LED Lighting for Photographers Series wrap-up. Are LED Photography Lights Ready for Primetime?

I’m kinda sad. This is part 5 and the last video in my LED
lighting series. I have been having a ton of fun shooting with
these LED lights and even learned some cool stuff along the way. In this video I’ll share my closing thoughts
on LED lighting for photography and of course I’ll take you behind the scenes for another
shoot using ALL of the LED lights that I reviewed in this series – oh – and I almost forgot… I am even going to show you how I used an
LED light to paint my subject during a 6 second exposure. Stay tuned. Hey gang! My name is Joe Edelman and my mission is to
help photographers like YOU to develop a solid understanding of the HOWS & WHYS behind great
photography so that you can achieve your goals as a photographer. First up we looked at Spekular from Spiffy
Gear. This is a modular lighting system with a 94+
CRI, 5600k color temperature and 1,500 lumens of light per section. Sold as a set of four you have 6,000 lumens
of dimmable, configurable light to work with. Just a quick refresher – here are some of
the images that I created with Spekular… Then I showed you the Edge Lit Pro LED Panels
from Savage Universal. These ultra thin 12” x 9” panels are blendable
from 3200k to 5500k which makes it very easy to use these lights mixed in with other ambient
light. They have a CRI of 95 and they output 1,677
lumens at three feet. Here are some of the images that I created
with the Edge Lit Pro’s both in studio and on location… In my last video, I showed you the Smith Victor
CooLED series – the 20 , 50 and 100 as well as their brand new 19” Bi-Color Ringlight. The CooLed lights with a CRI in the mid 80’s
are designed like and function like studio strobes and accept modifiers like softboxes
and umbrellas. The 19” ringlight has a CRI of 95 and outputs
6000 lumens of light with adjustable color temperature from 3000k up to 5500k. Here are a few of the shots that I created
with the Smith Victor lights… All six of the lights that I showed you in
this series are AC powered but also have DC power options available. All six are dimmable and designed to attach
to standard light stands. So are these the only six LED lights on the
market? Of course not – just like flashes and studio
strobes, there are tons of options available. Lots of gimmicks, some cheap knock off gear
from China all the way up to the normally overpriced gear by companies like Wescott. There are two others that I wanted to mention
because I’ve had a lot of people asking questions about them. Let’s start with the Rotolight NEO 2. This is a $400.00 light that was announced
about a month ago and is expected to hit stores later this month. It is being called revolutionary because of
its ability to go from continuous LED to a high speed sync flash without any recycle
time. I do think that Rotolight has done a great
marketing job of being the first to space to combine continuous and strobe lighting
– which I do see as the future. BUT… this light is only 5.7” in diameter
which makes it a very small light source and according to Rotolights stats… using this
5.7” light at 3 feet from your subject at ISO 200 you can shoot at f/8. f/8 – ISO 200 doesn’t sound too bad until
you factor in the idea of putting a light source that is smaller than 6 inches only
three feet away from your subject – that is NOT going to make for a flattering light source. So just like any other light – if you are
well versed in lighting and have the knowledge and skills to handle it properly – this could
be a light that offers some convenience. It has a $399.98 price tag for the basic light,
ac adapter, some filters and a case. You will still need to purchase the Elinchrom
Skyport Transmitter for another $250.00 if you want to be able to use it as a flash and
of course rechargeable batteries if you intend to use it on location. This is not an inexpensive light and for my
money – it just doesn’t offer enough punch and options to justify the cost. I am not a fan and would not purchase it,
but I do give Rotolight props for being the first to jump into this hybrid type of lighting. The other light that I am frequently asked
about is the Wescott Ice light 2 This is a very cool light wand that puts out 1,740 lumens
of light at 5500k. It is 21.6” long and will operate for 60
minutes on a full 2.5 hour battery charge. It sells for $499.00 or Wescott sells a 2-pack
at B&H photo for $998.00 – that is a whopping savings of… NOTHING!!! Great marketing there. On the flip side Yongnuo offers the YN360
Light Wand. This unit is 22.95 inches long and has a two
hour run time. With 2,560 lumens of light output The Light
Wand has a variable color temperature from 3200k to 5500k, and also an RGB mode that
will yield vivid reds, greens, blues and yellow. This unit is designed to be handheld, but
also has a 1/4”-20 thread mount at the end of the handle. It operates on AC or an optional NP-F750 battery. It can also be controlled by a free iPhone
app. The Light Wand sells for $78.98 and does require
you to purchase an AC cord or a battery, which is app $40.00 depending on your brand of choice. Yongnuo also offers the YN360W Light Wand
which is daylight balanced only and also outputs 2,560 lumens of light. It sells for just $81.00 I purchased one of the YN360 light wands about
a year ago and it is frequently used for lighting b-roll shots of camera gear that you see in
my videos. For this wrap up video, I wanted to do something
a little different to hopefully inspire you to think outside the box. A neighbor of mine is a very talented metal
artist and he creates these aluminum flowers. It started with roses and now he makes all
different types of flowers. I have a link to his website in the description
below. I asked him if I could borrow a few of them
and promised him some nice photos in return. Now I did this knowing that I would potentially
regret asking because these aluminum flowers are very glossy and shiny on every surface. If you have ever photographed glass or metals
you understand that this is potentially the biggest nightmare that a photographer can
face. So I decided that I would paint the flowers. With light. You can see here that I have this arrangement
of Alumaflowers sitting on a white table about 6 feet from a Savage Black seamless paper
background. On the floor behind the table is a Smith Victor
CooLED20 with a teal gel aimed at the backdrop. I am shooting with my Nikon D810 and 50mm
f/1.8 lens tripod mounted with a TetherTools TetherBLOCK to secure the cables and my laptop
is setup in the Digital ala Cart case, I decided before taking any shots that I wanted
maximum depth of field to keep all of the flower arrangement tack sharp. So I began by setting my aperture at f/16
at ISO64. With a few minutes of testing, I arrived at
6 seconds for the proper exposure time. The most important detail when painting such
a glossy surface with light is to be sure not to keep the light wand still for too long
in any one spot and to not keep covering the same areas of the arrangement with light. So I opened the cameras shutter using Capture
One Pro software – so that I wouldn’t risk any camera shake during the 6 second exposure. Then I moved the light wand all around the
arrangement – even passing in front of the camera lens to be sure to get light on the
rose petals from below. I would check the computer preview after each
attempt to see if I was creating hot spots where I didn’t want them and work to find
a movement pattern that delivered even light. Once you do that, you can repeat the process
over and over with amazingly consistent results. Here is the finished result with the black
background and teal gel and here is the exact same set-up shot with a white background and
no gel on the CooLED20. Just to show you that I didn’t take the
easy way out with the powder coated aluminum. Here is a rose with a shiny chrome stem. I used the same light painting technique and
notice how it leaves only the most subtle shadows on the table – which you need to give
some sense of depth. Also its worth pointing out that in order
to maximize my depth of field with the 50mm lens at f/16 and shooting on an angle – I
focused one third of the way into the rose. Not on the front of the rose. By focusing one third of the way into the
scene – I am maximizing the depth of field that I get with the lens and aperture combination. Ok – back to people photography – I wanted
to do one last creative shoot and use as many of these LED lights as I could AND add electronic
flash into the mix. Yes – continuous and strobe lighting combined
in one shot. Why not? For this first setup I placed a Smith Victor
CooLED100 in a Photoflex Medium sized softbox infront of and above the lovely Monae. I have a simple Walmart reflector placed below
her face – just out of frame to create a subtle clamshell effect and I have two Paul C. Buff
DigiBee DB800’s firing at 1/6 power to light the white background. With the CooLED set at full power and the
DigiBees at their lowest power, I was able to get a clean white background without having
it blowout and cause lens flare. Then I switched to one DigiBee DB800 behind
Monae and aimed up at my Savage Orange Seamless Paper backdrop. I used two of the Savage Edge Lit Pro LED
panels to create a clamshell lighting set-up with one above and one below. The top Edge Lit Pro was at full power. The bottom was at about 60% since it was actually
a little closer to Monae’s face than the top one and the Digibee was at 1/6th power. For my last shot – I wanted to use the Spekular
light as a part of the scene so I decided to expand on an idea that I had seen done
by a few of the early testers of the light and that was to create this almost star like
effect behind Monae. I switched to a black seamless paper backdrop
and used the Smith Victor CooLED100 with a teal gel to get the glow and placed two Savage
Edge Lit Pros – one on either side and slightly behind Monae to create the rim lights. I had the color temperature set to 4,000k
to give the rim light some warmth. No filter or gels required. Then I used the Digibee as my main light with
it placed in a beauty dish in front of and above the camera. You can also see here that I have Monae resting
on a Walmart reflector just to give me a little extra fill from the bottom. And here is the finished result…. LED lighting is here to stay. In my opinion – LED lighting is definitely
the way of the future and offers us so much potential that we haven’t even begun to
think of yet. As you have heard me say several times during
this series – there is no one light that will handle all of your needs – LED, Strobe, Incandescent
– it doesn’t matter. Photographers love light. Light is a photographers friend – it is a
tool, it is a challenge and an obstacle – without light there would be no photography. I do encourage you to pay close attention
to LED’s even if you aren’t planning on owning any yet and if you are just starting
out – I would encourage you to consider LED’s because of the simplicity of using them and
the fact that it is much easier to learn the subtleties of lighting with continuous light
then it is with a flash. I hope you found this useful. Please hit that thumbs up and subscribe so
that you don’t miss any videos and until next time go pick up that camera and shoot
something because your BEST shot – it’s your NEXT shot, so keep learning, keep thinking,
keep shooting. Adios!

