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Archive 2012 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???
  
 
Edgar M
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p.1 #1 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


I know continuous lighting is mainly/meant to be used for video, and is also much much much weaker than flashes and strobes, and isn't strong enough for something like outdoor daylight shooting. But, I am wondering who has used LED continuous lighting for STILL-photography, and I would love to see examples.

I haven't played with strobes, flashes, all it's grip gear, umbrellas, etc., etc. since I had my 5D2 3 years ago (I sold all that stuff). I used to use 3 Canon 430's and 580's, with both radio transmitters (elinchroms) and also the Canon STE2 infrared TTL transmitter.

I haven't owned any of that flash/strobe lighting since then, since I just shoot street, hobby and casual stuff now; and also video. [I]But[/I], I am considering buying some lighting and delve into just indoor portrait work once again.

I was thinking of maybe getting strobes again, but I really don't like the pain of using radio transmitters and also having to buy a bunch of strobes and transmitters. AND, I also want to have lighting for when I do video as well.


So... I just thought of this yesterday, as I saw some in the store, and said to myself, "what about some LED lighting". I was kinda surprised seeing them in the store for cheap, as I remember 3 years ago, the [I]ONLY[/I] LED lighting that were available, were those super expensive ones by Litepanels, which were totally unaffordable (at $300 just for the small hotshoe unit, and $1500-2500 for the 1x1' unit...ummm ya right! lol). So before yesterday, for the past 3 years, I thought the only option for LED was those expensive litepanels...until I saw generic ones at the electronics store for cheap. Went home after I saw them, and did a little research on cheap LED lighting.. and found out, that Chinese manufacturers found on ebay, recently (very recent - only in mid-late 2011) did what it does best, for these LED lights - make cheaper and affordable options for us and released them just last year....also found more info and reviews, that these chinese LED lights are actually pretty darn good, some good as expensive US brands, and at a really great price.

These are undoubtably great for videos, as they are made for video. But, I want to use them for STILL-photos too. Not trying to take something like those crazy strobe pics in the sun nor light up an entire stage or arena, nor trying do do anything I know it cannot do of course ...just maybe for simple, indoor, single-person, portraits is what I am after; something reasonable and realistic it can most likely do.


So, for STILL-photos, would using LEDs be possible? Good idea? Has anyone used LED lights for Still-photography? If so, your opinions and any nice examples?


Reasons that I am thinking are good with using LEDs for still-photography (but, I haven't used them first hand yet):

Pros:
-Ease of use and no need to fiddle with strobe/flash settings nor radio-transmitters/receivers
-Inexpensive as compared to a bunch of strobes/flashes and also the extra cost of radio-transmitters/receivers
-Super easy setup - just stick it on the stand and turn it on (and maybe add an umbrella to your liking); no need for radio receivers dangling, etc.
-Always On - so it's super easy to dial/chimp in a nice and desired exposure --And a big advantage - can double-up for HDSLR video lighting, since it's meant for that, hehe.
-Compact and battery powered like flashes

Cons:
-Biggest obvious reason - not remotely as bright as a strobe/flash (but I don't plan to use it in outdoor sunny daylight or anything huge anyways..just indoor)
....The above is the only con I can think of (a big one tho obviously)... and the lack of cons I can think of, is what is really making me consider and close to buying a few cheap LED lights.


Any input, insight, opinions, experiences, examples for LED lights for STILL-photography welcome and appreciated!




Edited on Jun 22, 2012 at 03:11 PM · View previous versions



Jun 22, 2012 at 12:54 AM
phuang3
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p.1 #2 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Put it simply, LED color varies form batch to batch. Manufacturers may pre-select LEDs for your light panel, but maintenance or repair is a problem. Another problem of common white LED is the wave length distribution does not coincide with sun light. (Well, no artificial light will coincide with sun light, but some are close.) In addition, RA rating is low for most LEDs, especially for those blue-yellow type white LEDs. Some LEDs have RA=90, but they are usually much more expensive. If you prefer continuous light, you may try those 5500k florescent lights. (i.e. kinoflo)

Edited on Jun 22, 2012 at 01:30 AM · View previous versions



Jun 22, 2012 at 01:23 AM
alohadave
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p.1 #3 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Check out Kirk Tuck's blog: http://visualsciencelab.blogspot.com/

He's a big advocate of LED lighting for still photography.

