Using Continuous Lighting

Newcomers to continuous lighting ask questions very similar to those using strobes:
- What kind of bulbs should I buy?
- How do I connect the lights to my camera?
- Do I need to change anything on my camera to get it to work?
- Where do I put the lights to get the best picture?

We'll address these questions below.

Buying Bulbs

There are several options for purchasing bulbs, and knowing where to start can be overwhelming. We recommend sticking to compact fluorescent bulbs - they are affordable and readily available at most local home improvement stores. We also sell several different wattages on our website.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use up to 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard light bulbs. They fit into the same sockets as regular bulbs. The total cost of ownership of a compact fluorescent light bulb is typically substantially less than a standard light bulb that produces the same amount of light.

When you compare bulbs, some manufacturers label the output as the incandescent equivalent and others as the actual bulb wattage; make sure you compare the same measurements so you get the best comparisons. Make sure to choose a high enough wattage so that your light output is enough to illuminate your subject and compensate for ambient lighting.

When looking at the color temperature of the bulbs, lower numbers will produce a more yellow light and higher numbers will be more blue. 5000K daylight compact fluorescent bulbs are an excellent choice for digital camera photography. They generate a close match to natural daylight and a crisper view of the items being illuminated.

Also, because you are working with photography, make sure to get flicker-free bulbs.

Hooking Up the Lights

Unlike strobe lighting, continuous lighting does not need to be hooked up to your camera. After setting up the lights, simply turn them on and begin taking photos.

Camera Adjustments

Because you are not hooking up the lighting to your camera, fewer adjustments are required. Play with your camera's exposure until you get the right amount of light. Then set your camera's white balance using a grey card (detailed instructions for this can be found in your camera's user manual).


You can position your continuous lighting in the same way as strobe lighting: use two lighting setups on either side of the camera pointed at your subject. Again, you can add a third light above the subject for better definition.

1 comment:

  1. While the amount of light that can be generated with strobes is nice, in most cases I still prefer continuous lighting. I like how I can play with the shadows in real time and get consistent results.