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Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes: Which is Better for You?

When capturing portraits, should you reach for your flash or is continuous lighting king? This tutorial will talk you through a few pros and cons of both lighting set-ups so you can make a more informed choice.

|  Studio Lighting and Flash
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Lighting, particularly the art of portrait lighting, can be a bit of a challenge for some photographers but get it right not not only can it improve the overall visual effect of your image, it can also add personality to your shots. 

There are many ways you can light a portrait with strobe flash, speedlights, flash sofboxes, monolights and LED lights been just a few of the lighting tools available to photographers nowadays.  Most of the lighting set-ups available can be divided into two main categories: Continuous Lighting and Strobe Lights (flash and in this tutorial, we'll talk through the features of both, including the pros and cons, in order to help you clearly understand which one is right for your photography.


What Is Continuous Lighting?

Continuous lighting refers to lights that are always on and they come in various formats from full-colour RGB lamps to soft light LEDs. You can, generally, power them up or down and adjust the colour temperature and the light you see is the light you'll capture in-frame. Just ensure your exposure is set correctly in-camera before pressing the shutter button. 


Lighting Set-Up


What Is Strobe?

Strobes are simply a flash device that delivers a flash of light and it syncs with your camera. When using speed lights, you can generate a rapid burst of light which is fired when you hit the shutter button on your camera. Flash can be particularly useful for filling in shadows, freezing movement and reducing noise. 


Lighting Set-Up


Which Is Better for You?

While professional photographers tend to use flash/strobes, you may find continuous lighting to be more convenient (especially if you're just starting out) so experiment with both types, take some test shots and see which you like best. 


Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes


So, The Truth Is...

As we've said, beginners will probably find continuous lighting easier to use but once they feel comfortable with flash photography, the results can be great as you can focus the light exactly where it's needed and it can be adjusted/modified for a more extensive range of control. Add in remote triggers, light modifiers such as softboxes or even coloured gels and your photos will soon be brimming with creativity. 


Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes



So, in conclusion, which lighting method is best will depend on your level of expertise and what look you're trying to create. However, if you can afford a set of strobes and feel comfortable using them, you'll be able to achieve a greater range of looks. However, if budget limits your choices or you still want to get to grips with the basics of lighting, starting with a continuous lighting setup is a good way to go. 

For more valuable tips to improve your photography tips, please read this.

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