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DPChallenge Forums >> Hardware and Software >> Flashes or continuous light sources
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01/25/2011 03:59:43 PM · #1
This is a horribly naive question, I know, but is there any benefit to having a flash setup over a constant light source setup?

For a little home studio, I can furnish it quite easily and cheaply with light sources of whatever temperature and adjust my exposure based on what those sources give me.

Sooo...is there any reason for the small-time hobbiest photographer to invest in flashes rather than continuous output lightsources?
01/25/2011 04:12:37 PM · #2
I've been experimenting with this very question.

what I'm finding is that good continuous lighting to do a good lighting level is going to cost more than a pair of say alien bee strobes.

with that said, I'm finding that with continuous lighting there are a lot of options for color temperatures with different bulbs etc.

I'm sure strobes may do this as well, but as I said I'm was wondering the same thing and have been renting and playing around with different options.
01/25/2011 04:14:01 PM · #3
Oh yeah, and strobes are going to be easier to deal with in remote places, batteries last a lot longer for example.. just another thought.
01/25/2011 04:15:04 PM · #4
continuous lighting just isn't that bright. you'll have to use a tripod all the time and adjusting the temp after exposure is not as good as getting it right while shooting. off camera flashes remotely triggered aren't too expensive and are a great improvement over the continuous lights. i use both but the continuous lights are more for seeing what i'm doing while setting up and sometimes I'll add it here and there to give some warmth to the shot.
01/25/2011 04:15:32 PM · #5
Originally posted by Aarthek:

Oh yeah, and strobes are going to be easier to deal with in remote places, batteries last a lot longer for example.. just another thought.

My interest is solely at home, no remote places or random venues. Just me in a little dark room..
01/25/2011 04:28:20 PM · #6
It depends quite a bit on what your preferred subject matter is: still life/objects or people.

Clearly, for still life, you can get by with less light, longer exposures. For people, you need a bit more light. Continuous lighting in a small space can heat it up, and it tends to have pupils contracting (larger irises). Strobes/speed lights get you away from this, but you don't get the pre-visualization of the lighting.

You can start with some continuous lighting units and CFL lighting fairly inexpensively. A light bulb unit that fits on a standard light stand will accept normal photography umbrellas and the umbrella style softboxes. Take a look at this and this. I have both items, they work well when I want continuous light (I have an umbrella set up in my office with CFLs and use it for room light, too). You can buy temperature balanced photo-purposed CFLs or use off the shelf stuff from the drugstore.

I would avoid the use of incandescent lighting or those shop/work halogen lights from home depot--the wattage you'd need for people, particularly in a small space, will get you a lot portraits of perspiration soaked people. You can make some use of those clip on work lights that run 5-10 bucks, use CFLs, but they are not directly suited to photographic lighting uses.

I would highly recommend a 5 in 1 reflector, some poster board or foam core (both white and black) to use for reflectors, flags, etc.

These get you going with umbrellas, lightstands that will grow with you if you choose to add a speedlight or a strobe someday.

Message edited by author 2011-01-25 16:32:39.
01/25/2011 05:37:55 PM · #7
First, I think you might be using the term "strobes" for both flash, and electrical units. I think strobes usually refer to the electrical form, while flash is the kind you operate on- or off-camera with batteries. The term "strobist" makes this confusing because it's a form of photography that uses flash for lighting, instead of a traditional studio lighting setup.

That being said, continuous light, as chromey said, can get very hot, doesn't get as bright, and can have a lot of color variations, especially if you don't use the same bulbs. Studio lights come as monolights (which have all the controls on the light themselves, or the kind you plug into a pack which has all the lighting controls. There are pros and cons to both those systems as well. And I also believe these models come with or without modeling lights, which can be turned on or off depending on need or preference.

The cheapest way to go is obviously using flash, but again, there is a battery limit. The more expensive ones (SB900, for example), put out a lot of power, but are no longer cheap. They're also easiest to set up, but you have to learn how to control everything, including the flash units.

Everything is a compromise.
01/25/2011 06:02:34 PM · #8
studio strobe lights every time, The continiuos lights went out with the Arc, Used them as a boy but quickly switched to strobres when they became available and used them ever since .
01/25/2011 06:33:33 PM · #9
For what it is worth, I have all three kinds now. I go for my studio strobes first with high preference -- much greater control, ease of use. If I cannot use them for some reason, I will go with my speed-lights (or if I need more lights, then I will add my speed-lights to the mix with my strobes). I seldom use continuous lights, and will more often use window light than continuous fluorescent lights. I noted the CFL options below as they are an inexpensive way to start for still life work. But I wouldn't use them with people except in unusual circumstances.

So, if you don't shoot people in your studio, and want to get going for around a hundred bucks, CFL approach will work out fine to start. But if you want to do portraits, I would most definitely consider speed-lights or studio strobes instead. Alien Bee studio strobes are less expensive than Canon speed-lights (and cheaper to operate over time, since you are not eating batteries).

The good thing is you have so many options. The bad thing is you have to choose! :-)
01/25/2011 06:59:09 PM · #10
A visit to this site might help

Strobist
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