Speedlight VS Strobe

In my years mentoring beginner portrait photographers, one of the most frequent lighting question I have received is which is better, speedlight vs strobe. And like with many debates within the photography community the answer is, it depends.

The best way to find out which one you should go with is to cover the pros and cons of each to see whether strobes or speedlights fit your personal style best.

Speedlights – What You Need To Know

Pros

  • Speedlights are lighter weight and usually more compact and portable
  • Easy to power
  • Offers numerous advanced features including HSS and TTL
  • They offer tremendous versatility and can be mounted on and off your camera
  • Affordably priced models available

Cons

  • Speedlights are slower than strobe lights with a longer recycle time
  • Battery power does not last long
  • Interface is usually more complex than a strobe
  • Lower power output
  • The light source is smaller leading to more shadows

Strobes – What You Need To Know

Pros

  • Offers a very fast recycle time
  • Allows for more creative outlets
  • Larger power ranges
  • Bigger light sources, allows for larger light modifiers
  • Light is much more powerful
  • Improved tech means they are more versatile than they once were

Cons

  • Larger and less mobile than speedlights
  • Cost is generally higher
  • Most need to be plugged in to an outlet, battery powered options cost even more

Which Is Best For You?

There was a time when strobe lights and speedlights served very different functions for photographers but with technology advancements there is significant overlap.

That is a good thing

Now that more portable, battery powered strobe lights are available and speedlights with advanced features have hit the market it is possible to find one of either category that will fit the bill. But the reality still is that they have specific strengths that are best suited for specific situations.

Most photographers will find strobes provide much more power but sacrifice weight and portability. While the opposite is true for speedlghts, which provide greater mobility thanks to their lightweight. But they offer much less power as a trade off.

Because of this, photographers looking for primarily for power should definitely opt for a strobe while those seeking portability and a more affordable price should go with a speedlight.

Recommendations

Here are my favorite picks for strobe lights and speedlights. These particular models are great all around performers that won’t break the bank while still providing exceptional lighting performance.

Neewer Vision 4

This strobe offers exceptional performance and is my favorite for outdoor sessions. It offers great power and reliable lighting every time I fire it up. The price is reasonable and it has never let me down.

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Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite

This affordable and feature packed speedlight is compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony and the rest of the major camera makers. It offers all the features you need in a speedlight without costing an arm and a leg. Performance is great and mine has served me well for years.

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