using video lights for outdoor night-time portrait photography

using video lights for outdoor night-time portrait photography

The image at the top was taken on the streets in Baltimore during the same time. Again, I controlled the power to match the video light’s brightness better with the background.
camera settings: 1/100 @ f3.5 @ 1600 ISO


This image was taken in the entrance of a subway station during the romantic portrait session with the couple. I liked that their wedding date now appeared on the display at the train station. I turned the brightness of the LED light down so that it better matched the available light in the background.
camera settings: 1/80 @ f2.8 @ 1000 ISO


equipment used

The video light used here, was made by made by Sabre Professional Lighting, individually crafted. Unfortunately, it appears they have gone out of business.

What made this unit unique was the sheer brightness. Other The LED panels I’ve used, have all been lower intensity than the Lowel ID-Light, for example. The Sabre Lighting unit is comparable in brightness to the Lowel ID-Light. These units were made with specific WB choices, and my unit was set for 3200K.

Currently the LED video light that I use is the Litepanels Croma LED video light (vendor). What makes this unit exceptional is the ability to change the WB, allowing you to adapt the light to your environment.

review: Litepanels Croma LED video light


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9 Comments, Add Your Own

  1. 1naftoli says

    i would think that with continuous lights like this if the subject is looking at the camera or the light itd be hard not to squint, on close examination of the top pic it (i could be wrong) appears the grooms eyes r not fully open as he is trying to look natural, but the brightnes is a bit to much for him, not trying to knock anything just saying had u used flash i think his eyes would be more open with more of a relaxed look and dont forget nice sized pupils with beautiful catch-lights

  2. 3Bogdan says

    The units look mighty tasty… I always wanted to put a similar one together myself using high powered LEDs I could source quite easily… but for the amount of work involved in making one, I might as well get a P2200 and call it a day. Seriously, their pricing is not altogether bad.
    Thanks for sharing this Neil.



  3. 4 says

    Very nice use of video light. I assume you have to first take a reading of the available light, then you dial up or down the LED light to make sure you get the same reading on the subject’s face?

  4. 5 says

    That would be a perfectly valid and methodical way to do it in theory. In practice, you’d know from experience more or less what your settings are, and then you go by your LCD preview on your camera. Simpler and faster.

  5. 6Lisa says

    You used a 3200k model. Is there a particular reason you chose that over a daylight model? Just preference or is it a particular look your aiming for? I’m kind of thinking along the lines of Bogdan and gelling the light in order to have more lighting options.

  6. 8 says

    Hi Neil, do you have any experience usng these lights with pure B/W (film)
    photography? Will I need a Tungsten correction filter on my lens if I opt for a
    3200K source such as the P2200 3220K light from Sabre?

    You write that the Sabre is brighter than the Litepanel MicroPro. Did you
    compare the difference in brightness between the two of them?
    How about diffusion? The Sabre seems to be more of a point source. Did you notice any differences in practical use?

    I never tried a video light, but I think it will add a great new dimension to my hobby. A bit in doubt if I would need a 3200k or a variable temperature model,


  7. 9 says

    Very glad to see this post. I’m in the market for a quality LED setup, and have been looking at the new Manfrotto LED panels, as well as a variety in the $500 range on B&H. What I like here is that the lights are constructed of aluminum and lexan (what’s the deal with LED panels even in the $400 range being very cheap, plastic constructs?) and are rugged for outdoor shoots and traveling.

    I’m looking at the P2200vc; I figure that depending on whether I’m doing an indoor shoot (where the light can be quite varied) or if I’m using it as a fill light on outdoor shoots, I feel I’d like the option of varied light temperature.

    I guess my question is, do yuo really get that much of a drop in output with the variable setup vice the “only daylight” or “only tungsten” setups? The units don’t look like they have an option for gel filters to go on the front.

    Great review and really nice work, I’m impressed! The first shot in the series here is just amazing!

    Thanks for the review,


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