He also has a book out for using LED lighting: http://www.amazon.com/LED-Lighting-Professional-Techniques-Photographers/dp/1608954471



Jun 22, 2012 at 01:29 AM
rico
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p.1 #4 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Like sunlight, strobe spectrum is broad (close to black body) and yields accurate color response from the sensor, while LED is spiky and causes color shift. Strobe light is instant, while LED requires time to accumulate the exposure: during that time, you can suffer subject movement (portraits), camera shake (tabletop), and ambient light contamination. Effective light intensity from a continuous source for portraits requires blinding the subject. Strobe light offers power to use modifiers large (wall sized) and inefficient (snoots), allowing maximum flexibility for creative lighting. Between modelling lights and digital test shots, you have pre- and post-visualization of your tableau fully covered. Videographers use continuous light because they have no choice.


Jun 22, 2012 at 06:23 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #5 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Flash is still the best "bang for the buck". While you were away from flash Canon has finally incorporated radio triggering in the new 600EX model and ST-E3R radio controller which elimininate most of your logistical concerns.


Jun 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Edgar M
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p.1 #6 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Thanks...I chcked out Kirk's stuff and also his linked: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/video-light/

Very inspirational stuff and totally possible to use LEDs for Stills!

Goodbye to expensive radio-transmitters/receivers, expensive pocketwizards, expensive and heavy flashes and strobes and the need to even use your hotshoe!

.....and, hello to the FUTURE - LED Lighting!



Jun 22, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #7 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Any recommendations on inexpensive LEDs? I read that the chinese/ebay Z96 are great (I also read there are knockoffs called W96 too; which aren't as great as the original Z96's).

Lots of praise for the Z96.. it's supposedly better than the brighter Yongnuo 160 (which has a green spike and has a less appealing green tint and also flicker issues). The Z96 appear to be even better than the expensive $300 MicroLED from Litepanels.

And other suggestions in the <$100 or <$200 range that are good?



Jun 22, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #8 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


cgardner wrote:
Flash is still the best "bang for the buck". While you were away from flash Canon has finally incorporated radio triggering in the new 600EX model and ST-E3R radio controller which elimininate most of your logistical concerns.


Wow, really? Sounds awesome! Too bad I no longer use canon and I am only OM-D now though (which don't offer an IR TTL external flash solution like canon or nikon; only option is radio)



Jun 22, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #9 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Isn't an easy/quick/cheap remedy to the LED's green-tint/hue/spike is just a simple 1/8 or 1/4 minus-green/magenta filter gel? I read this is all you need, and the color will be just as fantastic as a strobe, flash or real daylight. Seems super easy to make the LED look as good as any other lighting out there.


Jun 22, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #10 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Edgar Maguyon wrote:
Isn't an easy/quick/cheap remedy to the LED's green-tint/hue/spike is just a simple 1/8 or 1/4 minus-green/magenta filter gel? I read this is all you need, and the color will be just as fantastic as a strobe, flash or real daylight. Seems super easy to make the LED look as good as any other lighting out there.


Not all the time. Some of the LEDs of the cheaper variety not made for photo or video purposes have a "cross over issue where when you correct for one color spike you introduce another color imbalance. I have a couple variable color temp units that are ok on the daylight side ( a little cool) and too warm on the tungsten side but when I dial back by adding daylight there is a minor greenish tint instead of a clean color.

The ones made for photography or video are designed to be a "flood" or "spot" and work pretty well but unless you have some mighty bright LEDs ($$$) once you put any kind of modifier on it you are going to lose a lot of the light. This would come in handy if you are looking to slow down and shoot more deliberately as you will need to pose the subjects because you might be shooting at 1/60 & f8 not enough to stop any subject movement.

