Studio flash lighting versus LED lights: Which is better?

LED lighting vs studio flash lighting comparison
(Image credit: Karl Taylor)

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of photography – and ensuring that you've picked the right tools for the job is essential. There are plenty of options available for shooting, ranging from conventional studio flashes to LED lighting options, but which one is the better choice? 

LED lights can be great for a number of reasons. First of all, the control you have over color is far greater with LED continuous lighting equipment. Some of the best LED panels now have the ability to scroll through a range of kelvin settings. This can be extremely useful for those trying to balance ambient and artificial lighting. 

• Read more: Best video lights

Another great benefit of LED panels is that they offer you the ability to see exactly what the image will look like before you take the shot. Essentially, what you see is what you get. This can be great for a number of reasons, especially if you're just starting out, as setup times can be drastically reduced. 

The biggest issue with LED lights for photographers is that the total output of light can't really compare to a strobe. Flash lighting offers far greater output, allowing you much more flexibility when it comes to both moving subjects and depths of field. 

A recent video (above) from Karl Taylor discusses some of the benefits and downsides of each type of light. Flash lighting is probably a better choice if you have a moving subject or if you plan on shooting with smaller apertures. The difference in output makes them a better choice in many scenarios.

Having said that, if you can work within the power limitations of LED lights, they can be quite useful too. The control you have over color is a major factor and if this is important to you, some adjustments can make LED lighting very practical. LED lighting can also be be very useful if you shoot video and stills with the same lighting setup. 

Ultimately, it comes down to understanding the limitations and picking the right tool for the right job. 

Read more:

Best photography lighting kit
Portrait lighting tips
The best flashgun

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Usman Dawood

Usman is a commercial and architectural photographer based in West Yorkshire, who has been working professionally for over seven years. He has also spent over four years as a writer for the biggest photography sites in the world, including Staff Writer for Digital Camera World, senior staff writer for FStoppers, and tech writer for Petapixel. 

With a particular interest in technology developments, high-resolution imaging and the high-end cameras, Usman has been on the cutting edge of camera news as well as writing features about medium format systems and global shutters, and has reviewed some of the latest Leica cameras as well as a tripod that’s even taller than Andre the Giant!