Because you can't come into the shop for advice we've decided to do a new series of videos that will hopefully help you make your next purchase. In this video we’ll be looking at 6 things to consider when buying Studio Lighting!
The number one thing to consider when buying lights is: Flash versus Continuous
You might know Flash lighting by its other term: strobe. This is used for photography to get a high burst of light into your scene which enables you to use narrower apertures and lower ISO in order to get the best quality from your scene.
Continuous lighting is more often used for video as it provides a constant source of light from which you can work. But it is also very effective in portrait photography.
The main benefit of flash or strobe lighting is the ability to create very sharp images in tricky lighting situations. You can also create different moods and aesthetic scenes by controlling the light to get the look you want.
Continuous lighting on the other hand is extremely versatile and can be used for both video and photography. It is easy to use as you can see exactly what is being lit as you work. They are affordable and flexible and come in different forms such as Ring Lights, LED panels and fluorescent, tungsten, halogen bulbs, usually in foldable softboxes. However, Continuous Lighting won’t give you the same brightness as Flash, which brings us to our next point: Power Output.
For Power input you can choose battery powered or mains powered. Mains powered lights are typically cheaper, but more restrictive as they have to be used in certain spots where you have a power outlet. Battery powered options are excellent alternatives. Though usually more expensive they are highly portable and adaptable. They are also very handy in a studio if you plan on taking pictures of children as they are less trip hazards. Continuous lights typically take a large Sony battery, strobes traditionally needed a large motorcycle battery to use remotely. These were heavy, cumbersome and didn’t allow for many shots. Now strobes come with inbuilt batteries that can give between 300 and 500 full power shots.
You need to be aware of the power output or brightness capabilities of your lighting. Strobes are measured in Watts, with a 300 Watt light giving you enough to do something in a small room, right up to 600 Watt which would be great for a large open studio or outdoors to overpower the sun.
Continuous Lighting is measured in LUX, so again a small LUX is less bright than a large LUX.
So maybe you’re thinking, well I’ll just get the brightest light, then! That may be the case, but the more power means heavier lights and more expense.
When it comes to lighting you need to plan a realistic budget. Once you know what you need your lighting to do, set yourself a budget. There’s a lot of cheap electronics out there, but if something looks too good to be true, it usually is. The best thing is to have a good think about what you need now, what you might need in the future and then figure out what budget gets you closest to that. And of course, you don’t need to get everything all at once. Which brings us to our next point… What are you using your lighting For?
BRYAN - As a portrait photographer I prefer to use Strobe Lighting for my work. While I do use some LED panels to create moody photos and when I am on the go and need to get a quick shot with little time or space. But when I am in a studio nothing compares to a Strobe Light to get sharp professional style photos. Combined with a nice selection of modifiers I can create a vast array of styles quickly with the same lights.
SHANE - As primarily a videographer I like to use LED panels for a lot of my work. They’re small, accurate, and portable. But they’re not as bright and they tend to cast a lot of shadows unless you have a big diffuser. At other times I use a big Studio Bulb which gives great power to my scene, but it’s not the most colour accurate. I have form time to time used Tungsten bulbs for video and they give a good whack of light to your scene, but they get extremely hot whereas LEDs are cold to the touch, so there’s a safety element to it, as well.
There’s no wrong answer here, but you need to get the gear that works for you. Which brings us to our next point: future proofing.
When you are considering what to buy now, don’t get something that will be obsolete when you progress in your work, plan for what you would like in the future. If you are looking at Godox flash lighting, for example, it is worth noting that most of their current range will operate with the same trigger system. So you can start now with two 400 watt mains powered lights you can add flash guns or portable lights in the future to bulk up your kit. You should also choose a mount that you can add various accessories to as you progress. The most popular mount is the Bowens S-Mount. Though Bowens are now gone, their mount lives on. Which brings me to our next point: Accessories.
Your Studio Lighting is one part of an ecosystem. Alongside this lighting you’re going to need a good solid stand, a range of ways to diffuse the light, as well as triggers, gels, and modifiers (we will do a separate video on modifiers).
Triggers are super useful for getting multiple lights to talk to each other and work together, while diffusers can help to soften or sharpen the lighting for great effects.
Have a look at the various accessories that come alongside the brand you’re going for, and make sure it fits your needs.
So there you go guys, the six things you need to consider when buying Studio Lights. I hope that was useful to you and that you learned something. Get in touch if you have any questions and we’ll help you find the right system for your workflow.