Flash v LED Studio Lights

Photographic studios are dominated by flash. It’s always been that way, and always will be…?

Professional actors, models and celebs are probably well used to standing in front of a bank of flash guns, reflected, diffused and direct. However, even for the least camera shy, a prolonged session can be very tiring on the eyes of the talent as well as the photographer.

Flash v LED Studio Lights

Delivering constant illumination, the latest high output LED panels offer an attractive alternative solution for photographers. Beyond the sheer comfort factor of using diffused LEDs, they offer numerous other advantages over older light sources.

As a technology, LED is silent and cool running, making the studio a peaceful and relaxed workplace. As a soft light source, it delivers an output that naturally flatters skin tones. Each LED can be cheaply and easily directed and modified with scrims, lenses, filters and softboxes. It’s a flicker free source, that can be dimmed accurately and colour controlled for perfect results. Finally, the technology is very easy to live with: bulbs have an exceptionally long lifespan, yet draw incredibly little power.

The down side?

Photographers want the bright lighting that flashes offer. Certainly, the maximum output of an LED panel is typically lower than that of a flashgun, so you may need to place an LED panel closer to the subject.

With action shots or models shot in motion, LEDs positioned near the subject may not be practical. Fortunately, modern digital sensors are extremely versatile and offer the producer a great deal of exposure latitude. Shooting at an ISO one stop higher than normal will not tax a decent modern camera, yet will give models a far more pleasant shoot.

Alternatively, a focusing LED fresnel light can supply a very bright directional light. Positioned at an angle toward the sides of the face, fresnels give the best of both worlds: high output and the potential for great shadows, but without hurting the eyes. Users get a great result, with no need to run for the Kleenex.