Today on The Slanted Lens we are using Rosco LEDs to take portraits and are discussing the pros and cons of doing so. Let’s take a look!
Why Consider Using LEDs over Strobes?
For the shoot that accompanied this lesson we were doing a film noir theme. These 1920’s era shots feature very hard lighting in black and white, so we decided to try out some Rosco Silk 210 LEDs as opposed to the traditional strobes. LEDs are known for giving a much harder light than strobes, so we are hoping to use that characteristic to our advantage.
The Pros of Using LEDs
- The first great thing about using LEDs is that you can see exactly what you are going to get. When you dial an LED light up, you immediately see the difference in your shot. You see exactly what your shot is going to look like before you take it. This makes it much easier when shooting. When you are looking at the monitor or through your view finder you can see the lighting ratio and can manipulate it in a much faster and easier way.
- You can shoot video with the same setup. When you shoot with LED lights, you don’t have to change your lighting setup if you want to shoot video, which makes shooting much easier if you plan to switch back and forth between shooting stills and video.
- Shooting with LEDs also gives you complete control of the color temperature. You can dial the color temperature up and down on a bicolored light and it gives you the ability to match your color temperature with whatever light is coming through a window or an open door.
- They also draw small amounts of power. Strobes can draw a very large amount of power as they surge, which sometimes makes it difficult to shoot in homes. LED lights, however, will not cause issues if you are shooting in a residence.
- LED lights will also give you a wide open, shallow depth of field. This leads me into some of the drawbacks of working with LEDs.
The Cons of Using LEDs
- The number one drawback I see when working with LEDs is that they are not nearly as powerful as strobes. You will never an f/8, f/11, or f/16 from a continuous light source, so you will be shooting at a much lower power.
- It is nearly impossible to freeze action while using these lights. If you are shooting in continuous light, you tend to shoot with the mindset that you are going to get some blurring frame to frame. Simple movement with LEDs will be captured easily enough, but if you are shooting something like fashion shots where people are moving all over and jumping around you will find blurring in almost every single shot you take.
- Another big issue with these LEDs is that you have to use a tripod when you shoot. Tripods, as you are aware, severely limit you mobility on set. You have to shoot with a tripod because you are using a much longer exposure.
- Finally, a lot of these lights are difficult to modify. The Rosco LEDs we used come with grids on them that allow you to manipulate the amount of light that comes in, but if you wanted to use a softbox or some other kind of modifier things get tricky. Bayonet mount LED lights make using modifiers a lot easier, and a lot more are coming out on the market to try to solve this problem.
When to Use LEDs
As I look at the stills from this shoot, I really do love the harder look that you get with LEDs. The light you get from LEDs is very directional as well, but for the shoot that we were doing it worked perfectly. It really does look like we are back in the 1920’s. So all in all, LEDs are great at giving you a hard, directional light source in portraits.
Take a look at the pros and cons for yourself and let me know if you plan on incorporating LEDs into your own shoots!
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!