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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 16 Oct 2018 (Tuesday) 22:13
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Continuous light vs flash

 
photoguy6405
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Oct 16, 2018 22:13 |  #1

I'm branching out into something that is new for me... flash, portraits, etc. I've been shooting for a long time. I do primarily landscape work, no people if I can avoid it, and I'm confident in my natural light abilities. But, I have never taken the time to properly learn flash. It just wasn't an interest of mine, but now I'm thinking I'd like to expand my abilities and versatility a bit. I have a couple shoe-mount flash units, but don't use them often.

What are the pros and cons of continuous light vs flash units?

As kind of a starter unit I was looking at this: https://www.amazon.com …sc=0&ref_=lv_ov​_lig_dp_it (external link)

It's reasonably priced. Continuous light appeals to me because it seems like it'd be an easier learning curve, but if my observations are correct most of the people who do the best work use flash.

So, any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks.


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Wilt
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Post edited 4 months ago by Wilt. (6 edits in all)
     
Oct 16, 2018 22:37 |  #2

Continuous lights:

  • In the days of film, HOT if bright enough for somewhat reasonable shutter speed and shooting in confined spaces; Today, cool lights (CFL or LED) much less heat produced for given brightness of light
  • Both incandescent and cool lights cause the subject to SQUINT when bright enough to shoot; but the squint issue is much reduced with digital high ISO shooting
  • Allows you to IMMEDIATELY SEE the affect of light placement on shadows and on maximizing the flattering of the subject in portraiture


Speedlight:
  • No issues in heat generation in confined spaces, while providing bright short-duration light to freeze subject motion
  • no subject squinting
  • Cannot immediately SEE the effect of light placement until after you shoot and chimp!


Studio flash:
  • No issues in heat generation if modelling lights turned down after setup, while providing bright short-duration light to freeze subject motion
  • no subject squinting if modelling lights turned down during shooting
  • With modelling light you CAN SEE immediately the effect of light placement whithout shooting a shot!


I put it this way: speedlight merely allows you to 'illuminate' the subject; studio flash allows you to optimize the 'lighting' of the subject

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Daggah
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Oct 17, 2018 09:10 |  #3

If you think all your off-camera lighting needs will happen indoors in a studio-esque controlled environment, you can probably make continuous lighting work for you. If you think you'll ever want/need to take your lighting gear outside, then at least speedlights will be required because no continuous light currently available will ever come close to even a $60 speedlight in terms of light output.


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Oct 17, 2018 09:25 |  #4

We use this portable setup for continuous lighting for video work around the area. We could use it for stills too, but tend to use Godox strobes for that.

https://www.amazon.com …c744670483&lang​uage=en_US (external link)


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RicoTudor
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Oct 17, 2018 09:46 |  #5

Wilt said it all. :)


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Alveric
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Oct 17, 2018 11:32 |  #6

Studio lights also pack much more punch than flashguns, allowing you to shoot at smaller apertures without upping the ISO to noisy speeds; they also take a larger variety of light formers; and they are more efficient and make YOU more efficient (most clients won't have the patience to stand there waiting for you to chimp it till you get it).


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simonbarker
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Oct 17, 2018 18:54 |  #7

Don't get that horrible Amazon kit, one of the more important differences between continuous and flash is you can do good flash equipment cheaply but that isn't as true with continuous.

Everyone starts thinking the same thing, that continuous will be easier to learn because what you see is what you get and while that's sort of true I think even a medium priced continuous kit gives you more limitations than flash, you have to worry about ambient light, you have to worry about motion blur, most cheap kits aren't actually going to give you very much light to work with either so you'll need to increase ISO which isn't in itself a problem but you may find yourself wondering why you're not getting those lovely crisp high sharp photos you see others producing.

As you've already got a handle on using ambient light I'd also see that as an argument for flash, you already know how to manipulate a continuous source but you might learn something from working with flash.

There is one big advantage for a decent continuous setup though, if you ever want to do video work they make a lot of sense.




  
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bobbyz
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Oct 17, 2018 20:46 |  #8

What Simon said above. Good continuous lights are expensive and the limitations mentioned.


