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Archive 2013 · LED lighting for weddings
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p.1 #1 · LED lighting for weddings

I would like...a controllable, long-lasting, and powerful light source (with tungsten WB) that I can use for wedding work. And I need it to be something that can be held (with battery packs as needed) by an assistant or manipulated easily on a light stand.

First...does such a thing exist in LED form? Or is every powerful option still some other light source type?

Because of portability, reasonable size and output expectations, I am seriously considering this: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/855126-REG/Ikan_IB508_IB_Dual_Color_508.html

Or this: http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Photography-Dimmable-Removable-Diffusion/dp/B00AUK79XG/ref=sr_1_12?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1370108951&sr=1-12

Or...this: http://dx.com/p/20w-1800lux-10-led-video-light-w-battery-light-connector-adapter-charger-color-filter-142362 - cheapest by far, seems like a good idea.

However, I don't really know how to convert that output to a regular tungsten bulb, and I doubt my ability to interpret the conversion tables correctly. I would be using the light source anywhere from 2-8 feet away from the subjects, probably most often around 4 feet.

Any ideas?

Jun 01, 2013 at 05:22 PM
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p.1 #2 · LED lighting for weddings

form wrote:
I would like...a controllable, long-lasting, and powerful light source (with tungsten WB) that I can use for wedding work. ...I would be using the light source anywhere from 2-8 feet away from the subjects, probably most often around 4 feet.

Are you wanting light for video work or for still photography?

Jun 03, 2013 at 12:57 AM
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p.1 #3 · LED lighting for weddings

1000 lux gives you about f2.8 at ISO 100 at 1/50 sec shutter speed.

The fixture in your link claims 1221 lux at 3 feet, which means you'd be pretty close to that exposure.

Double the distance (from 3 ft to 6 ft) and you'd need to open up 2 stops to f1.4
Halve the distance (from 3 ft to 1.5 ft) and you'd need to close down 2 stops to f5.6


Jun 03, 2013 at 06:43 AM

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p.1 #4 · LED lighting for weddings

I tried an experiment last night. I got a Torchlight TL-50, about $200. Extremely small, 2 1/2 dia, 3 long, very light, built in battery, easy to use tungsten filter, variable power rotary knob. I mounted it on top of a Custom Brackets rotating bracket. Used an EM-5, 1600 iso, AWB, spot metering, 25 1.4 and 45 1.8, manual exposure, tungsten filter on light.

Went to out local bar for ladies night. The light there replicates what you might find in a typical reception. I took about 60 images and most of them turned out fine, color was good. Exposure was at 2.0 ranging from 1/5 to 1/125. Subjects were groups of one to five at 5 to 10 feet. Light in the bar varies from magenta to blue to yellow, so it was a challenge. Even with the mixed light, the results were good as the light on the faces was tungsten and it generally overpowered the ambient.

Here is what I found. Exposures were pretty good once I got the hang of it, a little tendency to underexpose to avoid clipping highlights. I started with the light off, got my base exposure, then turned the light on upping the power until I say a nice glow on the faces. At first I spot metered on the face, under exposing by about a stop and then turned on the light and increased the exposure on the face. This gave background that were a bit too bright.

Next, I used a feature of the EM-5 that shows the image in the EVF correlating to what the final exposure will be, in other words EVF is WSIWIG. I looked through the EVF and adjusted exposure until it looked good, then adjusted light on faces until they looked good, and shot. Not really metering, just eyeball. After a few shots I got the hang of how it should look in the EVF to give good result. This worked better than what I originally tried.

Results were good for party shots. The backgrounds were open with no harsh shadows from the light. Exposures on the face were good with good color. No one complained about a bright light in their eyes - the unit has the power of about a 50 watt bulb and I never used it over half power. Of course the lighting was flat but that is to be expected with no lighting assistant and moving fast in a fluid situation.

This worked well the EM-5 because with IBIS I had no problem with camera shake even down to 1/15, subjects were not moving. The WISIWIG display gave good exposures. The increased depth of field of the M4/3 system allowed wider aperatures, keeping shutter speed up and ISO down. ISO 1600 was fine, grain is not a problem if you have good light and exposures. Cameras without these features would not work so well and a different technique would be used.

I found that in a dark environment, you do not need a a lot of power. At 5-6 feet I used 2-3 on a power scale of 1-10. At 10 feet I was up to about 5. After about 60 shots and two hours my battery was down to about half.

For a first run I was quite pleased. I sure that with further practice the method will be refined and much faster. Used in environments for which it is suited this is an effective solution. It is so small that you can stick it in your pocket. It is not an all day in bright light solution, but used for what it is intended, very good. I shot similar using bounce flash a week ago and I think the LED shots are better. I also shot available light, no LED and the results were good but not as good as the LED. The backgrounds were much hotter in order to get proper exposure on the faces.

