Flash vs LED: Ask David Bergman

Alright you could choose between flash or LED, which one would you use and why? I'll tell you after the intro.

Hey there.

Welcome back to Ask David Bergman here on Adorama TV.

I'm answering your photo questions and I've got a good one today from Radu S.

What do you think about LED lights? They seem to only travel a short distance as opposed to using flash, so is it worth the investment or not? LED lights, alright what we're talking about when we talk about LEDs are constant lights, like this one a light that's on all the time.

Back in the old days when I was a boy.

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'get off my lawn you damnkids'.

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back then, we used what we called hot lights, and they were either tungsten, and then they were fluorescent, but they were, they tended to get really hot right? Because that's how they work, they generated a lot of heat, they were difficult to deal with.

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you had to either use gloves.

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or you didn't let them cool for a long time before you could even touch them after you were done.

These days, we have these nice cool LED lights, they they work really, really well, they use them in video, they use them in still production all over the place.

So we have many options.

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Now, now what are the differences between the two? Well first of all let's talk about why they're the same, we're gonna do a quick picture here today with our friend Brooke.

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Say hi to the camera Brooke.

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there you go, so am we are going to do a quick picture now.

First I'm gonna do this with the flasher, there's a Profoto flash, I've got the remote on, and I'm gonna just take a quick picture of Brooke so you can get an idea of what we're dealing with here.

We've got her green eyes against the lime green background, and ready and boom.

Alright so there's a quick picture, now I'm going to turn off the flash, and I'm gonna switch to the LED, and I'm gonna take the same picture.

The lights gonna be coming from the other side, but it's basically the same exact photo, there we go.

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looking lovely, and boom, okay, so now let's look at the two pictures.

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they look pretty similar, like I said, why would you choose one or the other.

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well there are some similarities between these two lights.

First of all let's talk about light modifiers, you can buy white modifiers for flashes or LEDs.

These days some of them even have the same mounts.

You can actually get the same light modifiers for either LED lights or flashes, so softboxes, umbrellas, barn-doors, any of those kinds of things you want to use, you can actually use on either or.

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the flash or the LED, so it's really not an issue so much.

Lets talk about price? You can get really inexpensive in either, or you can get really expensive, so it really just depends on your budget, and the things you need built into that, to those lights, how much power, and those kinds of things.

So really a non-issue as well because you can go either way with either flash or LED.

So why would use one or the other, alright let's talk about LEDs now for a second.

The main thing about constant lights is, they are'/what you see is what, you get' WYSIWYG right? So as I'm looking at the light here on Brooke, What I'm seeing is exactly what I'm shooting with the flash, I'm only seeing the light after the pictures taken, and I either have to meter it with a light meter, or look at the picture on the screen, on my camera or on a computer, and then make adjustments.

With this I can actually see the light as it's hitting her, so it makes it easier to deal with.

If you're shooting let's say a still-life, it's really nice, because you can actually adjust your modifiers and watch for reflections and things like that in real time or IRL as the kids say, and you can make it all happen as you're going.

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so that's kind of a nice benefit of LEDs, also if you're shooting video LEDs really the only way to go, flash doesn't just doesn't work on video very well as you're probably seeing when I was taking that picture you were only seeing a blip of the flash, but we're using LEDs to light me here, so the constant light you need when you're shooting video, the other thing is some of these LEDs some of the more expensive ones have adjustable color temperature, so you can go warmer or colder with that light without using external gels or anything like that, to change the color of the light, so that's kind of nice to have that built into some LEDs.

Lastly some people feel like flashes can be unnerving or distracting for people.

If it's somebody who's maybe not used to being in front of the camera like Brooke is, if you're doing a corporate headshot for example, I know a few corporate headshot photographers who use LED lights, because once the subject is in front of the lights and their eyes adjust, and they get used to being there she can just shoot away, and not have to worry about flashes constantly popping off, and if you're just not used to that, it might be a little unnerving and it could show in the images.

So that's a personal preference, but I do know some people who prefer that.

Now let's talk about flash.

Why would you use flash? The main is power.

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you get a lot more power pound-for-pound out of a flash, than you do out of an LED.

Even with a small speed light with four double A batteries, I can kill the ambient light in almost any situation, I can get enough power out of that big flash, out of that little flash.

I should say even sometimes to overpower the sunlight outside.

If I get that lighting close enough.

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I can really overpower the Sun with an LED.

The more expensive ones like this one, we're at full power, you might be able to fill in the shadows in sunlight, but really the to over power completely, it's gonna be challenging to do, with LED lights.

The other thing is, by having more power with the flash, it allows you to lower your ISO, so you're gonna get higher quality image.

You could shoot at lower ISOs and you can speed up your shutter speed, you could probably shoot at your maximum flash sync speed, which is 1/200th of a second, 1/250th of a second, and a lot of them have high speed sync capability so if you're shooting action of any kind, something that's moving, you're definitely gonna freeze the action, even something that's not moving that much, unless you're on a tripod, and the subject isn't moving at all, you're gonna have a little bit of motion for example.

Let me just go in here, I'm gonna make another quick picture of Brooke, and I'm gonna turn the flash back on, I'm gonna zoom in really tight on her eyes, so you can just see how we're doing here.

So at t1/200th of a second, at f/5.

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boom, so you can see that is tak sharp right? I'm at 100 iso 1/200th of a second, at f/5.

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Now if i want to use this LED, I'm going to turn the flash off to shoot at 100 ISO, at f/5.

6, I've got to bring my shutter speed way down to 1/10th of a second, that first picture that I did at the beginning of the video, I was at a 1/10th of a second.

When it's a wide shot you really can't see it but when I go in real tight on her eyes.

You can see here even as holding as still as I can, when you look at that picture really tight on her eyes, you could see that there's movement there, because 1/10th of a second she's moving a little bit, I'm moving a little bit, it's gonna be really hard to freeze that action.

So flash definitely gives you way more power in general than you're gonna have with LEDs.

Now is it worth the investment? You know that's.

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it's a personal question, it really depends what you're shooting.

Like I said if you're shooting still-lifes, and you're in the studio everything's locked down on a tripod, and nothing's moving LEDs are a great way to go, for the reasons that I talked about/ For portraits I generally prefer flash, it just has a crispness to it, a crispness to it, and you can freeze everything a lot more.

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faster shutter speeds, lower ISOs.

I find it's a better way to work with that, so Radu, I hope that answers your question.

Listen I know you all have photo questions out there, go to AskDavidBergman.

com, ask away, there's a forum on there, you can see all the old episodes and all the gear that I use as well.

I've put all the links to everything I've been using here today down below, I hope you come back next week.

Ask me your own photo questions, see you then!.

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