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davesrose
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Post edited 4 months ago by davesrose. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 17, 2018 22:29 |  #9

Flash can have more then adequate power in typical studios. Now there are also some pretty good modifiers and softbox options for them. I never have needed to chimp much with them...as they're not that difficult to judge. With a typical session, I've now got my flash stands set and will adjust heights as need be (sometimes raising my key light pretty high for "butterfly light" or reduce glare on glasses) . Lighting in general has to do with angle of light to subject, and size of light (IE using a large diffusion box or umbrella to soften light, grids to focus, etc). It doesn't take much time to learn what light placement you like...and it might be fun to experiment with different "portrait" setups and even get into gels for rim lights. For some, the main disadvantage of flash is recharge cycle rate and draining of battery (recharge is slower and battery drains quicker with full power). And was mentioned about the inexpensive light kit you linked to: I would just avoid those. I knew someone that did buy one of those inexpensive CFL kits: the light bulbs were so dim that you had to shoot at high ISO even if they were placed close to the subject.


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Angmo
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Post edited 4 months ago by Angmo. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 17, 2018 22:38 |  #10

I have no need for an ambient light generator. I like the control I have with flash.


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Wilt
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Post edited 4 months ago by Wilt. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 17, 2018 23:37 |  #11

Angmo wrote in post #18731198 (external link)
I have no need for an ambient light generator. I like the control I have with flash.


As counterpoint to the above statement -- which, BTW, I feel is a valid opinion to have for what I would call the majority of needs -- I provide the following photo, which I posted on POTN some time ago to illustrate the value of having modelling lamp in a studio strobe.

IMAGE: http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i63/wiltonw/POTN%202013%20Post%20Mar1/IMG_8026_zps8afa7972.jpg

The presence of the modelling lamp allowed me to finely adjust the position of a small source (no modifier in use) so that the reflection of that source would appear at the tip of one of the metallic foil strands. The trial and error shoot and chimp method with a speedlight likely would have me still trying to accomplish that placement even now! :lol:
Since I could see whether or not I had the glint as I adjusted the light position, placement was much more rapid, and less frustrating to set up!

In portraiture (rather than the somewhat 'extreme' example above), the strategic placement of a shadow might allow one to hide a somewhat distracting blemish on the face of the portrait sitter. Seeing the blemish immediately fall into the shadow as you move the source around, rather than guessing and shooting and chimping, greatly eases what can be a patience-testing situation for a paying client.

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Oct 18, 2018 00:22 |  #12

Wilt wrote in post #18731223 (external link)
As counterpoint to the above statement -- which, BTW, I feel is a valid opinion to have for what I would call the majority of needs -- I provide the following photo, which I posted on POTN some time ago to illustrate the value of having modelling lamp in a studio strobe.

QUOTED IMAGE

The presence of the modelling lamp allowed me to finely adjust the position of a small source (no modifier in use) so that the reflection of that source would appear at the tip of one of the metallic foil strands. The trial and error shoot and chimp method with a speedlight likely would have me still trying to accomplish that placement even now! :lol:
Since I could see whether or not I had the glint as I adjusted the light position, placement was much more rapid, and less frustrating to set up!

In portraiture (rather than the somewhat 'extreme' example above), the strategic placement of a shadow might allow one to hide a somewhat distracting blemish on the face of the portrait sitter. Seeing the blemish immediately fall into the shadow as you move the source around, rather than guessing and shooting and chimping, greatly eases what can be a patience-testing situation for a paying client.

I use the modeling lamp as needed but use its flash for taking. Only once have I used a modeling lamp for taking the pic.

Was in CA last week, but San Diego so didn’t stop by to say hi. Will do so when I get up to SF.


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davesrose
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Post edited 4 months ago by davesrose. (2 edits in all)
     
Oct 18, 2018 06:39 |  #13

There’s also speedlites that have modeling modes, if you do need to preview. Although, there may me situations where you chimp no matter what light source (if you’re deliberately under exposing, for example).

As to the OP, since you already have 2 flashes...I would start with those. If you buy light stands and certain modifiers, they can still be used if you decide to change to another system. If you'd like wireless control of flashes, there are different brands that have fairly inexpensive transmitter/receivers.


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Oct 18, 2018 08:15 as a reply to  @ simonbarker's post |  #14

That continuous kit has worked well, we have 4 of these. We do various video announcements with them. We dial in a temperature and brightness as needed on the subject, set a custom wb from there, and then use the others to light the backdrop.

So for somebody on a budget and wants something portable, etc, these work fine. As one decides they want to become more professional in their work, they can move to bigger, heavier, and more expensive gear. If they decide it's not for them, they don't have alot invested.


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davesrose
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Oct 18, 2018 08:20 as a reply to  @ TeamSpeed's post |  #15

Simon might have been referring to the Amazon link from the OP. It was one of the $50 kits (3 CFLs with stands and umbrellas). I can attest that those are best to always avoid.


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Continuous light vs flash
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