Short Story: The Truth About STROBE LIGHT

Strobe Lights - Everything You Need to Know About Strobe Lights

Some applications require a light source that is extremely fast and of high intensity. This is where strobe light comes in. Devices with strobe light can flash at an incredible speed, faster than our eye can perceive. The action of the light going on and off is commonly called a pulse or cycle.

These pulses or cycles can also vary in intensity, measured in Watts. The higher the Watts of a strobe, the more powerful the light generation. You can usually control that setting, increasing or reducing cycles, such from 0.02 to 2.5 seconds, as well as the amplitude of each shot.

So, in short, a strobe light is a device that can emit solid blinking light. It is a tool for showing and adjusting moving or vibrating objects by illuminating them with flash to create a still effect.

Strobe Light
Strobe Light

The stroboscope was invented in 1836 by Joseph Plateau, a professor at the University of Ghent (Belgium). In 1931, MIT professor Dr. Harold Eugene Edgerton developed the xenon flash lamp. Thanks to this invention, the stroboscope was also used in photography and many areas of commerce and industry.

Strobe lights have many distinctive features, advantages, and disadvantages, which we will discuss in more detail in today’s article.

Various industries use strobe lights for different purposes. They can be found in signal lights, security lights, entertainment, screens, projectors, etc. But one of their main uses is in photography.

They are fundamental for some types of photo shooting, even in bright, open environments. Use the strobe light to capture moving scenes, actors, and objects, shoot in dark places or with shadows and face shots. In these situations, a strobe light excels over a continuous light due to its speed and power.

For example: when shooting a model’s face, the model’s pupils would be dilated on constant light exposure. With a strobe, the light flashes so fast that there is no time for the eyes to widen, resulting in better photos.

Stroboscopic Effect in Photography
Stroboscopic Effect in Photography

If an object continues to move, its movement is perceived as a series of frames, whether it be the movement of a baseball or a person dancing under a strobe light in a disco.

The stroboscopic effect is a kind of optical illusion.

How Does It Work?

The strobe lamp can go on and off at a much higher frequency than an ordinary lamp. This frequency is usually determined in Hertz (Hz). The higher the Hertz, the faster the strobe light can cycle.

As this number increases, the light pulse becomes less noticeable. Between 70-100 Hz, a strobe light will seem to emit a continuous light because we can no longer perceive the intervals between the pulses. This effect happens with our televisions or with the projector in the movies. In practice, we see a continuous image, but in reality, the device emits hundreds of pulses per second.

Warning: Strobe lights are harmful to some people. People with photosensitivity are particularly vulnerable to the effect and can suffer epileptic seizures. Even in people without sensitivity, standing directly above the strobe light for long periods can cause dizziness, discomfort, and nausea.

Stroboscopic Effect – What is The Strobe Light Effect?

When we look at a rotating object, it seems as if it is rotating in the opposite direction or is even stopped. This effect is called the stroboscopic effect. It can be purposely created with a strobe light.

Stroboscopic Effect

A strobe light can even be used to measure the speed of moving objects. The frequency of the light is changed until the target appears stationary. When this happens, we know that the frequency of the light is equal to that of the moving object.

The strobe light is widely used in photography, creating “freeze motion” photos. This area has equipment of all types and sizes, which is triggered simultaneously with the camera through a physical link (cable) or even by radio (wireless).

Freeze Motion Effect
Freeze Motion Effect

Types of The Strobe Light

Strobes lights usually use Xenon lamps but can also use LED lamps. They are driven by electronic circuits, which can be combined with optical mechanisms, such as those used to measure the speed of objects. When it comes to lighting and photography, we have the following types of Strobe Lights:

1. Fixed Strobes: This is the heaviest and most expensive type of strobe. It is usually used in large shows, which need strong lights to reach the crowd. They are typically fixed but can also be automated (moving heads) and controlled from a distance by a light table.

