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Speedlight VS Strobe | Does A More Expensive Kit Produce A Better Image?

By Justin Heyes on January 31st 2018

Gear, by definition, can be a necessary evil in the photography world. Whether you shoot weddings, people, or any other subjects and objects, at one point in your photography career there will come a time that you will need a to purchase lights. Lighting will be some more of the sizable investments, so the question is, which should you invest your money in? Speedlights or strobes?

To decide upon that you have to decide if one is actually going to serve you better than the other, and sometimes price isn’t necessarily a reflection of utility.

Speedlights are small, portable flashes that are generally inexpensive, though higher-end branded ones can run around $600. Most run off a set of AA batteries and can be great for run-and-gun situations.

Studio strobes, on the other hand, are quite a bit more expensive than a speedlight, but with the added cost comes more power output, faster recycle time, and the built-in ability to use modifiers easily. The question that precedes the choice,  does a 10x more expensive kit produce a 10x better image? Patrick Hall over at Fstoppers helps to answer that question with their latest video.

[REWIND: 2018 Photography & Image Trends Report]

Profoto Kit

In the first setup, Patrick uses a Profoto Kit, though mostly overkill produces an excellent result.

Speedlight Kit

Using a budget that is one-quarter of what the Profoto Kit costs, Patrick was able to produce similar results with only speedlights and basic shoot through umbrellas.

When getting into photography there can seem like a gap between your work and those you idolize. Understanding and learning to control light is one of the key foundations of photography. As photographers, we literally paint our scenes with lights, but knowing how to modify each source to your desired effect takes a bit of practice. Whether your gear cost $500 or $ 10,000, it is still the photographer who makes the photograph.

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Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kareem Montes

    Great article. I have a couple speedlites and a single monostrobe. Obviously the benefits of being a mobile photographer lies with the Speedlites. Easier to carry, runs off batteries and less cumbersome than my strobe means I shoot 9/10 with them. However the Strobe generally yields better results, and also benefits of not having to change batteries, no misfires, and keeps a consistent and faster recycling time. 

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  2. J Kim

    More so the light modifiers used with Profotos made the skin tones look more pleasing … wonder how they look if softboxes and octabanks were adapted to speedlights …

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  3. David Blanchard

    Good demo, thanks!

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  4. Benton Lam

    Maybe I’m cheap and cheerful, but I prefer the speedlight picture more than the Profoto one.

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