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04-02-2014, 10:40 AM   #1
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Lighting Color Temp Choice

If you were photographing a place with little to no light (natural OR artificial)...and you were planning on bringing a small continuous light to work with, does color temperature selection matter? I can get better lumen output from the same fixture at higher temperatures and I would assume it doesn't matter since the white balance would be adjusted to whatever source. My plan is to get a small LED flood light as a source so I have a choice of 3500K, 4100K, or 5000K.

04-02-2014, 10:52 AM   #2
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The temperature of lights does matter if the spectrum is not continuous. Some lights are orange, but they produce a wide spectrum, so you can adjust WB in post without problems. Some lights (especially modern ones, like LED) are limited to only one spectrum, so they cannot be adjusted in post. Simply put, if you have a blue light and an orange object, the object will not look orange. If the light spectrum is wide enough to include at least a little orange, then the object will appear orange-ish can can be adjusted in post. If the light spectrum contains no orange and yellow at all, then nothing can be done.
So lights do matter even in digital photography.
04-02-2014, 10:56 AM   #3
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So LED is essentially worthless as photography lighting?
04-02-2014, 11:17 AM   #4
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Here is an interesting discussion on this topic:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/6-pentax-dslr-discussion/93809-modern-led...-problems.html
Also, there are some lights advertised as "continuous spectrum" and then there is also the CRI (Color rendering index) which you might want to look at.
On the other hand, LED usually don't take much space and have low power requirements. And in a dark place, and light is better than no light! You just have to use to more creatively.

04-02-2014, 11:29 AM   #5
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I'm an electrical engineer...I'm pretty well versed in spectrum and CRI...just not as much with how it affects a photograph. I'm hopefully going to be photographing an old theater in disrepair and as you can expect, it has little to no lighting. I want to get something small that I can move around and since I'll be moving and touching it often, I wanted to stay away from incandescent/halogen. I'm not trying to burn myself! I just want to be sure I can get the tones that I want from the lighting.

I haven't made it through all of that thread yet but I see alot of colored lighting, not as much regarding "white" LED.

The LED light in question would be blue LED source with remote phosphor for the "white" if that matters. It would not be an RGB mix.
04-02-2014, 11:55 AM   #6
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Well on the one hand you have a signal sent out, and on the other end (camera) you have the receivers. In this case the lights control the signal, so you want to adjust the signal to fit the receptors as well as possible.
Do you already have the lights? You might want to do a test run in a dark room, that can be the fastest, most helpful way of figuring out obstacles
04-02-2014, 12:00 PM   #7
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I have a sample to take home, hopefully tonight. I'm not totally sure what kind of spectrum remote phosphor puts out.
04-02-2014, 04:16 PM   #8
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I printed out a color chart and took a few snaps in the daylight...once it gets dark, I'll put this light on and take a few more and then try to compare. We'll see what happens!

04-02-2014, 05:22 PM   #9
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OK so here we go! Sorry for the unscientific testing. Both shots have been run through an autoWB in Lightroom to try to even them up. It's might be a bit warm, but both seem to be equally warm. My main good was to see if I could reproduce the colors with the artificial lighting that I could get out of a shot in daylight. What do you guys think?



04-03-2014, 02:27 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by sumx4182 Quote
If you were photographing a place with little to no light (natural OR artificial)...and you were planning on bringing a small continuous light to work with, does color temperature selection matter? I can get better lumen output from the same fixture at higher temperatures and I would assume it doesn't matter since the white balance would be adjusted to whatever source. My plan is to get a small LED flood light as a source so I have a choice of 3500K, 4100K, or 5000K.
I'm assuming that you are planning to bring a so-called LED video light? This is the kind that uses white LEDs. In that case, no it does not matter which colour temp panel you bring. You can adjust the WB in post and everything will be fine.

It's just the same as if you brought a CFL (fluorescent) light source or a tungsten (incandescent) light source. Adjust for colour temp in post and all is well.

You would be wise to bring a grey card and photograph that in the light as a reference for WB adjustments later. The grey card may or may not be perfectly neutral, but the ref shot will get you very close to the correct WB anyway. (Close enough unless you're doing product photography.)

How big a space is this? You can get some pretty big LED panels, but if you're using one of the small, common 160-LED ones I'd recommend taking a tripod too so you can set long shutter times. They don't give as much light as you may think. Practice at home before you go.

---------- Post added 04-03-14 at 05:34 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by sumx4182 Quote
So LED is essentially worthless as photography lighting?
LED is great for photography, both still and video. (Na Horuk is apparently off on a tangent about single colour LEDs, which is not what LED light panels use.)

There is a possible issue with a spectrum spike in the really inexpensive or older LED panels (that you typically get from eBay), but that can be fixed at source with a gel. See Kirk Tuck's excellent book on LED lights for all the dope.
04-03-2014, 05:02 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by bmw Quote
I'm assuming that you are planning to bring a so-called LED video light? This is the kind that uses white LEDs. In that case, no it does not matter which colour temp panel you bring. You can adjust the WB in post and everything will be fine.

It's just the same as if you brought a CFL (fluorescent) light source or a tungsten (incandescent) light source. Adjust for colour temp in post and all is well.

You would be wise to bring a grey card and photograph that in the light as a reference for WB adjustments later. The grey card may or may not be perfectly neutral, but the ref shot will get you very close to the correct WB anyway. (Close enough unless you're doing product photography.)

How big a space is this? You can get some pretty big LED panels, but if you're using one of the small, common 160-LED ones I'd recommend taking a tripod too so you can set long shutter times. They don't give as much light as you may think. Practice at home before you go.

---------- Post added 04-03-14 at 05:34 AM ----------

LED is great for photography, both still and video. (Na Horuk is apparently off on a tangent about single colour LEDs, which is not what LED light panels use.)

There is a possible issue with a spectrum spike in the really inexpensive or older LED panels (that you typically get from eBay), but that can be fixed at source with a gel. See Kirk Tuck's excellent book on LED lights for all the dope.
I'm actually looking at a light that's not for photography at all. At the price I'm looking, most seem to be very cheaply made and using inferior LEDs. Being an electrical engineer, I have access to spec grade lighting. The sample that I received was a 10W led flood light that used blue LED with a remote phosphor. See attached photo.

I think it actually did a decent job of providing a full color spectrum in my rough color chart test. It's 800 lumens at 5000K. I can get a beefier version that's larger but provides 30, 40, or 50W for 3000, 3500, or 4000 lumens respectively. Then I can wire in a dimmer, put a piece of fabric over it as a softbox diffuser and I think I'll have a small, lightweight, economical constant light source.
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