I think with lighting gear it's either cheap, powerful or well made...pick two.

Have you considered Alien bees?



Jun 23, 2012 at 03:45 PM
 

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Edgar M
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p.1 #11 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Trying to avoid strobes, flashes, radio, etc. And, would like to double up for both video and photo..I really think that's the need in the future now, since cameras shoot both video and stills; multi-format photogs needs multi format lighting - lighting for both stills and video.... like Kirk Tuck mentions.

What about CRI? What's a decent CRI number? What are the CRI of typical flashes and strobes? I assume very high, since they are high quality.



How about the new fotodiox LEDs with adjustable temp? I read all the fotodiox lights are 82CRI and they are pretty inexpensive and very nice; I read that they are the current #1 fave for LED heads nowadays. Almost delved into the Z96's, but just read the newer Fotodiox 321as are even better, waay brighter, already comes with batteries, adj temp/brightness and are super nice.

I think I will go for them, unless someone has better suggestions and can advise me not to ...3x brighter than the Z96, cheap since it comes with batteries already (Z96 alone costs $60-70 with no battery and you still have to buy them at least $20 with charger..so roughly 100 bux for a 1/3 of the power of the 321as).


I think all the fotodiox stuff is pretty decent and much more up to date and have more modern feautures than the other generics or the ebay/HK ones. (heck, I've/many have been buying their lens adapters for many years, right? Pretty decent company with good quality control). I'm starting o think the ebay/chinese ones are knocking off fotodiox... but for the same price?? Fotodiox is already very inexpensive.

All the fotodiox LED's have a model that has adjustable color temp AND ability to even use a high-mah camcorder battery on the rear mount for portability

Just search "fotodiox LED" and amazon has a bunch, or go on their site...as I do more research it seems they really do make the best "Inexpensive LEDs", most likely better than the HK/ebay ones that just copies them, yet still for the same price as china/ebay. AND, if you order from amazon or fotodiox, it is shipped domestically and not from china

I really dig and am very attracted to the 312as for portability, not too big and not too small. The 500as is attractive too, but might be a little big for portability, but still not overly big and still has dual batteries. The 1000 though, that one looks to be too big and heavy for location shooting/portability and would most likely end up being only strictly studio use (which I am avoiding or don't need; as I don't even have a studio, lol)/

The 312as is CRI 82 (as with all fotodiox LED's) and 130w tung equiv (someone else said he compared it and found the power to be in b/n his real 100w & 250w video light, guessing somewhere around 170w). 312as sounds perfect for the on the go, on location, portable or outdoor light (outdoor in dim/sunset/shadow locations of course)..not too big and not too small and fits easy in a backpack. Sounds awesome for a measly $160 on amazon

So I'll prolly get the 312as (or the 500as; but more likely the 312as), unless someone has a better LED recommendation/suggestion in a close price range and can advise me not to go for the Fotodiox. But so far, I've read Fotodiox units are great LEDs.

Is 82 CRI good enough?

(all the current Fotodiox LED's are 82 CRI)




Jun 23, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Micky Bill
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p.1 #12 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


If they are all 82 CRI it might be workable, I'd rather see a CRI in the mid 90s but don't know the price:CRI ratio.

I think LEDs are a better choice than CFLs.



Jun 23, 2012 at 09:02 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #13 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Ya...CFL is nice and can get brighter for a cheaper price...but it's pretty much studio use only and always needs an AC outlet, like the expensive pro strobes too that needs to power the pack.