2. Pack and Head: This model is mainly used in photography, with high power and good mobility. It consists of a mobile power generator connected to a flash head by a cable, which conducts the energy to fire the pulse. Together with portable models, it is the one that usually offers the best cycling rate.

3. Monolights: While the previous model needs two parts to work, Monolights have everything in one set. They are lightweight and are plugged directly into the wall socket. Despite this advantage, they usually have a lower power output than the pack and head model.

4. Battery: As the name suggests, this model has an internal battery, requiring no wires to operate. It gives the operator great freedom in operation, moving the strobe wherever he needs to with ease. Of course, this does not offer the same power as previous models and forces the operator to watch the battery constantly.

Note: Today, electronic strobe lights are the most popular and famous in the world. But this is far from the only classification of devices operating on the principle of creating a stroboscopic effect.

Uses of Strobe Light in Different Industries

There is a wide range of uses for strobe lights. The system is even the action mechanism for some tools, such as the Strobe Tachometer, a speed meter widely used in the industrial sector. It also allows the inspection of moving objects without turning them off.

Strobe lights are also used for signaling, especially on planes, where aircraft are determined to use a certain intensity of strobe lights as a collision avoidance system.

Strobe Lights On Planes As An Anti-Collision System
Strobe Lights On Planes As An Anti-Collision System

UV pulsing lights have great use in products that need so-called “UV Curing”. These applications benefit from flashing lights, which have a lower temperature and emit stronger and faster pulses than continuous light.

We cannot fail to mention shows and nightclubs, where the use of these lights has become prevalent. They can create various effects, such as attracting or diverting the audience’s attention, creating optical illusions on the dance floor, and stimulating the audience to interact by trying to elicit screams or applause.

Use of Strobe Lights in NightClubs
Use of Strobe Lights in NightClubs

Another area where you might not expect to find a stroboscope is medicine. Here, such devices are used as laryngophone for people with various speech disorders.

Another area where you might not expect to find a stroboscope is medicine. Here, such devices are used as laryngophone for people with various speech disorders.

1. Automotive Strobe Lights

Automotive strobes can be used to check or set the initial ignition timing. Its installation allows you to eliminate all possible malfunctions in this area, which will positively affect the movement of the machine, engine operation, and waste of fuel.

In addition, products equipped with LED light sources are often installed on bumpers or radiators. With their help, you can draw attention to the car of other drivers. A strobe light is beneficial at night. The stroboscope circuit equipped with LED bulbs does not imply using an onboard current converter for a car.

Automotive Strobe Lights
Automotive Strobe Lights

2. Strobe Light Models Designed for Discos

Probably the most anticipated place where we meet strobe lights will be discos and other entertainment events. Here, lighting systems provide intermittent lighting that visually stops the people dancing on the dance floor.

In addition, with the help of such devices on the stage or in the hall, you can create a variety of lighting effects.

Strobe Light Models Designed for Discos
Strobe Light Models Designed for Discos

Note: The use of five primary colors will create a wide variety of shades. They can be effectively diffused with frosted glass.

3. Strobe Lights in Advertising and Architectural Lighting

Another place where strobe lights are often used is in advertising and architectural lighting of buildings and billboards.

With the help of such a backlight, you can achieve many positive aspects:

  • attracting potential customers;
  • high-quality lighting of buildings or billboards;
  • highlighting a store or architectural structure against the background of the rest of the illumination of the night city;
  • aesthetic and decorative illumination of various objects.
Strobe Lights in Advertising and Architectural Lighting
Strobe Lights in Advertising and Architectural Lighting

4. Flashlight Stroboscope

Another attractive model is flash strobe lights. Such lighting systems have two modes of operation: normal and, in fact, stroboscopic.

Flashlight Stroboscope
Flashlight Stroboscope

Note that when the flashlight operates in stroboscopic mode, the following consequences are possible:

  • disorientation;
  • violation of peripheral and direct vision;
  • the appearance of short-term confusion and fear.

