Continuous fluorescent Light vs Strobe Light


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BMPhoto

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#1
Hi all

I am currently looking for a good studio light for my Model and Product shoot activity after having just completed a course on Studio lighting. I bump into the WTS selling Continuous fluorescent Light (CFL) and it seems getting rather good comment there so far. I have search the forum and couldn't really find a good thread on this subject (maybe I have missed it somewhere, do advise).

I'm not exactly sure now which will be a better option for me moving ahead and will need studio experts and hobbyist out there to help. I have come out a few Pros and Cons of both lighting as follow. Pls help to advise, correct and add on to the list so as to help newbies like me to decide. Thanks.

Studio Strobe
Pro
1) Less heat
2) Used by Studio for years, well established technique
3) Adjustable output power to suit various desired setup
4) Stable WB

Con
1) Expensive (both equipment and bulb)
2) Ellaborated setup (good stands needed to hold the weight of the light)

Continuous Lighting (Fluorescent and Tungsten)
Pro
1) Relatively cheaper (only require simple driver, Softbox and bulb) - lower operating cost
2) Flexible - can also be used as Videography and Filming light
3) Relatively easier setup - just need to plug lighting and softbox onto the stand

Con
1) Heating (True for tungsten, but is it also true for Fluorescent lighting?)
2) WB degrade over time (is this true?)
3) Difficult to control output power (moving of stand, selecting on the number of Bulbs)

Thanks in advance for all the valuable input to this thread.

Regards
 

Del_CtrlnoAlt

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#2
well...

florescent is good as its 'always' on, instead of strobes which you might need a light meter. With digital, u might wanna take a couple of pics.

the difference between them is when you take a say, 600w or 1000w or more strobe with a normal florescent, then you can see that your florescent is not powerful enuff to achieve the type of even distribution.

if shooting small items or table top, florescent setup is better. if for bigger setup, depends on the type of image.
 

BMPhoto

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well...

florescent is good as its 'always' on, instead of strobes which you might need a light meter. With digital, u might wanna take a couple of pics.

the difference between them is when you take a say, 600w or 1000w or more strobe with a normal florescent, then you can see that your florescent is not powerful enuff to achieve the type of even distribution.

if shooting small items or table top, florescent setup is better. if for bigger setup, depends on the type of image.
Hi

Thanks for the quick comment, appreciate that. However, I saw in some online article that there are others who use CL to shoot model too, but couldn't tell if its good for that setting.

To those who have use CL for model shoot, care to comment? Thanks.
 

catchlights

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#4
Studio Strobe
Pro
1) Less heat Yes, if you don't use modeling lamp will even cooler
2) Used by Studio for years, well established technique Yes
3) Adjustable output power to suit various desired setup Yes
4) Stable WB Yes
5) you can have thousand and one type of light modifiers

Con
1) Expensive (both equipment and bulb) Not really, depends on brands and models
2) Ellaborated setup (good stands needed to hold the weight of the light) which type of light don't need good stands?

Continuous Lighting (Fluorescent and Tungsten)
Pro
1) Relatively cheaper (only require simple driver, Softbox and bulb) - lower operating cost, not really. highend light are cost more than normal studio flash
2) Flexible - can also be used as Videography and Filming light, in fact these lights are mostly use for video and cine
3) Relatively easier setup - just need to plug lighting and softbox onto the stand not really, highend tungsten lighting you need ballast.

Con
1) Heating (True for tungsten, but is it also true for Fluorescent lighting?) yes, all lights general heat.
2) WB degrade over time (is this true?) Yes.
3) Difficult to control output power (moving of stand, selecting on the number of Bulbs) Yes, you will alter the quality of light if you change the distances of the light(as in softness, shadows etc...), you can also use ND gel.

4)You can't shoot highspeed to freeze moving subjects


Basically you can continuous light for photography, but it will have very limited usage.
 

catchlights

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#5
btw, if you are talking about DIY continuous lights, like buying a few bulbs from hardware stores and do some wiring yourself, than please don't make a comparison between a proper studio strobe set up with the DIY continuous lights.


anyway, oversea have winter, shooting a model with hot lights is kind of very comfortable over there,
if you shoot models with hot lights at local, is like shooting models under noon day sun.
 

catchlights

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#7
How much is very limited usage?
you can't shoot ice creme.
you can't fast moving object or people.
you can't shoot in a room without aircon
you can't shoot subject need color accuracy
you can's shoot hot light with softbox
you can't place the light too close to human model
you can't shoot for whole day........
 

BMPhoto

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Jun 25, 2007
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#8
btw, if you are talking about DIY continuous lights, like buying a few bulbs from hardware stores and do some wiring yourself, than please don't make a comparison between a proper studio strobe set up with the DIY continuous lights.


anyway, oversea have winter, shooting a model with hot lights is kind of very comfortable over there,
if you shoot models with hot lights at local, is like shooting models under noon day sun.
Hi Catchlights

Thanks for the info and comment. As I'm starting out in this studio stuff, I'm asking to learn and eventually to decide. Certainly I'm not asking about DIY continuous lights, I'm asking on those setup (with softboxes) for Photography. Thanks.
 

catchlights

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#9
most people consider continuous light is because of able to see how is the light falls on the subject instantly and able to use in camera meter for taking meter reading.

the continuous light do have a limitation, is hot and the bulbs need to replace frequently, the bulbs may not be cheap.

and if the fluorescent light type, does it state is 5500k balance? and if yes, the light also expensive.

Imagine a normal room if you able to shoot f2.8 with 1/60s, you need 3 time brighter light source to get f8 @1/60s, it is not very comfortable to work in this type of brightness for few hours. even fluorescent light also emit heat. if the room has not air con, the heat will build up in 15~20 mins.
 

Dream Merchant

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I read about those. Looks interesting, and if you're basically doing simple still lifes or simple/non-critical work, it's what I would term 'Cheap n Cheerful'! That a nice way of saying 'fun' but no where near suitable for serious work. Like Catchlights mentioned, be prepared to have a work are with super strong air-con.

One route, though a lot more troublesome in some ways, and might end up a lot more expensive is the strobist style of approaching light. Not cheap, if using branded flash like Canon or Nikon, but generally a lot more portable than studio flash. Generally a lot of DIYing is also involved.

If this is a long term/more serious application you're thinking of, my advise would be to get studio units. In the long run, they will work out cheaper and definitely far less troublesome (much less limited, faster to operate and adjust etc) besides being far more versatile and durable (assuming you get the good brands).

I saw a couple of guys selling their studio sets in the classifieds here.
 

BMPhoto

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most people consider continuous light is because of able to see how is the light falls on the subject instantly and able to use in camera meter for taking meter reading.

the continuous light do have a limitation, is hot and the bulbs need to replace frequently, the bulbs may not be cheap.

and if the fluorescent light type, does it state is 5500k balance? and if yes, the light also expensive.

Imagine a normal room if you able to shoot f2.8 with 1/60s, you need 3 time brighter light source to get f8 @1/60s, it is not very comfortable to work in this type of brightness for few hours. even fluorescent light also emit heat. if the room has not air con, the heat will build up in 15~20 mins.
Thanks for the further info, this is useful.

I read about those. Looks interesting, and if you're basically doing simple still lifes or simple/non-critical work, it's what I would term 'Cheap n Cheerful'! That a nice way of saying 'fun' but no where near suitable for serious work. Like Catchlights mentioned, be prepared to have a work are with super strong air-con.

One route, though a lot more troublesome in some ways, and might end up a lot more expensive is the strobist style of approaching light. Not cheap, if using branded flash like Canon or Nikon, but generally a lot more portable than studio flash. Generally a lot of DIYing is also involved.

If this is a long term/more serious application you're thinking of, my advise would be to get studio units. In the long run, they will work out cheaper and definitely far less troublesome (much less limited, faster to operate and adjust etc) besides being far more versatile and durable (assuming you get the good brands).

I saw a couple of guys selling their studio sets in the classifieds here.
Yup, I'm monitoring these sets, but I have just bumped into this CL and really would like to know the difference in their technology and techniques. In fact, I'm also doing some videography on top of photography, was just wondering if I could setup something that can be used for both. However, now it seems I would not get the best of both world. Thanks for your comment.
 

Dream Merchant

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#12
Generally, and optimally, no. They're both different 'specialised' usages, even though you could use Kino Flos for some stills and portraits where a general wash of light is needed, but have far less leeway where light adjustments and modifications are concerned compared to studio flash.
 

soloanvi

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#13
Just to share, the FL bulbs are not cheap for high wattage. Each easily cost > $15 for a gd branded bulb. Thus for a CFL fixture which can support 4 bulbs, it will set u back ~$60 for each change.

Another limitation is the max wattage, I have yet to find a FL bulb that is more than 32watt.

Cheers
JC
 

Prismatic

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#14
Although flourescent lights give soft and even lighting, another thing you may want to take note is the CRI of the bulbs (Not sure if they put the ratings on all bulbs). CRI ratings measures the purity of the light as compared to daylight (ie, the presence of colour casts). Colour temperature you can control using the white balance controls on the camera but colour casts may be a bit more troublesome.
 

Draccoyap

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#16
Hi I am not pro. but I do have a DIY kind of studio with some cheap setup at home, with a continuos lighting and flashes (no money for strobe yet...). I set it up for personal interest only.

continuous lighting is kind good as it give you immediate result. but I can share with you that the lack of (or limited) availability to adjust the power would be big minus for continuous lighting as there is no much room you can play with the effect, especially if you want to play with low key ...... for that reason, I do wish to have a strobe now to play with.

Having said the above, I did see quite few professional studio setups over the internet and i notice that they uses both continuous lighting and strobe.... I guess there is no definite pro and con over continuous and strobe....

just my 2 cents..........:embrass:
 

BMPhoto

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Jun 25, 2007
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#17
Thanks all for your comment, info and contribution, I have really gotten better understanding on this subject.

I guess these 2 lighting does not really compete with each other (at least at the moment), in fact they may complement instead. Guess I got a lot more to dig and find out. Thanks.
 

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