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LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?

  
 
gregfountain
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


I can't imagine why not for a smallish studio setup, but I thought I'd ask for some opinions from those that have used them for this purpose.

What I plan on is: An octabox or square soft box for a key light, a strip box for side light and fill, and bare cone spot for the background. A couple of C-Stands and a boom.

Thanks!

Greg



Apr 13, 2024 at 01:35 AM
story_teller
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


If youíre doing ďcookie-cutterĒ headshots and quick portraits (in-studio only), they should be fine provided youíve addressed any ambient light issues such as white balance. I used the term "quick portraits" because models and clients donít like to be in front of the bright lights for very long. During longer sessions they start squinting a bit making it harder to get relaxed-looking images.

Since you stated the studio, Iíll assume you donít want to take them on location. Thatís a whole other set of challenges.




Apr 13, 2024 at 07:49 AM
aCuria
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


Assuming a shutter speed of 1/60s, to match a cheap 75ws speedlight like the TT600 that runs off AA batteries you will need a 60 * 75= 4500w continuous light

A 4500w LED means it emits 4500w per one second, and your shutter is 1/60, so 4500/60 = 75ws hits the sensor.

Your model will be completely blinded by the 4500w LED, and you probably need 3 of them, and get an electrician to rig your wall sockets to support 4500w * 3 = 13,500w

Its impractical and expensive. What happens when you want to match 3 600ws strobes at 1/200s? 3x 120,000w LEDs?




Edited on Apr 13, 2024 at 10:06 AM · View previous versions



Apr 13, 2024 at 09:54 AM
gregfountain
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


story_teller wrote:
If youíre doing ďcookie-cutterĒ headshots and quick portraits (in-studio only), they should be fine provided youíve addressed any ambient light issues such as white balance. I used the term "quick portraits" because models and clients donít like to be in front of the bright lights for very long. During longer sessions they start squinting a bit making it harder to get relaxed-looking images.

Since you stated the studio, Iíll assume you donít want to take them on location. Thatís a whole other set of challenges.



Thanks for the feedback. Yes, it'll be in my garage that has a transom window in the garage door and a large window in the back, behind where I will set up the backdrop, so I'll be able to kill the overhead garage lights and still have enough ambient light to move around safely without battling competing color temps. And yes, I'm talking quick sessions.




Apr 13, 2024 at 09:56 AM
CharleyL
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


In my opinion, you are going to need to block the windows and use one ceiling light as a work light with a switch nearby so you can turn it on and off. If you go with studio strobes two 400 watt/second studio strobes will do the job of lighting 1-3 in a group from the waist up well, plus maybe one more 3-400 watt/second and a 7" round reflector to light a spot on the backdrop, if you want to do this. Usually adding a color filter to this rear light will add interest to the shots.

My small studio is 19' X 26' and when I started out the 10' wide backdrop was hung from a backdrop stand up against East 19' wall. This worked well for upper half standing shots of up to 3 people, but a pair of 5' diameter octa boxes are going to be needed to fully light your subjects from head to foot.

Depending on how bright your work light (ceiling light) is, the best technique for leaving it on during the shoot is to set the F-Stop just high enough so that you can take a test shot with no flash and the ceiling light on, and get just a black screen. Then set your strobe lights for the power needed to produce the desired photos. You can raise the F-Stop setting, but then you will need to add power to your strobes to achieve the desired brightness level. If you need to lower the F-Stop from that black shot setting, you will need to turn the ceiling light off during the shoot. All of this is to keep the ceiling light from affecting your shots, so you can leave it on most of the time.

Once the F-Stop has been set so the ceiling light does not affect your shots, set up your strobes for the shots that you wish. Each time that you increase the F-stop, it will cause you to need to raise the power level of the strobes. An F-8 is usually a good starting point, but do the test shots to see what the minimum F-Stop setting needs to be and still allow leaving the ceiling light on. The F-Stop adjustment also affects the depth of field (what is in focus front to back). Increasing this gives you more depth of in-focus. Reducing this below where you get the fully dark shot, will then require the ceiling light to be off, or it will be in the shot.

