Aputure Nova P300c RGB LED Light Panel

In late 2020 Aputure relased one of their more exciting fixtures in a while in the form of their new Nova P300c LED Panel, aimed at taking on the likes of the Skypanel.

The P300c is an RGBWW LED fixture that’s a touch wider than an S30 Skypanel with built-in gels, effects, HSI, other presets, and all the goodies you’ve come to expect from a modern LED panel. Compared to the S30 it has a 10deg wider beam angle, 800K warmer Tungsten end (2000K vs 2800K) with the same 10,000K top-end and standard Green/Magenta shift control. It also does seem to be brighter by a couple hundred varied lux across the spectrum, advertised at 9000lux at 1 meter. Just from playing around with it at 100% I can believe that. Apparently the S30c “Intensifier” puts it more in-line with the P300c, but what I can say is that the light set to cyan, with another cyan gel and 251 diffusion, set to less than 100%, was giving me a reflected reading of f8 with the light 12’ away from the wall. Plenty of power for modern cinematography.

I can’t say there’s a “highlight” feature of this light necessarily, something that stands out as truly unique, but I will say that it is bright. Really bright. People-complained-about-it bright. Oddly enough pure-red was blinding too, which is rare. But, as a strict “exposure” device this thing is incredible. I’d use it on any interview style shoot easily; make it your key, dial the CCT to match the room, you’re set. Have two and you can do the background with any hue you want and give yourself a lot of options in terms of how you “dress” the set. Being able to dial in the exact color temp of the light you’re trying to match is one of the big benefits of an RGBWW fixture like this, and since it has a Tungsten and a Daylight chip along with the RGBs, you can be sure your color temps are dead accurate (and they are).

Now, It’s still an RGB panel so it still can affect the colors in your scene, as Aputure has outlined in one of their Indy Mogul videos, so it’s not strictly a replacement for having gels but as an “affect/effect light” it’s fantastic. If you don’t know, traditional lights (even after being gelled) don’t tend to affect the way colors look in the same way that RGB LEDs do. With RGB, certain colors in your scene can be interpreted by the camera as something else due to the reduced color spectrum output of the RGB LEDs. In this way, certain settings on the P300c are more akin to lighting with a neon sign than a tungsten Fresnel gelled to Cyan (for instance). I will say that the gel library is very nice, instead of the made up gel presets that I’ve run into in some of these reviews. They’ve got the name and type there in plain, familiar language, referencing real-world gels, and by my eye it does seem to match what they say it is (although you can’t “double up” like you can with normal gels). For lighting a space that can really come in handy, and for the more gentle “gels” it doesn’t mess with your colors too much.

 

Moving on, the control box feels incredibly sturdy. The metal knobs have a satisfying “click” with each value turned, moreso than the sort of plastic-y soft knobs on the Skypanel, and the LCD screen is super high contrast opting for white text over a black background. You can also place the control box anywhere you like with the longer extension cable and a simple clamp (say, on the c-stand). You can even mount it upside-down if you’d like


The power cable supplied is super long with no bulky box section or ballast (which is built into the fixture itself), which I love. It’s got standard plugs that you’re used to and draws 360W (60 more than its name would suggest). The closest familiar analogue I would say is the Skypanel S30c but 2” wider. The S60c is 9” wider, which I assume is what more people are used to and it’s not as big but it weighs about as much coming in at 22.8lbs to the S60s 26.5lbs (an S30 is around 20lbs). To that end, I’d suggest getting something like a Minimax to boom the light, if you were planning on doing so, since a regular c-stand arm will start to bend pretty fast.

As you’ll likely want a soft light with this source, you’re gonna want to get the softbox diffuser, although I hope Aputure gives you some other options in the future, and you’ll definitely want the roller case because you’re going to need those wheels to haul this thing around. It’s a super durable case, custom foam cutouts, multiple beefy plastic clamps to keep the thing together, and handles on all sides so when you go to lift it into your car/van you can throw out your back with confidence. In a studio setting, though, where it’ll be living on a stand with professional grips and rigging around that may very well not be an issue.

 One thing I don’t like is that the cables JUST don’t clear the yoke when you pass the 90° point. Like, they do, but they still knock up against the horizontal bar and that annoys me. Skypanels do this too and I hate it. Make the yoke a bit taller so it clears it freely? Just an inch or two or whatever it is? Maybe change the angle of the port itself? If you loosen up the brake, which feels very sturdy like everything else on this fixture, the fixture naturally goes panel-up which means that cable will hit your crossbar. A small complaint but I bet over time it’d damage the cable if you did it enough.

Overall, the P300c seems like an excellent fixture. I love the build quality, the output, the variety of light options, the quality of light, and the ease of use (I figured it all out just by turning it on). I think you could talk about this fixture alongside the Gemini Panels and Skypanels easily, barring any DMX downfalls (which I can’t test here as it stands), and I really see these things becoming commonplace on sets big and small alike as the 120D and 300D before it. Aputure has really made a winner in the 300c.   

I think the fact that I’m barely talking about the “light” part should speak to how good it is. It’s almost unnoteworthy; it does exactly what it says on the box. All top-tier LED panels probably look pretty similar, but the interface and breadth of options are what you’ll likely base your decisions on and this panel feels like it covers all the bases. It’s bright as hell, incredibly flexible, super sturdy, and allows you to dial in whatever color you could possibly want. You can even use the Sidus Link app to control it, if you’ve got it in a place that’s hard to reach and can be powered off of cinema batteries if you need to go mobile (although that’s an additional accessory plate.

So, for just shy of $1,900.00 (including the case) you’re getting a slightly heavier, brighter light than a similarly-sized Skypanel with all the functionality and ease of use for about half the price. That’s not a bad deal.

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