Are there any specific Flashlights for Light Painting?
When you start to google Flashlights you find so many different models. All of them probably have a very different purpose. Assuming that manufacturers actually put some thought into product design and consider a kind of target group/market for their products, I still wonder sometimes what the purpose of some features is. Very few flashlights I know have been developed for the pure purpose of light painting in mind. Over the past years, it was very hard to find specific Flashlights for Light Painting. For years I thought it was impossible.
By saying that we establish the topic is difficult. You can play around by yourself. I think you will have to when considering a budget. Or you can trust some Light Painters that have tried some. If you are interested in my opinion. Here it goes.
Owning a large selection of flashlights gives you the opportunity to use many light tools fast and quickly. Adapting it to different tools should be easy and simple. Each flashlight gives you a different amount/strength and a different beam of light for each situation the right flashlight. That’s luxury but it all started with one flashlight.
In the beginning you look for a flashlight that will serve many different applications. That’s often related to building your own light tool by yourself. Typical most people would start with a tube or blade. It does not take huge big flashlights for that but something you can trigger nice. A great trigger and switch on the flashlight will be more important than the lumen or price.
In the end it does not matter what the cost of the flashlight was or how many lumens it has. Often I would adjust what I going to do in my frame by the given tools I have. Most of the time I work with what I have and don’t create a picture in my head that has to work at F22 and ISO100. I adjust all the given parameters to what works. Same for the composition – if the light is small, then might as well use a Marco lens.
Remember the four corners of photography: Aperature, Exposure time, ISO, and most important Light! With the flashlight in your hand, you adjust that with care and purpose in your composition. Just like Dodge and Burn in post-processing in Photoshop but in reality with so much less noise
Tornado running through Flashlight City.
Flashlight City is right by Photon River that flows through 450nm Valley into Plasma Ocean.
A dangerous place to be because the winds will be lightning-fast and blizzard-like deadly.
In moments when your creativity is flowing you don’t want to be held back by building your tools. So often I would just prepare many different tools even when I don’t use them all I knew I could. That is important if you consider a Photobooth for friends or family. If you want to go commercial its almost a must. Flexibility will be super important there.
When you look at that table, you’ll see many tools are made of blades or tubes. For that you want to have a flashlight that has a very narrow light beam. That way the light reaches the end of the tool and brightens up the sides of the tool. I do explain and show that real life in the video below. So look for that you’ll understand that easily.
Narrow Light Beam wins almost every time.
But there is more. We talked about budget and Lumen and narrow beam and where the button is on the flashlight. In some situations you also want the flashlight to be waterproof. For that I tested some LED Lenser and was super disappointed, because the handling was not convenient at all. In the end I bought the cheapest simplest 7€ waterproof models that look bright yellow. For what it’s worth they are super nice.
Are you up for Under Water Light Painting? Many years I dream about it and its yet to come to be my day to play.
When it comes to Light Painting a huge landscape,
every meter of distance you can go with your torch is important. It’s not so much about the Lumen the manufacturer will tell you. In the field you use what works. Do you want to or need to reach far? I would use the LED Lenser X21.r or similar. In China, I managed to light up the mountain across the River Lee near XingPing. There was no additional light except the village between the mountain. So me lighting up the mountains added a very nice effect.
This is accomplished be a very useful focusing lens head on the flashlight. Many of the LED-Lenser flashlights used to have that. It used t be their main marketing feature. For me that proved super useful in Light Painting.
Which one is the X21.r ? See the very big ones in the main picture? Yes that’s what I am talking about.
Special Lights on the market.
As most common flashlight manufacturers divert more and more from being interesting for Light Painters. Stephen Knight, Sven Gerard, Dennis Berka, and many of the friends I talked to, are happy to see new developments of dedicated Light Painting Flashlights or Light tools. Some examples might be known. For example, there is the new Kickstarter with the RGB Kritter or long known Pixelstick and Magilight Light Painting Stick and many more. To commercialize these is hard at this point. Over the past years the Light Painting community growing super fast. My hope is that some of the manufactures adventure will not only be profitable but that we will see many more.
To be honest that’s a very different topic and probably deserves a separate blog post. Very sure. Since I am most of the time build my tools and do not implement a pixel stick image into my photos I don’t use them much. Also the price tag on the Magilight is a bit of an off turn when I come to think of how many times I would use it. But that’s just me.
What’s new on the market for Light Painting?
Why am I excited about that? Because its actually doing what I, as a LightPainter really like it to do. Except for the focusing it has all the little tiny things like a simple touch switch for calligraphy. So its really just on when you need it.
