on the spur of the moment, that I’ve fallen in love with and can’t wait to share with my readers. The light I’m going to talk about today falls into the latter category.
As I sit down to write this I am wearing my olive green pants. You have nothing special. You won’t see them in any fashion magazine. You won’t even see me wearing them in many photos, at least not the ones I’m allowed to show in public. But of all the clothes in my closet, these pants have probably been worn more times than any other piece of clothing. Why? Easy. They are super comfy. They are super practical. You make my life easier. Best of all, these pants cost me a whopping $8 at the local Goodwill store, which means they more than earned their price a long time ago.
I’m not telling you this story to try and sell you used olive green pants. I am telling you this story because it is an example of getting the most bang for your buck. They were incredibly affordable. Serve a specific need. get used to a lot. And, honestly, just get the job done. Aside from all the influencer campaigns and promotional videos, I think this is also the best way to think about photo and video gear. We can get lost in the headlines. But let’s face it, the most valuable pieces of gear in your kit are the ones you use the most, the ones that are the most reliable, and give you the fewest problems. I have a lot of super expensive and fancy gear that makes me seem more interesting to the outside world than I actually am. But often it’s the less-heralded gear that allows me to do my job in the first place.
I first heard about the amaran COB 60d on The Cinematography Podcast. I was listening to the podcast during the last mile of an early morning 15 mile run and my legs gave out around mile twelve. In the podcast, the hosts do a section where they talk about products they like and they mention the COB 60d. In full transparency, I spent a lot of money on constant light this year. Like, too much. Well, maybe not too much, actually. In the silent world, my strobe situation has been resolved for some time. But as my career moves in a different direction, it’s clear that my collection of hot lights has been lacking. Now that the camera situation has been resolved by the Nikon Z 9, I’ve put most of my gear budget into constant lighting this year.
Contrary to the mixed success of my camera search over the past few years, I’ve fallen in love with pretty much every lighting unit I’ve acquired. They all serve specific purposes. But they are all well thought out, if I do say so myself, and the overall picture comes across well. So in theory I didn’t really need to add another light. But when the host mentioned the COB 60d, whether due to actual need or lack of oxygen in my brain, I was intrigued. When I got home and found the lamps were only $169, I went to B&H and bought a pair.
Describing how I bought this lamp takes longer than explaining the lamp itself. It’s a fairly no-fuss 65W daylight-balanced COB LED light with a maximum power consumption of 76W and a CRI of 96+. What is striking about this is the value of the light based on its utility.
First of all, these things are relatively small. As someone with a multitude of massive panel lights and a multitude of massive metal stands to hold them up, the fixture’s form factor at roughly 4 ½ inches square is a breath of fresh air. They fit in pretty much any small camera bag. Or you can attach several of them. I say “several” because as soon as they arrived I drove back to B&H to buy more. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Given their small form factor, the lights are incredibly powerful, putting out 45,100 lux at one meter. For comparison I have other lights like the Aputure 300d which I also love but rarely run at full power. This light is great but larger and requires more planning to set up due to the traditional ballast and other components. The COB 60d running at higher powers is able to produce a similar light output (compared to how I normally use my 300d). In addition, the COB 60d is self-contained, tiny and practically plugs right into the wall. Or, perhaps even more impressive, can be powered by batteries or a traditional V-mount. This is important as this is the type of fixture you might want to place in hard-to-reach places due to its size. Being able to run it on inexpensive batteries with no wires adds incredible logistical value. And it connects to the Aputure Sidus Link app so I can control all units from my phone/tablet/etc. can remote control. while simultaneously controlling my other Aputure lighting products.
I mentioned that I usually use my 300d at less than its full capacity. That’s important because it means the 60d can handle many of the day-to-day tasks I need it to do with greater ease. For example, the light is more than powerful enough to penetrate through smaller softboxes or bounce off surfaces when illuminating a medium-sized room. And because of the lower cost, you can get many of these for the price of many other standalone devices.
I even put together a little backpack containing five of these little lights. I can use them individually with the included reflectors and/or the included socks to soften the light. I can put them together to create a stronger and larger PAR light. I can take that and bounce it off an ultra bounce to create a big soft source. It has a built in Bowens mount so it can be used with many existing modifiers that are already in my kit. The flexibility of this light is amazing. And while its individual specs don’t compare to some of the other fixtures in my kit, it does so many things well that it’s usually the first thing I reach for when setting a scene.
There are two variations of this lamp. I have the COB 60d. There is also a COB 60x, the difference is that the 60x is variable, meaning you can switch from daylight to tungsten. But the 60d was cheaper and more powerful, which is why I went with it. Your choice may vary depending on your needs and the rest of the tools at your disposal.
But for me the COB 60d is the perfect example that a great picture doesn’t have to break the bank. I am blessed to be able to have options in my lighting choices. But if someone wanted to build their kit but didn’t have a lot of money, there aren’t many options that offer such good value for money. This light is an impulse purchase that I think turned into a great purchase.