LED's would be awesome as they are portable, just like hot-shoe flashes, but come in both compact and larger sizes, and also even some of the bigger 500 and 1000 sizes can use batteries and no need for an AC outlet. The camcorder batteries they usually use are rated high mah for long time use too, and can even fit in your pocket/bag. Can't say the same for a portable strobe packs or those alien bees battery packs which are pretty much the size and weight of car batteries lol



Jun 23, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #14 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


The future:

Not exactly LED... but if the typical/current LED's CRI isn't high enough... these even newer lighting technology offer even higher quality than the already available, modern and futuristic LED's: (though, of course more expensive than LED's. Hopefully in time and in the future, all these digital-lights will become much cheaper):

Plasma lights w/ 94 CRI ~ Hive Lights
http://www.hivelighting.com/


Phosphor lights w/ 95-97 CRI ~ PRG TruColor Lights
http://www.prgtrucolor.com/
http://www.adorama.com/TCFTN9010010.html?utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Shopping%20Site&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=gbase


Wowzers! 94-97 CRI digital lights! That sounds super good; almost too good to be true! Too bad these aren't nearly as compact/portable as today's current LED's, and look to be strictly in-studio, big, heavy, bulky and wall powered units.... maybe in a few years they'll be compact tho

I bet China/HK/Ebay could copy/clone/bite this technology, produce them and offer it to the masses for cheap on ebay (this will surely p*ss off the originators; like how Litepanels got mad and filed a lawsuit)...

....I am sure the masses of photo/video-graphers wouldn't mind one bit though





Jun 25, 2012 at 12:45 AM
jzucker
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p.1 #15 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Edgar Maguyon wrote:
Wow, really? Sounds awesome! Too bad I no longer use canon and I am only OM-D now though (which don't offer an IR TTL external flash solution like canon or nikon; only option is radio)


what are you doing that requires TTL? I see all these people struggling to get TTL wireless working and I wonder why they don't just use a flashmeter and learn to control the light ratios themselves?



Jun 25, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Edgar M
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p.1 #16 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Not really requiring it or struggling per se... I just liked it's convenience sometimes and I am not a pro that needs nor gonna use studio strobes and strobe packs. But, that's the past... I don't plan to use strobes/flashes anymore anyways and would like something to double up for video as well, since I shoot as much video, if not more, than stills nowadays... and LED is looking like my answer

Seeing how every single popular camera body now shoots both video/stills nowadays, and more in the future, which made/transformed many people to shoot video too and become "multi" format (both stills & video -graphers).. it just seems like the next logical/progressional/evolutionary step is a future that would be similar for lights too - ie: ability to use them in both stills and video to match a stills & video camera...it's only a matter of time until continuous lighting gets truly as good as strobes/flashes for both stills & video and also a matter of time until more and more people will start realizing that flashguns and strobes are a thing of the past and video/continuous lighting is the future to match our hybrid-stills/video cameras. But, seeing how there will always be purists, many will be closed minded to using LEDs and video-lights for still-photography.

Edited on Jun 26, 2012 at 03:35 AM · View previous versions



Jun 26, 2012 at 03:15 AM
jzucker
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p.1 #17 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


i tried LED lights a few months ago and they were ridiculously DIM. You'd be better off with tungston or Flo


Jun 26, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Edgar M
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p.1 #18 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


True...but can you bring a, AC powered Flo or tungsten in your backpack and shoot anywhere, like let's say in a car, a park, a boat, on a roof top, at a concert, etc?

Current modern cameras have such clean high-iso and low-light ability, that you don't really need super bright lighting anymore. Unless you're trying to overpower the sun or something.

Just 10 years ago, video-cameras were lucky to shoot clean 200 or 400iso, and still-cameras were lucky to shoot clean 800 iso... now our cameras can easily shoot pretty darn clean high iso, even up to 3200iso for emergencies; totally unheard of 10-20 years ago.



Jun 26, 2012 at 03:36 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #19 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


jzucker wrote:
what are you doing that requires TTL? I see all these people struggling to get TTL wireless working and I wonder why they don't just use a flashmeter and learn to control the light ratios themselves?


I bought into the Canon DSLR system in 2004-05 after many years of film and manual flash use. I started in the early 70s using two manual dual flashes with distance to set both ratios and exposure. Switching to Canon flash at the time was a decision between spending $600 on PW radio triggers (old style) and continuing to use manual flash or spend $800 and buy two top of line Canon flashes. I opted for the latter because of HSS and the convenience factor.

