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Thread: LED lighting in the studio

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    LED lighting in the studio

    Hi. Newbie speaking....

    I have just invested in a set of Rotalight RL48 LED lights, with a set of Lee colour filters . I was drawn to these because of the small size, light weight, cool running and good price.. Oh and the fact they take up less room in my home [improvised] studio

    I understand from the Lee website that LED lighting can bring its own challenges I was wondering if any of you guys had experience of working with LED lighting and any hints, tips and tricks you may like to share.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Hi Jon,

    I have some little battery ones I got for macro work, they are very bright and dazzle if used to illuminate a face for photography.

    I guess they'd be fine for background and rim light use though.

    Some have questioned their spectral content though, might (I have no experience) be tricky getting perfect colour balance on skin tones.

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    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th April 2013 at 10:39 AM.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    I'm afraid to say that - for portrait work, generally, ...

    - They're too bright for the subject (makes them squint and/or constricts pupils - neither of which are flattering

    - They're too dark for what is required to get a good exposure at an ideal aperture with a reasonable shutter speed.

    - Spectrally, the can create issues with skin tones.

    Sorry - normally we suggest that people stay well clear of them.

    (sorry - I know it's not what you'll be wanting to hear).

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Unklejon,

    I guess we need to know what you plan to light with these lamps before any one can comment properly.


    What Colin and Dave refer to as the "Spectral" quality is I suspect known as the CRI or Colour Rendering/Rendition Index.

    What this means in real terms is that a light source with a high CRI will be able to reproduce the natural colours of the subject it is lighting accurately, however lamps with a low CRI will not have the same accuracy.

    Typically, LED has a very low CRI compared to other sources such as Tungsten.

    This may not be an issue for you as we don't know what you are shooting or how.




    Robbie.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    I think that the old adage if it looks to be too good to be true, it probably is.

    The product you have purchased is generally marketed to video shooters that need a bit of fill light in gun & run type shooting situations; i.e. mostly wedding videographers who are working in marginal lighting situations who want to throw a bit more light onto the faces of their subjects. These are meant to be camera mounted.

    There are some LCD light panels used in studio situations, but on top of the shooting limitations that Colin has pointed out; these lights are very, very expensive when compared to the alternatives. These tend to be made up of arrays of different colour LEDs to do a reasonable job of emulating lighting that you might want to use in a studio. These come in softbox sizes to give good quality lighting.

    Unless you are planning to shoot macro; I suspect that you will find this device of very limited use.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'm afraid to say that - for portrait work, generally, ...

    - They're too bright for the subject (makes them squint and/or constricts pupils - neither of which are flattering

    - They're too dark for what is required to get a good exposure at an ideal aperture with a reasonable shutter speed.

    - Spectrally, the can create issues with skin tones.

    Sorry - normally we suggest that people stay well clear of them.

    (sorry - I know it's not what you'll be wanting to hear).

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Thanks to everyone - Colin you are right its not what I will be wanting to hear - but then again I should have asked sooner :-) I am hoping that given the work done by Lee filters on designing specific LED filters there is a ray [excuse pun] of hope for me.. They do come with colour correcting filters for skin tones and colour temperature. They have also started being used by the movie industry. Oh well I will persevere and perhaps post a few examples when I have some .. who knows technology moves at a fast pace these days.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Thanks to everyone - Colin you are right its not what I will be wanting to hear - but then again I should have asked sooner, so my own fault :-) I am hoping that given the work done by Lee filters on designing specific LED filters there is a ray [excuse pun] of hope for me.. They do come with colour correcting filters for skin tones and colour temperature. They have also started being used by the movie industry. Oh well I will persevere and perhaps post a few examples when I have some .. who knows technology moves at a fast pace these days and new technology allows room for innovation so more of a challenge than a wash out

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Unklejon View Post
    Thanks to everyone - Colin you are right its not what I will be wanting to hear - but then again I should have asked sooner, so my own fault :-) I am hoping that given the work done by Lee filters on designing specific LED filters there is a ray [excuse pun] of hope for me.. They do come with colour correcting filters for skin tones and colour temperature. They have also started being used by the movie industry. Oh well I will persevere and perhaps post a few examples when I have some .. who knows technology moves at a fast pace these days and new technology allows room for innovation so more of a challenge than a wash out
    It really depends on what you want to do with them. For product photography - using a static product and camera on a tripod - they'll be fine (although if the object is large you'll probably need long exposures to get the DoF looking good).

    For people photography, it's not that simple though; you can't correct for the spectral output of LEDs using filters -- the problem is that the light coming out of the LEDs is very spiky, and that's not something a filter can correct for. Additionally, colour temperature is easily (and most accurately) adjusted with the white balance controls in post production (using a spectrally neutral reference from a control shot), and you'll need something like a Color Passport to generate custom camera profiles to get skin tones spot on - again, can't be done with filters (you also need to be working from a calibrated and profiled monitor for ANY kind of photography). You'll probably find that you end up with skin tones that are "not quite right, but struggling to put your finger on what's wrong".

