Good lighting is the foundation for a strong photograph. Whether shooting a landscape, model, or object, if the lighting is poor, the whole image will be ruined.
But unless you have a continual stream of natural light, in certain conditions it’s going to be pretty much impossible to achieve a desired balance of brightness without the help of artificial lighting.
This is where the strobe light comes in – and we’re not on about that multi-colored lighting you get in nightclubs, we’re on about strobe lighting that’s intended for photographers.
Strobe lights produce very intense flashes of light using an electric discharge in gas. This gives them the impression of “freezing” objects. For example, you may have seen strobe lighting used for special effects on TV or in live performances.
Strobe lights are perfect for adjusting the lighting in your studio and offer a host of benefits. They're easy to set up and can be adjusted to specific flash durations to work efficiently between shots.
It's especially good for photographers working with models, as with a strobe light you can capture a range of expressions and poses in a short amount of time, without having to reset the flash.
When shopping for a strobe light online it can be difficult to know what to look for, especially when you can’t test the lighting before purchasing. That’s where we’re hoping to help out.
We’ve put together a list of the best strobe lights on the market, and have considered characteristics such as flash duration and color temperature, brightness and power, and of course – cost and quality.
We’ve also answered some of the most frequently asked questions on the web, including the difference between a strobe light and a speed light, and the best lighting for studio photography.
Please note: vision 4 only supports M, multi, 2. 4G wireless remote; do not support TTL, HSS mode; sync speed: 1/200 seconds; extremely short flash duration: from 1/1000 to 1/10000 seconds. 6 steps of power adjustment( 1/64 to 1/1)
Large capacity Lithium battery pack to provide 700 full power flashes and fast recycle time( 0. 4-2. 5 seconds)
13W energy-saving LED Modeling lamp. Stable color temperature at 5600200K over the entire power range; Compatible with Canon Nikon Panasonic Olympus Pentax with Standard Hot Shoe and Sony Camera with New MI Hot Shoe like Sony A7 A7S/A7SII A7II A6000 A6300 A6500
Built-in 2. 4G receiver with 8 channels. Trigger included. Sub firmware upgrade helps keep pace with the latest technology. 1-Year Newer and lifetime email support
With Li-ion battery, extremely short flash duration and high Gn60, this German engineered 300W flash Meets all location shooting demands Whether shoot fast-moving objects or shoot in different lighting environments
This strobe is a popular choice as it’s not only affordable for those on more modest budgets, but it’s compact and portable, thanks to it being operated by a large Lithium battery pack.
This not only makes it ultra-convenient, but it’s also powerful enough to provide 700 full-power flashes with a fast recycle time of 0. 4-2. 5 seconds, making it perfect for modeling shoots.
A 300W flash provides sufficient lighting and helps illuminate dynamic objects, providing sharp results regardless of the lighting situation.
The Vision 4 is energy sufficient thanks to its 13W energy-saving LED lamp. It has a stable color temperature which is consistent over the entire power range, and it’s compatible with a range of the biggest camera brands such as Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Olympus, and Pentax.
With a built-in 2.4G receiver with 8 channels and a sub firmware upgrade, you can be sure that this strobe light will keep pace with the latest technology, so you won’t find yourself having to upgrade to a new strobe anytime soon after purchasing.
German-engineered for premium quality
Compatible with a range of cameras
Portable thanks battery operation
Fast recycle time
Built-in 2.4G receiver
The battery has a short life expectancy, so some customers recommend buying an extra battery
The Godox AD200 is compact and easy to take from one location to the next.
As well as being portable, this strobe light is also extremely versatile as it has interchangeable flash heads, enabling you to switch between a Speedlight-styled Fresnel head – which has a direct-focused beam – and the bare-bulb head, which has an omnidirectional beam.
This allows you to take on a range of shooting locations and lighting conditions.
On a full charge, this strobe will produce 500 full-power flashes with a super-fast recycling time of 0.01 to 2.1 sec. It also has a flash duration ranging from 1/128 to 1/1, with flash durations as short as 1/11,300 sec.
Adaptability is the Godox’s middle name, as manual operation mode allows you to alter power output, modeling light, first/second curtain sync, and stroboscopic rate.
