For many years now, the digital age has reached the world of photography and revolutionized it to such an extent that nowadays, thanks to advances in technology, more and more spectacular photographs are obtained.

The main working tool of the photographer is above all light. When it comes to artificial light, there are two schools: flash and continuous light. In spite of the evolution of the technologies with notably the appearance of the LED, one finds that curiously, few photographers seem to adopt the continuous light. We will expose the 6 forces of continuous light in front of the flash.

  1. WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get

The first advantage most obviously, with continuous lighting, we photograph what we see. This is an advantage in many stages of a photo shoot.

In the adjustment phase, for example, it is not necessary to have a flashmeter or to carry out some preliminary tests since the eye has a direct vision of the final rendering. When working in indirect lighting or with 2 to 3 light sources, it is necessary to be methodical in the adjustment phase to be able to take full advantage of the sources. One can thus work on the liveview, which is convenient for the photographs of objects or food.

Some studio flashes are equipped with indicator lamps which are therefore continuous lighting. They are used to control the shadows but do not always detect some shadows that the flash, more powerful, will highlight. To sum up, the continuous light brings a working comfort, in a studio as in outdoor, similar to natural light.

  1. Mastering the rendering

Mastering white balance is crucial in photography. The new generation of LED continuous lighting makes it possible to offer precisely calibrated sources. All you need to do is set the device to the color temperature announced by the display or the manufacturer.

The control of the shadows is done in real time, the photographers of beauty or objects of art will thus be able to appreciate this saving of time and the facility of control of the final rendering. Continuous mid-range and high-end lighting certify a constant luminous flux. There is no bad surprise possible like a flash that sometimes does not trigger at the right time.

Being assured of the final rendering frees the artist. He can thus focus on his shooting, composition, and exchanges with the model.

  1. No waiting time

Time is crucial in any job, especially for a Documentary Wedding Photographer who, for example, has to image an entire collection in a limited amount of time.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of possible dead times in a flash session:

  • Flash adjustment phase before the session
  • Adjustment time of the flash and the camera as soon as you move the source or modify the source with a diffuser or cross sections
  • Flash charging. Not all flashes are equal.
  • The cycle time (minimum time between two flashes) is related to the hardware. We go from the hundredth of a second for the best models to a few seconds. This timeout can occur when the model proposes the expected expression.

The continuous light also includes adjustment phases but much less tedious since it has a continuous view of the rendering. The downtime is much more limited which increases productivity and does not cause a jump of impatience and fatigue of the model, which usually comes to the tenth flash.

  1. No speed limit

All cameras have a maximum flash sync speed. It usually oscillates between 1/160s and 1/250s. Beyond this speed, if the flash does not have a high-speed mode, the image will only be half-lit. In continuous light, synchronization is done at all speeds. In addition, with the absence of cycle time, the photographer can work in a burst.

  1. Versatility

When the flash only offers a color temperature, the continuous lighting especially the LED allows going from a warm white (Tungsten – 3200K) to a cold white (Daylight – 5600K).

Creative effects can then be achieved by combining the source with a tungsten or halogen source already present in the room. The LED source will not crush the atmosphere but will counterbalance the whole. This technique is omnipresent in the cinema.

Finally, for photographers of children and newborns, continuous light does not wake the child and does not attack his retina.

  1. Switching from photo mode to video mode

The last advantage is for all those who have to film during their photo shoot. The argument is short and simple: a flash does not illuminate a video scene. With the rise of cameras that offer advanced video modes, continuous lighting is beginning to conquer the hearts of more and more artists eager to explore other creative ways. 

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.