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Forums > Photography Talk > Solid state vrs strobe lighting Search   Reply
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


First off, the search feature isn't all that great on this site.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a solid state lighting solution for still photography in the conceptual/editorial space?

Pros: I can see where the light is while I'm setting up the shot. Also, the metering is much easier. Digital control is an advantage as is lower power. Color temp control is a huge plus.

Cons: Cost. Freezing motion.

What am I missing? It seems like if cost is the same that SSL has a huge advantage over strobe. Let me know what I'm not considering!

Thanks,

GEoff
Dec 08 12 02:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
fullmetalphotographer
Posts: 2,534
Fresno, California, US


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
First off, the search feature isn't all that great on this site.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a solid state lighting solution for still photography in the conceptual/editorial space?

Pros: I can see where the light is while I'm setting up the shot. Also, the metering is much easier. Digital control is an advantage as is lower power. Color temp control is a huge plus.

Cons: Cost. Freezing motion.

What am I missing? It seems like if cost is the same that SSL has a huge advantage over strobe. Let me know what I'm not considering!

Thanks,

GEoff

I have shot both lighting systems, LCD I use a lot for video, but for studio stills I use Studio strobes.

Lets start where you are wrong. In the pros you are off on a couple of points. First off, let me be a little blunt here. When I read this it says to me, lack of experience and lack of shooting manually. This would be true if the photographer is someone is mainly comfortable in the camera auto modes.

I can see where the light is while I'm setting up the shot.
Most decent studio strobe have modeling lights that adjust to mirror the power output of the strobe units with less power.

Also, the metering is much easier.
No metering is the same amount of work big difference is using a handheld vs a camera meter. The handheld ambient meter for flash and continuous lighting is more accurate than a camera's reflective metering. Using a Handheld meter is the same amount of work.

Digital control is an advantage as is lower power.
Most decent strobes have digital or simple dial in controls that are very similar to LCD lighting. If you are really talking control strobe in fact a huge advantage over LCD because the greater power output. You have far greater control over the quality of the and are able to adjust the hardness of the light. Where LCD gives mainly one type of soft light.

Color temp control is a huge plus.
They are both daylight balanced so there is no advantage here what so ever.

There is an old joke among photographers, when someone says, "I am a natural light photographer". Translation I do not know who to use strobes. wink

I break down photographers into two groups these days, those that pre-visualize and those who are reactive.

The pre-visualize shooters are pre visualizing the shoot before it happens thinking about the light both environmental and artificial, the lights direction and its quality. Most of these shooters have a film background because these skills were essential for quality captures. Reactive shooters tend to shoot first then look at the back of the camera then make their adjustments, most likely they have just a digital background.

Dec 08 12 03:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JGC Photography
Posts: 133
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


I agree with the above post.

I have a Peter Hurley'ish T8 lighting setup in my basement studio...I like it for headshots. I feel I get a better and smoother subject work flow from constant lighting.

Other than that conventional strobes are the way to go and are so much more versatile.
Dec 08 12 04:05 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Ben Hinman
Posts: 596
Westwood, California, US


If you're using continuous lighting, its better for video. Obviously you're not going to be able to use strobes for anything else but stills. Certain ETTL kits are going to allow you to change the ratio from one light to another with ease, but you're going to need a master strobe with slaves capable of receiving radio control if you want this advantage. Continuous lighting on the other hand is less versatile, you usually have to stop it down manually by adjusting barn doors, gels, filters, etc. Continuous usually requires a power source, unless you can buy some kind of generator or hook it up to a car battery... Strobes can be plugged in but often have battery packs you can buy that make them portable. You can't see strobes till you take the shot, which is something you have to get used to. Beginners might have a hard time balancing the light when they can't see it firsthand. Strobes can misfire, continuous lighting does not.
Dec 08 12 04:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
rp_photo
Posts: 42,470
Houston, Texas, US


fullmetalphotographer wrote:
There is an old joke among photographers, when someone says, "I am a natural light photographer". Translation I do not know who to use strobes. wink

I'd say that's true half the time.

I started with natural light, then to flash, then to strobes, then mostly back to natural light.

