Product Photography is not only about using the right lens and camera. Light is one of the most important factors to take into consideration.
It is just as important when you work with models and products. Professional product photographers look at light differently from other photographers. When you want to learn how to take high-quality product photographs learning how to apply light is essential.
Can light effects be changed in post-production? Yes, they can but you are never going to achieve the same effect you would if you used the right kind of lighting in the first place. Post-production is your opportunity to enhance photographs, not re-shoot them.
Which Is The Best? LED Photography Lights vs Flash
The quality of LED lighting has come a long way recently. Thanks to new techniques, LED lights provide better accurate colors, light modification, and you can even adjust the color temperature to achieve a greater range of brightness.
If LED lights are so great, why do most professional product photographers still like to work with studio flash lighting?
What Is The Difference Between Studio Flash and Continuous Studio Light?
What is continuous light? If you are new to photography, you are probably wondering what continuous light is all about. As a matter of fact, it can be anything from sunlight to continuous photography LED lights.
Photographers often prefer to work with LED light sources as they don’t produce a lot of heat. Another advantage of LED lights is that they replicate the feel of natural light. A lot of photographers like that. Another reason why many new photographers like to work LED lights, is simply because it lets them see the results in real-time.
A few years ago, you could not control the power and color of LED lights. You can use light modifiers including softboxes and parabolic reflectors to both shape and control the light.
When you need to record video, continuous light such as LEDs is the right choice for you. Having a couple of LED choices around in your studio is useful.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Continuous Light?
Why do most product photographers prefer working with flash light? The main disadvantage of LED lights, is the relatively low power output.
The power output can make a huge difference. When you check the output between studio flash light and continuous using a light meter, you will soon notice there is a huge difference in output.
The lower output of LED lights means that you are limited when it comes to shutter speed and aperture.
Lower shutter speed and aperture are not such a big deal when you are shooting an object which is stationery. However, it becomes a problem when you are working with models that may have to move around to capture the best image. Also, if you are shooting beverage shots that involve pouring or throwing liquids, you need to be aware that LED lights may not offer the best solution.
Live models also often find LED lights hard to work with. The continuous light which is often blinding easily results in eye strain. However, for most photographers, the biggest downside of continuous light has to be that you have to work in a completely dark studio as other incoming light will affect the shot.
What About Studio Flash Lighting?
Flash lighting or strobe light as it is also known, is a more balanced light. You don’t have the problem with glare and your studio does need to be in total darkness.
Studio flash lighting consists of a flash tube and modeling lamp. The flash tube creates a sudden burst of light while the modeling lamp allows for continuous light.
What Are The Advantages Of Studio Lights?
Flash studio lights have become popular as they allow the photographer precise control and the output they provide is greater. Once again, you can use your trusted light meter to check this.
Using flash means that you have the opportunity to be much more flexible with camera settings such as depth of field. The depth of field is very important in product photography.
A fast burst of light is exactly what you need when you want to freeze a movement. For instance, if you are shooting someone pouring a drink or a cup of coffee, you can better freeze-frame the moment.
Flash light and light modifiers make a great combination and photographers often have their favorite setup.
Any Disadvantages To Studio Flash?
Why do some photographers still prefer continuous light? There are mainly two drawbacks to studio flash. Studio flash lights are more expensive to buy. When you are starting as a product photographer, they may be out of your budget.
The other reason photographers frown on studio flash is simply because it can’t be used for shooting video. They wonder why they should invest in two different types of light when they are working on a tight budget.
Studio lights can seem rather intimidating or unnerving to someone who is just getting started in photography. It is not easy to learn how to adjust the power and how to best apply the light from a studio flash.
Are LED Lights Powerful Enough?
As previously mentioned, LED lights are not as powerful s studio lights. In any product photography studio, there is a limit to their usefulness. You will probably find that you will end up being dictated to by your studio LED light.
If you do go down the route of investing in LED light, you will find that you will have to pay closer attention to your ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. In other words, working with LED lights is a much more involved and time-consuming process.
When you are looking for versatility, studio lights provide you with a much more versatile light source.
One of the best things about flash studio lights is that they are perfect for when you need to work outdoors. As a product photographer, you have probably come to realize that not all clients want their products shot inside a studio.
For instance, a company selling fishing equipment may want its products shot outside with a model. You may end up doing action shots. That is where flash lights come into their own.
What About Using Flash And Continuous Light Together?
Yes, some products can benefit from both. You may have noticed that photographs of cars have a special light combination.
Experienced photographers know that using both strobe and flash light when photographing a car will get creative and interesting results. The difference between light and shadow appears differently. You can take advantage of this effect when you photograph luxury car brands such as BMW and Mercedes.
What About The Cost?
Unless you can pick up a bargain, you will find that LED lights are cheaper. That does not mean that you should not invest in studio flash lights. They can make a huge difference to the quality of your photographs.
The debate between LED photography lights vs flash will carry on for a long time. You can say it is a matter of personal choice. However, products shot with flash look so much better. Experienced photographers can tell the difference by simply looking at a photograph. After you have gained experience as a product photographer, you will be able to tell the difference as well.