Are those big AC-powered photographic flash lighting instruments becoming less and less relevant? They used to be emblematic of shooting studio stills. For shooting fashion it was always “flash, flash, flash, flash” in 2 or 3 seconds. In those elaborately styled tabletop product photographs, where the depth of field is extensive, lots of light is always needed, so when the shutter is released AC flash has that big “POP!”
To many, the whole studio flash process is quite seductive. Or is it “was” seductive? Are those days in our past?
Traditional film and those first Canon, Nikon, and Sony modestly powerful Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera sensors demanded intense amounts of light.
Today, those same three camera manufacturers are big players in feature filmmaking. Those camera sensors do low-light, relatively noise-free stills and 4K high-resolution movies, now.
New continuous light sources, were once a dim-output experimental resource. Today, technological leaps forward have made LED bright enough for lighting rock concerts in big sports arenas.
Another issue with AC flash was the size and weight of the power packs and flash heads. That kind of gear just doesn’t fit into the grab-and-go mobile studio environment. To those ends, a few flash lighting manufacturers blazed the trail with small, light, portable, muscular flash.
So, who needs all that nimble flash power, now? That’s a very good question. One aspect of flash has always been the ability to stop action in somewhere around 1/1000th of a second. If a model or the children in a family portrait are in motion, there’s a real good chance that they’ll be razor sharp with that kind of flash power.
For those projects, AC flash will be around well into the foreseeable future.