Continuous LED Video lighting for STILL photography???

fooddude

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I know continuous lighting is mainly/meant to be used for video, and is also much much much weaker than flashes and strobes, and isn't strong enough for something like outdoor daylight shooting. But, I am wondering who has used LED continuous lighting for STILL-photography, and I would love to see examples.

I haven't played with strobes, flashes, all it's grip gear, umbrellas, etc., etc. since I had my 5D2 3 years ago (I sold all that stuff). I used to use 3 Canon 430's and 580's, with both radio transmitters (elinchroms) and also the Canon STE2 infrared TTL transmitter.

I haven't owned any of that flash/strobe lighting since then, since I just shoot street, hobby and casual stuff now; and also video. But, I am considering buying some lighting and delve into just indoor portrait work once again.

I was thinking of maybe getting strobes again, but I really don't like the pain of using radio transmitters and also having to buy a bunch of strobes and transmitters. AND, I also want to have lighting for when I do video as well.


So... I just thought of this yesterday, as I saw some in the store, and said to myself, "what about some LED lighting". I was kinda surprised seeing them in the store for cheap, as I remember 3 years ago, the ONLY LED lighting that were available, were those super expensive ones by Litepanels, which were totally unaffordable (at $300 just for the small hotshoe unit, and $1500-2500 for the 1x1' unit...ummm ya right! lol). So before yesterday, for the past 3 years, I thought the only option for LED was those expensive litepanels...until I saw generic ones at the electronics store for cheap. Went home after I saw them, and did a little research on cheap LED lighting.. and found out, that Chinese manufacturers found on ebay, recently (very recent - only in mid-late 2011) did what it does best, for these LED lights - make cheaper and affordable options for us and released them just last year....also found more info and reviews, that these chinese LED lights are actually pretty darn good, some good as expensive US brands, and at a really great price.

These are undoubtably great for videos, as they are made for video. But, I want to use them for STILL-photos too. Not trying to take something like those crazy strobe pics in the sun nor light up an entire stage or arena, nor trying do do anything I know it cannot do of course ...just maybe for simple, indoor, single-person, portraits is what I am after; something reasonable and realistic it can most likely do.


So, for STILL-photos, would using LEDs be possible? Good idea? Has anyone used LED lights for Still-photography? If so, your opinions and any nice examples?


Reasons that I am thinking are good with using LEDs for still-photography (but, I haven't used them first hand yet):

Pros:
-Ease of use and no need to fiddle with strobe/flash settings nor radio-transmitters/receivers
-Inexpensive as compared to a bunch of strobes/flashes and also the extra cost of radio-transmitters/receivers
-Super easy setup - just stick it on the stand and turn it on (and maybe add an umbrella to your liking); no need for radio receivers dangling, etc.
-Always On - so it's super easy to dial/chimp in a nice and desired exposure --And a big advantage - can double-up for HDSLR video lighting, since it's meant for that, hehe.
-Compact and battery powered like flashes

Cons:
-Biggest obvious reason - not remotely as bright as a strobe/flash (but I don't plan to use it in outdoor sunny daylight or anything huge anyways..just indoor)
....The above is the only con I can think of (a big one tho obviously)... and the lack of cons I can think of, is what is really making me consider and close to buying a few cheap LED lights.


Any input, insight, opinions, experiences, examples for LED lights for STILL-photography welcome and appreciated!

:)
 

tanngrisnir3

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Check out Kirk Tuck as someone who uses LED extensively for stills.
Holy CRAP. I just checked out his work and, may I say, as a landscape guy, he makes street photography seem interesting.

Bookmarked.

Thanks!
 

Promit

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Up until just a few years ago, the only available LED video lighting were those panels containing numerous 5mm Nichia LEDs.

They were horrendously underpowered; providing only 2000-5000 (~1.5 to 3 lumens) millicandelas (MCD) each - hence the need to use not just several but many of them just to get an output that would be significant enough to use. A typical LED array of this type would only provide 85-110 lumens. A typical 60-watt household incandescent bulb's output is 1100 lumens so one can imagine the sheer lumen output of those 500-watt tungsten studio lights.

