There are a lot of lighting myths out there when it comes to flash vs continuous LED lights for photography. There are also many options for both sides, no matter which one you choose to pursue. But which one should you choose? No blanket answer suits everybody, and depending on your needs, there may not be a single solution that covers everything you want to do.
But in this video, photographer Rob Hall at Sharpen takes a look at both flash and LED lights to help you figure out which you might need and why. It’s an interesting look at both systems, covering a lot of the pros and cons of each and why the same answer isn’t right for everybody.
For many of us, no matter which side of the debate on which we fall, we already know our answer, and we already believe we’re right. But are we? Is there room for both in our lives? Are there advantages of one system over another that we hadn’t considered? Depending on our needs… The answer is both “maybe” and “maybe not”. While both types of lighting do offer objective advantages and disadvantages vs the other, our subjective needs might make some of them irrelevant.
Rob looks at a number of aspects when weighing up the pros and cons of both systems. On the LED side, that covers things like the What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) aspect that you don’t get with flash (even ones with modelling lights), the potential hybrid applications (like being able to use them for video as well as photography). In flash’s corner, however, we’ve got things like portability and power output – both of which might mean nothing to you if you’re always indoors, shooting wide apertures and LEDs are already serving you well.
Personally, I tend to stick with flash wherever possible for my photography. I have a dozen or so battery-powered Godox strobes that are my go-to for photography (for the record, either an AD400Pro or AD600Pro and a pair of AD200Pro is my go-to combo). Typically, I’m trying to combat daylight (or at least somewhat bright conditions) with large modifiers, and an LED just can’t keep up with those needs. Flash has been my go-to for around fifteen years now and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
That being said, I also have another twenty or so continuous LED lights (mostly for video use), from small pocket sized panels that’ll also work as a USB power bank in an emergency to larger Bowens mount strobe-style COB lights putting out a few hundred watts. Occasionally, those continuous lights are more suitable to my photography needs than the strobes, especially for things like small subjects or macro – where I really want to be able to see down a super stopped down lens through several extension tubes – with the light up close and personal.
Even in a world of flash, continuous lights can sometimes be of benefit. And as mentioned, continuous lights can also be used for video, too. Flash can’t. Sure, many strobes have modelling lights, but they’re not going to give you the levels of power and control that dedicated LED lights can.
What lights do you use for your photography? Have you considered switching?