Can high quality LED lights be used for professional quality indoors portrait work?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
Ellis Vener
OP MOD Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 16,356
Re: Can high quality LED lights be used for professional quality indoors portrait work?

Richard Hopkins wrote:

Ellis Vener wrote:

ronscuba wrote:

Nice to hear your success using LED.

Why shoot at 1/400th for portrait ? I know you had success with that setting. Would a slower shutter setting allow a lower ISO and get similar results ?

If the person being photographed is static or in repose, yes. But I like to look for some liveliness in the person's expression and while 1/400th won't freeze a fluttering eyelid it is sufficient for the slight smiles and getting other slight differences in expression that , for me, convey a person's personality.
I also wanted to minimize the effect of the existing lighting in the room on the subject while using it to light the background which was about ten feet behind the person I was photographing.

So LEDs work fine so long as you have a £6k camera and can crank it up to ISO3200 to match a five-stops deficit vs flash at ISO100?! That's sobering.

Listen if ISO 1600 or 3200 without needing any detail destroying noise reduction interpolation in post, is delivering the image quality ( low noise and dynamic range) that you need to use ISO 100 for, I think that is a pretty significant advance, don't you?

But you didn't mention one of the major benefits of continuous lights IMHO, which is getting the subject's pupils to close down and show their colour, instead of the big black holes you often get with flash.

Many head-shot photographers use LEDs for this reason. It's possible to get closed pupils with flash but only with a good modelling light used close. I can just about do that with AD400Pro and its 30w LED on max.

That is a big plus, but the monolights I use ( Paul C. Buff, Inc Einstein E640s) already use 250 watt quartz-halogen lights so that isn't an issue for me. Dim modeling lights are one of the reasons I sold the pair of Godox AD600 Pros I owned.

I'm confused by your last sentence, if I've understood you correctly. "I also wanted to minimize the effect of the existing lighting in the room..." By raising the shutter speed? On the face of it, that would make no difference with continuous LEDs.

Because they were powerful enough I could control the ratio between the brightness of the LED lights I was using and the lighting in the room. Just the same as I'd do in the same situation by using  flash with flash by using a longer than a camera's specified X-sync shutter-speed , aka "dragging the shutter."

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Ellis Vener
A working photographer since 1984.
To see my work, please visit http://www.ellisvener.com
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