I have the pleasure of using one of the early models and just ordered another one of the latest generation. Can’t wait to include that into my assorted cabinet of flashlights.
I truly hope that the guys will also find the time and funds to create another series with a focusing system. From my own experience, I know its not only an expensive hobby but also a very difficult technical task. Yes there was a time when I was thinking to create my own flashlight. When I found out what Dennis is working on I put a halt on my work immediately.
Thank you Dennis and Ivan for bringing this to the Light Painters community. I am super excited about that!
This photograph was created using the new Flashlight. Have a closer look at the fine strobe mode this flashlight I used here. It does offer a few suitable stable strobe modes.
Also very useful are color filters or color gels.
Online shops like LightPaintingParadise or LightPaintingBrushes offer a range of options to get you different colors for your torches and flashlights. If you are keen you can of course build everything yourself. That’s what I always used to do. But when something fits so perfectly why build it yourself. Just go get it online and support your local Light Painting Tool provider.
What you also see in the picture is the LED-Lenser MT18. It’s super portable and for me traveling the world the most useful focusable flashlight. The only downside is that it will automatically dim very fast. You cant control the lumens. It’s not stable! So you will need to get a feel for the photons when using it. You can’t just count the seconds down you light up a house or tree.
JUST TO BE CLEAR – THERE IS NO FINANCIAL BENEFIT FOR ME TO SHARE THAT WITH YOU.
It’s not a paid advertisement! I share this with you all because I really want to support both Ivan and Dennis with their project.
One of the major considerations is the way you adapt your flashlights to any light tool. Just like many out there, I build my own very often. Tape is one way. I used and adapted bottles and other plastic parts. Hot glue is always a great way.
Have a closer look at the image. you see different adaptations.
One thing you should not forget is to bring a Head Lamp. Always super useful to have your hands free. Very often I would also use them as a light tool to have a small and subtle light. And it has two colors anyhow.
These Petzl headlamps have proven for me to be what I need. I tested many different once but these stays. I would prefer to have a quick switch on and off but holding for two seconds is ok. Apart from that it’s cool to charge them on a power bank via USB and they last super long. When it comes to Bluetooth I am not sure you need it but that again is personal taste. Whats useful when you out and about in the summer! You want to have a headlamp with a red lamp. The insects are always going for the white light – not going to go after the red. If you want to light paint and all the insects are disturbing, you want you are trying to set up the camera is not cool. So try to get a headlamp with a red light function.
There are also moments when your flashlights are to be used in a different way. For example for all sorts of kinetic photography. Like I said before – be creative use Tape!
Thank you so much for ready so far. I hope that way it was somewhat useful information. This is intended to be my way, my view on things. Light Painting shall always be fun and I do think everyone can and should find their own way. See this as inspiration or Kickstarter to your on movement.
If you got another 10min and patience you may want to see the video I once made, talking about some of the flashlights individually. This video does not show all the flashlights on the market, yet it can share the thought process of selecting a flashlight for your future light paintings. So take away the date you’ll still get to understand what designs I use for what.
What to consider & How to choose. See below.
A very recent review on flashlights yet for a specific niche of Light Painting comes from Eric Pare. He is focused in his 2019 review on Flashlights for Tube Light Painting and for that, I guess the main feature would still be “Narrow Beam Width”. Anyhow he presents the topic brilliantly and is very worth seeing.
Yet he does not know what came out just in April 2020. So keep that in mind.
Of course I am not the only one who looked at that problem. Like I said. You can short cut by asking people that faced that problem before. Finding the right Flashlights for Light Painting is not easy but there is help.
If you read also in German, Sven Gerard from LichtKunstFoto, it is always a welcome source of help. He looked at all the different flashlights also not too long ago.
Lately he referred to me a lot of information on a new brand that I personally have not tested. Fenix seems to provide also some pretty awesome Light Painting flashlights.
Pretty sure you find extensive knowledge to absorb.
One of the most active testers of flashlights in the field would be Stephen Knight. For me I don’t test all that stuff all the time. So you could stop reading right away and go to:
Flashlight buying guide 2019
There are soooo many flashlights out there so I can’t possibly know about all of them. Nonetheless I hope you found some useful information. Thank you so much for your attention.
For your consideration
Also, check out a detailed guide on Night Photography by Mr. Gurpreet Singh on Pixpa. He covered a brief introduction of night photography, basics of night photography, camera equipment for night time photos, various techniques, and tips of night photography in detail. If you just getting into the topic this is a good start.