Two 30-34" octa-boxes will light 1-3 people from the waist up well with the 3-400 watt/second studio strobes, usually requiring about 1/2 power settings, so you can go up or down from there. The third light behind the subject could be smaller, even a speedlite, but speedlites are power limited to about 72 watt/second max. You will frequently want more if you go with a speedlite for the background light. Adding color filters becomes more difficult with most speedlites too.

Instead of soft boxes for the main lights, similar sized white umbrellas do a great job in studio portrait use. The umbrella needs to be white and translucent, and it's tip needs to point toward the subject, so the light shines through it. It will likely require a lot more power if you point it the wrong way. Avoid getting too close to side walls, unless they are painted white, as light reflecting off them tends to change the color of the light reaching the subject if they aren't white.

PM me if you have questions. I don't always get back here every day.

Charley



Apr 13, 2024 at 05:41 PM
gregfountain
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


CharleyL wrote:
In my opinion, you are going to need to block the windows and use one ceiling light as a work light with a switch nearby so you can turn it on and off. If you go with studio strobes two 400 watt/second studio strobes will do the job of lighting 1-3 in a group from the waist up well, plus maybe one more 3-400 watt/second and a 7" round reflector to light a spot on the backdrop, if you want to do this. Usually adding a color filter to this rear light will add interest to the shots.

My small
...Show more


Thanks for the detailed response Charley. I appreciate it. I've been looking around the internet and it seems that some LED's are mostly suitable for video, but not necessarily for still photography (although would probably work for food photography). I was looking at studio quality LED moonlights, but need to do more research. I'll check back in when I make a decision.

Cheers,
Greg



Apr 13, 2024 at 06:37 PM
CharleyL
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


You will do far better with strobe lights at a reasonable price than you will with LEDs. I have eight LED panels with 480 LEDs in each hanging in a wide U shape on my studio ceiling for shooting videos and they are barely enough to light an 8' long banquet table and 2 people behind it for shooting video. Positioning the lights in this fashion produces a kind-of TV NEWS room lighting with a minimum of shadows. I also use them when shooting infant and pet photos, because strobes startle them. They handle bright steady light much better, but the Auto ISO usually runs up to about 3200 for this, so not really enough light. My light panels are all GVM 480-LS and spaced about 3' apart around this wide leg U pattern. I strongly suggest that you go with Godox or Flashpoint (Flashpoint is a rebrand of Godox and the same except for the name). Flashpoint is sold by Adorama in NYC. In my studio at this time I'm using Godox SK400 and SK300, plus a few MS300 strobe lights. The Bowens style mount on them adapts to just about anything you will want to add or remove quickly. To operate them remotely, you will need a remote transmitter that attaches to your camera flash hot shoe. The Pro II for your brand of camera is the best choice. I've owned 3 different brands and models of strobes and now have Godox/Flashpoint. I have never looked back. The prices are reasonable, and they have proven to me to be very reliable for me.

Good portraits are produced with shadows in just the right places to enhance the photos, so totally bright NEWSROOM style lighting is NOT RIGHT for Portrait shooting. Strobes do much better, and when in the right positions, enhanced with reflectors and scrims, will produce a much better portrait at much less investment for lighting and the other required accessories.

Pay attention to what I've said about F-Stop settings and find a patient friend who will pose for you while you practice. After 10 minutes of my wife posing while I was adjusting and learning the lights that I had just bought for this new then studio 5 years ago, she asked me how long this was going to take. When I said "maybe an hour", she go up and left, saying "I have better things to do", and she wouldn't come back. The neighbors didn't last much longer. So I bought the cheapest mannequin on Amazon for about $86. Her hair came from the Halloween section of Walmart and her clothes from the local thrift shops. Fortunately some near prefect sized woman had just cleaned her party dresses out of her closets, because I found some almost perfect pretty party dresses for $5.50 each at the local Goodwill store. Size 1 and 2 party type dresses that size are hard to find at tight budget prices. Another thrift shop had a new pair of patent leather high heal shoes for $5.00. So hair, dress, and shoes was all she needed to look decent and she has always been ready to pose for me when I need to adjust the lights or try something. She has very shiny glass type eyes, so even catchlight reflections can be seen in them. She never complains and will hold a pose for days. She was made by Yaheetech, a Japanese company who makes the best mannequins for this, and they are made to look like American women. So, problem solved about having a human form to adjust lights and camera with when no real models are available.