Dec 08 12 05:19 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,478
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


rp_photo wrote:

I'd say that's true half the time.

not even. It used to mean "I cant even afford Alien Bees", which was a legit concern.  Now it means "I can't afford cheap chinese strobes because I'm a poor student and even those are beyond reach".

the whole "dont know how to use strobes" is split evenly among those that have em wink

Dec 08 12 06:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kawika Photography
Posts: 110
San Diego, California, US


I want all of it. Right now however I have speedlights, small LEDs and several fluorescent banks. It does the job and each has it's pros/cons. If you have to buy one $1K light then I'd say strobes. GL
Dec 08 12 06:36 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Gabby57
Posts: 346
Coppell, Texas, US


This is a very good book, you might find it's insights useful:

http://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Portrai … ewpoints=1
Dec 08 12 06:56 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
CreativeKvn
Posts: 120
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Actually I am quite torn on this. Currently I use 3 580EX II speedlites and I have the Alien Bee Ringflash. I recently was able to shoot using continuous lighting, using bigger LED video lights. What I found, and this is just my opinion/experience, that:

1. It was really easy and quick to see exactly what I am shooting
In my experience, modeling lamps don’t really do such a good job at that. Of course, I might have just been using crappy lights or don’t know how to use it well.

2. The lack of constant flashes made for a more relaxed and fluid shoot
It was easy to work with the model, and I believe it was because 2 distractions were removed. The constant flashing and the beeping of the strobes (for ready signal). I don’t have those beeps/tones with my 580’s (obviously), but when I rent the lights...

I am actually going to buy some florescent lights for shooting, just because the LED lights are oh-so expensive. Right now I have it narrowed down to 3 products/companies.

• ALZO (http://www.alzovideo.com/selection_pan-l-lite_kits.htm)
• FloFLight (http://www.flolight.com/fluorescent-lighting.html)
• Cool Lights (http://www.coollights.biz/studio-flo-models-c-31.html)

The top running, which I will likely order, are the ALZO lights. To be exact: 3 x ALZO VIDEO DIMMABLE PAN-L-LITE TWIN with 2 - 55 watt 5600K VIDEO-LUX bulbs. The reason why I believe these will be best is because: (a) they are more affordable than the FloLight lights, (b) they look to be higher quality than the Cool Lights / comparable quality to the FloLights, (c) come with a honeycomb grid, and (d) allow horizontal and vertical mounting without having to buy and switch brackets.

The KinoFlo (http://kinoflo.com/Lighting%20Fixtures/ … a-Lite.htm) lights are simply way too expensive and I don’t see how they will make for a better result. I’ve also looked at the Lupo (http://www.lupolight.it/photography.html) lights, but they are also too expensive. The Lupa exited me the most, because they have the strip light, but then the mounting options are limited and more difficult to switch between as they also have different brackets for horizontal and vertical mounting.
Dec 08 12 07:12 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Leonard Gee Photography
Posts: 15,709
Sacramento, California, US


LED
low power
very expensive for more light
even then, not as bright
long battery life with no ac
fairly compact
light spectrum

fluorescent
more light
expensive for OEM
large, multiple fixtures for enough light
light spectrum (getting better)
ballast

flash
lots of power
light weight heads (power packs)
computer control (new digital)
stop motion
up to 4,000+ ws
Dec 08 12 11:24 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


fullmetalphotographer wrote:

I have shot both lighting systems, LCD I use a lot for video, but for studio stills I use Studio strobes.

Lets start where you are wrong. In the pros you are off on a couple of points. First off, let me be a little blunt here. When I read this it says to me, lack of experience and lack of shooting manually. This would be true if the photographer is someone is mainly comfortable in the camera auto modes.

I can see where the light is while I'm setting up the shot.
Most decent studio strobe have modeling lights that adjust to mirror the power output of the strobe units with less power.

Also, the metering is much easier.
No metering is the same amount of work big difference is using a handheld vs a camera meter. The handheld ambient meter for flash and continuous lighting is more accurate than a camera's reflective metering. Using a Handheld meter is the same amount of work.

Digital control is an advantage as is lower power.
Most decent strobes have digital or simple dial in controls that are very similar to LCD lighting. If you are really talking control strobe in fact a huge advantage over LCD because the greater power output. You have far greater control over the quality of the and are able to adjust the hardness of the light. Where LCD gives mainly one type of soft light.