19 Replies to “LED Lighting for Photographers Series wrap-up. Are LED Photography Lights Ready for Primetime?”

  1. I am very curious… having watched all the videos in this series… and the mention of light painting in this video (something I want to try)… could you use one of the Spekular lights as a light painting wand?

  2. Hi Joe,Do you pay these models to experiment technique on,and/or sell the shots for various applications ? or are they paying you for head shots ?
    My 2 car garage shop is in the planning phase of a photo studio transformation .
    And when I've finally got floor and lighting plan out of my head that's been buried in articles ,and laid out I will have to direct my energies into the lighting and the subjects that will become part of the art…i guess I'm asking ,do you market these models you've shown us here or are you providing a service to a client that wants to be portrayed in a certain way or light ?
    Thanks for the time you put in to these jam packed presentations…

  3. I have 2 of those yn 360w they are amazing lights. The only part is they are kinda flimsy at the mounting point. But for the price they are awesome

  4. Bismillah

    Wow your work is stunning! Thanks for the great videos. What do you think of the Fiilex p100? Are there better value alternatives?

  5. LOL! Some of the lights you mentioned are absurdly priced for what you receive and what they can do. I appreciate you, politely, raising this point, Joe.

  6. I’ve been highly curious about the Aputure continuous LED lights like their C120D and C300D. They are a bit pricey ($650-$1,000), But they have a lot of power a high CRI. I could probably buy 3 Digibees for that price, but the LEDs can also be used for video and offer that WYSIWYG advantage. Thoughts?

  7. Having used the CooLED 100 lights for a couple of years now, I find that that "mid-80s CRI" amounts to muted reds that are apparent as slightly muted dark skin tones. I just juice up the red gain in my Canon cameras a bit to accommodate. Getting a slightly more accurate light costs at least twice as much.

  8. Joe. Absolutely love this information. I am currently doing headshots for a football team and I want to use some LED lights to do the rim lighting behind them in the exact way that you did for the model in the last section of the video. Did you have a problem with any haze from the light spilling back into the camera using the backlit LED's? I usually use grids on a small softbox to prevent that but I noticed you didnt have any grids or flags. Which LED lights would you suggest for the rim lighting?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *