Using LED Spotlights for Photography

If you change the light bulbs at your home, you probably would have noticed the gradual but massive influx of LED -light-emitting diodes- light bulbs in utility stores over the past few years. The introduction of LED lights has quite literally taken the lighting world by a whirl land, almost replacing incandescent and CFL bulbs in households and workplaces completely.

One of the many reasons for such vast popularity of LED lights is that they use only a fraction (about ten percent) of the energy input required by incandescent light bulbs, allowing you to cut down your energy usage and save about 80% on your electricity bill. The rapid popularity of LED lights has created a ripple in the lighting world, one that has now reached the media industry as well. More and more photographers and videographers are turning to energy-efficient, compact LED lights for continuous lighting in their studio.

Whether you are a novice or a photography virtuoso, selecting the right lighting equipment for your setting is of utmost significance: especially, the continuous lighting tool, as it is pivotal in determining the tone and quality of your pictures. A lighting tool could work wonders for another lensman but might degrade the quality of your photos; therefore, it is imperative to pay close attention to the pros and cons of every lighting equipment before investing money in it. Not sure if an LED spotlight is suitable as a key light for your still photography? Just keep reading to know the benefits and drawbacks of LED spotlight photography and see if it is compatible with your overall setting and needs.

Why Use LED Spotlight for Photography?

Image of LED lights in a studio.

LED spotlight photography is popular for the following reasons:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Fiilex P360 Pro Plus LED Light
RGB Led Photography Lighting, Pixel 2 Packs Full Color Led Video Light, 552PCS LED Beads 45W/CRI 97/2600K-10000K/9 Applicable Scenes, Led Light Panel with U Bracket/Barn Door for Video Shooting
Hagibis King10 RGB Video Light,Portable On Camera LED Light Panel with Aluminium Alloy Body Pocket Light,Built-in Rechargeable Battery,360° Full Color,CRI/TLCI?97 2500-8500K,12 Lighting Effect Modes

Versatility

LED spotlights are available in the market in an array of different colors and intensities. You can adjust the color temperature of the LED spotlight according to your needs instead of having to change the camera settings or film processing now and then. You can use an LED spotlight with either a daylight or tungsten balance or, better, bi-color. A bi-color LED spotlight mixes both daylight and tungsten balanced LEDs within the same unit, allowing you to adjust the color temperature within the whole range of spectrum between the two LED types, which is usually from 3200K to 5500K. Some newer models, like the Fiilex P360 Pro Plus LED Light, allow you not only to color shift but also tint, which means you can create almost any color in the white balance spectrum.

Moreover, most LED spotlights also feature adjustable brightness settings, which can be changed by remote control. You can increase or dim the intensity of the light to achieve the ideal brightness. You can also use modifiers, diffusers, and strobes to adjust the brightness of your continuous light according to your setting (To read more about how to use strobe lights outside the studio, read our article on ‘Are Strobes needed for Outdoor Photography?’).

Furthermore, some LED light kits, like the LED Photography Lighting Kit by PIXEL, also have RGB ability, which, in simple words, is the ability to combine the three primary colors to produce more than 16 million hues of light in a single unit. Such models help you think out of the box and let your creative juices flow to experiment with new and exciting portrait ideas without having to spend money on extra equipment.

Say Goodbye to Overheating

Probably the most eminent advantage of LED spotlight photography is the ability of LED lights to stay cool throughout their operation. They maintain a pleasant environment in the studio and outdoors alike so, unlike in shoots with continuous lighting using conventional spotlights, the model and the photographer will not have to take a break again and again because of the unbearable heat.

This feature proves extra beneficial in outdoor shoots in summers when the bright sunlight is scorching the skin. It also means no need to wear gloves while handling the light or being afraid of burning your fingers while adjusting the position of the spotlight.

The cooler operation of LED spotlights also comes in handy in product photography of cold or frozen beverages and helps you save money as the heat produced by conventional spotlights shortens the melting time of cold drinks, giving you little time to photograph them.

Moreover, LED spotlights can be placed in any spot without having to worry about melting off any wires or other equipment. Its cool running allows aids in a faster breakdown after pack up since it has a negligible cool-down period.

Environment-friendliness

As we have discussed above, LED spotlights consume less power than incandescent and tungsten lights in relation to the luminous flux they offer. For instance, if you take an LED light with the same energy output as three tungsten light bulbs together, the LED light will use only half of the energy required by single tungsten light.

Moreover, LED spotlights have a long shelf-life: they offer over twenty-five thousand hours of operation before dying out, which means you can go years without having to buy a new one. The less you buy, the less the waste in landfills, and the more sustainable the environment.

In America, most of the electrical energy is generated by fossil fuels, mainly coal; so, by using power-efficient LED lights, you will not only be able to save money but also play your role in the advancement of a sustainable environment by alleviating the burden on the coal industry and.

No Need for Test Shots

When using strobes and speedlights, you might have to take several test shots to see whether the intensity of the light is correct or the background illumination is balanced. Since strobes and speedlights only produce quick bursts of light, you have to take test shots every time you make an adjustment to either the camera settings or lighting tool settings; as a result, a lot of time is wasted in trial and error.

However, continuous lighting with LED spotlights allows you to see the lighting before taking the shot so that you may make necessary adjustments to the frame or light intensity without having to waste time on test shots. This feature proves helpful when you have a studio or location available only for a limited time, and the clock is running; so, every shot counts.

Extremely Compact and Highly Portable

The compact design of LED spotlights make them ideal for shoots in remote locations. Thanks to the power-efficient nature of LED lights, more advanced models offer rechargeable batteries along with AC-adapters so that you are not bound by the condition of having a nearby power outlet when selecting a location for your photo shoot. The Hagibis King10 RGB Video Light, for example, is so compact that you can easily fit it in the back of your car trunk. It also has a rechargeable battery that, when fully charged, allows 150 minutes of work at maximum intensity.

However, like all great things in life, LED light panels, too, have a con. Even though they are the most portable and convenient continuous lighting tool to use in indoor settings, LED lights are way behind strobes and speedlights in terms of output and intensity. This limitation poses a drawback when photographing in outdoor shoot settings where you have to balance the ambient light with your continuous light.

LED lights are not intense enough to counter the exposure of sunlight and are therefore unable to correct background illumination. You might notice that using an LED light on a bright, sunny day will produce pictures with some dark areas. Using modifiers or diffusers further diminishes the intensity of the spotlight.

You could rectify the situation by placing the LED spotlight very close to the subject or photographing underneath a shady area; however, it would still be hard to balance the high exposure of sunlight, and you might need to use extra equipment. But worry not! Newer models of LED lights have higher output energy, which increases with every generation, so the next generations of LED lights will probably be powerful enough to balance the sunlight and allow you to take still photographs even in outdoor locations.

The Takeaway

LED spotlights are a viable option for continuous lighting in still photography and open doors to creativity and versatility in still photography on cloudy, gloomy days. They are not only cost-effective but also environment-friendly, which means you can now capture the beauty of this world in a single frame of your camera without putting the environment in danger.