A layman’s guide to LED light panels

A layman's guide to LED light panels

What is an LED light panel used for – and how should you use it? If you’re new to photography – or just getting to grips with lighting – you might understandably have a few questions about some of the equipment.

There are a number of things you need to consider when purchasing an LED light panel, and in our latest layman’s guide to fundamental gear we answer some of the most common questions photographers have.

A layman's guide to LED light panels

For a mobile light panel, the lightweight, battery-powered Manfrotto ML360 Midi LED Light mounts on a standard camera hotshoe and generates up to 420 lux. Its price is around £75

What is an LED light panel?

Unlike a flashgun or typical studio flash head, which deliver a powerful but short pulse of light during an exposure, LED light panels give constant lighting.

The small panels are usually battery-powered, while the larger models are driven from mains electricity.

How do LED light panels work?

These light panels are based on an array of super-bright LEDs. Greater numbers of LEDs within the panel, especially where the LEDs themselves are more efficient, will give a greater maximum light output.

Typically, this can range from 300 lux (lumens per square metre) to more than 4,000 lux, at a distance of one metre.

Advanced features often include a facility for adjusting the strength of output, and for switching between tungsten and daylight colour balance. This is useful for supplementing both indoor and outdoor ambient lighting.

Who makes LED light panels?

Popular makes include F&V, Interfit, Kaiser, Bowens (Limelite), Manfrotto, Metz and Rosco, with prices starting at as little as £50 for small models.

SEE MORE: Studio lighting – 4 seriously simple lighting techniques to try at home

A layman's guide to LED light panels

This relatively large Bowens Limelite Mosaic LED Panel mounts to a light stand and can run off either mains or battery power. It costs £650 and delivers up to 4,500 lux

When should I use LED light panels?

They’re useful for adding to ambient lighting when shooting video, thanks to the continuous nature of the output. Even small, low-power models can be very useful for close-up and macro shooting, as relatively little light output is needed at short distances.

How do I attach LED light panels to my DSLR?

Smaller units often come with a mounting foot that slides into a standard camera hot shoe. Larger versions generally fit on a general-purpose studio lighting stand, or on a tripod using a mounting adaptor.

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