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Comparison Continuous vs. Flash Lighting

For years, photographers have debated the pros and cons of continuous vs. flash lighting and flash most often won. This was because the most common and affordable continuous light was Tungsten hot lights. Today the debate has changed. With several continuous light sources to choose from, flash is no longer the defacto winner.

We sell several light source types including Fluorescent, LED, and and flash. Our preference is always continuous fluorescent or LED. As a result of our extensive studio experience, we believe that flash gets in the way of great composition and continuous lighting is better suited for digital cameras.



ATTRIBUTE  LED Fluorescent
Tungsten Flash Options
Best use Small - Medium objects including food
Small - Medium objects including food
Small - Medium objects, not for food
Portraits &
Stop Motion
Degree of difficulty mastering EASY  EASY EASY DIFFICULT
Subject composition issues  NONE NONE Subject can not be close to lights and will get hot Difficult to view subject
with model lights
Relative Brightness  Bright Bright Bright Very Bright
Bulb operational life 40,000 hr  10,000 hrs 20 - 100 hrs Model Bulb = 200 hrs
Flash = 20,000 uses
Color temperature issues



Daylight 3200K "warm" Dual color temperature
Triggering Issues NONE  NONE NONE YES, Reliability?
Responsiveness VERY  VERY VERY Restrictive due to
Capacitor Recharge Time
Reliability 100%  100% 100% Triggering issues reduce reliability
Light Meter Requirement Optional  Optional Optional Flash Meter Required


Color temperature and flash lights: The color temperature of the model light of flash lights is different from the flash tube. The model light is typically tungsten at 2700K - 3200K (warm) and the flash tube is 5500K (daylight film). This dual color temperature is a problem for all digital camera LCD display monitors. The digital camera must have its white balance set to 5500K for the flash to render accurate color, but when viewing the subject under the model light with the LCD, the subject will typically look very orange and not properly exposed. This eliminates the usage of most digital cameras LCD for subject composition. SLR digital cameras allow "through the lens" viewing and this becomes the only acceptable means of subject composition.

Reliability: Flash lights are triggered from the camera and many triggering options are available including 'slave' triggering, hard wiring and wireless trigger devices. All of these triggering options have drawbacks and hard wiring is the most reliable and least desirable. During a shoot with many triggered flash units, it is difficult for the photographer to monitor the performance of all of the flashes, and some could fail to flash without notice. Frequently photographers complain about failed flash units after the shoot is over. Continuous lights do not have trigger issues.

Responsiveness: All flash units require 1 or more seconds to recharge prior to availability. When using different flash units in a shoot, each unit will have a different recycle time. With a mixed flash environment, a photographer must wait about 5 -10 seconds between shoots to assure consistent illumination. Continuous lights do not recycle and photographs can be shot at any interval.