Fresnel lighting is used in multi-light configurations for video or still photography studio use, or it can be used as a single light for these. It is a very common light for TV or cinema but can also be found in the lighting gear for portraits or product photography. What is fresnel lighting and why should you consider it?
What Is a Fresnel Light?
A fresnel light is a focusable light, in other words, the shape of the light cone can be varied. How fresnel lights work is that a lens is in front of the bulb which can be moved back or forth which either spreads out or narrows the beam of light emitted.
The lens is what makes the light special. Instead of a thick piece of glass or plastic, a thinner element is used and concentric rings are cut or formed into the lens. The rings allow the light to be changed without requiring a highly convex shape.
Since you’re not imaging through this lens, the obvious issues of distortion and sharpness this might cause aren’t an issue. By the way, fresnel is a borrowed word, French in origin. So it’s pronounced fre-nell or fray-nell and not frezz-nel. Just a helpful hint when shopping for one or asking about one.
What Do You Use Fresnel Lights For?
Since we know how fresnel lights work and what is fresnel lighting, now we want to talk about what do you use fresnel lights for.
Fresnel lights are a staple of television studios and film sound stages and they can be found in many portrait studios, too. Since the light cone can be adjusted from wide to narrow, you can make a wide variety of lighting configurations without even moving the lights.
Adjusting the fresnel while also physically moving the light and adjusting power levels can vary the set up a huge amount. Fresnel lighting techniques take advantage of this variation available.
A wide cone of light might be used as the primary light with a tightly focused light as a hair light and a medium wide light cone for fill. This is a perfect setup for portraits but is also extremely useful for all types of commercial product photography.
Types of Fresnel Lighting
Many newer photographers and videographers may feel that the high-end fresnel lights are too big, too hot, or too expensive for them. These concerns are real issues since the tungsten bulb lights do run very hot, so hot that many of them have fans built into them. These tungsten fresnel lights are also relatively expensive compared to regular floods.
Once color correct LED bulbs were adapted to photo and video lights, a lot of these issues were eased. LED fresnel lights are smaller, cooler to operate, and significantly less expensive than most high-end tungsten fresnel lights.
As a case in point, take a look at the Stryder Fanless Bi-Color LED Fresnel Light from the video light and accessory manufacturer Ikan. Since Ikan designs and makes their own equipment, they are able to provide extremely high quality lights for less money than comparable equipment from other brands.
After seeing these lights with their high CRI, adjustable color temperature, and moderate price, you’ll be asking yourself “what is fresnel lighting not doing in my gear?”
Other features of the Stryder Fanless Bi-Color LED Fresnel Light are the ability to use AC power or batteries, DMX control, fanless cool operation, and a light cone adjustable from 15 to 65 degrees. A bank of these lights tied together with DMX is one of the best solutions for a full featured photo and video studio.
Create a Full Featured Studio
Any photographer or videographer outfitting or upgrading a studio should look into DMX lighting control, LED studio lights, and LED fresnel lights. These new technologies give us incredible control and lower prices than traditional tungsten lights while maintaining extremely high quality.
Use your fresnel lights for video productions, portraits, small and large products, and whatever other styles of imaging you’re engaged in. So, what is fresnel lighting? It’s very versatile and adaptable and deserves consideration for your own studio.