Sometimes Constant Lights Are Better Than Strobes

There are endless benefits to using strobes over continuous hot lights, but there is one drawback: sometimes, you may actually want to capture motion blur. 

A couple weeks ago, Patrick and I filmed a video where we competed to take the best photo of the same model. For my shot, I decided to capture a moody portrait of Meg with some extremely windy hair. 

The shot turned out alright, but both Patrick and I agreed that the hair was a bit distracting. Part of the problem is that the hair was so sharp (due to our strobes' extremely fast flash duration) that you could see every imperfection perfectly and attempting to fix it in post was a nightmare. 

CAME-TV recently sent us over a few of their new LED video lights for review and I decided it might be fun to try to attempt to replicate the exact same shot with these lights. Because these lights are constant, I assumed that I would be able to shoot at less than 1/100th of a second and blur Meg's hair while keeping her face and body sharp. 

Let's first talk about these lights. CAME-TV sent us three different models: the Botltzen 100W Bi-Color, the Boltzen 100W Daylight, and the Boltzen 150W Daylight. These lights are relatively affordable at $698, $498, and $598, respectively. Each of these lights comes with a focusable Fresnel lens and barn doors out of the box. CAME-TV also sent us the optional Bowens speedring adapter and softbox kits. 

I ended up using softboxes on my key and hair light while I used the focusable Fresnel lens of the 150W unit to blast into the ceiling for overall fill. In the end, I was able to come away with a shot that I think is superior to the first shot, and because I didn't have to deal with flashing or refresh rates, the shot was easier to capture as well. For this final shot, I chose an image that was shot at 1/60th of a second. 

My Thoughts on the Boltzen lights

The Boltzen lights by CAME-TV are an amazing value for the price. For comparison, the similar ARRI L7-C lights are over $3,000 each. These Boltzen lights have the ability to add a Wi-Fi dongle that will allow wireless control of the lights via a smartphone, but I didn't have the dongle, and therefore, I was not able to test this feature. The larger 150W unit also comes with the DMX jacks necessary to control this over a network with a physical DMX board. This is the gear you might see at a concert or soundstage where lights are permanently fixed to the ceiling. If you're looking for a light with this option, the Boltzen 150W Daylight may be the best value in lighting today, but for Fstoppers, this feature isn't really useful. Not only do we not have a DMX controller, but we also don't have the room to build a permanent set to use it.

Some of the other "features" of these lights like the Fresnel lens and speedring adapter that "slides" into place were more cumbersome to use than the lights that we currently own. The small LED light that we have been using for the last few years has been the Fiilex p360ex. This little light appears to be just as powerful as the 100W Boltzen system, it's significantly smaller, and $200 cheaper. The only downside is that the Fiilex doesn't have a focusable lens or the ability for Wi-Fi control. What the Fiilex does have, though, is the ability to accept all Profoto accessories. We use Profoto reflector dishes, speedrings, and grids with our Fiilex all the time to shape the light. If you already have Profoto accessories, I would suggest the Fiilex, but if you're starting from scratch, the Boltzen lights are a great choice. Although LEDs in general do run cooler than older hot lights, they are also usually less bright. If the size and weight isn't an issue for you, I would highly suggest the Boltzen 150W unit as the extra output will be extremely useful.

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Much better second shot. It also looks like natural light. Skin color and evenness dramatically better. 👍

What is it that you want me to see at that link?

I think it gives a good explanation on skin color and what is good such in images. I just thought the image was by far to red and that links explains in a good way what is good skin tone. It is a good article.

It isn't always about accurate color. That said, notice there is a difference in color from her makeup and th rest of her body. The body looks accurate to me. Her makeup is making her face look more reddish. The white of her eyes also look OK.

Looks to me like the color accuracy is right on the money and perhaps you would prefer different makeup.

Well the video is ok but the images from the camera in the video are not.
But yes I also noticed difference in skin tone from shoulder to face but it actually does not look like it's the make up:)

I was going by the still image.

It has to be the makeup otherwise the rest of the exposed body would be affected.

I was going by the still image in the article.

It has to be the makeup, otherwise the rest of the exposed body would be affected.

I don't know :)

Spy Black's picture

As LED technology advances, there may very well be a return to continuous lighting for still work in the studio and elsewhere. At least a parallel movement. It would need to remain cool however, the bane of shooting tungsten was the heat, it didn't take long to fry an area.

Agreed. If LEDs can get brighter without having to have massive heat syncs and fans, they may be easier to shoot with vs strobes because you can color shift without dealing with gels. I hate taping gels to lights.

Sadly right now, the small ones aren’t too bright.

Christian Santiago's picture

The aputure COB lights (120 & 300) are already advanced enough that they could replace strobes in studio situations.

Haven't tested these yet but they don't seem to color shift and the reviews all say it overheats and shuts off

Christian Santiago's picture

You can buy the 120T for the tungsten version. But yea you’d still have to use gels for various colors.

I own 3 of them and have never had over hearing issues. Plus their CRI rating is fantastic. And their output is crazy which means you can shoot at faster shutter speeds and closed apertures when needed.

They’re not perfect but I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to use them for portraits and( I have at times). Especially since they have a Bowen’s mount for my modifiers.

And of course they work great for video lights too.

actualy im using just a daylight bulb on a video light setup. i found that you get to the results faster then with flash. then again, i am all over the place with lighting these days,.

You can use a double super clamp (two super clamps attached by a stud) to attach the power brick to the light stand. Or, to keep the weight closer to the center of the light stand, bolt a cheap hook-and-loop cinch strap to the super clamp, clamp it to the light stand and use the cinch strap to hold the power brick.

Just bought a few of these for around $250- probably the best bright daylight LED 'bang for the buck' right now- and with Bowens mount sir easy to add modifiers...

Haven't seen these before. Any idea why they are "unavailable"?

Not sure why they are no longer available...

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

Pretty neat.

Thanks for the tip about the Fiilex p360ex taking Profoto modifiers. I am heavy into Profoto and looking for video lights. This really tips the scale towards Fiilex.

John Hayne's picture

Hi Lee, Curious about the overall exposure settings for the final shot. You choose 1/60 but I think I missed the f-stop and ISO. Were you able to use ISO 100 with these lights?


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