Hot lights vs. strobes???
What are the pros and cons of each of these methods of lighting?
Is there a generally accepted opinion that one is generally better than the other?
Strobes are fine for multiple images on a single frame, studio flash units are better for normal use. (Strobes are stroboscopes in English, used in discos etc).
Studio flash units are a lot more practical, give out far higher light output allowing lenses to be stopped down further, higher shutter speeds/short flash duration.
Kilowatts of hot lights are real nice in cold UK studios in the winter. Something you don't want in a studio in the southern US in the summer.
I have all but stopped using hot lights. Live subjects melt under the heat, products may overheat and if something like photographing a camera, may harm it. During the summer months, bugs like to die by landing on the bulb or reflector, which may leave a scorch mark you cannot remove. If shooting color, you have to filter to correct color.
Burns from careless handling, and popping expensive bulbs if move while filament is hot. I only keep what I have in case I need to do movies or video.
On the other hand, Studio strobes with modeling lights are color corrected, don't have the excessive heat, easier to modify the light, especially with homemade or improvised light set ups. No problems with suicide bugs.
I am still using the original White Lighting cans, purchased 25 yrs ago. I have to make some of the accessories since they are out of date. The new stuff is better but I cannot justify replacing them. Maybe someday I will add a new unit or two.
I love me hmi's but then I like 'em strobes too. They don't have to be mutually exclusive and I can't say I prefer one to the other (although I find myself using a couple 1.2 k's for portraiture and still life and sometimes dragging along a genny on location); to do so is kind of like saying I prefer this screwdriver to this adjustable wrench.
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depends on what you're using them for. constant sources are much easier to shape/focus in most conditions.
Kino Flo Parabeams and Vista Beams are quite versatile for some things (portraits/still life) and can be used as both daylight/tungsten sources. They use very little power but aren't cheap, by any means.
One nice feature about using a constant light source is you can see the light patterns as you position them but with studio strobe lights most have what's called a modeling light to do the same.
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If you are shooting with B&W film another thought is to use the fluorescent lights available as well as lights available at places like Home Depot. Some neat pics can be made with just a flashlight!
Strobe is English for a repeating flash, or American for electronic flash.
Hot lights provide more light and produce more heat. You can see the effect of moving each light without making a test shot. 3200-3400 degrees is typical color temp so filtration is used for daylight film.
Electronic flash doesn't compare directly in power to incandescent. When you see a rating of 500WS it only refers to the power produced by the power supply, not actual light. It is generally daylight color temp
Without experience it's more difficult to set the lights up since you can't see what's actually happening as you go along. Electronic flash costs less to use, sorta kinda because you recharge a Capacitor & store the voltage incandescent is a constant power drain.
Some people like the theatric effect of fresnel spots, and usually those are hot lights, though there are a few options for fresnel strobes that produce the light quality of a Hollywood style fresnel, with the greater light output and lower heat and power usage of strobes. I have one of these (a Norman FS-10, which is a Bardwell & McCallister 10" focusable fresnel converted to flash), and it's my favorite light head.
There are quite a few fluorescent continuous lighting units out now that can put out a lot of soft light. The light output is on the low side, so these are more directed at digital users, but under the right conditions (fast film, wide apertures, short DOF) they can be used with film as well. Sanders McNew uses a large panel of compact fluorescents.
Last edited by David A. Goldfarb; 05-02-2010 at 02:29 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I started in TV in the early 70's and learned to light with hot lights, and love the look they give portraits. In the mid 90's a friend loaned me a set of 3 monolights (independant strobes) that are similar to hot lights for aiming and positioning.
I still like the hotlights in the winter here in Santa Fe (as Bob-D659 suggested) and tend to use flash in the warm summer.
I guess, if pushed, I prefer the hot lights
There is no such thing as taking too much time, because your soul is in that picture. -Ruth Bernhard