We all know what a fresnel lens can do from observing a lighthouse. The lamp in a lighthouse is not all that powerful. It’s the lens that sits in front of the bulb that intensifies the light output to a level that ships can use it as navigation aid from a large distance. Aputure’s Fresnel 2x is a fresnel lens for intensifying the light from an Aputure LS120D and LS300D. It also works with Aputure’s budget Amaran lamps. I tested with the Amaran 100d and 100x.
The Bowens Mount Aputure Fresnel 2x intensifies the light. When pointing the lamp to a white wall from a distance of 1.5m, my light meter measured an increase of light from 8000lx at the Fresnel’s largest angle of 60 degrees to 14000lx at its smallest angle of 12 degrees. That’s an incredible amount of light you get for a small price (some online vendors sell the Fresnel 2x for 140 Euros).
The reason the Fresnel 2x is that powerful is that its design features dual optical intensifying elements with a large 6 inch front Fresnel lens and the elimination of light leaks. The rear lens, which is made of solid glass like the front lens, focuses and magnifies the beam onto the fresnel.
The outer parts are made of strong plastics, while the internal components are metal. The whole feels solid and durable. Even with its plastic parts, the rotating barrel, which is easy and efficient to use, is so smooth that I think the lens will last for a long time. The Fresnel 2x is heavy and quite large, though, and comes with its own nicely designed padded carrying case.
The focus throw is accurate and I found even the narrowest angle to have a nice feathering effect. Yet, I was able to lighten objects with sharp delineated perimeters. If you want to create the sharpest shadows beyond the concentrated beam, you can buy the Aputure Barndoors for an extra 79 Euros.
There’s no light leakage from the cooling vents at all due to them all being integrated in rims that open to the back of the unit. The Fresnel 2x focuses the light nice and tight, even at the 12 degree end and manages to stay within limits across its beam range in the area of colour accuracy with a deviation of less than 300 Kelvin.
Although my contact at Aputure told me I shouldn’t use the 100x with the Fresnel 2x as that would result in bi-colour banding, I couldn’t resist trying it. I noticed that banding does occur with the 100x when you set it anywhere in-between its 2700K lowest temperature and its 6500K upper temperature limit. Anywhere between these two, both the warm white and cold white LED’s turn on and you can see this as a faint banding or blocking. It doesn’t happen when the 100x is at either end of its colour temperature settings.
If you want to create chiaroscuro portraits, though, I think you definitely want to add the barndoors if you position the light further away from the subject than the 1.5 metre I tested it with.
Finally, there’s an unexpected advantage of using the Fresnel 2x. If you own CRLS reflectors, you can place the light with the fresnel mounted on a Manfrotto Super Clamp pointing upwards towards the reflector sitting on the same light stand. The effects are incredibly nice to look at.