This was for party candid shots. It works well for portraits and 'arty' shots also as I have seen in the work of Roberto Valenzuela and Doug Gordon. If you are interested in this technique and have money to spend, I suggest getting the CreativeLive videos of Valenzuela and Gordon. The first Gordon video has a long segment on using this light at night which is very good and what convinced me to try LED's. Of the many speakers I have seen, these two stand out along with Sue Bryce.

I have two cheaper LED's coming to test. They are larger and more powerful. I am concerned about their color temp and the added size. They will probably be useful as kickers, accent lights, and fill.

I am a lurker, retired wedding photographer with 30 years experience using medium format film. Use M4/3 gear now and love the results. I work alone, no assistant. Boy do I wish I had these tools when I was working.


Jun 06, 2013 at 04:04 PM

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p.1 #5 · LED lighting for weddings

One question I have about LED lighting, is that they cycle on and off at around 60hz, I know in this bar you were shooting long enough exposures not to have any trouble, but what if you need shutter speeds higher than 1/60? Don't you run into the risk of hitting the moment when the light is out? I did a shoot with some LED xmas lights in the background, and every few shots, the lights were off. Are these manufactures of LEDs for still photographers doing something to keep the bulbs from being in sync with each other? Even then, you'll have inconsistent output. I can't seem to find discussion of this issue.

Apr 07, 2014 at 04:38 PM

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p.1 #6 · LED lighting for weddings

You can't find a discussion because LEDs don't cycle off and on. You have them confused with CFLs.

1200 Lumens (Lux) still isn't a lot of light, as Aborr says about f/2.8 at 1/50th at ISO 100. It's up to you to decide if that's enough light. Remember that to go from f/2.8 to f/4 requires a doubling of light, i.e., from 1000 lux to 2000 lux.


Apr 08, 2014 at 11:18 PM
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p.1 #7 · LED lighting for weddings

LEDs definitely cycle on and off. I just installed 24 feet of 120 LED/m ribbon and it definitely cycles. I can see the effect with my eye when moving something rapidly under this light. If I use my camera in live view in this light, the display shows a horizontal zebra pattern (and not to indicated that exposure is blown out).

My guess is that for photo/video applications, something has been done to modify the flicker from being in sync. As a side note, I shot a youth hockey tournament recently and one of the ice pads was lit with LED light fixtures. The other three pads were fluorescent lighting. Shutter speed was in the 1/800-1/1000 range on the LED lit rink, and I never noticed any exposure or WB inconsistency that always appears if shooting in these venues under mercury vapor lighting, and to some extent under fluorescent...

Apr 13, 2014 at 01:58 AM
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p.1 #8 · LED lighting for weddings

rscheffler wrote:
LEDs definitely cycle on and off. ...My guess is that for photo/video applications, something has been done to modify the flicker from being in sync.

I think some LED lights are A/C and some are D/C, and the A/C ones cycle at 50/60Hz.

Apr 13, 2014 at 02:36 AM
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p.1 #9 · LED lighting for weddings

Whether they cycle on/off depends on the driver circuit.

Many driver circuits (even constant current type) use PWM to dim, but PWM frequency is typically in the range of 500-8000Hz. And PWM should not be a factor when they are at the maximum brightness, though it can depend on the specifics of how the driver works.

Most of the decent lights out there use a third-party driver module like the ones commonly available from LEDdynamics. Most of often, these are the constant current PWM dimming type.

50Hz or 60Hz comes from the wall socket (AC). A simple diode or a bridge rectifier (without the capacitor) will blink at that same frequency, or double it, but this is typically used only in XMAS tree lights or the lowest end of lighting strips. Any decent quality setup shouldn't do this.

I'm of the belief that LED lighting should only be used when there is no better alternative. They claim to be ordinary tungsten, but most are only CRI90 or less which only approximates to a tungsten lamp. I've tried several setups, probably the best is an upgraded beleuchtungschalttafel-3000L but this is still something I only use when I need something that is lightweight and can run efficiently off portable power. It's possible to correct for the poor spectral output in post, but this is more difficult in larger group shots or videos (the beleuchtungschalttafel-3000L's specialty) or in mixed lighting situations. One feature I like is the ability to swap phosphors on the fly which allows you to efficiently vary the range from 2700K to 5000K since it doesn't involve gels or other subtractive light filters.

Some of the newer, more expensive lights do have CRI93 or CRI95 rating which is getting there, maybe in a few years we'll be able to use them as an incandescent replacement. But even the best ones I've seen today, there's still a 60% gap between the (deep) blue from the LED itself and the phosphor.

Apr 14, 2014 at 10:45 PM

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