Color temp control is a huge plus.
They are both daylight balanced so there is no advantage here what so ever.

There is an old joke among photographers, when someone says, "I am a natural light photographer". Translation I do not know who to use strobes. wink

I break down photographers into two groups these days, those that pre-visualize and those who are reactive.

The pre-visualize shooters are pre visualizing the shoot before it happens thinking about the light both environmental and artificial, the lights direction and its quality. Most of these shooters have a film background because these skills were essential for quality captures. Reactive shooters tend to shoot first then look at the back of the camera then make their adjustments, most likely they have just a digital background.

Yes I'm new to this, if I wasn't I wouldn't be posting in a forum looking for help and no, I don't shoot auto, ever.

1) Yes, there are model lights that operate at a significantly lower power than the the actual strobe. However, during a shoot, unless you are metering between each shot, there's going to be some guesswork as to how the lighting has changed. In an LED (LCD is what's on your computer, btw) light you have a constant source of what you're actually going to get a photo of. That seems like a powerful tool in studio to me. What am I missing?

2) See point one. It's not a question of holding the meter out and getting a reading, it's a matter of stopping the flow, grabbing the meter, measuring, and then getting back to shooting between any significant pose change.

3)the power comment was more based on battery operation in remote locations, That's my fault, I should have been more clear as to what I was talking about. The digital control falls back into my first question. In the strobes that I've worked with there's a sliding scale on the back of the unit with 1/3rd stop breakdowns. When I lower the light I have to discharge the capacitor and the modeling light comes back on. With an LED light you can tune it perfectly how you want, regardless of the stop clicks on the back. What is the disadvantage of that? I'll give you the soft light point, that's one I didn't think about. Also, I've never worked with a digital strobe so i don't know how they operate either. What are the differences?

4) Color temp is incredibly important. Yes, they might be daylight balanced but with an LED light, if it's made right, you can change between warm and cool color temps in unit with a press of the button. As I understand it, that would require a change of bulbs or at least an application of some type of filter on a strobe. Why would that not be an advantage?

I'm going to ignore the last three paragraphs other than to tell you that however you meant them (I'm trying to assume you meant to be funny and/or helpful) they come off abrasive and somewhat condescending.

Dec 08 12 11:26 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


JGC Photography wrote:
I agree with the above post.

I have a Peter Hurley'ish T8 lighting setup in my basement studio...I like it for headshots. I feel I get a better and smoother subject work flow from constant lighting.

Other than that conventional strobes are the way to go and are so much more versatile.

Is your set up static? Meaning, do you do similar shots one after another or do you change it up a lot while doing head shots?

Dec 08 12 11:28 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


rp_photo wrote:

I'd say that's true half the time.

I started with natural light, then to flash, then to strobes, then mostly back to natural light.

A good photographer should really know both, no? Although artificial light gives so many more options to sculpt the light I can see why people would shy away.

Dec 08 12 11:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


CreativeKvn wrote:
Actually I am quite torn on this. Currently I use 3 580EX II speedlites and I have the Alien Bee Ringflash. I recently was able to shoot using continuous lighting, using bigger LED video lights. What I found, and this is just my opinion/experience, that:

1. It was really easy and quick to see exactly what I am shooting
In my experience, modeling lamps don’t really do such a good job at that. Of course, I might have just been using crappy lights or don’t know how to use it well.

2. The lack of constant flashes made for a more relaxed and fluid shoot
It was easy to work with the model, and I believe it was because 2 distractions were removed. The constant flashing and the beeping of the strobes (for ready signal). I don’t have those beeps/tones with my 580’s (obviously), but when I rent the lights...

I am actually going to buy some florescent lights for shooting, just because the LED lights are oh-so expensive. Right now I have it narrowed down to 3 products/companies.

• ALZO (http://www.alzovideo.com/selection_pan-l-lite_kits.htm)
• FloFLight (http://www.flolight.com/fluorescent-lighting.html)
• Cool Lights (http://www.coollights.biz/studio-flo-models-c-31.html)

The top running, which I will likely order, are the ALZO lights. To be exact: 3 x ALZO VIDEO DIMMABLE PAN-L-LITE TWIN with 2 - 55 watt 5600K VIDEO-LUX bulbs. The reason why I believe these will be best is because: (a) they are more affordable than the FloLight lights, (b) they look to be higher quality than the Cool Lights / comparable quality to the FloLights, (c) come with a honeycomb grid, and (d) allow horizontal and vertical mounting without having to buy and switch brackets.