The TLL function is also compatible with all the big camera names such as Canon, Sony, and Nikon.
Battery-operated and portable
Ultra quick recycling time
Wide range of flash durations – as short as 1/11,300 sec.
Another great strobe option from Godox, this is a slightly more advanced and professional upgrade of the AD200, and comes attached to a higher price tag as a result. The AD200 Pro features interchangeable flash heads for shooting in a range of lighting conditions.
The manual 9 stop range of power has been expanded to adjust from full 1/256 in 1/10th stop increments, while three modes – Manual, TTL, and multi-flash – give the photographer ultimate flexibility and versatility, as well as the ability to adapt the modeling light and curtain sync.
This version has a stroboscopic rate of up to 90 and offers a range of other functions such as group mode selectivity, 2.4G control with 330 ft range, and channel triggering.
While this comes at a slightly higher cost, there are a few benefits to this kit. As well as the strobe light itself you get 2 separate heads, a charging cable, a rechargeable battery, and a durable bag for storing and transporting your equipment
Overall, it’s very good value for the money.
Portable and lightweight
Three different modes
2.4G control with a range of 330 ft
Comes with a range of extras, as well as a bag for transporting
500 full-power flashes
More expensive than AD200 and you don’t get too many upgrades in terms of the features
The Neewer 500W is a great option for somebody looking to purchase a full lighting kit without breaking the bank, as this kit comes complete with two 250W strobe lights, a softbox, wireless trigger, wireless receiver, and two translucent umbrellas, making it great value for money.
The monolight features 250W of high flash energy, a quick recycle time of 0.3-1.7s, a sync distance of 10 meters, and a flash duration of 1/2200s, making it great for photographing dynamic objects and models.
This kit is perfect for a portrait photographer, as the softbox diffuses the strobe to create even lighting, while the two umbrellas can be used either as a shoot through or to bounce light, which will reduce shadows and create a soft, low contrast lighting over a large area – perfect for family portraits.
The light can be either handheld or mounted on a light stand and works as a main light, backlight, or hair light, to allow versatility and freedom to shoot anyone and anything.
The wireless trigger also works up to 30 meters away, making it again ideal for larger studios.
Great value for money – full kit
Quick recycle time of 0.3-1.7
Softbox and umbrella for softer lighting
Can be mounted or handheld
Wireless trigger works up to 30 meters away
This is only really ideal for those with a large studio
Not portable and quite heavy – so mainly suited to indoor use
This strobe monolight from LimoStudio is perfect for those on a budget, or for photographers just starting out who don’t want to invest in an expensive piece of kit too soon.
That doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality though, as this light has a range of great features, such as LED light indicators to make operation simple, an easily adjustable shooting angle, and a salve sensor that turns the lamp on automatically in dark shooting conditions.
This light works well as a main, back, or focus light but is best suited to smaller studios and model work. It has a super-fast recycle time of 0.2-1.5 seconds and adjustable power output that ranges from 1/16 to full power.
The test button is also a great feature, as it allows you to trial the lighting before committing to clicking the shutter.
A great option for those on a budget
LED light indicators for easy operation
Adjustable shooting angle
Recycle time of 0.2 – 1.5 seconds
Adjustable power output
Portable and light
With just 200W it’s not the most powerful strobe light
The body isn’t the best quality and feels slightly flimsy
The standout feature of this strobe is undoubtedly its light intensity, so you can rest assured that your photos will be sharp and well-lit thanks to the 400W output.
This strobe also maintains a stable color temperature over the entire power range guaranteeing you consistent shots. There are also three power levels: ratio, full, and off, and the wireless control spans up to 50 meters.
This strobe has a lightning-quick recycle time of 0.01-0.5 seconds for capturing a range of shots in a short space of time, while the built-in fan keeps your light cool when using it for long periods.
Impressive high flash energy
Super-quick recycle time
Stable color temperature
Umbrella hole to mount the soft umbrella
Built-in 2.4G wireless transmission with control up to 50M
Flash duration is the duration between the flashes of light, and if you’re going to be photographing a fast-moving object or person, it’s advisable to use a strobe light with a fast flash duration with a t0.5 value of 1/2,000th second or higher.