Now, the rest of the story.....I named her Linda. It seemed like a fitting name, because I knew a Linda of similar build back in high school. So Linda lives in my gear closet and comes out and poses for me whenever I need her to, without ever complaining or getting old, and she has done this for about 5 years now. When I get tired of seeing her in the same dress for several months I do put a different dress on on her, just for her to be different.

Now the "Dark Side" of getting your own "plastic woman". I only needed a human form that was dressed in a nice outfit to pose for me. When I stopped asking my wife to pose, she wasn't real happy with my idea of me getting a plastic replacement for her, but when I was no longer pestering her to pose for me, she decided that having this plastic woman upstairs wasn't so bad after all.

Then, all of a sudden additional nice dresses and shoes, and even some new wigs started showing up in my gear closet for Linda. I only needed one outfit, but now there were more, and more. The different wigs made Linda look so different that I began naming each a different woman's name (Linda has sisters, but only 1 body). I then discovered that my wife and her neighbor friend had started shopping the thrift shops for Linda and her sisters, and coming back with some really nice outfits. So Linda was filling my gear closet with her wardrobe, and she wasn't even leaving my studio to do it. I finally managed to put a stop to this, but now 1/2 of one side of my 6' X 10' walk-in closet is now occupied by Linda and her sister's wardrobe.

When I get the chance, and very soon, at least half of this wardrobe is going back to the thrift stores, because my photo gear is no longer fitting in there. Having a mannequin is very handy for experimenting with lights and cameras, but be careful about what your wife might do. I probably should have bought a male mannequin, but Linda seemed like the better choice for the job. She does brighten the atmosphere in my studio a bit. It took me a while to get used to a pretty woman standing behind me while I type on the computer though.

I just thought that I should warn you about all this.

Charley



Apr 13, 2024 at 09:22 PM
Fred Amico
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


CharleyL wrote:
........................

Now, the rest of the story.....I named her Linda. It seemed like a fitting name, because I knew a Linda of similar build back in high school. So Linda lives in my gear closet and comes out and poses for me whenever I need her to, without ever complaining or getting old, and she has done this for about 5 years now. When I get tired of seeing her in the same dress for several months I do put a different dress on on her, just for her to be different.

Now the "Dark Side" of getting your own "plastic woman".
...Show more

I'm not a portrait/studio shooter Charley, but just happened to read your reply and wanted to thank you. I got a great laugh reading about Linda's story and wardrobe expansion!



Apr 13, 2024 at 10:48 PM
 


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gregfountain
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


Fred Amico wrote:
I'm not a portrait/studio shooter Charley, but just happened to read your reply and wanted to thank you. I got a great laugh reading about Linda's story and wardrobe expansion!


, me too Fred. Reminds me of the movie "Mannequin." Anyway, thanks for the story Charley, and my wife is a hair stylist with dozens of mannequin heads, so I'll at lead be able to check lighting for head shots.

As for the lights themselves, I'm leaning towards flashpoint Explore 600 Pro's plus a smaller, 400ws head for the background. Just reading and watching reviews, but so far they seem like a legit kit.



Apr 15, 2024 at 12:47 PM
story_teller
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


gregfountain wrote:
, me too Fred. Reminds me of the movie "Mannequin." Anyway, thanks for the story Charley, and my wife is a hair stylist with dozens of mannequin heads, so I'll at lead be able to check lighting for head shots.

As for the lights themselves, I'm leaning towards flashpoint Explore 600 Pro's plus a smaller, 400ws head for the background. Just reading and watching reviews, but so far they seem like a legit kit.


Youíll also have more shooting flexibility with strobes vs LEDís such as the ability to do shutter drag, etc. Strobes also give you a lot of flexibility with on-location shooting.I think you made the right choice.



Apr 15, 2024 at 01:12 PM
aCuria
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


gregfountain wrote:
, me too Fred. Reminds me of the movie "Mannequin." Anyway, thanks for the story Charley, and my wife is a hair stylist with dozens of mannequin heads, so I'll at lead be able to check lighting for head shots.

