Ups & Downs of LED Modeling Lamps

FP.setupToday’s Post by Joe Farace

The upside of using an LED lamp as a modeling light means that there are no more bulbs to lose or break. An LED will also save energy and last longer than an incandescent or quartz bulb. The downside, and you knew there was one, is than in many affordable monolights they are visibly dimmer than the 150 Watt quartz lamps used with (for example) the  Flashpoint monolights I’ve used in the past.

This difference shows up in two ways: Because the LED is dimmer, it can be tricky to see the effect of reflectors when there’s high ambient light although to be fair, in a dark studio it’s not as much a problem. The lighting setup above has a Flashpoint DG400 monolight with 86-inch parabolic umbrella at camera right with a 32-inch 5-in-one reflector on the left.

ML.greyWhen moving the reflector watch where the main light is located but as you move it pay attention to the shadow side of the subject’s face—ignore the other side—and you’ll get it the lighting you want regardless of the kind of modeling light used.

Another problem relates to autofocus and depends on how well your camera focuses under low light situations. Darker studio spaces make focusing more difficult while making LED modeling lights more effective. Find a balance that works for your cameras, although my Olympus and Panasonic cameras seem to handle it well. The answer as always is to test, test, test.

Caption: This portrait of Misa Lynn was made using the above lighting setup. Background is Savage’s Focus Grey Widetone Seamless Background Paper. Exposure was 1/125 sec at f/11 and ISO 200.

Posing bookJoe is the author of Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography that’s available at book or camera stores as well as Amazon. Signed copies are available for $25 (including shipping) and include a 5×7 print of one of the images from the book. To order click CONTACT above.