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Studio Strobe Light vs Off-Camera Flash

Note – This was email sent to our subscribers (buyers of our online courses) on Sunday, 26th March 2023.

Hi 

How are you doing this Sunday afternoon?

Last weekend I sent you an email about how I am expanding my photography studio here in Pune.

In that email I had shown you the brand new studio light (Godox SK400 II) that I had purchased.

A lot of people replied to that email by asking – “Kush, why can’t you use just the off-camera flash instead of this light?

That’s a good question!

Here’s the answer:

The SK400 is also a flash, just like any other off-camera flash.

It’s just more powerful.

But is power the only reason why I bought it?

No.

Not even close.

Here are the two most important reasons why bigger flashes like the Godox SK400 are better than normal off-camera flashes like the Godox V860.

First reason

The first reason is that they have a modelling lamp (the large bulb you see in front of the light). A modelling lamp offers a continuous source of light and this allows you to see where the highlights and shadows are falling on your subjects face before you take the shot. The shot that you take only uses the light coming from the flash unit. The modelling lamp therefore gives a preview of how the lighting in the shot will look like.

If you don’t have a modelling lamp (like in a normal flash), then you’ll have to take a trial shot first and then adjust the position of the subject/light, which can be slightly frustrating and time consuming.

I explain this in detail in my Studio Photography course.

Second reason

The second reason is about getting really soft light. A small flash produces a light which doesn’t cover the entire surface area of a big softbox, like shown below:

The shot above is that of the Godox V860 firing through a large strip softbox. You can see that it covers the area in the center but doesn’t cover the area that well towards the edges. Normal flashes don’t spread the light enough in an even manner. This can mean you get strong highlights (called specular highlights) on your subjects face and also the quality of shadows and highlights is not that smooth since the effective size of the light (surface area of the softbox) isn’t big enough.

Using the SK400 will cover the entire area of the softbox and therefore result in a softer light.

A lot of people think the quality of light only depends on the size of the modifier. That’s not true. It also depends on the light too.

Also big modifiers have double diffusion and using a smaller flash (which already has a less power) cuts down the power a lot.

So these are the reasons why it’s always better to invest in a larger flash lights (correct term is strobes).

One additional benefit is also that I don’t have to worry about charging the flash batteries.

I should point out that I will still be using the smaller flashes but only as rim/hair/background light. The key light will be the Godox SK400. As I buy more of these lights, I will completely phase out the smaller flashes.

By the way I also purchased the Godox 35 X 160 cm strip softbox as I plan to shoot athletes/fitness professionals and using strip softboxes with a honeycomb grid really produces directional and “contrasty” light which brings out the muscle definition really well.

PHEW!! That was a long email!

But I hope it helped you out!

P.S – If you’re someone who is interested in learning the art of Studio Photography, then do check out my basic course package.

Regards,

Kush Sharma

Creative Pad Media

About the Author

portrait photographer for portfolio shoot in pune

Hi there, I'm Kush Sharma, the founder of Creative Pad Media, an organization dedicated to simplifying photography and videography education.

We have over 40 online courses that cover various genres in photography & videography, catering to both beginners as well as professionals. These courses are available via Udemy.com. Our courses have been downloaded in over 170 countries.

I hope to see you inside a course very soon!

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