Choosing the right light source is a crucial decision in product photography. The two main options are flash and constant lights, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these can help you make an informed decision and elevate the quality of your product shots.
Output and Versatility
Speedlights, a type of flash lighting, produce higher intensity light. This gives you more options when it comes to lighting modifiers and possibilities. On the other hand, constant lights, which include fluorescents, LEDs, and incandescent lights, have a lower output.
Incandescent lights, though, can generate a lot of heat. High-power lighting allows you to use small apertures (large depth of field) without having to increase ISO, a benefit not often available with constant lights. Speedlights also offer highly flexible output, while changes in studio constant lights, though possible, can quickly become expensive1.
Quality of Light
Flash is a hard light source, but can be made softer with the right modifiers. Conversely, fluorescent and LED panels are soft by nature, making them harder requires moving them back, which isn’t always possible. Flashes offer consistent light color and quality, while fluorescent and LED lights can sometimes present lighting issues.
Another consideration is the weight. Flash units are lightweight, making them easier to handle and position compared to their relatively heavier constant light counterparts1.
Choosing the Right Light for Your Needs
Both speedlights and studio strobes are viable options for product photography. Speedlights are battery-powered flash units that use a hotshoe mount, while studio strobes offer more power and have modeling lights that show what the light will look like when flashed. While modifiers are easier to find for speedlights, strobes can offer near-instant recycling times with full batteries, reducing downtime between shots1.
In conclusion, understanding the differences between flash and constant lights, as well as their respective advantages and disadvantages, is crucial for choosing the right lighting setup for your product photography. It allows you to tailor your lighting equipment to your specific needs and shooting style, ultimately helping you produce better, more professional product shots.