In this regard, such devices can be used as an element of self-defense when attacking aggressively-minded persons in the dark. Very often, police officers use such devices in their work.

Top 10 Strobe Lights Available in The Market. Which Strobe is The Best?

Top 10 Strobe Lights Available in The Market
Top 10 Strobe Lights Available in The Market

10. Limostudio 200W

This device is sought after by those who are just starting. It is reliable and super cheap. Its cycles range from 0.01 to 1.5, with 200 watts of power used via a power cable. You can buy it on Amazon for $77.90 – Product Link.

Limostudio 200W
Limostudio 200W

9. Photogenic PL2500DRC

This model is for those who want power. This device delivers 1000 Watts, illuminating any room. For this, it is large and heavy, operating via cable instead of a battery. It is costly and you can buy it on Amazon for $899.95 – Product Link.

Photogenic PL2500DRC
Photogenic PL2500DRC

8. Nanlite Forza 60B Bi-Color

The Nanlite Forza 60B draws attention for its compactness. Its complete kit can be carried in a small hand pocket, ensuring it can go anywhere. This is a very compact model and you can buy it on their website for $319.00 – Product Link.

Nanlite Forza 60B Bi-Color
Nanlite Forza 60B Bi-Color

7. Westcott FJ400

Photography professionals recognize the Westcott brand as one of the best brands on the market. The FJ400 has excellent color temperature quality, a cooling system that prevents it from overheating, 400 watts of power, and several features. It is available on Amazon for $599 – Product Link.

Westcott FJ400
Westcott FJ400

6. Elinchrom D-Lite 400W RX 4

This device has excellent reviews from its users, offering quality, durability, and price. Many home studios use its kit can cost less than half of some competitors. You can buy it from their website directly for $436 – Product Link.

Elinchrom D-Lite 400W RX 4
Elinchrom D-Lite 400W RX 4

5. Neewer Vision 4

A well-known device for its power, quality, and features. It has 400 watts of power with recycling times between 0.04 and 2.5. All this at a super attractive price of $305 on Amazon Product Link.

Neewer Vision 4
Neewer Vision 4

4. Godox AD200 Pro

The Godox AD200pro strobe does not have the same power as some of its competitors but excels in versatility. It is small and light, and its battery is durable, ensuring all the shots in the section. You can buy it on Amazon for $418 – Product Link.

Godox AD200 Pro
Godox AD200 Pro

3. Broncolor Siros L 800W

This Broncolor Siros L strobe is also second to none. It reaches a super speed of 1/9000 s (t 0.1) and has no less than 800 watts of power to light up any location. It is costly and you need to spend more than $2500 to buy it. You can check product features here.

Broncolor Siros L 800W
Broncolor Siros L 800W

2. Flashpoint XPLOR 600

This strobe model is super powerful, with its 600-watt capacity. With great speed and a battery that can hold up to 500 shots, the Flashpoint XPLOR 600 is in the second position also due to its price, being an extremely affordable model. It is available on Amazon for $699 – Product Link.

Flashpoint XPLOR 600
Flashpoint XPLOR 600

1. Profoto B10

The Profoto B10 is described as “A big light in a small package”, and they are not lying! Its size is similar to that of a medium-sized camera lens, weighing 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), with 250 watts of power and a battery that lasts up to 400 shots at total capacity. You can buy it on Amazon for $1795 – Product Link.

Profoto B10
Profoto B10
You may also like to read: Strobe Photography: A Brief Guide & Important Tips about Strobe Photography

Conclusion

You have seen in this article what strobe lights are, how they work, and their main uses. It is found on TV, in the disco, on planes, and others, but it is mainly used in photography. We understand why they are necessary for taking photos in motion or dark places and improving sessions.

I have also prepared the list of the best strobe lights (above) to help you get to know them and maybe plan your next purchase. Whether for shoots in your studio or outdoors, a strobe is an essential tool for any professional.

Strobe Lights as lighting elements are currently used in a wide variety of areas of human activity, from entertainment to professional.

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