If you shoot with artificial lighting, you can go with off camera flash or continuous LED lights. Of course, each approach has its good and bad sides. In this video, Francisco Joel Hernandez discusses pros and cons of using continuous LED lights for portraits. So if you’ve been thinking of getting them for portrait photography, this might help you make the final decision.
In his video, Francisco starts with the cons. So, what are the disadvantages of LED lights in portrait photography?
1. LED lights are not as bright as speedlights or strobes
You can use LED lights for indoor, late afternoon or night portrait photography, also in cloudy days. But if you want to overpower the sun on location, a strobe or a speedlight is a better choice because it’s brighter.
2. Battery drains fast
With LED lights, battery life drains much faster than with speedlights or strobes. If you use an LED light on maximum brightness, you’ll get around an hour of light or even less. So, either work fast or bring enough extra batteries.
3. Corded system
Note that this may not be a universal con because it depends on the lighting system you choose. The downside of working with LED lights is that there are a lot of cords to deal with. But, you can avoid this by investing in a cordless light or a V mount battery if your light has that option.
4. It might be hard to modify
Again, this depends on the light you choose, but it can be hard to adapt LED lights to any Bowens mount or other modifiers you might have. Francisco suggests that you get a light with an umbrella mount or a Bowens mount.
Of course, there are some benefits to LED lights too. Let’s see what Francisco points out as good sides.
1. You see the light
With speedlights and strobes, you have to take several test shots if you want to see how the light looks. But when you use continuous LED lights, you get to see exactly how the light looks and how it changes as you modify it. If you’re new to artificial lighting, LED lights can be a great “bridge” towards using off-camera flash.
2. More color in the eyes
The iris in your subject’s eyes will be more visible when using LED lights. Because of the continuous lighting, your subject’s pupils won’t be dilated, so you’ll get to see more of the iris and the eyes’ color.
3. Ability to use either tungsten or daylight color temperature
This depends on the type of light you use. But, if you opt for a bi-color LED light, you’ll be able to adjust the color temperature usually from 3200K to 5500K.
4. Dual purpose light
Finally, if you buy LED lights, they can have a dual purpose. You can use them for photography, and they will also come in handy if you do video work.
After hearing about the pros and cons, it’s, of course, up to you to decide whether LED lights would work for you and your photography work. From 7:33 of the video you can watch BTS of a photo shoot with Aputure 120D and Aputure HR672. Here are a few sample photos, too: