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Lighting with Constant Light

Lesson 5 of 18

Constant Light vs. Flash

Mark Wallace

Lighting with Constant Light

Mark Wallace

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Lesson Info

5. Constant Light vs. Flash
In this session, we explore the differences between constant light and flash photography. Mark explains the pros and cons of each system and discusses scenarios that will only work with constant light.

Lesson Info

Constant Light vs. Flash

Alright now it's time to compare constant light versus flash. That flash could be a studio strobe. It could be a speed light. It doesn't really matter. It's just those things that fire flashes like that. So I've got a few slides here on my computer. I want to go through these different points. So first let's start with flash and the pros of flash photography, Flash photography is better at stopping motion. It also has lower power consumption because you don't have things on all the time. The light output is more powerful. You get a lot more light from studio strobes. That means you can use a lower I so sitting on your camera and you get less noise in the image is because of that and it's also easier to control ambient light so you can eliminate ambient light a little bit easier. A lot easier with strobes or flash photography than you can with constant light and it's less intrusive at events and weddings and things like that. So there are definitely reasons to use studio strobes or spee...

d lights. Um but there are also some things that are not so good with flash photography and so I've got some flash cons it's useless for a video if you want to shoot video flash is useless. It won't do you any good at all. Now, I know that there are some flashes that have little video lights that are built on but um those are constant lights. So flash useless for video. There's a lot more expensive. So I did a comparison the top of the line led light that we're gonna be using today is about $1,300 and an equivalent top of the line. Studio Strobe is about $25-$3,000. So a considerable difference in price. Flash photography is more difficult to learn. There's a lot more principles that come with it. The metering is a bit more complicated. You are limited to your cameras sync speed and you're limited by the refresh rate of the flash. So let me just talk about those two things. So this is not a flash photography class, but There are those two things, the sync speed and the refresh rate of a flash. So a flash can only work up to a certain speed of your camera. That's about 200th of a second. And after you take a picture, the flash has to recharge and then it's ready again. So if you've ever worked with studio strobes, you hear a little beep, that means, hey, I'm ready. So that means if you want to do uh, some photography where you're shooting incredibly fast frame rates to capture something like a dog running around or really cute cats doing stuff. Um, I bring that up because this stage right here that were on his word, petsmart shoots all their stuff and they do that all the time in here. So I have to shoot really fast, That kind of stuff you can't really do with studio strobes unless you have incredibly expensive high end studio strobes which are going to run you up into the 20 and 30 and $40,000 range. And so that is one of those cons that are not so good with studio strobes, let's talk about constant light and the good things about constant light. one of the things I love is what you see is what you get. And so with speed lights are with studio strobes, you have to take the picture to really see what you're gonna get with constant light, you can just look through the camera and what you see is what you're going to capture. It's a lot less expensive than strobes. The metering is much simpler and a lot of cases you don't even need an external meter. You can just use what's in your camera, you can shoot at any shutter speed. You don't have to worry about sync speed. So you can go as fast as your camera can shoot and you don't need a remote triggers. You don't have to have anything that controls the, the constant light to make it flash or turn on or anything like that, you just turn it on and your camera and the light can be disconnected. You don't have to sink those together. But as well, there are some things that we need to be aware of with constant lights that are more pros, let's talk about even more pros. So the first one is again, we don't need that remote trigger, we don't have to worry about the refresh rates, you can use it for video and still photography. So if you're doing both and you're wondering which one should I get? Well with strobes and studio flashes and speed lights, you can only use those for still photography. But with constant lights you can use it for everything and it's a lot easier to learn and use constant lights. So a lot of pros and cons, it's not so straightforward. One is better than the other. There are some things that we need to be aware of. So there are some downsides to constant light. So let's look at our cons, it's not as bright as flash. And that's generally speaking, it depends on if you have a very high end flash And a low and led light, always the flash is gonna be brighter. But if you have a low in flash and a high end led light, well, maybe the constant light is going to be brighter, but generally speaking, 90% of the time, the constant light, it's just not going to be as bright as flash. Also, when you do have those bright lights, those constant lights that are really, really, really bright, it can make the model squint because the lights are just always on. So with studio strobes, it's dark and then boom, it flashes really fast. And so your model isn't looking crazy, but with always on light, if you have tons of light, it can be like looking directly into the sun that can make eyes water. And so that is definitely a con. And then also we have issues with ambient light contamination. So if you want to overpower ambient light, that can be very, very difficult. That's why we have all the lights off here in this studio. So if we were outside and I wanted to show how different lights worked, we would be able to do it because our lives wouldn't be powerful enough. Also if you have a light pollution, so maybe if you have a light that you can't shut off, it's really bright and it happens to be green or blue or something that's gonna contaminate things. And so all of that stuff can contaminate your scene. Whereas with studio strobes or flashes, you only have to worry about that stuff. We also have issues when you're trying to freeze motion. And so the reason for that. So let me just talk a little bit about freezing motion. And that is that with a studio strobe or speed light, what happens is the thing that freezes motion is the duration of the flash and the flash duration of high end studio strobes or speed lights can be 10,000th of a second, 15,000th of a second, 20,000th of a second. I mean really short slices of time. So that freezes motion. But with constant lights, you freeze motion with your shutter and on most cameras the fastest the shutter can go is about 8000 of a second, which isn't anywhere near as fast as a speed light or a studio strobe can go. And so you're not gonna be able to freeze motion uh with a short short slice of time with constant light as you can with the studio strobes, so you're limited to your camera's shutter speed, which is about 8000 of the second. The other things are that if you do want to freeze motion, you'll have issues with noise in the image because you have to increase your I. S. O. To get up to those fast shutter speeds. And then also if you want to shoot with extreme depth of field, so maybe you wanna shoot F 11 f 16, something like that. You have to have a lot of light. And the only way to get to that point is to keep increasing your eye. So and if your camera doesn't handle that very well well you can start having noise creep into your images. So the answer to all of this is pretty clear, we need lots of light. So the solution is more light bright focused light. And so what we're going to do next is we're gonna look at that, we're going to compare the output of different lights and different light fixtures and different light modifiers to figure out if lots of light is the thing that you're most concerned about? Specifically for freezing motion, how do you get there? What do you need to do? What light modifier do you have to use to get the most light possible? So we're just gonna line up a bunch of lights, Line up a bunch of modifiers. We're gonna meet her them and show you the results and that's what we're gonna do next.

Class Description


  • Shape light using specific light fixtures and modifiers
  • Understand the different types of LED lights and the benefits of each
  • Freeze motion to create stunning action photos
  • Mix RGB light to create interesting color effects
  • Work with different light modifiers to get the exact look you want
  • Create lighting setups that fit your style


For years constant lights have been reserved for video and film production only. But things have changed dramatically in a short amount of time. Using state-of-the-art LED lights, you can create stunning portraits, freeze motion, and create video content. You no longer need two lighting systems.

In this class, Mark Wallace explains the different types of constant light, uses hands-on demonstrations to show you how to control light, and creates many of his favorite lighting styles.

Mark explains the different types of light fixtures and light modifiers to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your lights. This class is perfect for anyone who wants to create interesting portraits and videos using LED lights.


  • Beginner to Intermediate portrait photographers
  • Anyone looking to use constant light for still photography as well as video
  • Photographers looking to expand their creative horizons by using new tools


Adobe Photoshop CC 2021
Adobe Lightroom Classic 2021


Mark Wallace is a photographer based in the United States. Best known for his web-based video series Digital Photography One on One and Exploring Photography sponsored by Adorama.

Millions of people have watched Mark’s videos on YouTube, and the numbers continue to grow. Mark has a solid social media following on Facebook and Twitter, where he spends time with viewers and workshop attendees.

In 2014, Mark left the United States to embark on a 2-year worldwide adventure. He visited 28 countries and captured thousands of unique photographs across the globe.

In 2016 Mark decided to give up planes, trains, and automobiles and is now exploring the world on his motorcycle.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tether Tools Pro Kit Discount

Tether Tools Starter Kit Discount

Ratings and Reviews

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Great course very informative and a pleasure to watch love the way you teach so easy to understand and follow through. learned a lot about continuous lighting ty

Alessandro Zugno

This is a very useful class for who want to start shooting video or photo with constant light. Creative Live should make more class on videography.