Understanding Portraiture with LEDs

Television Lighting Consistency Index: The European Broadcasting Union’s Technical Committee approved a recommendation designed to give technical aid to broadcasters for assessing new lighting equipment or re-assess the colorimetric quality of their existing lighting.

LED lighting gear originated in the world of television and still photographers (and lighting manufacturers looking for new markets) have adapted the technology to work for us. It makes sense when you think about it, the origins of the sensor technology used in today’s digital cameras began with video cameras.

Which brings me to one of the first ques-tions people often ask me about using LED lighting for por-traits: “Isn’t the color bad?” Nope. The color re-sponse curves of video and still photography sensors are different than our eyes and are processed differently. I’ve written here about Color Rendering Index and color temperature. CRI is a quantitative measure of the ability of a light source to faithfully reveal the colors of objects  compared to an ideal light source.

TLCI uses a method similar to CRI by comparing a standard set of colors under a test light with that from a black body light source or daylight. Like CRI, the colors are mathematically modeled so the test can be run using software that contains an average of a many (video) cameras response. Unlike CRI that does not indicate the apparent color of the light source, the TLCI test uses multiple color temperature sources producing an index ranging from 0 – 100, with a perfect light source having a TLCI of 100. In practice any light source with a TLCI of 85 or higher will usable for still photography with little or no correction.

As time goes by I think more and more manufacturers will integrate this measurement into their specifications. Take Rotolight’s NEO: I wrote a Shutterbug review of the lights you can read on-line. Tip: The original NEO is on sale at an attractive price right now. click here. The new NEO2 ($329.98) has a TLCI of 91, which amount to color errors so small that whatever Photoshop, Lightroom or software color correction tool you prefer would not need correcting.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 9.13.43 AMIf you’re interested in shooting portraits and how I use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere” which is available from Amazon.com with, as I write this, new non Prime copies selling for $17.50 (plus shipping,) cheaper than the Prime price.

Author: Joe Farace

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