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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 13 Jul 2018 (Friday) 20:18
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LED lights vs Strobes for Studio Portraits

211 posts
Joined Feb 2009
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Aust.
Jul 13, 2018 20:18 |  #1

My existing 2X400w strobes are due for replacement. I only have a small studio and the stands for the strobes take up valuable room. So I am contemplating getting some ceiling mounted LED lights. The LED lights would have the advantage of providing constant light - so no need to change settings while clients are waiting. However, I am concerned about white balance, shutter speed and related ISO if I go the route of LED lights. Does anyone have recommendations for LED lights that would work well in this situation? Or should I stick with strobes. If I buy new strobes, I would be looking at the Godox 400s.

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Cream of the Crop
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Joined Nov 2007
Location: Bay Area, CA
Jul 14, 2018 09:44 |  #2

All I say is that good LED lights aren't cheap. And second that whether lights are strobe or LED, you still need to adjust them.

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Jul 14, 2018 12:05 |  #3

Don't have any experience with LED studio lights - but as bobbyz said: good photographic LEDs that have a high CRI are not cheap. Typical LEDs lights have a CRI around 80 which I would not consider sufficient for studio light.

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Location: Belmont, CA
Post edited 7 months ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
Jul 14, 2018 15:08 |  #4

Just to illustrate what the CRI value does, in terms of accurate color rendition:
We recently upgraded our kitchen with recessed cans with LED emitters. We chose a nominal 4000K temperature unit, having CRI of 92.

I shot a Macbeth Colorchecker card under our kitchen lighting (left) and in bright sunlight (right). Using Lightroom's color balance sample tool to sample the #4 gray patch in bottom row, this is the result...The LED unit's manufacturer claims a nominal 4000K, Lightroom's sampler tool detected 3850K. Eaton Halo LED.


Subtle yet distinguishable difference observed.

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Joined Oct 2015
Jul 17, 2018 02:10 |  #5

Mostly, LEDs are a bit underpowered for portraits. Get enough light and it is often uncomfortably bright for your subjects.

If you are willing to shoot using some combination of wide open, higher ISO, slow shutter speeds you can use LEDs for portraits.

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Senior Member
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Likes: 172
Joined Apr 2009
Jul 17, 2018 19:35 |  #6

Also you can mount more variation of modifiers on strobe & speedlite.

239 posts
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Joined Jul 2015
Location: California
Post edited 7 months ago by NDAPhoto.
Jul 19, 2018 08:47 |  #7

LED panels need to be close to your subject, very close compared to strobes.

The Westcott Hurley 4-light Flex LED Kit is $5500. That’s basically what you need. You can create your own system for about $3000 if you are creative and don’t need everything to pack up nicely. If you search for used lights or make your own, then maybe you can do it for less. But that’s the LED set up you want to switch from strobes.​m/images/Large/we7537_​1.jpg (external link)

211 posts
Joined Feb 2009
Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Aust.
Jul 20, 2018 06:32 as a reply to  @ NDAPhoto's post |  #8

Thanks for the info.

Cream of the Crop
8,008 posts
Likes: 1001
Joined Nov 2005
Location: San Diego County, California, USA
Jul 24, 2018 17:15 |  #9

As alluded to above... You get more bang for your buck using studio strobes than trying to light portraits with high quality LED lights.

Perhaps using these wall mounted brackets might help your space problems... …024d70:g:N2UAAO​SwX61ZErKx (external link)

See my images at http://rpcrowe.smugmug​.com/ (external link)

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LED lights vs Strobes for Studio Portraits
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