Freezing Water with Flash vs. Continuous Light

On this Adorama video, photographer Gavin Hoey takes a look at the question – can you freeze water with continuous light or do you really need a flash?

Traditionally, freezing fast action like breaking glass or splashing water requires a flash or a strobe – you need a lot of light in a short amount of time. This video looks at what happens when you use a flash vs. what happens when you use a continuous light source.

Hoey starts with a proper flash – the Flashpoint StreakLight 360 which easily had the most power when it comes to freezing action. Next there is the Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Manual On-Camera Flash which didn’t do as well but with some increase in ISO you can get decent results with it (a larger sensor camera with better ISO than the Olympus would have done better here).

Next Hoey looks at a simple LED flashlight – well as you would expect that was a fail (we would not even try this one actually) and finally he tried a Linco Flora Fluorescent Light Bank with 4 lights with some decent (although no were near flash level) results.

We do want to add something – Hoey choose compact fluorescent lights (4 units) however today you can get very very powerful LEDs that are designed for photography – actually during NAB 2016 we saw 2K equivalent LEDs (and yes these are very expensive – but LED prices have been going down dramatically so what used to be only for top pros just 2-3 years ago is now available to us all). Using high power LEDs should in our view allow users to get results which are close or maybe even better than a speedlight or even a mini strobe and the ability to see the light that you are working with is amazing.

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on ourPhotography tips section and check out some of Gavin Hoey’s other videos here on LensVid.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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