East Grinstead photographer and filmmaker Nitsan Simantov. Wedding photography and commercial video production in London and West Sussex.

Continous vs flash/strobe lighting for stills photography?

Should you be using continuous video lighting for stills? In my opinion, absolutely, but this obviously depends on preference and individual needs. I love continuous lighting for stills. It allows me to see my light as I create it, and because I shot video too I save money on not having to buy two sets of lighting. This way I can spend more on my continuous lighting rather than split my budget up.

Do I use flash speedlites at all? Sure, but only one (+1 backup), for weddings.
Currently my favorite is the Gloxy F990C, I'll have a review about that soon, as well as some others.


A question from Theuns Verwoerd:
Q. "How do you get enough power out of continuous lights to be able to maintain depth of field and low ISO?"
A. It all depends on the situation. In some cases a decent cheap LED light like a Yongnuo YN-160s is just fine, not for everything though. I shoot wide open a lot anyways, so I don't need to worry about my aperture being too small for my lights to expose the image. I don't give a balls about noise, i shoot at high ISO if needed. The only times I do need to worry about needing more power is:
1. When I want good dynamic range from a shoot. Which can be extremely important to me, using higher ISOs will drastically lower your dynamic range. (In simple words, less detail in the highlights and shadows.)
2. Overpowering sunlight or other lights, which can really interfere with your creative vision if you can't overpower it or incorporate it into your lighting setup.
3. Power options should also be considered. Can your Li-ion batteries last for the duration of the shoot? With stills lighting you can shoot for hours without changing batteries, not so much with Sony NP-f batteries, which are the ideal battery for using with most of today's lower priced LEDs. Some lights, like the high power 100W+ LEDs require plug-in "wall power". For many situations this is fine, but for this reason i'll be keeping some Yongnuos for when I need to shoot where there is no power to plug into. 

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The Jinbei EF-100 lights will be my video and stills lights for a while. I've invested a lot of time testing many various LEDs and so far the Jinbei 100W lights are the best photo or video lights I've ever seen that I could even remotely think about affording. Some £200+ each which means a 5-light kit (my ideal setup for advanced lighting) would be the price of a camera, not the price of a new car. After my HUGE lighting comparison videos (that are coming up soon) I will be selling almost all my lights and investing into Jinbei units. (Wait for the review - They require a cooling fan change for video use!)

As an example, this shot was made with 5 lower power LEDs (YN160s, R-300 and AL-528 units if I remember correctly.) at ISO 2000 on a 5D Mark III and Samyang 25mm f1.4, wide open.  It's limiting which is why I'm going with the Jinbei lights. Reviews coming soon.

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Here is the same musician, Dave Press, shot on a crop Canon (I can't remember which one) and Olympus 55mm f1.2 lens with two speedlite flashes and gels for colour.
This is not a comparison to the above image in any way, but I thought it would be relevant and interesting to this post.