What Watt Seconds should Fill Lights have for Product Photography?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by orbit6781, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. orbit6781

    orbit6781 TPF Noob!

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    What Watt Seconds should fill lights have for product photography?

    I get confused because some of what I have read is for portrait photography. My question is on product photography.

    I also get confused most books talk about the Ws for main lights, not fill lights.

    Should one purchase fill lights with at least 600 Ws? Or at least 1000 Ws? Or at least 300 Ws?

    The photography will be taking place indoors in a studio.

    Thank you.


     
  2. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Welcome to the forum.

    It deppends on your distance from your subject. And how much your spreading the light (size of light modifiers). Small items you can get away with 150ws easily. Many people have 300ws lights. Busy pro will have the stronger lights.

    My newer main lights are 600ws, and my fill lights are 150ws. 2 monolights of each power.

    Have a look at strobist.com. Lots of information on their site for flash and lighting.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    There is no set Watt-second rating level for fill, or for main light output. Many people use a fill light that is say 1/4th of the rating of the main light, so if you had 600 Watt-seconds as a main light, a common fill light output could be 150 Watt-seconds...or a little more, or a little less, depending on the lighting ratio desired. I've shot a lot with a 400 W-s main and 100 W-s fill light and a 25 Watt-second hair light. Or 200/50/12.5.
     
  4. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    There is no set formula for any of this. The photographer sets the power of the lights as required.

    There is one fundamental difference between product photography and portraiture; in product photography, the subjects (typically) do not move, fidget, look the wrong way, sneeze, cough, blink, or forget what pose they are in. Therefore; product photographers can use a longer shutter speed and perhaps less light.

    The settings for fill lights will depend on what setting you have made for the main lights. You will generally want some ratio of power starting with your main light and (typically) reducing your fill lights to some percentage of the main light(s).

    The power you will need will depend (typically) on how big is your subject, and how far away are the lights. The distance to your camera is not important, just the lights. Without more information on what objects you are photographing, it is going to be simply blind guesswork to name a power level.
     
  5. FotosbyMike

    FotosbyMike No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I would also second most of the above, and say buy as most power for all lights then adjust as needed. Because when you start diffusing the lights, using polarizing film, grids...etc. you will start losing stops of light quickly then add your DOF/F-stop/Aperture you will need more light the small F-stop you go.

    Plus if you plan on shooting macro you will need a lot of light due to the f-stop needed to get the product in focus.
     
  6. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    There is no one, single answer to this. We just can't say, "Oh, 200ws."

    It all depends on:

    1. The lighting output you're using for other lighting.
    2. What lighting ratio you desire in relationship to #1.

    If you're pumping 600ws from your main lights, and you want a 2:1 ratio for your fill, then you'll need 300ws. If you only have 300ws in your mains, you'll only need 150ws for the fill. But that's only if you want 2:1. If you want 3:1 or 4:1 or 1.5:1, you'll need totally different outputs.

    How much power you're using for you main lights depends greatly on what the product is you're shooting. It's gonna take a lot more power to light up, say, a sports car in a warehouse than it is a wrist watch on a table.
     
  7. orbit6781

    orbit6781 TPF Noob!

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    Hi, thank you for all of the replies. I plan on photographing packaged food products that you find in a grocery store. The items range from boxed products such as nutrition bars to fresh fruit and vegetables to bottled products such as juice. The photography will taken very close to the products.

    The main light is a Paul C Buff White Lightning X3200. It has 1320 Ws. A softbox will be attached to it.

    The fill light is a Paul C Buff Einstein. It has 640 Ws. It has less than half the Ws of the X3200.

    Do you think the setup above is a good one for product photography for food products?

    Also I want a sharp depth of field. Do you think the above setup will be able to accomplish that?

    Thank you.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    PLENTY of power! You might very well end up dialing the WL 3200 down to 1/4 power, and the Einstein to 1/8 or even 1/16 power, and getting great shots.

    LOADS of flash power in both monolights.
     
  9. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    [QUOTE="Derrel, post: 3823287, member:
    PLENTY of power! You might very well end up dialing the WL 3200 down to 1/4 power, and the Einstein to 1/8 or even 1/16 power, and getting great shots.

    LOADS of flash power in both monolights.[/QUOTE]

    Maybe, what is the base ISO of the camera you are using?

    With my Kodak slr/N (my preferred pack shot camera) shooting at ISO 50 with a 3x4 softbox flown over the shooting table and film cards as needed, I end up between 800 and 1600 ws
     
  10. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    When you use a speedlight flash ... the flash has a built-in reflector to project the light forward. That's a "known" thing in terms of how it is going to shape and reflect light. For this reason, the vendor is able to provide you with a "guide number" that gives you a kind of standard candle with respect to how much illumination it will provide. The "guide number" (sometimes in feet... sometimes in meters) is the value that indicates how far away a subject can be from the light, and still get adequate illumination IF the camera is using f/1.0 and ISO 100. Of course you're not going to use "f/1.0" ... but they use the standard because finding the magic distance is a simple matter of division. If my flash is good for 100' at f/1.0 ... but I really plan to use f/4... you divide the guide number by the f-stop and that gives you the practical distance (25' in this case.)

    Ok now back to studio flash strobes. These aren't rated in "guide numbers" ... but rather in "watt-seconds"... and everything falls apart because we no longer have a "standard candle".

    There are two issues:

    One issue is that "watt-seconds" does not directly translate to how bright the light will be. A flash with a higher watt-second rating might not be as bright as another flash with a lower watt-second rating.

    Another issue is that the manufacturer does not know how you intend to modify or shape the light of your flash. You might use a standard reflector (and sometimes you can get these reflectors in different sizes which change the angle of light), you might use a beauty dish, you might use a shoot-through umbrella, you might use a parabolic reflector, you might use a soft box (and those come in a million shapes & sizes), you might bounce the flash off a flat reflector, you might use a snoot... the list of possibilities is practically endless. But any of these decisions will change how much light is ultimately delivered to your subject.

    You didn't mention what the "product" category is.

    Jewelry is a form of "product" photography... and that's tiny. Size-wize we're trying to figure out where this lands in a category that could be anything from a sewing needle to a 747. (Ok, it's probably not a 747 because they don't sell those anymore... but you get the idea.)

    Here's a video that may clear up a bit about "watt-seconds". It's about 20 minutes... but stick it out because it'll help clear up a lot of the mystery surrounding flash power in "watt seconds".

     

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