Techie Tips: Why Photographers Should Try Using a Continuous LED Light

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in Photography | Comments


One of the neat things about being a photographer right now is the amount of new technology coming out on a daily basis. We are able to push the limits of the photographic process as our tools become more complex and robust. One of these tools is the LED light, which first changed how we shoot videos but is now becoming more widely used by photographers.

Here are 5 reasons you should look into trying an LED light.

A small LED light

 

1. WYSIWYG

With a continuous light, “What You See Is What You Get.” Unlike using a flash, where you get a powerful burst of light for a split second, LEDs emit a continuous stream of light. With the LED you can see exactly how the light falls on your subject and you can move it to suit your taste, all the while seeing the lighting change.

You can also see how bright the light appears relative to the ambient light or the other lights you are using. WYSIWYG makes it easy and quick to make changes and allows even the newest of photographers to make lighting decisions on the fly.

 

2. Color balance

Over the past few years, LED manufacturers have given us the ability to change the color temperature of our lights. Strobes are typically daylight balanced, so if you are working with any other lights — incandescent, fluorescent or anything other than pure natural sunlight — it’s necessary to put gels on your strobe to match the other light sources.

It’s not easy to match color temperature with gels and typically requires some trial and error if you are not very experienced with it. With variable color temperature in LEDs, it’s possible to dial in just the right amount of warm or neutral light to match your ambient. This is really nice if you are working quickly and don’t want to keep a bag full of gels with you. It’s also possible to create some neat color effects by changing the color temperature of your LEDs.

Example of a portrait using LED light

3. Dimmable

Too much light? No problem. Most newer LEDs have the capability of being dimmed down. Until LEDs became dimmable, they were not very useful for photography because you could not adjust the intensity of the light, relative to other lights like you could with a flash. Now, LEDs can be finely tuned to create precise ratios of lighting for your composition.

4. Fast shutter speeds are possible

Most flashes have a maximum sync speed of 1/200 of a second (give or take a stop) unless you change over to a high-sync mode. This means that under normal operation, the quickest shutter speed allowed is about 12x slower when using a flash as compared to not.

With continuous lights, you can take advantage of this speed because there is no syncing necessary. This is helpful if you are shooting in a bright situation where your shutter needs to be above 1/200 sec or you want to shoot with a wide open aperture.

5. Getting smaller, cheaper, longer life

The final reason to look into LED lights for photography is that they are continually improving. We can get more intensity out of a smaller light with smaller batteries that last longer than ever, and many of them will mount right on the hot shoe of your camera. LED lights are also getting to a price that the average photographer can handle. Some of the best compact lights run about $500, while others by off-brands can be found for less than $100.

If you want to learn more photography tips and tricks, then you might be interested in our free eGuide “Take Better Photos Now: Beginner Photography eGuide.” It’s loaded with information to help you start taking breathtaking photos today!

Have you used LED lights for your photography? Do you think they are here to stay?