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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.