Can the Aputure Light Dome Mini ii be used as a Key Light?

August 8, 2020

I was looking for a cost effective solution for a key light. Something I could use for YouTube, filming product b-roll and flash photography.

This is what I chose - A Godox SL60w, a super basic light stand and the Aputure Light Dome Mini ii.

YouTuber using the Aputure Light Dome Mini ii as a key light
Godox SL60W set up 45 degrees to my right with the Aputure light dome mini ii

Why this setup?

I wanted something affordable, looked great and save me time.

I have a whole article on why a light is the single biggest time saving device in your film making kit as a content creator, but the soft box was equally as important.

Traditional soft boxes with all the rods are an absolute pain to set up. I despise this fiddlyness and wanted something I could set up or tear down as fast as possible. This narrowed it down to the Aputure light dome ii, the mini ii, the Westcott Rapid box and Falcon eyes flexible LED panels.

The best solution would be the LED panels, however the only ones I could find that would output a sufficient amount of light was exorbitantly expensive. Caleb Pike from DSLR video shooter jerry rigged an extremely neat little rig using a rolling C-stand and a few boom arms.

Setup time

Thanks to the permanently attached rods, you simply press down on the inner spokes and everything pops into place. Next comes the diffusion and honeycomb grid which you stick to the velcro lined sides of the dome and you're all set.

The whole process takes about 30 seconds if you include taking it out of the bag.

Opening the Aputure light dome mini ii to use as a key light softbox
Setting up the light dome ii is an absolute breeze.

So how's it look?

Pretty damn good. It’s not the softest light in the world, and you’ll have to be fairly careful how you place it but it does work. The above video from my YouTube channel demonstrates how quickly it is to set up and tear down, also the kind of look you can expect from something only 22" wide.

As it’s not as larger light source as the light dome, you’ll have to be careful where you place it not to produce extremely pronounced shadows on your talent. I angled it 45 degrees in front and to the side. This for me gives the best results.

Improper placement can yield some pretty harsh shadows from the bridge of the nose and side of the face so watch out for that. Less margin for error that the standard light dome.

Build and Size

It’s a small softbox making it well suited for tight spaces or bedrooms. An LED panel may still be your go to depending on how tight it is but the quality of the light is great.

I have no complaints about the build quality apart from the flimsy inner diffuser. It’s the least impressive aspect of the entire soft box made of a thin material that I don’t feel confident ripping on and off with the same veracity as the outer diffusion layer or included grid. 9/10 for build quality given the rest of the materials are superb.

Light dome or light dome mini?

If you’re limited on budget, the mini is an excellent choice. You’ll still be able to get fantastic results but you’ll have to be a little bit more careful with your placement. The light dome would be a better choice if you’re wanting the softest light available.

The below links are affiliate links that, if you should graciously buy something, will give me a small kick back. Thanks a tonne! Helps me out a lot!
Light dome mini ii - The hero of this article.
Light dome mini i - The OG - can be quite a bit cheaper but it's a lot more fiddly than the ii.
Aputure light dome ii (larger softbox) - If you have the space and budget

Westcott Rapid Box 27" - Westcott alternative, bit more expensive but a bit bigger too.

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