It took a good bit of systematic experimentation ( documented in my tutorials ) but I found Canon ETTL works quite well with the optical triggering if you understand how it's designed to work: 1) dial in the ratio you want based on fitting the scene foreground to sensor range; 2) peg exposure in the highlights based in the clipping warning below clipping, and; 3) don't use modifiers that block the slave sensor or put the slave outside the footprint of the master.

Regardless of light sources (flash / continuous) only one key:fill ratio will fit a full range scene (black > white) to the camera sensor perfectly and that ratio will vary with the DR of that particular camera's sensor. What I found with experimentation is that a 3:1 ratio (key light +1 stop over fill creating a 2+1:1 = 3:1 reflectance) did that with my Canon 20D. In ETTL mode with Master A on my bracket as fill and Slave B as key light off axis I set the A:B = 1:2 to get that same 3:1 H:S reflectance and full range of detail. So when shooting in ETTL ratios it's just a matter of starting my setting the ratio to 1:2 adjusting the highlight exposure with FEC until they are under clipping to record a full range of detail the technical definition of optimal exposure. From that baseline the evaluative metering does a pretty good, but not perfect job of controlling exposure as scene content changes if I keep what I want correctly exposed nearest to the flash.

No TTL system can read the mind if the photograph regarding what it wants correctly exposed. Unlike ambient flash falls off with distance (your LEDs will too) so every scene must be composed with that fall off in mind. Even with things like portraits if for optimally exposed face and bare shoulder, or bride in a big white dress the pose used must keep face and shoulder equal distance to flash or ideally put the face a bit closer. With manual incident flash metering you can meter at the face and expose it correctly, but a nearer shoulder will wind up with blown highlights. The difference with ETTL in the same situation is that it would correctly expose the nearer shoulder and underexpose the face. Adjusting FEC will correct exposure on the face but blow the shoulder. The problem in either case isn't the metering but how the scene was composed, erring by not keeping everything requiring correct exposure the same distance from the flash. Again that's true of any close in artificial source due to the inverse-square fall off..

The mistake many make with TTL flash outdoors is blowing the ambient highlights which confuses / skews the flash metering into thinking less is needed. That's something I discovered with testing. When I started exposing highlights per the clipping warning in Av mode I found I needed - 2 EC to keep them under clipping in backlighting from the sun. But like magic when I did that the flash meeting at FEC=0 would expose the shaded side perfectly most of the time. It works that way because apparently Canon programmed the metering logic to assume the ambient exposure would be under clipping in that type of situation to avoid blowing the detail in the background and sky. Know understanding that when shooting in backlight in Av with ETTL I work from a starting baseline of - 2 EC and FEC =0 and adjust from there based on the results I see in the playback.

With any new lighting gear a few hours testing to find its limits pays off. I know what ratios will record a full range of detail on my camera with ETTL or manually set ratios and the max range I can expect in HSS outdoors with one or two flashes. By knowing those limits and working within them I get good results. If you do go with the LED lighting you'd be well served by doing similar testing. Set the camera at the aperture / ISO you like to shoot at then move the light distance and find the max range needed to expose highlights just below clipping in the playback. If you do that test with an ordinary 60W bulb in a shop reflector now, you'll get and idea of how many Lux of LED lighting you'll need.



Jun 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM
jzucker
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p.1 #20 · Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???


Edgar Maguyon wrote:
True...but can you bring a, AC powered Flo or tungsten in your backpack and shoot anywhere, like let's say in a car, a park, a boat, on a roof top, at a concert, etc?

Current modern cameras have such clean high-iso and low-light ability, that you don't really need super bright lighting anymore. Unless you're trying to overpower the sun or something.

Just 10 years ago, video-cameras were lucky to shoot clean 200 or 400iso, and still-cameras were lucky to shoot clean 800 iso... now our cameras can easily shoot pretty darn clean high iso, even up to 3200iso
...Show more

we shoot anywhere with studio flash using a battery pack. Depends on what you're doing I guess but the best results will come from a big softbox and not a small flash with a lens in front of it.



Jun 26, 2012 at 11:23 AM
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