To avoid making this one article too long, I intend to divide it into three parts. Part 1 will cover the benefits and drawbacks of LEDs, Part 2 will involve testing a variety of coloured LED bulbs in our strobes, and Part 3 will include advice and lighting diagrams for using them on a model shoot.
In this article, I’ll explain what LED Light Kit Pro Led are, how they got started, and where they stand in the world of photography today. LEDs have become popular among photographers, but do they have a place in your kit, and why aren’t we all using them?
From Then to Now:
LEDs have been around since the 1960s, but they were only available in infrared and were far from bright. As the 1970s progressed, some of you may recall the first LEDs in your little calculators, the ones with the bright red light-up numbers. However, LEDs were not very bright and were only available in the colour red.
LEDs struggled to find a significant market place due to their limited colour and brightness, and it wasn’t until the late 1980s that a commercially viable blue LED was introduced. From here, great strides were made as LEDs became brighter, and with the introduction of green LEDs, we were now able to create white light by combining red, green, and blue light.
LEDs have clearly come a long way, but why aren’t we seeing more of them in our photography on a daily basis? We use flash a lot as photographers, and we also use tungsten ambient light on occasion. So, does the LED light have a place in our kit?
So, why aren’t LEDs used for all of our lighting requirements?
To be sure, LEDs have seen tremendous growth in recent years as prices have dropped dramatically, and many of us now use LED bulbs in our homes; after all, there are numerous advantages to using them. LEDs are cheap to run because of their incredible efficiency, and they won’t give you third-degree burns because they don’t contain coils of scolding hot metal like tungsten bulbs do, LED Light Kit Pro Led.
So why aren’t we using them for all of our lighting needs as photographers? There are a few reasons why I’m hesitant to switch to LEDs anytime soon. To begin with, they are nowhere near as powerful as flash, so they will not be replacing our strobes anytime soon. But, in a controlled studio, we could certainly use LEDs for ambient light shots, right?
There are a few reasons why I’m not sold on LEDs in photography, and they are as follows:
Modifying the light – To make LEDs brighter, simply add more of them, which makes the light source physically larger, which is why we see so many LED ‘panels’ and so few LED’spots’. These large panels of light become difficult to modify; imagine attempting to modify a softbox… if you weren’t allowed to remove it. When combined with specialised modifiers such as a beauty dish or spots, these panels become nearly impossible to use. Yes, there are smaller, brighter LEDs available now, but they still lack the power of a tungsten light in the same space.
Light drop-off – There are far smarter people than me who can explain why the ‘perceived’ light brightness of an LED panel is not as bright as you might think. When light is spread out across a larger surface area, it appears to fade away much faster than when it comes from a single point. Consider looking at a single 100w bulb, but now imagine looking at one hundred individual 1w bulbs. The wall of 1w bulbs appears to be unbearably bright to us, but in reality, each of those bulbs is barely emitting any light, and the light power drops off quickly due to its dispersion. Because of their small panel size, LEDs are not as bright as they appear.
Color – Now, this is a big one. Color exists at one end of the spectrum as infrared and extends all the way through the visible spectrum to ultra violet. Infrared and UV LEDs are possible, but they aren’t particularly useful for photographers. Many LEDs combine Red, Green, and Blue to produce visible colours. For those who are unaware, when the RGB lights are combined, white light is produced. In theory, this means we have access to every colour imaginable.
The issue with this RGB combo method is that it produces inherently inconsistent colours. Contrary to popular belief, LEDs’ ability to produce nearly infinite colours without the use of additional filters makes them extremely versatile. However, colour is critical for photographers, and my personal experience has shown that LEDs produce inconsistent and muddy colours. But, as with anything, there are exceptions…. if you can afford it.
Pay to Play:
As with many things in life, if you truly desire something and are willing to pay for it, it is available….(or so I’ve heard). As a result, there are certainly exceptions to all of the disadvantages I’ve mentioned above, and while we have yet to see an influx of very bright LEDs in small bulbs, the colour issues have been mostly resolved…..
But, as I previously stated, this comes at a cost:
For example, the television and film industries never use flash, and many of those productions have switched from tungsten to LEDs. ARRI, for example, produces unfathomably good colour rendition in their LED lights…. it’s just that their 25.4 x 11.8″ SkyPanel costs a whopping $5800.