Are LED Lights or Panels Better? – Fstoppers

November 5, 2022 by No Comments

There are two kinds of light sources for video: LED lights and panels. Both have advantages and drawbacks. Which is the best choice when you’re on a budget? Should you choose an LED light or an LED panel? I made my choice, but now, I have my doubts.

If the amount of ambient light isn’t enough, we need to bring our own lights. That’s one of the reasons why we use strobes. With a flash of light, we can produce our own creative way of illuminating the subject. But this doesn’t work for video, obviously. For that, we need continuous light.

When I was asked to film on location, I brought my Profoto B10 strobes with me. The built-in model light offers some continuous light. It was just enough, as long as I could keep the distance between the subject and the B10 unit within limits.

I agree, it wasn’t the ideal situation for shooting video. I had to crank up the ISO to get a good exposure. When I got asked more often to video, I decided it was time to buy something that was more suitable for the job. Although the Profoto B10 worked for the few times I needed more light, I knew it eventually wouldn’t be enough.

An LED Panel for a Reasonable Price

There are a lot of different continuous lights available. The price ranges from less than a hundred dollars to many thousands of dollars. I had to find something that would be good for my work without breaking the bank. That’s why I decided to buy a couple of cheap LED panels to start with.

There was one thing that was important for me. It had to produce enough light to suit my needs, more than the model lights on my Profoto B10 at least. On top of that, an LED panel that could change its color temperature would be nice — not an RGB, but a bicolor light. The panels I bought were the Viltrox VL-S192T LED light. 

It sounded good: 192 LEDs that could change color temperature from 3,300-5,600 Kelvin, with 5,300 lumens. I’d read some reviews, and they were quite positive. But after I have used the panels a few times, I’m not that sure these LED panels were the best choice.

Downsides to an LED Panel

First of all, 5,200s lumen sounds great, but it turns out that the amount of light depends on the color temperature setting. Although it has 192 LEDs, it’s divided between 96 white LEDs and 96 orange LEDs. If both are at full power, the maximum amount of lumens is reached, but vary the color temperature, and you end up with half of the LEDs at a lower power to achieve the requested color temperature or completely turned off.

Although the LED panel measures 28.6 cm by 19 cm, it’s still a relatively small light source. If you keep it at close distance, it can produce a reasonable light quality, but the light falloff becomes prominent. The panel at a larger distance solves the light falloff, but the light becomes a bit harsh.

There is another downside to this kind of LED panel. If any shadow is visible behind the subject, it isn’t a very nice one. It shows a …….



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