As for the lights themselves, I'm leaning towards flashpoint Explore 600 Pro's plus a smaller, 400ws head for the background. Just reading and watching reviews, but so far they seem like a legit kit.


Watch out for color consistency issues when using strobes of different models together

If you are in a studio the mains power powered strobes are much cheaper (QTiii are <US$400 each for me in Asia ), and have no batteries you have to worry about

As far as Godox goes the AD600 pro and 400 pro strobes cost almost the same, itís probably better to just get the 600ws ones

An important thing to note is that the batteries on these strobes cannot be allowed to sit around while fully discharged, they need to be stored in a charged up state or they may refuse to charge

Itís also not fine to leave the batteries connected to the charger, itís not a smart charger and will not stop trickle charging



Apr 15, 2024 at 09:18 PM
gregfountain
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


Just an update: I went with two of the Flashpoint Explor600 Pro TTL strobes and a Flashpoint Explor100 Pro for the background. I bought the mains as a kit which include a C-stand and 48" Octaboxes, and a 12" x 56" Strip Box along with a transmitter. Should be here early next week and I already have a subject to help me dial them in, albeit a real person and not a mannequin

Edited on Apr 18, 2024 at 02:38 PM · View previous versions



Apr 18, 2024 at 02:35 PM
gregfountain
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


Thanks for the heads up about the batteries. I plan on having a couple for each strobe, so good to know I can't leave them on the charger. I might also end up getting the AC adapters, just in case.

aCuria wrote:
Watch out for color consistency issues when using strobes of different models together

If you are in a studio the mains power powered strobes are much cheaper (QTiii are <US$400 each for me in Asia ), and have no batteries you have to worry about

As far as Godox goes the AD600 pro and 400 pro strobes cost almost the same, itís probably better to just get the 600ws ones

An important thing to note is that the batteries on these strobes cannot be allowed to sit around while fully discharged, they need to be stored in a charged up state
...Show more




Apr 18, 2024 at 02:36 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


gregfountain wrote:
Just an update: I went with two of the Flashpoint Explor600 Pro TTL strobes and a Flashpoint Explor100 Pro for the background. I bought the mains as a kit which include a C-stand and 48" Octaboxes, and a 12" x 56" Strip Box along with a transmitter. Should be here early next week and I already have a subject to help me dial them in, albeit a real person and not a mannequin


IMO the 48" Octas are potentially too large for head and shoulder portraits, if you plan to do that in addition to fuller length. The light will be quite soft and you might run into problems not being able to raise them high enough in an average residential setting (in a house or a garage). Something in the 3' range would be a nice option for more modeling and light falloff. You may also find that having the key light on a boom provides good positioning flexibility. If so, it would be advisable to get the extension head set for the 600 so that the majority of the light's weight can stay on the vertical pole of the stand with just the head and modifier at the end of the boom.

Not sure what your experience level is but if you want a very versatile and very efficient light modifier that can give you hard and soft light looks, consider a true parabolic modifier like those from Parabolix. A bit more pricy, but still reasonably priced for the versatility one modifier can provide.

While kind of long at 55 minutes and Elinchrom-centric, I found this video on the Elinchrom YT site to be pretty comprehensive and informative. The info here can easily be applied to any similar kinds of modifiers:



FWIW, the Elinchrom 1m/39" Deep Octa is my go-to for head & shoulder portraits.



Apr 18, 2024 at 08:27 PM
gregfountain
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · LED Studio lights for portraits and headshots?


Thanks. My primary location will be my garage which is a tandem design, so it's deep and it has 10' ceilings, so height shouldn't be a problem. Thanks for the link!

Greg


rscheffler wrote:
IMO the 48" Octas are potentially too large for head and shoulder portraits, if you plan to do that in addition to fuller length. The light will be quite soft and you might run into problems not being able to raise them high enough in an average residential setting (in a house or a garage). Something in the 3' range would be a nice option for more modeling and light falloff. You may also find that having the key light on a boom provides good positioning flexibility. If so, it would be advisable to get the extension head set for
...Show more




Apr 20, 2024 at 12:54 AM







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