Slower flash durations will do no good when you have a dynamic or quick-moving subject to capture.
This is also important to consider. The best strobe lights for photography usually have a color temperature between 4800k and 5200k.
This is less of a concern when shooting on modern DSLRs though, as many of these cameras adjust to the color temperature automatically.
The cost of a strobe light largely depends on how large your budget is. That said, an increasingly competitive online market does mean that there is something out there for everyone, and even cheaper models can be just as beneficial as more expensive versions.
However, it’s also worth thinking about the efficiency of the strobe light. There’s no point in buying a cheap light if it costs a bomb to run. Likewise, if it isn’t powerful enough or doesn’t have a fast enough flash duration for your needs, it’ll be a waste of money.
You can expect to spend $100-$200 – and upwards of this for something more sophisticated – on a decent strobe light, but the amount this will enhance your work will hopefully pay off in the long run.
Strobe lights can have a power intensity of anywhere between 100 to 1,000 watts. The intensity of your strobe lighting needs to reflect the size of the studio you work in.
For example, if you have a large studio, you’ll need a light with high intensity so that you can still work with smaller lens apertures and achieve the depth of field.
Some strobes also have the ability to adjust their power intensity to capture close-ups. If you have a studio that’s on the smaller side, then the intensity of the lighting isn’t too much of an issue, as you’ll have a smaller space to light up.
Strobe lights come in different varieties and source their light in different ways. For example, LED lights, halogen and xenon are all common light sources for strobe lighting.
If you need to transport your light to various locations it’s best to look for something portable and powered by battery – particularly if you’re planning on using it outside.
Benefits of strobe lighting
There are many benefits of strobe lighting and it can be used in a variety of photography scenarios. These benefits include:
Intense source of light: Strobe lighting is powerful and can travel far if it’s a high intensity, which allows the light source to be placed a distance away from the subject. The guide numbers found on most strobe lights allow the photographer to alter the intensity of the lighting or even change its output to create a softer effect – however, this won’t alter the power of the light.
They can be used outside as well as inside: Strobe lighting isn’t just for studio work. You can use them outside to achieve a dramatic effect, as the artificial flash strobes will overpower the natural light of the sun. This will make the sky appear darker and forbidding.
Quick recycle times: Studio strobe lighting generally recycles very quickly, meaning the flash recharges at a fast pace to take multiple shots, meaning you can ensure you capture every movement or change in expression. This is particularly ideal when shooting with models.
They’re great for modeling: As mentioned above – strobes are perfect for capturing models, as most strobes will feature a modeling light which is a constant light that gives the photographer a preview of how the flashlight will appear without needing to take a test shot.
This improves efficiency while shooting and saves both you and the model valuable time. It also allows you to have better control over your shooting because you can quickly determine how your image will look before you click the shutter.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Speedlight and a strobe?
Speedlights and strobe lights are pretty similar, as they both produce short bursts of light.
However, speedlights are slightly different in that they are usually battery-powered and therefore have a lower power output, longer recycle time, and less accurate color temperature readings.
The good thing about speed lights are that they’re usually portable due to their power source, and this makes them good for remote work or for working outside rather than in a studio. They’re also generally more affordable.
Which is better: continuous lighting or a strobe light?
Strobe lighting is generally more beneficial because it’s more practical.
While continuous lighting allows you to see what you are getting before you click the shutter, it also burns through a lot more energy and can be hot and uncomfortable for a model to stand in front of.
Because of this, strobe lights are usually preferred by many photographers.
What is the best lighting for studio photography?
Strobe lighting is great for studio photography as when working indoors you rely more on artificial lighting than natural light. A strobe light allows you to take multiple photographs of a subject over a short period, meaning you can capture a range of expressions and movements.
For modeling and studio photography this is preferable as shots will generally look more natural and it provides the photographer with a wider choice of pose and expression.
Strobe lights can also be used with a softbox, which diffuses the light, and translucent umbrellas, which bounce shadows and provide low-contrast lighting for the ultimate portrait shot.
Last Updated on 2020-11-28 //Source: Affiliate Affiliates
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