Great leaps in LED technology have been made by such manufacturers as Lumileds, Seoul Semiconductors, and Cree. These makers have achieved 50-80 lumens per a single LED at just 350 milliamps of drive current. These high-power LEDS have made their way into flashlight technology and have essentially replaced the incandescent light bulb. LEDs have also made inroads in household lighting. Initial offerings approached $100 per bulb; however, as the technology progresses, the price point continues to lower.

LEDs are solid state semiconductors so they are considerably more efficient at providing the light product output vice their incandescent counterparts. They typically last longer; 50,000 hours vice 1000 hours. They can typically operate at much lower voltage levels. LED lighting is the future.

As desirable as LEDs are for their power efficiency, their main pitfall remains largely, at this time, is their color rendition properties.

The 5mm Nichias have a typical color temperature of 7000 Kelvin and above! For those of us that use the custom White Balance settings on DSLRs, we know that the higher the "K" (Kelvin) values, the bluer the image. Early complaints about flashlights using those Nichia LEDs were that their "beam" is so blueish or purpleish.

LEDs are typically made as either red, green, or blue. To achieve the so-called "white" color, these colors are actually mixed. The blue tint seemed to have been more dominant in earlier versions.

This blueish-white tint causes the colors to be washed-out as the human eye perceives it: Browns and read appear grayish and greens REALLY stand out. (Consider, too, that greens are what the human eye see strongest). THIS is the disadvantage with earlier LEDs: colors are appear to be incorrect.

Recent inroads seem to be in the manufacture of LEDs with color temperatures towards the lower end of the Kelvin scale and towards the red end of the color spectrum and away from the blue. These modern LEDs are termed "warm" (3000-4000K) due their higher red content and yellowish tint that proximate the traditional output of incandescent light bulbs; and "neutral" (4000-6000K) that proximate the output of the early-afternoon sun (5500K). These moderate Kelvin values apparently allow for a better color rendition where the various colors appear to the human eye to be closer to that of the actual colors when this type of LED is used.

Large quantity of light output is now possible with multiple LED arrays using high-power LEDs. Applications in handheld combat illumination is widespread. Area lighting is becoming more commonplace. Nothing LED-based yet has appeared to replace the flash units made by such giants as Nikon, Canon, and Metz; however, high-quality LED video lighting at moderate prices are available.

I am considering acquiring the Cineroid product for its selectable Kelvin outputs of 3000 or 5000. It contains an array of high Color Rendition Index (CRI) Nichia LEDs.

It is specifically made as a video light; however, it should function adequately as a soft catch or fill light for indoor portraits.
I've repeated your very informative post without your very stupid font. Sorry.
 

DHart

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I haven't delved into LED lighting for photography, though I am a dyed int he wool flashaholic with dozens of the latest, high end LED flashlights and, yes, color rendition it a critical factor when you get into the best flashlights and when choosing LED lighting for photography. High CRI LEDs are quite valued in the flashaholic world and I would think that would be the sweet (and costly) way to go in LED lighting for photography.

But what I do have a good bit of experience with is flourescent bank lighting for photography. I started my studio photography career with an array of Speedotron Black Line gear which I've used since about 1978, then moved on to PC Buff Ultras for portrait work in the 90's, and most recently (about 5 years ago) moved into Spiderlites with flourescent bulbs.

Of course, I love continuous light sources as you have such a wonderful ability to really 'see' what you're doing.

In any event... LED lighting may be what you want to go with, but you should have a look into Westcott Spiderlites with high CRI flourescent bulbs... you can get some great, continuous output with this gear using parabolics, umbrellas, softboxes, etc. Very cool running. Very low power consumption. Reasonably economical to use. Surprisingly high output. Beautiful results! :thumbup:
 

DHart

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OdBm... I have two Zebralight headlamps and two flashlights and they're high quality lights indeed. Zebra carefully selects their LEDs from the better tint bins and are known for consistent color quality, whether you choose cool, neutral, warm, or high CRI. I would choose neural or high CRI for photography. ZL is good stuff and 18650 li-ions are an excellent power source for these lights... Just make sure to educate yourself on the proper use and charging procedures with li-ions because they are very potent and potentially dangerous power sources.... But relatively safe if used properly and charged properly.
 

fooddude

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Thanks...I chcked out Kirk's stuff and also his linked: http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/video-light/

Very inspirational stuff and totally possible to use LEDs for Stills!

