- Photography Lighting Types Overview
- Photography Lighting Types - On-Camera Flash
- Photography Lighting Types - Off-Camera Flash
- Photography Lighting Types - Studio Strobes
- Photography Lighting Types - LED Studio Lights
- Photography Lighting Types - Light Modifiers
- Other Recommended Photography Gear
- What To Look for In Professional Photography Lighting
- The Hobolite Micro Is the Portable Light You've Been Waiting For
- 6 Things to Know About the Hobolite Mini
Lighting for photography is an essential skill and equipment choice for many serious photographers and virtually all professional photographers. Photographers use various photography lighting types to fulfill lighting needs.
As you’re becoming more and more comfortable with all aspects of photography, you’ll appreciate studio lighting tips that can also be used in ‘on location’ situations. This is especially true for photographers who enjoy capturing portraits and other forms of people photography.
Let’s consider some of the photography lighting types, what they’re used for, and a little bit about how to use them.
Table of Contents:
Photography Lighting Types Overview
Photo by Anatolii Kovalov via iStock
It seems there are as many subdivisions of photography lighting types as there are types of cameras. Ask photographers to list the photography lighting types they know about, and you will get a wide range of answers.
I can see why there could be so many different thoughts since there are many types and styles of photographers. Plus, photographers like to use gear and tips that make sense for what they do. We also prefer to use equipment that we are familiar with.
For my thoughts, I would like to separate the photography lighting types into four categories: On-Camera Flash, Off-Camera Flash, Studio Strobes, and LED Studio Lights.
Photography Lighting Types - On-Camera Flash
Photo by LeventKonuk via iStock
Probably the single most common of the photography lighting types we think of in general photography is On-Camera Flash.
On-camera flash is the perfect description for this first of my photography lighting types since it’s a flashgun or flash unit directly attached to the camera. Many cameras have a small built-in flash at the top center of the camera body, but I’m referring to the type of flash that fits into the camera's hot shoe.
These separate flash units are more powerful, more capable, and more adjustable than the built-in flashes. Many of these tie in directly with camera exposure meters, making calculations simple, even in complicated exposure situations, such as blending flash and ambient light.
A lot of the better units for these photography lighting types are sophisticated pieces of camera gear, being able to zoom the pattern in and out to fit the field of view of various lenses, can swivel and tilt for bouncing flash off of other surfaces, and some can even assist with camera AF systems.
Photography Lighting Types - Off-Camera Flash
Photo by Antonio_Diaz via iStock
Off-Camera Flash, as one of our photography lighting types, can refer to merely moving the flashgun listed above off the camera onto a bracket attached to the camera or separately mounting it on a light stand or auxiliary mount.
Off-camera flash can be mixed with on-camera flash, or we can set up several flash units in a configuration for whatever style of photography we’re trying to capture.
You will need to have the off-camera flashes ‘slaved’ together somehow to ensure their simultaneous firing. Still, most modern flash guns have that capability built in or are controllable by a master unit.
Photography Lighting Types - Studio Strobes
Photo by shisheng ling via iStock
As photography lighting types, some might lump together Studio Strobes and other off-camera flash. I like to separate them from each other in my thoughts because studio strobes, as a rule, are more powerful, recycle faster, and emit a very high-quality light.
Some studio strobes are made up of a power supply to which the flash heads are attached, while others are self-contained, with the power supply contained in the same unit as the flash head. I prefer the self-contained style of studio strobes since they allow for a wide range of uses and mixing and matching.
Photography Lighting Types - LED Studio Lights
The style of photography lighting I use the most is LED Studio Lights.
LED lights are one of the best things around for photographic lighting. They are continuous lights, emit a very high quality, true color light, are cool in operation, and can be used for both still photography and videography.
I’ll highlight what I enjoy about these photography lighting types by showcasing one of my new favorite LED lighting units, the Hobolite Micro LED studio light.
Micro is one of the smallest truly professional studio lighting units around and is full of features that advanced photographers need and want. It’s made by Hobolite, a maker of premium, professional quality LED lighting.
Hobolite Micro is a small, completely self-contained studio-style LED light powered by DC, with two different styles of rechargeable batteries, making it also portable. It has supercool operation and extremely consistent light output with the LED bulbs. Light quality is also beautiful, with a CRI of 96+ and excellent color rendition covering 2700K to 6500K.
The Micro is so compact it can actually fit into a generously sized pocket. It’s simple to carry two or three to a location photoshoot, turning that remote location into your own photo studio.
I’ve really taken a shine to these compact LED lights. Check out this video review I did after using them for a couple of months:
Since these are continuous lights, I can also use them for video production. Another nice feature is that I can control them by means of an app on any smartphone. These are lightweight, too, weighing just a hair over half a pound.
Photography Lighting Types - Light Modifiers
I like to include Light Modifiers in my round-up of photography lighting types because of the extra versatility and control they provide for a serious photographer or videographer.
Hobolite Micro, though extremely compact, has a full range of light modifiers that fit by means of a magnetic mounting system. This ingenious magnetic mount design allows for quick and effortless attachment or detachment of accessories with one hand in under a second.
Magnet mount accessories include barn doors, a diffuser dome, a fresnel lens, and color filter gels. This is one of the most complete systems of all of the compact, portable, and high-quality photography lighting types for all sorts of on-the-go or studio production of videography and still photography.
These four types of lighting for photography will help you control any situation, allowing you to create interesting videos and beautiful still photography.