Continuous or Strobe Lighting: The Eternal Question? Or Is It!

A frequently-asked question we get at Bolt Productions is whether one should shoot with continuous or strobe lighting? The answer to that question has changed over the last few years due to changes in technology and changes to shooting styles.

First, let’s define the basic differences:


Means that when you turn the light fixtures on, they stay on – like a video light or a flashlight. You can power them on or off and some have dimming capabilities. Based on what you need, they produce What You See Is What You Get lighting. Assuming you expose everything correctly in camera, what you see before you will be the lighting you capture in the frame. Exactly how you light the scene (and the subject in the scene) will photograph just like what you see before you click the shutter.


Is just like flash: it lights up when you trigger it the power pack and needs to recycle so that it can flash for the next shot. You cannot see exactly how your scene will be captured until you trigger the flash. Once you do, a high-intensity light will pulse for just a fraction of a section, lighting the scene as you hopefully expected when you positioned – and set the specifications – for your lights.

In the past, the only way for still shooters to light their sets was by using strobe lighting. The flash technology had made the use of “hot” continuous lighting fall out of favor. Currently there are many reason to source continuous light for still photography. LED technology had improved in intensity and color fidelity. The lights have the ability to be instantly on at full power with no warm up time. They also have the ability to vary in color temperature. This feature is ofter call bi-color. Today many shooters use continuous lighting for the shoots. Renting continuous lighting is more popular and practical then ever. Today’s continuous lighting systems are more powerful and cooler to the touch – even after they have been on for a while!

Choosing continuous lighting over strobes ultimately may come down to your style of shooting. Don’t forget that it will always be important for you to determine for yourself which method of lighting is best for you, based on your own specific situation.

Book some of our latest continuous lighting systems by Cineo, Fiilex, Arri, K5600, Mole Richardson, and Kino Flo, for your next shoot.