LED light panel instead of flash?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by chris_jones|30, Feb 8, 2011.

  1. I was wanting a Sigma Super 530 flash, but then I saw LED light panels have great reviews. They look nice because of being daylight balanced and dimmable (some of them at least).
    Can one of them replace the need for a flash unit? Pros and cons? Can't afford both.
    They seem bright enough for most uses. I don't feel like I need flash for most pics I take, but I would use it to balance out the scene and add a little extra.
    If I used a flash unit I would diffuse the light. Are there diffusers for the panels, or is there a need for that?
    I am hoping the panels can tilt and swivel too. I am guessing a panel could be off-camera but wired in... wireless ones may cost too much for me? I like that the Sigma flash can be wireless.
    Also, I don't need to do a lot of video, but it would be great to have when I did video. So that's one factor that makes me want a panel instead of a flash.
  2. Panels are cool, particularly for video. But I wouldn't say that they can come close to replacing a flash for still photography. For one thing, it would take a pretty huge panel to equal the light output of even a small flash.
  3. What Josh said- for still images, panels are an interesting alternative for macro (close-up) photography. However, the relatively-small panels cannot match flash tubes for putting out a bunch of light.
  4. Agreed, they simply don't put out much light and for any given amount of light are probably more expensive.
  5. B&H have LED studio lights, 12" x 18", 77 leds, 360 lumens. If my shaky math is right that's about 0.54 watt-sec. A Nikon SB600 (full blast) I believe is about 60 watt-sec.
    If I'm right ...
  6. Well a $2500 Litepanel puts out enough light to give you f4 at 4 feet, 200 iso at 1/30 - 1/50 sec which is the speed range for 24fps in video. Which is the approx the equiv of a 500 watt halogen bulb according to one retailer, or a really small under $35 electronic flash.
    Great for video, long battery life for the light output, not so much for still work.
  7. My entire lighting kit consists of LED lights (well except for the on camera flash). The self portrait was a test of LED lights. They can be very effective for photography.
  8. Then there is this taken at night in an old stage coach inn. LED lights again.
  9. And LEDs again.
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    The TYPE of Still Photography should be taken into consideration.
    As well as being about the AMOUNT / POWER of light: it is also about the CONTINUOUS nature of the light vs. the short FLASH of Light.
    Continuous Light can be quite useful for Still Photography and also the panels lend themselves to Light Painting and other stylistic adventures in Portraiture. Continuous Light allows a modelling light whereas a camera mounted / off camera cord Flash, does not.
    On the other hand, shooting with Continuous Light, one is reliant on the Tv (Shutter Speed) to address Subject Movement (and Camera Shake). And also Continuous Light does not as easily lend itself to the Photographer BALANCING the Continuous Light with the Ambient Light; specifically Dragging the Shutter Technique, is (almost) impossible.
  11. If you need to freeze motion or need to through light a distance,a flash is better because the light pulse can be very short and very bright. If you want continuous light the LED panels are better because the batteries will last a long time but they put out less light.
    Well a $2500 Litepanel puts out enough light to give you f4 at 4 feet, 200 iso at 1/30 - 1/50 sec which is the speed range for 24fps in video.​
    For about $300-400 dollars you could go to a hardware store and at the track lighting section buy one 4 foot track (cut it to the length you need) and 5 lamp fixtures (or more if you want brighter light) and 120VAC daylight or bright white LED spot lamps. Attach the track to a tripod and then plug it in. I haven't done this but it is a significant cost savings over a litepanel for similar performance but it is not as portable. In my home I have track lighting up with small GU10 LED spot lamps. I have 6 installed in one section about 4 feet long and each bulb 4W bulb is equivelent to a 35W Halogen. for a single bulb lighting a spot on the wall With my camera set a F4.5 ISO 200 at about 4 feet from the wall I get a shutter speed of 1/60 sec.
  12. LED Lights are much better and can compete all other types of lights but it's difficult to say that it will also compete flash light. As we know flash light is a powerful light, it's nature is different from led's.

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