Strobes vs Continuous lighting

Strobes vs Continuous lighting

Low cost continuous LED studio light

Low cost continuous LED light









So you may be asking yourself which one is better, for the first time I am even asking myself the same question, which is really better?

This is one of those questions that you can only really answer for yourself, but to best do that let’s look at the pro’s and con’s of each system.

Before the invention of super bright LED lights this would have been a much easier argument but LED lights have really become a game changer in this space.

With continuous lighting in the past, lights would generate massive amounts of heat, they would also consume as much power as a football stadium at night.

The lighting units were really big and heavy, making them more difficult transport, which for most people made them really not much of a viable option.

The benefits of strobes is that they don’t generate much heat, they are relatively light and small and generate massive amounts of light for their comparative size.

So now that we have a brief background of the past, let’s bring it into today’s terms, since today LED lights are in massive abundance and the prices just keep coming down.

What are the benefits of continuous lighting:

With continuous lighting what you see is what you get, there is no guess work or light metering required, live view of your eye or on your camera is pretty much what you will get when you press the shoot button.

With LED lights there is very little heat and the power consumption is extremely low.

LED lights are light weight, and in most cases daylight color balanced with an incandescent option.

They are also really easy to mix with natural light since what you see if what you get.

You can also use them for your video projects.

The biggest benefit however and what I see as being the game changer for me is that when using continuous lighting you can shoot with a low power output and make use of a very shallow depth of field “without using ND filters” which opens up all sorts of creative doors for your photography.

What are the benefits of strobe lighting:

You can use flash to freeze motion and also make use of the much loved lately “high speed sync” to block out natural light.

High power output with low power consumption, a strobe unit of the same size as a continuous lighting unit will provide up to 10 or more times the light output than the continuous lighting. If you need to light a large area this is the only practical way to do so without renting a truck to move your equipment around.

CRI “color rendering index” of a strobe is 100 where as continuous lighting can range from 80-95 with 95 already being excellent for a continuous light. What is refers to is how well a light can illuminate a color without shifting the color due to spikes or troughs in it’s output.

So there you have it, the pro’s and con’s of both systems.

The best tip I can offer is that you consider the type of photography you will be focusing on, and with that in mind you can make a well informed decision as to which system to go for.

I can say without a doubt that if I were to start over and was only interested in shooting portraits I would definitely just go with fixed lighting.

To see an example of fixed lighting mixed with natural light, take a look at one of my other posts here


  • Brian McGoldrick
    Posted at 20:08h, 08 February Reply

    Shane, I love your work!! And your website is great. It’s easy to navigate, it’s quick to load, also, the “how to’s” are very helpful.
    I’m an event photographer and starting to shoot portrait photography in my home. I’m starting out with my kids and family and I’ll see where it goes . I don’t have my own website yet. I have a lot more to learn before I take that up.
    All the best!
    Brian (Boston, Massachusetts. USA)

    • Shane Devlin
      Posted at 11:16h, 11 February Reply

      Brian, thanks for your message, I’m really happy to hear that you found some use from my posts.
      I’ve been slacking off a bit lately due to moving home but i’ll definitely get back to it now.
      Good luck with your portrait shooting, it sounds like you have willing models and with that you can only improve your technique ..
      Don’t be shy to share a link of your work once you have done some test shots!

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