The KinoFlo (http://kinoflo.com/Lighting%20Fixtures/ … a-Lite.htm) lights are simply way too expensive and I don’t see how they will make for a better result. I’ve also looked at the Lupo (http://www.lupolight.it/photography.html) lights, but they are also too expensive. The Lupa exited me the most, because they have the strip light, but then the mounting options are limited and more difficult to switch between as they also have different brackets for horizontal and vertical mounting.

I never thought of the second point! I've had one model that had to go take Advil and sit in her card for a half hour because she got a migraine from the flashing lights. She came back like a champ but when I looked at the photos leading up to her getting sick it looks like a flip book.

Which photos in your port were shot with constant lighting as opposed to flash?

Dec 08 12 11:34 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
LA StarShooter
Posts: 1,671
Los Angeles, California, US


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:

A good photographer should really know both, no? Although artificial light gives so many more options to sculpt the light I can see why people would shy away.

I can't remember which editor of which photography magazine endorsed continuous lighting as our future as he pushed THE RED, but strobes are wonderful for the variety of lighting qualities. I used some alien bees, a 1600 and a smaller guy, and they just had softboxes on them. I was able to vary the light with ease. The increments were good.

A photographer above categorized photographers as two types. You can be a blend of both, right? You can plan, think about the light, plan for the light, but I don't use a light meter ever with digital and I use the LCD, and if I need to would look at the histograms.

Dec 08 12 11:44 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
fullmetalphotographer
Posts: 2,534
Fresno, California, US


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:

Yes I'm new to this, if I wasn't I wouldn't be posting in a forum looking for help and no, I don't shoot auto, ever.

1) Yes, there are model lights that operate at a significantly lower power than the the actual strobe. However, during a shoot, unless you are metering between each shot, there's going to be some guesswork as to how the lighting has changed. In an LED (LCD is what's on your computer, btw) light you have a constant source of what you're actually going to get a photo of. That seems like a powerful tool in studio to me. What am I missing?

2) See point one. It's not a question of holding the meter out and getting a reading, it's a matter of stopping the flow, grabbing the meter, measuring, and then getting back to shooting between any significant pose change.

3)the power comment was more based on battery operation in remote locations, That's my fault, I should have been more clear as to what I was talking about. The digital control falls back into my first question. In the strobes that I've worked with there's a sliding scale on the back of the unit with 1/3rd stop breakdowns. When I lower the light I have to discharge the capacitor and the modeling light comes back on. With an LED light you can tune it perfectly how you want, regardless of the stop clicks on the back. What is the disadvantage of that? I'll give you the soft light point, that's one I didn't think about. Also, I've never worked with a digital strobe so i don't know how they operate either. What are the differences?

4) Color temp is incredibly important. Yes, they might be daylight balanced but with an LED light, if it's made right, you can change between warm and cool color temps in unit with a press of the button. As I understand it, that would require a change of bulbs or at least an application of some type of filter on a strobe. Why would that not be an advantage?

I'm going to ignore the last three paragraphs other than to tell you that however you meant them (I'm trying to assume you meant to be funny and/or helpful) they come off abrasive and somewhat condescending.

I have used LightPanels they don't change color temp unless you gel them. I have also used Kino Flo those you change the tubes or gel. The big issue is experience. You are not metering in between each shot unless you have drastically changed the lights setup. And if you are changing the lights that much you are still remetering even if you are using continuous lighting, be it with a handheld or camera meter.

With Litepanels LCD you have maybe 2hr of battery life if you are not plugged in. Also you are talking about about $1,500 a unit. For stills I would go to a Nikon CLS system which the strobes are about $500 a unit and you have a greater variety lighting setups and can shoot all day.


I will say it this way, with no disrespect, you are trying to find a tech solution for a basic lack of skill set. Looking at your work I would say you are 3/4 of the way there in understanding, but you are somewhat intimidated by strobes. With costs being what they are and tech being at its present level you will be best serve by learning more about strobe systems.

Reading your post you are hoping that there is a superiority with LCD Tech to avoid learning strobes. It is less of that one is better than the other, but more of a case which tool is the best tool needed for which situation. Understanding that will allow to execute your artistic vision much easier.

You have a good eye but don't shackle yourself by turning to tech to avoid a knowledge issue.

Dec 08 12 12:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
FBY1K
Posts: 877
Kaiserslautern, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany


I prefer the best continuous light known...the Sun! If you've never shot in the "Golden hour" light, you don't know what you're missing. Living in central Europe during the winter however means not very much of it.

Back to the main discussion I mainly use tungsten ("warts" and all) in my studio work. When I rent a studio I bring my own lights and there's always a hot light (anything from 50 watts up to 1Kw) in my case.

I use hot lights because they're easy for me to work with. I can see the shadows (which takes practice) and things flow easier. I have (good) experiences with flash and fluorescent based light sources, but still prefer a simple hot light.

FBY1K
Dec 08 12 01:49 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ZEPhoto
Posts: 191
Los Angeles, California, US


fullmetalphotographer wrote:
I have used LightPanels they don't change color temp unless you gel them. I have also used Kino Flo those you change the tubes or gel. The big issue is experience. You are not metering in between each shot unless you have drastically changed the lights setup. And if you are changing the lights that much you are still remetering even if you are using continuous lighting, be it with a handheld or camera meter.

With Litepanels LCD you have maybe 2hr of battery life if you are not plugged in. Also you are talking about about $1,500 a unit. For stills I would go to a Nikon CLS system which the strobes are about $500 a unit and you have a greater variety lighting setups and can shoot all day.


I will say it this way, with no disrespect, you are trying to find a tech solution for a basic lack of skill set. Looking at your work I would say you are 3/4 of the way there in understanding, but you are somewhat intimidated by strobes. With costs being what they are and tech being at its present level you will be best serve by learning more about strobe systems.

Reading your post you are hoping that there is a superiority with LCD Tech to avoid learning strobes. It is less of that one is better than the other, but more of a case which tool is the best tool needed for which situation. Understanding that will allow to execute your artistic vision much easier.

You have a good eye but don't shackle yourself by turning to tech to avoid a knowledge issue.

Oh, ok. I think I made an assumption based on the fact that there are mixed color LED's in the Litepanels system. Do they do that for a stronger ability to project a balanced color? I know in some cases it's easier to mix warm and cool LED's to get the correct output than it is to have a single bank of led's that are all exactly 4525K.

And you're dead right, I'm only three studio shoots in so I've got a lot to learn for sure. Metering is something new to me. I've got an in at one of the LED lighting companies and I think I can get the system for a heavily discounted price so I'm not as concerned about the money as I am about the performance.

I agree too that at the end of the day anything more than a 1 or 2 light set up might create more challenges in my mind than I'm prepared to deal with, especially with model I don't know. I try to project confidence on set and screwing around with the lights doesn't always help with that.

Also, thanks! I'm trying really hard to learn all of this as fast as I can. The support of you and other people on this site are really helping with that. Tech is an easy fallback but, at the end of the day, you're right. Knowing the basic tools is really important. 

Thank you for your support!

Dec 08 12 02:55 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
CreativeKvn
Posts: 120
Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
I never thought of the second point! I've had one model that had to go take Advil and sit in her card for a half hour because she got a migraine from the flashing lights. She came back like a champ but when I looked at the photos leading up to her getting sick it looks like a flip book.

Which photos in your port were shot with constant lighting as opposed to flash?

Continuous Light:
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30845468
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30845463
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30845459
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/30845458

Flash / Canon 580ex II:
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/26643660
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/24660491
http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/24657998

Dec 08 12 02:57 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
fullmetalphotographer
Posts: 2,534
Fresno, California, US


rp_photo wrote:

I'd say that's true half the time.

I started with natural light, then to flash, then to strobes, then mostly back to natural light.

I did the ping pong bounce back and fourth, Today it is more about what gets the job done. My preference is toward natural lighting, 20 years of photojournalism, it is my goto. wink

Dec 08 12 03:53 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ontherocks
Posts: 22,064
Salem, Oregon, US


we use our fluorescents for shooting products and sometimes babies and boudoir but for most of our shoots we use strobes. hard to put a lot of light into a large area with continuous (unless you have the big ones like they use for movies). and if you have a window nearby then you can take advantage of the sun (maybe add some fill with a reflector).
Dec 09 12 08:35 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Good Egg Productions
Posts: 14,689
Orlando, Florida, US


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
4) Color temp is incredibly important. Yes, they might be daylight balanced but with an LED light, if it's made right, you can change between warm and cool color temps in unit with a press of the button. As I understand it, that would require a change of bulbs or at least an application of some type of filter on a strobe. Why would that not be an advantage?

I'll assume that you mean that the relative color temperature of all of your lights are incredibly important.  Since you're shooting in RAW (you ARE shooting in RAW, right?) altering your color temperature is as easy as choosing it with the conversion.

Dec 09 12 09:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
G Colton Photography
Posts: 2
San Antonio, Texas, US


Jeff,

Was reading through the thread, and applaud your willingness to ask questions and learn.

There might be another option though, that might save you a lot of trial/error in the money department..

1- Go to a workshop or 2-3. Go to several done by different photographers. There are several guys that do pro level lighting workshops: Rick Friedman, Rolando Gomez, and the Shoot the Centerfold staff (Playboy photographer Arny Freytag started it on the side). But make sure you are going to pro level workshops.

2- Go hang with a pro as an assistant for a week carrying gear, and seeing how they do it. In 99% of the cases, (a) you'll get to shoot the same models, (b) be able to get simple releases for your port for free (the model is generally already being paid and will gladly give you a few minutes when they see how you've been very attentive to them and the photographer), and most importantly for you (c) get to shoot with pro lighting gear and see how it works.

We all started somewhere, and on MM you will find (not unlike the rest of the Internet), both good and bad advice. And some advice may be good for some people and bad for others.

For example, I am shooting in the Virgin Islands right now with 13 models over a 19 day period. It is a production. Hair and make-up artists, 3 photography assistants, and a basic production assistant for the house to keep us fed and in clean clothes. I tell you this not in an attempt to impress (it is less impressive than I care to admit), but to give you some context...

Am I going to use Alien Bee lighting, or any brand that has sliders (meaning I don't know EXACTLY how much light I am adding or subtracting)? No. Am I going to use any lighting system that hasn't proven it is going to flash at the same temperature consistently, over and over and over? No. Am I going to use equipment that isn't ruggedized for the demands I put on it.. from getting coated in salt water and sand, to being banged around on the 100+ flight segments I've been on this year? No.

But, that also means I am going to sacrifice my wallet in exchange for professional grade lighting and camera gear, beacuse it doesn't matter how beautiful the light is if it doesn't work each and every time I need it to. But that means I have invested A LOT of money into gear. Something most photographers can't afford to do. So for some photographers, AB lights are the best for them, and that is quite alright!

In the end though, I see it as an investment. I can get shots that others can/t because I have equipment they don't, so I get to license my photos in places they never will and recoup the cost of my investment.

If your looking to make posters, calendars, or shoot weddings, or portraits, it is a different business than a commercial photographer who is shooting for large scale or large size print ads. I have no idea where you are, or where you want to be, so forgive any generalities...

However, even though we may be shooting for different end purposes, it doesn't mean you can't learn by being a pro-bono assistant (in exchange for learning about gear and shooting after the main shoot wraps). And there are some really great photographers who do business exactly the same. They love to share their knowledge with people who WANT to learn and are willing to give a bit of sweat equity to the cause. wink

My overall suggestion though comes from experience and spending money where I shouldn't have. Try it out first. Use different brands. Talk to different phtographers who are actually using the equipment day in and day out. Don't get caught buying inferior gear, only to relaize it a few months in, and need to buy new better gear. You are better off to save your money and get the best that for your application. Patience frequently pays off. And while you save, you are testing and talking and researching and learning.

Hope that helps wink

GC
Dec 09 12 12:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
David Kirk
Posts: 4,309
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


I have never worked with LED lighting so I cannot really advise if it is better or worse, but I can provide some insight to my experience with strobes.

For the record, I use Elinchrom 600RX and 300RX strobes.

1.  Seeing the light.  I find that the llamaing light (which is proportional in power to the flash power) does provide me with a very good view of where the light is going to look like.  Perhaps other strobes don't do a good job of this, but I have no complaints about mine.

2.  Consistency.  I have measured my lights many times over the last 6 years and found that they are extremely consistent from flash to flash and from day to day.  Similarly, I don't see any difference in terms of temperature from shot to shot (hard to judge day to day because I don't shoot any consistent setups).

3.  Power Setting.  I can set the light in increments of 1/10 of a stop over 5 stop which means I never have to move a light to adjust the power (as moving lights back/forward affects more than just the amount of light striking the subject).  When reducing the power setting of the light it automatically bleeds the extra power from capacitor to the proper level.

4.  Temperature.  I don't know if changing the the light colour is a good thing or not.  I can't do it on my strobes without gels, but I rarely want to do that.

5.  Fan Noise.  The one complaint I do have with my strobes is that the fans are always on (even when llamaing lights are off and you haven't actually fired the strobe in a long time).  They aren't loud but they aren't silent either.  I don't really notice them when I am concentrating on shooting, but I do find myself enjoying the instant quiet when I shut them off at the end of a shoot.

6.  Flashes being distracting.  I have never had any issues with llamas becoming sick or reacting negatively to my flash.  I'm not saying it doesn't happen, just that with my experience I wouldn't consider it as a reason to stay away from strobes.

7.  Lots of power.  My strobes provide lots of power even when I need to be away from an AC outlet (I use a Vagabond II).  I am a pretty slow shooter, but once recharged my lights are not drawing power again until I hit the shutter button.  Having more than enough light means there is one less major constraint to work around when planning/executing a shoot.

8.  Flash duration.  In terms of short exposures, I am not limited by my lights - only by the sync speed on my camera.  This lets me shoot at 1/250 s and never have to contemplate selecting a slower shutter speed just to get enough light.

9.  Shooting speed.  I don't typically shoot fast (many frames per second), but I can see that continuous lighting could be handy when wanting to shoot frame-after-frame very quickly (subject to the shutter speed to gather enough light of course).

10.  Durability/Reliability.  I have no idea how reliable other solutions are, but my strobes have never failed me.  Not once in 6 years.  The only thing I have "repaired" was the replacement of a llamaing light when the wind took one of my strobes (with umbrella) for a little bit of a kite ride one day.

11.  Video.  I don't shoot video, but if you do then obviously a continuous light source which you can use for both video and stills makes sense.


I hope that's helpful.


ETA:  I started out assisting another local photographer to learn about the equipment he used and observe for myself which features/functions were most important to him over a variety of shoots.  If you can assist some guys it certainly goes along way to eliminating the possibility that you purchase something you will soon be unhappy with (as the poster above me pointed out).
Dec 09 12 12:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Frozen Instant Imagery
Posts: 3,584
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
First off, the search feature isn't all that great on this site.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of a solid state lighting solution for still photography in the conceptual/editorial space?

Pros: I can see where the light is while I'm setting up the shot. Also, the metering is much easier. Digital control is an advantage as is lower power. Color temp control is a huge plus.

Cons: Cost. Freezing motion.

What am I missing? It seems like if cost is the same that SSL has a huge advantage over strobe. Let me know what I'm not considering!

Thanks,

GEoff

It's not just freezing "motion". No one can stand absolutely still - most models even insist on breathing while posing! Strobes let you get much sharper images because the effective shutter speed is 1/1000 or faster (1/2000 or better on faster strobes). If you used enough continuous light indoors to get that kind of shutter speed you'd probably melt the model smile

Dec 09 12 12:48 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Mark Salo
Posts: 7,758
Olney, Maryland, US


Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
However, during a shoot, unless you are metering between each shot, there's going to be some guesswork as to how the lighting has changed.

I don't understand this.  The exposure remains the same unless you change the position of the lights.

Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
In an LED (LCD is what's on your computer, btw) light you have a constant source of what you're actually going to get a photo of.

It sound to me like you are setting your exposure by chimping in live view.  If that works for you, go for it.

Zombie Eye Photography wrote:
I've had one model that had to go take Advil and sit in her card for a half hour because she got a migraine from the flashing lights.

This is abnormal.  She should have mentioned her sensitivity.

Starring into a bright constant light would give me a migraine.

Dec 09 12 01:34 pm  Link  Quote 
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