Let's look at the differences between two light modification tools to use with Aputure's 120 and 300 lines.
While the dome light and lantern are both light-modifying tools that soften and evenly distribute hard light, there are significant differences between the two tools. But because they look the same (and cost about the same), some new filmmakers may wonder what these differences are. Let's take a look.
What is the dome light?
The Light Dome is Aputure's offer for a softbox. In contrast to a conventional softbox, which is (as the name suggests) rectangular, the Light Dome is circular in shape. This “wraps” the light around the subject, avoiding unwanted soiling in the background. Because the dome is deep (24 inches deep), it creates a narrower, more focused beam with a reflective interior.
Since the Light Dome has a large diffusion film of 35 inches, it not only creates wonderfully soft light, but also the perfect eye-light for interview topics.
Hence, you usually use this light modifier when lighting people or objects. In addition, the Light Dome II has a gel holder with which you can give the soft lights a creative flair. If you need to get close and find that the light has become too harsh or there are visible lines from the diffusion fabric being folded, the Light Dome also comes with an internal diffuser that makes the light significantly softer again.
It should be noted that the Light Dome II is also supplied with two diffusion blades with 1.5 and 2.5 apertures. All iterations of the dome light (and lantern) use a Bowens bracket that makes them accessible to a variety of lights. The Light Dome is priced at $ 149 and the Light Dome II is priced at $ 219.
What is the lantern?
In 2019, Aputure announced the $ 100 Aputure Lantern, an additional lighting modifier that can be used alongside the Light Dome selection. Many looking to keep their manufacturing budget low may opt for the lantern over the skylight. Although they look similar and (ultimately) do the same thing – diffuse light – the payoff of light is very different.
First, the Aputure Lantern is omnidirectional, which means exactly what you might think – light is emitted from all directions (except the back of the light, of course). This means that it isn't actually a light modifier that you want to control. You want it to be directed as intended using a lantern.
Like China balls, they are ideal for table scenes where the light has to be evenly distributed among several participants. Just remember, if you were to light a dining table scene between three family members with three separate lights and a softbox / dome light, you would need three individual light settings. It is one with the lantern – positioned overhead.
However, if you need to modify the lantern, it also comes with a four-piece, fully adjustable, detachable lighting control skirt. So, if you need to steer the lantern so that it is pointing at mostly an angle, then you can.
Although I use the Aputure Light Dome infrequently (about once or twice a month), if I could, I would leave it assembled all the time because it is a hassle to set up (like most softboxes) and there are no light leaks you a few minutes. Aputure heard this criticism, however, and made sure that their second iteration of the Light Dome (the Light Dome II) was able to assemble and disassemble it much faster. In less than a minute.
The lantern is even faster. I want to say it can be assembled and disassembled in seconds, but it's probably a single second. This and its smaller size make it perfect for run-and-gun scenarios where you need ambient light quickly and don't have time to fully set up.
How do the modifiers differ?
In the settings below, the actor is positioned in an interior room with natural light, with strong natural light coming in from the window. Since the direction is supposed to be a high-key shot, we need to bring some fill light into the scene to save the exposure for the light from the window. And also to avoid the highlights of the windows when we illuminate for the interior ambience.
If you're using an Aputure 120d that runs at 75 and is positioned at a 45 degree angle, the light dome lets you see that it does a great job of illuminating the subject with a soft plaster of paris, highlighting the details of the actor.
Because of the fall-off of light and the projected shadows, it also looks like it is being lit by a motivated light source – like a ceiling lamp. It's nice, but it also feels pretty dramatic.
However, if you are using the 120d with a power of 75 and positioned at a 45 degree angle with the lantern pointing down, of course, the composition is like this.
While it is the same light with the same output, you will find that the lantern modifier completely changes the tone of the image. There is no direction via light, but a projection of the same ambient light with few shadows and little contrast. There is also no general direction in which the light is directed.
The Light Dome is the perfect modifier to illuminate your subject with a soft light that wraps around the subject. This makes it ideal for company shots, tutorial videos, conversation scenes, product shots and even portraits.
Because the lantern has a beam angle of 270 degrees, it is the preferred choice for creating soft ambient lighting to illuminate an entire area rather than a single subject. This is useful for high-volume recordings, podcasts, open spaces, and because of the size of the light, for scenes with small rooms.
Similar tools from the same company produce different results.
For more information on lighting, see the articles below.
Cover background image via vectorplus.