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Accurate colour representation at 5600K? Strobe lights vs LEDs?

albionshire
Contributor

1) If I want accurate colour representation and I am using artificial lighting, does it have to be 5600K?

2) What's the difference between strobe lights or a COB (Chip on Board) LED light when it comes to taking photographs? Is one superior over the other?

2 ACCEPTED SOLUTIONS

rs-eos
Elite

In terms of accurate color, you'll want all the contributing light in your scene to all be at the same color temperature.  If not, and using mixed color temperatures, that can lead to very poor results.  And even if shooting in RAW, it may not be possible to fully correct.

By "contributing" light, I mean both the ambient and any extra lights added to the scene.

Lights such as COB LED are continuous lights.  Are continuous lights though superior? Or are strobes superior? The answer is neither and both.  i.e. it's going to depend upon what you're doing in terms if one will be better vs the other.

For what I do, I need strobes/flashes due to the following main reasons:

  • Much easier to have ultimate control over the ambient light.  When using continuous light, unless you can work in a completely dark space, ambient light will also contribute to the scene.
  • You can much more easily freeze even extremely fast movement.  When using continuous light, you can only use your shutter speed to freeze movement.  Most cameras max out around 1/8000 second.  When using a good quality strobe, you can achieve around 1/50000 or even faster.
  • Much more light output.  Continous lights, as their name implies, are constantly outputting light.  Whereas a strobe stores up much more energy and can release it all at once for those fractions of seconds they are needed.

Other aspects of lighting to look at:

  • Look for high CRI values (95 or better).  Low-quality lights will have lower values and can lead to really poor results.
  • Look for both color accuracy and consistency.  e.g. lower-quality lighting may have a larger swing of color temperatures from shot to shot.

Back to color temperature.  It will ultimateliy depend on if the continous lights are fixed or variable.  Or, if you want accurate color reproduction or need creative freedom.  I did an experiment a while ago to see what color temperature would be best when using my Profoto strobes with my current camera.  I found it to be 6000º K. (see the linked article for details).

Finally, when accurate colors are crucial, do use a color chart and a proper color workflow.  Ensure you're working in the largest color space possible and that your display is calibrated.  If doing prints, ensure you are using the correct profiles for the media you'd be printing to.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

View solution in original post

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Ricky, Thanks for jumping in 🙂

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

View solution in original post

6 REPLIES 6

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Greetings,

in regards to your first question, The color temperature (Kelvin) you select depends on your preference.  5600k is the industry standard for outdoor natural light.  Going lower will increase the intensity of reds and yellows. Going higher will increase the intensity of blue or cooler shades.  5600k is a safe starting point that allows you to go in either direction.

shadowsports_0-1707300366537.png

Your second question is not as straightforward to answer because it depends on the type of photography and conditions you are shooting under.  Freezing moving subjects, maximizing lighting with minimal shadows.  Shooting indoors vs outdoors and power availability.  Since I am not a lighting expert, I hope someone with more experience will chime in on this.

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

rs-eos
Elite

In terms of accurate color, you'll want all the contributing light in your scene to all be at the same color temperature.  If not, and using mixed color temperatures, that can lead to very poor results.  And even if shooting in RAW, it may not be possible to fully correct.

By "contributing" light, I mean both the ambient and any extra lights added to the scene.

Lights such as COB LED are continuous lights.  Are continuous lights though superior? Or are strobes superior? The answer is neither and both.  i.e. it's going to depend upon what you're doing in terms if one will be better vs the other.

For what I do, I need strobes/flashes due to the following main reasons:

  • Much easier to have ultimate control over the ambient light.  When using continuous light, unless you can work in a completely dark space, ambient light will also contribute to the scene.
  • You can much more easily freeze even extremely fast movement.  When using continuous light, you can only use your shutter speed to freeze movement.  Most cameras max out around 1/8000 second.  When using a good quality strobe, you can achieve around 1/50000 or even faster.
  • Much more light output.  Continous lights, as their name implies, are constantly outputting light.  Whereas a strobe stores up much more energy and can release it all at once for those fractions of seconds they are needed.

Other aspects of lighting to look at:

  • Look for high CRI values (95 or better).  Low-quality lights will have lower values and can lead to really poor results.
  • Look for both color accuracy and consistency.  e.g. lower-quality lighting may have a larger swing of color temperatures from shot to shot.

Back to color temperature.  It will ultimateliy depend on if the continous lights are fixed or variable.  Or, if you want accurate color reproduction or need creative freedom.  I did an experiment a while ago to see what color temperature would be best when using my Profoto strobes with my current camera.  I found it to be 6000º K. (see the linked article for details).

Finally, when accurate colors are crucial, do use a color chart and a proper color workflow.  Ensure you're working in the largest color space possible and that your display is calibrated.  If doing prints, ensure you are using the correct profiles for the media you'd be printing to.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Many thanks Ricky. Can you recommend any good resources for learning how to use a color chart and a proper color workflow?

There are a ton on YouTube. I personally use Datacolor products and Adobe Lightroom. Search YouTube for “Datacolor spyder lightroom”. Note that “spyder” isn’t a typo; it’s their product name.  Lots of really good presentations to include one from Canon Explorer of Light, Sal Cincotta.

Another popular brand for color charts is X-Rite. There would be similar resources on that product.

--
Ricky

Camera: EOS 5D IV, EF 50mm f/1.2L, EF 135mm f/2L
Lighting: Profoto Lights & Modifiers

Excellent advice from Ricky!

I mostly use studio strobes but I have some LED continuous lights (primarily for video).  Be careful of the "value priced" offerings in both strobe and continuous because some will suffer significant colors shifts with both age and temperature.  So you may start with lights of near perfectly matched color temperature only to have them drift in different directions over a session.  The better quality light sources are far less prone to this annoyance.

And Ricky is spot on with the problems of dealing with mixed color temperature.  I frequently shoot sports and one high school field I shot it had a mixture of mercury vapor and high pressure sodium discharge lighting which have very different color temperatures.  It was a nightmare to get acceptable results from that field, trying for perfection would be pure folly.

Strobes are perfect for high output and for freezing motion which is why they are my primary artificial light source.  Setting up continuous lighting is typically a little easier since you can easily see the pattern of lights and shadows cast by your lighting but the high power modeling lights in my Hensel strobes provide a good starting indication of how the lighting will appear when the strobes are fired.

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

shadowsports
Legend
Legend

Ricky, Thanks for jumping in 🙂

~Rick
Bay Area - CA


~R5 C (1.0.6.1) ~RF Trinity, ~RF 100 Macro, ~RF 100~400, ~RF 100~500, +RF 1.4x TC, +Canon Control Ring, BG-R10, 430EX III-RT ~DxO PhotoLab Elite ~DaVinci Resolve ~Windows11 Pro ~ImageClass MF644Cdw/MF656Cdw ~Pixel 8
~CarePaks Are Worth It

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