How to Build a 1,000 Watt Equivalent Dimmable LED Light

Continuous light sources used to be preferred by videographers more than photographers. However, in the last few years, it has become common to replace strobes with LED, HMI, or tungsten equipment. Unlike flash, with continuous lighting, what you see is what you get. It makes it much easier to set up and thus a great alternative for fast-paced work environments. Even more useful is that no recharging time is needed between each shot. The only issue remaining is often either the lack of power or the portability. Find out how to overcome both with this DIY powerful dimmable LED light.

Flashlights are an ingenious solution for lighting on the go. In fact, I have seen many wedding photographers turning away from photography lighting products and going for much cheaper alternatives that can be found on Amazon. However, not all of them are dimmable, and often, the power output is indicated in lumens. Being accustomed to watts for continuous lighting makes it difficult to imagine what the equivalent result will be! Either having too much or too little power might make your new acquisition useless.

In the DIY Perks video shown above, you will discover how to create a powerful, but dimmable LED light source that is approximately equivalent to a 1,000 W tungsten light. If you have the basic DIYer kit at home, you probably already have everything you need. Otherwise, you will have to find a friend who owns a screwdriver, a soldering iron, and a voltmeter, or just buy the required equipment. Even if you have to purchase the tools, you will not spend much more than $100. That is still cheaper than most LED products lighting manufacturers offer on the market! The most expensive parts are the battery and the fan. You can see for yourself by clicking the links in the description of the video where the full list of the different parts is available.

The LED can be bought color balanced at either 2,800-3,000 K (warm white) or 6,000-6,500 K (cool white). However, you could imagine pushing the DIY Perks’ idea slightly further and creating a filter thread to mount gels or lenses in front of the LED. It would let you change the color balance on the fly without the necessity for a different light source for each environment.

The flashlight can be used in flood (left) or spot (right) mode.

Then again, of course, if you are not much of handyman, you might want to look at the flashlights alternative. The same would be true if you need something weather-sealed or that looks a bit more refined in front of your clients.

What is your experience with continuous lighting for photography? Do you use it? Can you see yourself replacing your strobes with it? Have you ever used flashlights or built your own light source? I would love to hear more about your opinion in the comments below.

[via DIYPerks]

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6 Comments

Tim Foster's picture

The color rendition of a light source is extremely important for photography, and I don't see it even mentioned here. High-CRI LED arrays exist but they typically aren't as efficient.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

He recently made some foldable panels using super high CRI (95+) led strips.

https://youtu.be/qlMtakaa7u8

I'm debating making a couple. His videos are always super interesting.

Eric Lefebvre's picture

This is an older video. Still interesting.

He recently did one on bendable LED panels with 95+ CRI that was pretty awesome. They are not battery operated bu still awesome.

I'll sometimes use my video lights (tungsten) for product photography (depending what I am shooting) since everything is locked down and I can slow down my shutter speed as needed.

I built this and it's actually closer to 100w equivalent. Also the color is terrible if you don't spend around $100 on the led chip

Eric Lefebvre's picture

You probably got a crap LED units. Some of the lower end ones have badly balanced led rows with dead led chips in them.

This guy tests out some cheap 100W LED units and shows how some are crap in this video.
Watch to the end, well worth it.

https://youtu.be/NjKgPLeJ79Q

His videos are interesting but very technical.