    Regardless of the above though, you still have the issue of light levels that are both too high and too low at the same time. In the past I've even experimented with a couple of thousand watts of tungsten work lights and minimal diffusion (I even had to power them from separate wall outlets) - I STILL had to use wider apertures - higher ISOs - and lower shutterspeeds than I wanted (and it wasn't even close to being ideal). My studio strobes pump out a combined instantaneous peak output in the order of 6 MILLION watts.

    And of course - as mentioned before - continuous lighting constricts pupils, which is a dead give away with soft/romantic/flattering type portraiture.

    How would this portrait have looked with constricted pupils?

    LED lighting in the studio

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    As was mentioned by Colin and others above; LED lights are great for pumping in a bit of extra light or fill light for run and gun video shooting. I will use one with my video camera and it works great...

    LED lighting in the studio

    However, for the reasons stated above, I would not use LED lights for portrait work, not would I want to mess around with color correction filters in my portrait work.

    The advantage of a continuous light source such as tungsten, LED, fluorescent or LED is that you get WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) lighting. However, this advantage is negated by the modeling lights incorporated in studio strobe lighting which will also let you see what your lights are doing...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 19th April 2013 at 03:19 AM.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Unklejon View Post
    Hi. Newbie speaking....
    I was wondering if any of you guys had experience of working with LED lighting and any hints, tips and tricks you may like to share.
    Hi Jon(?),

    You might find this post elsewhere of interest . . .

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/fo...?topic=76990.0

    Wasn't too impressed with the Rotalight website, to be honest. Heavy on hype and short on information.

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Wow this is really is an arm of science in its own right way over my head - I had really based my research as such on the shutterbug article as opposed to the website. The reviewer seems pretty hyped about them. Also with Rotolight being based at the famous Elstree Studio's it added a level of implied credibility.. typical me "buy in haste repent at leisure". Oh well at least I have started a thread others can search for as a warning. Wish I had found such a thread before. Thanks again guys

    "All learning is good but somehow learning from expensive mistakes makes a deeper impression"

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    Quote Originally Posted by Unklejon View Post
    Wow this is really is an arm of science in its own right way over my head - I had really based my research as such on the shutterbug article as opposed to the website. The reviewer seems pretty hyped about them. Also with Rotolight being based at the famous Elstree Studio's it added a level of implied credibility.. typical me "buy in haste repent at leisure". Oh well at least I have started a thread others can search for as a warning. Wish I had found such a thread before. Thanks again guys

    "All learning is good but somehow learning from expensive mistakes makes a deeper impression"
    I thought it somewhat ironic that they sing the virtues of the device, and then put up some gawd-awful shots as examples, complete with horrible skin tones and glaring hotspots. Note the "struggling" exposure settings of 1/30th @ F3.5 @ ISO620 too.

    LED lighting in the studio

    In comparison - my Elinchrom 1200RX heads - into large softboxes - can produce this at 1/125th @ F13 @ ISO 100 ...

    LED lighting in the studio

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    Re: LED lighting in the studio

    I am a bit in disagreement with Colin on the colour issue, but I agree wholeheartedly about their usefulness for portraiture, as there are usually two issues with them. Almost invariably LED lamps that are powered from the mains will show a modulation of double mains frequency, hence 100 Hz in most of the world and 120 Hz in many American states. As the light varies with time, there might be banding if shutter times are less than about three full cycles. So to get the scene uniformly exposed, 1/30 or longer shutter time is recommended.

    Very sharp constant lamps dazzle the subject, causing pupils to shrink and making the model uncomfortable, which surely is a problem when you want to take portraits.

    Spikiness of the spectrum is not really a problem with many modern LED, as it greatly coincides with the spectral sensitivity of the medium, photon-wells, each with a red, green or blue filter. A smooth spectrum is not needed for good colour rendition, but the Ra index may have a bearing on how well lamps perform. It should be understood though, that the Ra reference is not the same for low colour temperatures, as anything below 5000 K is compared to tungsten lighting, while 5000 K and above are compared to daylight. Hence some lamps with low Ra index might in fact give better colour rendition than those with higher Ra, as for example neodymium tungsten lamps with Ra around 70 that render images like daylight if you white balance them right.

    So I'd say the LED lamps generally are good for product shots, but unsuitable for people. The low colour temperature lamps are somewhat better than 'daylight' or 'bright white' ones, as they have substantially more red, which is lacking in many high colour temperature ones. How much they modulate light varies, but for products there's no problem using long exposure times.

    Floodlight never was a good option for portraits. If you want to take portraits, a studio flash set is almost always a better choice, and for fill outdoors, a reflector mostly can do a better job and is much cheaper than a powerful LED bank.

    Low budget studio flashes may be as good as the more expensive ones regarding light quality, but don't expect them to last as long, and don't overheat them bursting too many shots in a row, as cheap flashes might not have protection against overheating and may be damaged if you use them too extensively.
    Last edited by Inkanyezi; 19th April 2013 at 07:52 PM.

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