LEDs For Portraiture


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Jul 12, 2020
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I have been looking at LEDs for portrait work. I am wondering how to compare quality and power from product to product. Does the power depend simply on the number of bulbs in a panel? More is better? CRI alone? Or is there a difference between the actual LEDs from different mufacturers used to create a panel? Is it possible to get a reasonably-priced LED panel that is sufficient for portraiture, without having to use a wide-open aperture? The Peter Hurley setup which looks very nice, is out of the question price-wise.
I have since them moved to strobes, but GVM panels worked well for me. I like the ability to change the color temperature and they are bright enough to get your camera down to base ISO. I have an older set, but the latest can be found on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/GVM-Video-Di...30431&sprefix=LED+panels+for+p,aps,205&sr=8-4 . You are going to want to buy a few reflectors and a stand to hold them as well. You can buy a 5 color collapsible reflector pack for under $30, but the better stands to hold them are a bit more expensive. Good luck.
Did you have to use a large aperture?
Did you have to use a large aperture?

Have to? No, as they are fairly bright. I tend to use larger apertures in portrait work for artistic reasons. Sometimes I want the eyes and nose in focus and nothing else, but most of the time I only want the head and shoulders in focus to separate the subject from the background. One of my typical setups is to put the subject about 6' to 10' in front of the backdrop so I can get a hair light between the subject and background for a neat effect.

I use a Tamron 85mm f/1.8 lens on a D850 camera in aperture priority mode for head shots. I can stand somewhere between 6' and 10' from the subject (subjects can get nervous if you up too close) and most of the time set the DOF from about 8" to 12" - about f/2.8. I'm usually tethered and play with the settings to get the effect I want. It's also nice to be able to show the subject the result on a bigger monitor to get their input before we wrap up the session.
Realizing I am a bit late to this post with a reply, recently this was my situation also. After several shopping excursions in major city locations, checking out LEDs my choice for the LED for portraiture was the Aputure 300 dII. Looked at many other panels, etc. but in the end, the Aputure was the most versatile. Offered big power and wide adjustment, modifiers, V-block battery set up, fan cooling, quiet. Lux output at 3 meters compared to others offered me high output what I needed, particularly while using a 34" softbox accessory by Aputure. Although not the cheapest option for lights, these allowed me to grow and expand while in the studio using LED. My second choice has the Godox 600 Pro. cheaper but Aputure won me over. Flat panels simply did not have any modifiers that made sense or the power for a dark studio when using a bit bigger set.
I have been using the Innovatronix CPFlash 550W. since July of 2020. It has a form factor similar to a Speedlight so all accessories being used for Speedlights will be useable. BTW I am not endorser of this product but I liked it very much. Just perfect for my migration to 90% Smartphone Photography.

It only has 30W continuous power in video mode but has twice the power output of the Aputure 300 in Flash mode at 550W at less than 1/5 the cost and 10% the weight and the size. It is also portable and battery powered. Its a tri-function flash suitable for Smartphones, DSLRs/Mirrorless , and for video lighting and effects. It also comes with many accessories as standard. It comes with a camera phone trigger and a Hot shoe Trigger for your DSLR's.

Here is a thread that I started a few months ago although mostly for smartphones, is applicable for DSLRs and Mirrorless as well. :)



Aputure 300CD specs.jpg
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