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6 Types of Lighting Fixtures | Your Guide to Understanding Photo & Video Lights

6 Types of Lighting Fixtures | Your Guide to Understanding Photo & Video Lights

Zane Gong |

Lighting for photo and video can be as diverse as the various types of lenses, today we will be discussing 6 of the most common types of lighting fixtures and their characteristics. Just like all aspects of cinema, ones understanding of gear will reveal what is the right tool for the job, so here we go.

1. Single Sourced Lights

Single sourced lights are lighting fixtures that have a single source of light emitting from a fixture. An Aputure 120d, 300d and Mini20 are great examples of a single sourced light, where there is only one point of light coming from the fixture. Single source lights are known for creating hard clearly defined shadows, harsher light or a more directional light, when not diffused. Diffusing single sourced lights creates a much softer shadows and a more area looking emission of light.

2. Multi-source Lights

Multi-sourced lights have multiple sources of light on their fixtures, like the Aputure LS1s, a popular LED panel form factor with 1536 LED diodes or 1536 sources of light. Often times multi-sourced lights are often times brighter than single source lights, generally speaking the greater number of sources of light the brighter the output.

Some filmmakers don’t like multi-source lights because they cast multiple shadows on the subject and that’s not very appealing or natural looking. As a solution, many will diffuse multi-source lights that can eliminate the multiple shadows and give a more clean and single source look. Bouncing multi-source lights is another way to eliminate multiple shadows.

multiple shadows

diffuse multi-source lights

3. Volume Lights

Volume lights are typically soft, luminous, omnidirectional lights potentially covering 360° of space. Popular examples of volume lights are space lights and china Balls, which are great for cover vast spaces like cycloramas and green screens.

Volume Light

What makes these types of lights so compelling is their ability to spread an even spread or array of light over a large space without shadows.

4. Area Lights

Area lights are the opposite of a single source light, often produced from bouncing a single or multi source light and magnifying the size of output. For example below, the shower curtain diffusing four Aputure LS1s or bouncing the 120d off of a white bounce board and through a large diffusion.

Area lights are typically much larger with softer shadows than single sourced lights. Now, single sourced lights can be made into area lights, but it would be inefficient use of power and resources to try and make an area light a single source light.

5. Tube Lights

Tube lights are normally long narrow tubes housed in a frosted body used to offer some variety of soft lighting. From a single tube or an array of tubes of light, similar to an area light, tube lights offer a multitude of different uses. Cinematographers to photographers use tube lights for unique background applications or configured in a square, triangle or rectangle shape for a diva light look, both examples shown below.

tube lights

tube lights

6. Practical Lights

Practical lights are the lights visible in your scene and apart of your projects narrative. From an open face tungsten bulb, tv screen, lamp, chandelier, Christmas lights and the list goes on. Typically lighting used in everyday life and usually not production lighting. Sometimes production lights can be substituted in a scene but still serve as a practical for more output or various other reasons necessary for the shot.

Popular Aputure lights used as practicals or replace practical lights in a scene are the Aputure M9. Well, there you have it, stay tuned to Aputure for more great info to help improve or add to your production skill set.

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