Review: Aputure Amaran AL-M9 Video Light (under $100!)

Rule Number 1 of any video or photography course is you must understand light to be successful at what you do. If there is no or insufficient light, then the image or clip will not expose properly, that is, be dark.

It’s a basic.

So, often we need to add light to be able to shoot the imagery we need and this is done by artificially adding light to a scene via some sort of lamp.

Now I do not intend this to be a lighting tutorial: there are dozens of those available and the techniques vary according to the specific circumstance – and it’s fair to say this is a science all to itself hence the Very Important position on the set of “lighting director”.

No, this is aimed at those on a budget who need some sort of light for their camera in order to get an acceptable shot. For example, when shooting an interview, these need to be lit correctly to remove shadows, “bring out” the subject against the background and so on.

Video lights can cost a motza. Just Googling “Video Light Cost” shows a variance between top and bottom of the first 5 found listed of over AUD$1000.

Way back in the past – about 1997 if I recall – I found a basic video light in a duty free shop in Vanuatu for $75 and a grabbed it. This little non branded light served me well for a few years, mainly on trips where I was shooting inside buildings, people at night around BBQs, night fishing and other holiday type stuff.

I eventually lost that light somewhere in Europe and didn’t really have a use for a new one until recently when I had to shoot some private tutorials. The on-camera light for my Panasonic HC-PV100 did a fair job, but the scene – a talking head – needed filling out and so I searched around for an inexpensive solution.

And found the Aputure Amaran AL-M9. At AUD$80 it certainly didn’t break the bank but has a bunch of features which I reckon make it excellent value.

APUTURE AL=M9 SIDEIn summary, stuff that won me over were:

  • Pocket-Sized LED Video Light
  • 5500K ± 200K Colour Temperature 
  • 9 Smooth Dimmable Steps
  • Removable Magnetic Diffuser
  • CTO and CTB Gel Filters Included
  • Built-In Rechargeable 1800mAh Li-Ion Battery
  • Universal Mount Adapter Included
  • Fits on Tripods, Cameras, and Cold Shoe Mounts

The Aputure Amaran AL-M9 comes in a dinky little carry case and can be installed and ready to run on a camera or stand in seconds.

If the AL-M9 is not what you are after, Aputure has a decent range of other lights (as well as other accessories). I bought mine from Kayell in Sydney.

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