I am planning to buy my first off-camera light equipment.

And am confused between a flash & an always on light source.

Can someone point me to a good online resource or share their experience?

My use cases

  1. Outdoor portrait shoots
  2. Studio like shoots indoors


  • 1
    For outdoor use during a sunny day it would take some VERY powerful continuous lights to match the ambient. Strobes are more efficient since they use much less electrical power (and put out far less heat) than "hot lights" do.
    – Michael C
    Jan 20 '14 at 8:32

I think the simplest thing for you'll be to start with some small flashes (speedlights) with radio triggers to let you fire them off camera. They are a very usable and versatile kind of light source and you'll be able to use them outdoor or indoor.

Neil van Niekerk has a lot of info, tips and books about lighting.


I haven't really used always-on studio lights, they're probably easier for metering and focusing because the light source is always there. They're less flexible though as they're usually less portable than speedlights. I gather another disadvantage with always-on lights is the heat generated...if you're working in a studio with a model and they're under the lights for a long time it can get quite uncomfortable. Obviously this would depend on the environment you're shooting in though.

I only recently started using external light sources, and I find speedlight flashes much more portable, so I can use them out and about or in a temporary home studio set up

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