If there’s one aspect about photography that’s really exciting me right now, it’s the huge advancements we’re seeing in lighting technology. Cameras get better and lenses get sharper, but new lights allow me to create completely different types of images. That’s why I was so eager to test the new Lumahawk Shadowless LED fixtures.
Traditional LED panels are very useful, but they have a few limitations. While the light is certainly softer than a speedlight or bare bulb, it is still quite directional. This can give you hard shadows on your subject, which may or may not be desirable. The other major complaint I have with LED panels is that you need to keep your subject a fair distance from the light, as you can see the “needlepoint” effect. This is caused by the small LED bulbs casting their individual shadows on a close subject. It looks terrible.
The solution for both of these problems is to diffuse your lights. I’ve used diffusion paper and soft boxes, and I have just wrapped lights in wax paper. This gets the job done, but it’s time-consuming and it takes up a lot more space to have a light with diffusion and a reasonable distance in front of it.
The new Shadowless LEDs from Lumahawk solve all these issues. You get beautiful soft light in a incredibly small package. By shooting the light towards a central diffusing element, they emulate the look of a proper softbox, yet their small size makes them perfect for placing in small, inconspicuous places. They can also be operated with the included battery, making them even more flexible. On a recent movie shoot I worked on, we littered the set in Shadowless LEDs. It was simple to stick them on dressers or hang them from the ceiling without using clunky light stands.
While this may sound very useful for video work, photographers may be wondering why they would use these new lights. You can always use a speedlight right? I’ve been using the Lumahawk Shadowless LEDs constantly while photographing my 7-month-old son. He doesn’t care much for the flashes from a strobe or speedlight, so I started using the Shadowless LEDs for his portraits. The continuous light doesn’t bother him, and I find it very easy to quickly gauge the appropriate angle of light and output. As much as I’d love to say I can get these things right the first try every time with strobes, it’s not the case. The Mirrorless LEDs allow me to quickly set up my shot without shooting test images to get the light where I want it.
There are a couple things to be aware of when using these LEDs though. The shadowless design means that there is less light output than with traditional LED panels. This can be a concern if you are using these lights at longer distances or are mixing them with sunlight or strobes. These light sources can easily overpower the LEDs. As well, if you are operating the lights on a battery, keep in mind that as the battery gets to the bottom 20%, your light output will become inconsistent, which can screw up your carefully metered shot. Keep the battery mostly charged or plugged into AC power if you require consistency.
I’ve been using these lights for portraits, but I can also see them being incredibly useful for macro shooting, product photography, and even filling in shadows for interior and real estate work. If you find yourself constantly looking for soft light sources, but find softboxes and diffusors to be a pain, you owe it to yourself to check out the Lumahawk Shadowless LEDs. Mine is getting plenty of use! For more information visit thecamerastore.com or lumahawk.com.