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Do Any Real Estate Photographers Use LED Lights Rather than Flash?

Published: 06/10/2017

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Earlier this week a reader asked:

Does anyone use LED lights so that you can see how everything looks before shooting (aka not relying on flash lighting)?

I don't have any direct experience using LED lighting but I would speculate that in general, continuous LED lighting wouldn't be that much of an advantage for real estate photographers considering the extra gear you might have to carry compared to regular flash gear. Am I wrong?

Does anyone use LED lights for real estate photography lighting?

Larry Lohrman

7 comments on “Do Any Real Estate Photographers Use LED Lights Rather than Flash?”

  1. I’ve used an LED flashlight to light paint trees at night with a longer exposure, but I’ve never used one in place of a flash for interior photography. I would like to know as well. It would be a pain in the butt to carry around the extra gear though.

  2. As with @Ryan above, I have used LED for twilight and long exposures' painting with light (by the way, my little Olympus OM-D camera lets you see the results live, as it happens) and also to occasionally light a room through a doorway in the distance when a second remote flash is impractical. The flash/speedlight approach seems to be the superior way to light indoor stills currently, in my opinion. If you do find a practical LED approach, I'd love to hear about it.

  3. Flash/strobe is a significantly bigger bundle of photons than "hot" lights. It's very hard to balance a bright window with continuous lighting.

  4. Yes. While I seldom use lights with my still photography except for twilight shooting when I put 650 watt quarts lights in the facing windows to get brighter interiors, I have started to experiment with LEDs for interiors. For several reasons. To start with I bought a 5 bulb head and so use 5 1,600 lumen 5k bulbs (I can choose a 1 bulb setting, a 2 bulbs setting or a set of combos that end with a 5 bulb illumination) and have it configured to aim into a silver umbrella and an extension to the head to be able to poke it into a small bathroom and bounce off the ceiling/wall which is often hampered by multiple mirrors. I don't use the lighting to light a room, just to supplement the existing lighting. Firstly it helps to cancel out the orange color from the home's tungsten lights or the green from florescent, even some LEDs for home owner use have some green in them. Secondly since I also shoot video as I go, I need to add fill and bring up the shadows to keep the noise level down. For stills I generally turn them off since I prefer the look and feel of HDR, but for the reasons I mentioned above, I am finding under certain circumstances they are useful for still work as well. If this works, I will invest in more powerful video LED lights. Flash is useless for video work naturally. And yes, I find being able to see what you are getting, identifying the reflections in gloss paint, glass covered art work and mirrors saves me time otherwise lost in dealing with the electric cabling. But after a lifetime of working with studio strobe packs on location this is just a renewed skill set despite being a pain in the bum.

    The LED lights coupled with using the "Flat" image setting on my camera speeds up my post processing since I use HDR. And I am interested to see just how much better and faster the new version of AuroraPro 2018 will be since I am going to use it on yesterday's shoot.

  5. I have been watching the development of LED light sources for some time and while the field has improved dramatically for video lighting it is insufficient for large spaces for my kind of work.
    Peter notes correctly that they can be used to open up shadows but they still fall short for larger views.

    As for carrying less gear, an LED panel and batteries can weigh quite a bit more than a Godox AD-360 with umbrella.

  6. They can be used for accents in the 3rd frame of a -0+ bracket, where the third frame is used for Ambient exposure. I’ve used them on the far side of beds to add a little glow, sometimes as a hidden kicker for the front of different kinds of furniture (like to kick the sofa, hidden behind the ottoman). Sometimes behind furniture or a plant in a corner. I have 6 of the 5x7ish size that I can use. They can also be used for dusk exteriors to accent plants or trees, since the exposures are long.

  7. Yes agreed Kelvin...and LEDs are not heavy to carry. Its purpose is well served as a fill and/or accent light.

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