Goodbye to expensive radio-transmitters/receivers, expensive pocketwizards, expensive and heavy flashes and strobes and the need to even use your hotshoe!

.....and, hello to the FUTURE - LED Lighting! :D
 

fooddude

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Any recommendations on inexpensive LEDs? I read that the chinese/ebay Z96 are great (I also read there are knockoffs called W96 too; which aren't as great as the original Z96's).

Lots of praise for the Z96.. it's supposedly better than the brighter Yongnuo 160 (which has a green spike and has a less appealing green tint (but im sure all LEDs have a green hue/tint) and also flicker issues). The Z96 appear to be even better than the expensive $300 MicroLED from Litepanels.

And other suggestions in the <$100 or <$200 range that are good?
 

DHart

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Don,
I've been a regular reader of the many posts on CPF since 2000 and a member since 2005. I am a regular purchaser of CPF member AW's numerous battery offerings since he began selling them. I am familiar with the pitfalls of lithum-ion batteries.

I am also a regular user of Zebralight products. I own about a half a dozen. My EDC are the SC60 and the SC600.

Thanks for the reminder.
Nice to meet a fellow CPFer here! :th_salute:
 

fooddude

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arent even the newest chinese ones now +85 CRI? ...I think the cheap ebay ones are getting better and better that's for sure.
 

fooddude

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How about the new fotodiox LEDs with adjustable temp? I read they are more than 80CRI and they are pretty inexpensive and very nice; I think the #1 fave for LED lights right now. Almost delved into the Z96's and read the newer Fotodiox 321as are even better, brighter, comes with batteries, adj temp/brightness and are super nice.

I think I will go for them, unless someone has better suggestions and can advise me not to ...3x brighter than the Z96, cheap as it comes with batteries already (Z96 alone costs $60-70 with no battery and you still have to buy them at least $20 with charger..so roughly 100 bux for a 1/3 of the power of the 321as).
 

fooddude

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Check out the fotodiox 1000.. I think their stuff is much more up to date and more modern feauture than that one, the other generics or the ebay/HK ones.

All the fotodiox LED have a model that has adjustable color temp AND ability to even use a high-mah camcorder battery on the rear mount for portability ;)

just search "fotodiox LED" and amazon has a bunch...as I do more research it seems they make the best inexpensive lights, and HK/ebay just copies them, yet for the same price.

I really dig and attracted to the 312 for portability, not too big and not too small. The 500 I can prolly see myself using for portable light too. The 1000 though, I think that one might be too big and heavy for location shooting/portability and would strictly be studio only tho

edit...I read the 312as is CRI 82 and 130w tung equiv (someone else said he guesses it is a little in b/n his 100w & 250w light, somewhere around 170w). 312as sounds perfect for the on the go, on location, portable or dim-sunset-shaddows-outdoor light..not too big and not too small and fits in a backpack. SOunds awesome for a measly $160 on amazon ;)

Is 82 CRI good enough? I read that all the Fotodiox LEDs are 82 CRI.
 

fooddude

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The Future:

Not exactly LED... but if the typical/current LED's CRI isn't high enough... these even newer lighting technology offer even higher quality than the already available, modern and futuristic LED's (though, of course more expensive than LED's. Hopefully in time and in the future, all these digital-lights will become much cheaper)....

Plasma lights w/ 94 CRI ~ Hive Lights
Hive Lighting | Plasma Lights


Phosphor lights w/ 95-97 CRI ~ PRG TruColor Lights
PRG TruColor Introducing FOTON | PRG TruColor
PRG TruColor Foton Luminaire LED - DC Video Light FTN-901.0010

Wowzers! 94-97 CRI digital lights! That sounds super good; almost too good to be true for digital. Too bad these aren't nearly as compact/portable as today's current LED's, and look to be strictly in-studio, big, heavy, bulky and wall powered units.... maybe in a few years they'll be compact tho ;)

I bet China/HK/Ebay could copy/clone/bite this technology, produce them and offer it to the masses for cheap on ebay (this will surely p*ss off the originators; like how Litepanels got mad and filed a lawsuit)...

....I am sure the masses of photo/video-graphers wouldn't mind one bit though ;)
 

Forsei

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How to use?

Hi,
v interesting...
How would the set up be like? attached to the camera, hand held?? :flowers_2:
Tks!

I am contemplating using a pair of these for video application vice the one that I referenced in my first post in this thread. With a color temp of 4200K, it nicely bridges the warm and neutral areas of the color temperature range.

With a 90-degree beam spread, it should cover a 10-feet wide area 10 feet from the camera lens. With a high output of 343 lumens for 2.3 hours, this should be plenty of runtime.

At $90 each, two is quite affordable vice the $400 for the dedicated Cineroid light.
______________
Promit, no worries. Do what you need with what you consider is an acceptable font for you. I'm glad that you found my post of value.

I cannot tolerate the default font on this forum. I gives me headache.
 

fooddude

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Thanks for the recommendations 0dBm. I've done more research and those lights you mentioned use the highest quality and best LED technology, the SMD LEDs (the flat ones with the yellow circle in each square). I guess the Cineroid is prolly the best LED light to date, with it's SMD led's. I wonder if they are going to make larger versions? If they did, those will surely be super bright and light-years better than all the ebay/chinese/fotodiox/litepanels LED's that use the older, weaker, [email protected] round t3 style LEDs.

That Cree flashlight link looks like a nice one too. Is it SMD too? Looks like it.

Btw...are lumens equivalent to tungsten watts?? Just seeing how it's 343 lumens compare to the Fotodiox 144 and 312 LEDs (which are around 80 and 150 tungsten watt equivalents). I am guessing those 343Lm flashlights are brighter than the Fotodiox/Ebay/Chinese LED's correct??
 

fredlong

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fooddude said:
Btw...are lumens equivalent to tungsten watts?? Just seeing how it's 343 lumens compare to the Fotodiox 144 and 312 LEDs (which are around 80 and 150 tungsten watt equivalents). I am guessing those 343Lm flashlights are brighter than the Fotodiox/Ebay/Chinese LED's correct??
just off the top of my head, 343 lumens is about as bright as a 25-30 watt household incandescent bulb.

Fred
 

fooddude

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The Fotodiox/Bi-Color/Ebay LED specs state:

144a/as: 2354lux
209a/as: 3950lux
312a/as: 6580lux
508a/as: 8500lux

Is "household incandescent bulb watts" the same as "tungsten watts power equivalent"?

Is "lux" the same as "lum/lumens"?

So what would be brighter? These fotodiox/chinese/ebay LED panels? ..or that linked Cree 343lum headlamp flashlight?
 

fredlong

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All sorts of tungsten lamps will be close to the same brightness at the same power level.

I don't remember how lux and lumen relate. I would say that device as bright as a 25w lamp is going to be a lot less bright than a panel that's equivalent to a 400w lamp.

Fred
 

fooddude

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Ups just delivered me the 144as today :)

My first LED.... it sure is nice and bright.. I love it :)

Also got a sheet of 1/8 minus-green gel (magenta) to totally get rid of that green-spike/hue, that is seen in post. Seems to work perfect and it looks to be a perfect white now! :)

It's so nice, I am thinking of getting another..most likely the bigger 312as; then use the 144as that I have now for rim/hairlight or fill, while using the bigger 312as for key. 508as looks nice too, but it is more than twice as much as the 312as; so might as well & can get an extra 312as if I ever needed it, for a total of 2, at same as the price of 1 508as right? ..which I prolly would do anyways... so I am sure my next light will be the 312as, and not the 508as.

The 312as is a measly $150.. and the 144as is about $70, and 208as is about $110. Great prices for such nice lights. Pick your poison X)
 
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