There are so many times when I’m out that shooting that I wish I had just a bit more light, but I’m just carrying my camera and no flash or other lighting equipment. Typically, I’d abandon the shot or crank my camera’s sensitivity past where I’d like it, but now I have another choice. The Aputure M-9 is a quality, soft LED light that fits easily in any pocket!
The M9 is roughly the size of a stack of six credit cards, yet it is a dimmable light with its own internal battery. It’s incredibly simple, with just a power switch and plus and minus buttons for light output. The light is charged using a micro-USB connection, which can also power the M9 for longer shoots. I found that I could usually count on about 80 to 90 minutes of use when fully charged. For on-camera use, the Aputure has a hotshot mount and a 1/4” mount for using with most tripods, light stands and grip accessories. Two magnetic gels are included: a CTO for balancing with indoor tungsten lighting and a diffusion gel.
Aputure has been producing outstanding professional lights with excellent colour reproduction for some time now, including the particularly well regarded Lightstorm series. Even though it’s Aputure’s least expensive light, the M9 continues that tradition. Its colour temperature balanced very well with my more expensive daylight-balanced LEDs, and skin tones look fantastic, avoiding common green and magenta skin tones seen on most inexpensive lights. If you were lighting a subject with window light, the M9 would make a great subtle fill light.
One other aspect I loved about the M9 is the wide, 120-degree beam of light it throws. Many small lights will throw a very tight beam that winds up making it look like you used a flashlight to light your scene. The wider throw of the M9 means you can make your light source look much more natural, though I did often use the included diffuser to soften the light a bit more.
While the M9 is nearly perfect for its intended use, it’s worth remembering that the output is quite low when mixing with brighter sources. When shooting a portrait with window light, I needed to put the M9 about two feet away for it to function as a fill light. That would be pretty impractical if the light was mounted on the camera’s hotshoe, so I recommend moving the M9 off camera when possible. The light is small enough that I could usually just tape it to a nearby object or wall, but if you need it to stand alone, I enjoyed using it with a small Joby Gorillapod and attaching it to chairs, railings, branches, etc.
As you can probably tell, I loved using the Aputure M9! I highly recommend it for anyone looking to improve the lighting in their photo and video work. It’s a very complete package for a very low price, and I know I’ll always have one with me on my shoots. For more information, check out aputure.com and thecamerastore.com!