Panel beat­ing?

Why LEDs are tak­ing over from flash. We test six light pan­els

NPhoto - - Front Page -

As light sources, ar­rays of high-ef­fi­ciency LED lamps have found favour in ev­ery­thing from torches that you can wear on your head to low-en­ergy lights for homes, of­fices and shops. They also have ad­van­tages over flash­guns for pho­to­graphic use. In­stead of a bright but very short pulse of light they deliver con­stant out­put, which makes it eas­ier to view light­ing ef­fects while com­pos­ing a shot. The down side is that their max­i­mum out­put is typ­i­cally much less pow­er­ful than that of a flash­gun, so you’ll of­ten find you need to place an LED panel very close to what you’re shoot­ing.

Con­stant light­ing is es­sen­tial for video shoot­ing. LED pan­els can be ef­fec­tive for this, but be wary of mod­els which give a flick­er­ing out­put, es­pe­cially when the power set­ting is re­duced. None of the pan­els in this test group ex­hibit flick­er­ing.

To test the max­i­mum out­put of com­pet­ing pan­els, we used a Sekonic Litemas­ter Pro L478DR in in­ci­dent me­ter­ing mode, placed at a dis­tance of one me­tre from each panel in turn. The aper­ture for a cor­rect ex­po­sure was mea­sured in the dark at ISO200 and a shut­ter speed of 1/60th of a sec­ond.

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