Home Buyer's Guide Continuous Lights 2012
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Continuous Lights For Still & Video

For maximum versatility, continuous lights let you move from still to motion shooting without changing gear

This Article Features Photo Zoom


Considered, on the whole, affordable, fluorescents and LEDs are largely thought of as "green," environmentally friendly forms of lighting. These light sources last considerably longer than hot lights, potentially in the thousands of hours, making them much more economical in the long run. More than that, they each output a quantity of light equivalent to several times the stated wattage, so they run more cheaply than incandescent sources. Cool lights are a good choice for any and every subject; however, you won't be able to achieve action-stopping shutter speeds or great depth of field with these light sources.

Don't expect cheap lighting to provide accurate color balance. Besides color temperature, the CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is a good indicator. The higher the value—preferably 90 and above, the cleaner the light and the better it is as a source for photography.

Kobold DW 200

Mole Type 6821 800 DayLite

Profoto ProDaylight 800 Air

Bowens Streamlite 530

Cool-Lux Mini-Cool

Fluorescents (CFLs and linear bulbs) are viable solutions. Flicker-free is the operative term for what to look for in fluorescents used for digital capture. Fluorescents, in general, aren't known for projecting light over great distances. Bulbs are easily and affordably replaced.

CFLs (compact fluorescents). Using bulbs that are available in various configurations, CFL fixtures accept a wide range of light shapers similar to hot lights. These fixtures tend to be bulky, growing in size as more lamps are added to throw a decent quantity of light.

Linear fluorescents. If you need a soft light source right out of the box, this is it. Light banks comprised of several linear tubes are even used as beauty lights in Hollywood. Many fluorescent tubes come in a choice of color temperatures to match the dominant lighting on a set. Since they have limited reach, linear tubes should be used close to the subject, as you would a softbox. Fluorescent light banks can be modified in a limited fashion, with louvers, barndoors and gel filters. Quality linear fluorescents can get expensive.


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