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Photography Studio Equipment

Lighting Equipment Guide (Continuous versus Flash)

Digital photography lighting equipment comes in two flavors: continuous (flood) lighting and flash (strobe) lighting. For most digital studio lighting, we recommend continuous lighting. Continuous lighting works with all digital cameras, while flash lighting requires semi-pro or professional digital cameras that provide external flash triggering. Continuous lighting is easy to master, particularly with the white balance control of modern digital cameras. With continuous lighting WYSIWYG, what you see in the viewfinder (LCD display) is what you get. We only recommend using flash lighting for portrait imaging. For more specifics see our page Continuous vs. Flash. Continuous lighting comes in a variety of flavors from Cool Lites that use special flicker free compact fluorescent bulbs, to basic bulb and reflector units. We typically recommend continuous lighting for very small to medium/large subjects. The ALZO Cool Lite continuous light kits are very popular for food, cosmetic, biology imaging and for those who are concerned about the environment.

Although flash lighting has been favored by portrait film photographers, it is more difficult than continuous lighting because exposure control is performed manually, and you will have many trial and error images and lighting configurations to optimize the light on the subject. In all flash lighting, a flash meter is highly recommended. The flash that is part of a digital camera will not produce professional results.

Learn more about lighting with the photography lighting basics guide.

Product Imaging Lighting Equipment Selection Table

The following table is intended to help sort out the variety of lighting equipment options for digital imaging of products. For captivating jewelry and gemstone photography, see the ALZO Sparks Light guide.


  Object Size/Attributes
Equipment Very
Small Medium Large Shadow


Macro Table Top Studio Excel VG NR NR VG Fair
Table Top Studio VG Excel Good NR Excel VG
Tents Excel Excel Excel NR VG Excel
ALZO 100 Cool Lites Excel VG NR NR VG** VG**
ALZO 300 Cool Lites Good Excel Excel Good VG** VG**
ALZO 600 Cool Lites NR VG Excel Excel VG** VG**
Continuous Hot Lights NR Good Good Good Good**


* with softbox ** with diffusers


1 Excel Excellent The Best - Look no further
2 VG Very Good Highly Recommended
3 Good Good Recommended
4 Fair Fair Probably OK but limited and problematic
5 NR Not Recommended Do Not Use
1 Very Small 0-4"  Longest dimension
2 Small 4"-20" Longest dimension
3 Medium 20" - 60" Longest dimension
4 Large 5' - 30' Longest dimension
5 Shadow Shadow Reducing properties
6 Reflection Reflection/glare Reducing properties


Table Top Photography Guide
Overview of all ALZO table top photography kits.


There are two choices for background materials paper and fabric. Typically commercial product photography uses paper backgrounds with smooth even coloration. Portrait photographers prefer fabric backdrops for portability and control of texture. We recommend a collapsible portable background paper support which supports different widths of background paper or fabric. Included are two tripod stands, two horizontal poles, and long and short connectors to allow for a selection of widths up to 110 inches. Maximum height is 10 feet.

Background paper is typically sold in two widths: 53 inches and 107 inches; length for each is 36 feet. When the paper is rolled on the floor the floor surface should be flat and hard. Paper rolled out on carpet can not be walked on, for the paper will crease and cause undesirable damage to the paper. Walking on the paper without shoes is recommended when on the floor. When the paper gets soiled, simply cut of the used portion and roll out some fresh.

Fabric backdrops come in 9 feet widths, and a choice of 12 feet or 24 feet lengths. Fabric backdrops are washable, and the colors soften slightly after a few washings.

A wide variety of paper and fabric in different colors and textures is available for studio as well as location imaging.