Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes:  2 Portrait Lighting Choice You Should Know!

Continuous Lighting vs. Strobes: 2 Portrait Lighting Choice You Should Know!

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03 APR, 2020 | BY DYLAN YU

Lighting use is always like a big test in portrait photography. The art of portrait lighting can not only improve the visual effects but also bring out the personality. If you want to capture dramatic portraits, it can be a bit confusing task to choose a new lighting equipment to start with.

There are many varieties such as strobe flash, speedlite, flash softbox, LED light, etc. Most of them can be divided into two main types:  Continuous lights or Strobe lights(flash).

Here is a in-depth tutorial in which we will show you the feature of the both, talk about some pros and cons of each. We even interview an professional photographer to show the difference in practice, to help you clearly understand which one is right for your photography.

What is Continuous Lighting?

When we talk about continuous lighting, we mean lights that are always on. it can be full-colour RGB lamps, or a soft light LED. Generally, it can be any light source that ongoing when you turn that on!

You can power them up or down, according to your requirements. You can even adjust the color temperature. Take a picture, and you’ll find that in your frame the light you see is the light you get. Only if you set a correct exposure of your camera, you can always capture the lighting you want before before pressing the shutter.

What is Strobe?

Strobes are simply a flash device that delivers a flash that syncs with your camera. Many photographers start with a speed light setting on your camera. It generates a rapid burst of light all at once. Photographers just need to trigger the strobe to be produced by pressing the shutter button on their camera. And you can see the light you want only in your pictures.

As one of our wonderful customers — Jennifer Cosby in Kate VIP Group shared: ‘Continuous lighting does not produce enough power. Strobes give you a huge burst all at once. They help with shadows, noise, and help to freeze movement.’

Which is Better for You?

It may be the first time you start a session in your own home studio, or you have been hesitated on this issue for a long term. Most professional photographers may tell you they are using strobes, while you may find continuous/soft box lighting is more convenient sometimes.

Which is better for you? To answer this question, we interview a great photographer in Kate’s team——Kevin. Let’s see what will happen when we use a strobe flash or a continuous lighting?


‘ Alright. There are always concern about the difference between continuous lighting and strobe lighting. So today I will show you these two types of lighting during the living sessions.

We have our model here, and you can see now both key light and background light have been prepared already. Now I need some fill lights on her face or eyes as catch light, and add light to deep shadows.

Now, turn my LED light (Aputure 300D) on, test the light intensity, and I achieve a light effect I want. ‘Take a photo.’ In the picture, we can see the light you see is the light you get. To some extent you may find it is convenient for shooting and posing. You even don’t need a remote and you can achieve the visual effect you want by adjusting the LED light.

Next I’m gonna turn off the light and take a picture with strobe flash, and you can see what it looks like with what strobe can do! (Godox AD600 + PLM umbrella)

You can see the difference is little. The fill lighting is evenly and the background isn’t overpowering. ’

So, The Truth is:

For a beginner, you may find continuous lighting give you more tolerance. The light you see is the light you get. However, the light burns more energy while putting more unnecessary light on model. So actually you don’t get enough power effectively at that moment.

Also, more unnecessary light means more heat. It will be overwhelming for model and too bright for eyes to have continuous lighting on them during the session. But then again, a good continuous lighting system can be more powerful while cooler - even after staying on for a while! They are also white-balance-friendly and you don’t need to constantly adjust them.

For strobe, flash device generate a rapid burst of light. It’s powerful and effective. There is no unnecessary light and can be adjusted and modified for an extensive range of creative control. With remote and modifiers, you can solve shadows, noise, and help to still subjects. But remember to preview by shoot.


So, the conclusion is, it depends on what you want and what you prefer. Professional photographers may tell you strobe is better, for they have been good at light use. If your budget is enough and you are still confused on expert light use, continuous is also a good choice.


What's your advice on continuous lighting & strobes? Is there any suggestions for light use? Please feel free to contact us by e-mail us: You can also receive free articles, updates as well as discount information from: and our FB: