Types of Studio Lighting

There is a multitude of studio lighting options available. But they all essentially do the same thing — give artificial daylight balanced illumination. There are, however, a number of differences in the way each type of studio lighting works. In this chapter, Karl explores those differences in detail in this chapter.

In this photography class, he explains the fundamental workings of studio lighting, the advantages and disadvantages of different systems as well as the type of work they are best suited for.

In this photography class we cover the following:

  • Different types of studio light
  • The fundamentals of working with lights:
  • – Power sources
  • – Power settings
  • – Triggering lights
  • Adjustments and attachments
  • Pack systems vs monoblock systems vs lithium systems
  • Systems best suited for studio and location work

NOTE: This photography class is available with English subtitles.


  1. Hi Karl,
    This is my first time that I have paid for online tutorials and I think its paying off immensely in my first week itself. For the first time, I really understood the science behind strobes. Thank you very much.

    I am a nature and birds photographer, but now would like to venture into product, portrait and commercial photography. I am planning to set up my own mini studio to begin with.

    I am not able to afford broncolor which is way off my budget. What alternatives would be able to recommend? As I grow and make money, I may be able to spend higher but for now Broncolor is out of my range unfortunately.


    1. Hi thanks and glad you are learning lots from our classes, keep going through them as there is a lots more to learn. If broncolor is out of your budget then maybe Elinchrom or Godox?

  2. Hello Karl really enjoying learning . I am very new to flash lighting. Does the modelling light stay on during the shoot? I saw on some of your other videos you have a constant light on then the flash on top. Is this right? Thank you. Sarah

    1. Hi, Yes the modelling light stays on and in most cases it has little impact on the overall lighting from the flash burst surrounding the modelling bulb as the flash burst is so much brighter but this is covered more in the following classes.

  3. Hello Karl,

    My name is Remi and I am a new member. I am really enjoying KTE, learning a lot, it is like a gold mine.. So first of all thank you so much for all you do!

    I’ve got a question which I am not sure was asked before: as a beginner on a budget, would you start with a set of new entry-level studio lights such as godox, or would you prefer old second hand quality lights such as broncolor?

    1. Hi Remig, welcome aboard and I’m glad you are enjoying the platform. That’s a good question, the Godox brand seems very good value I must say I have 3 Godox lights and they seem to work just fine but I don’t use them all the time so I don’t know what they would be like with heavy usage in terms of durability. The broncolor stuff is renowned for being built to last, and I know people still using packs that are 25 years old so I don’t think you’d have any problems with second hand, a flash tube might need replacing now and again but more often because i smash them accidentally. Either choice I’m sure you’ll be fine, 400J power is the minimum you should go for though.

  4. Hi Karl,

    I have a budget to invest in one light , and I need your advices.

    If you have to choose between the Profoto D1 500 or the Broncolor Siros 800 S, which one is the best.

    It’s for food photography , and Im looking to create the chiaroscuro light.

    Thank you very much

    1. Hi Lou, personally I have to recommend broncolor because I prefer their lighting. You would also need an Octabox 150 or Octabox 75 to acheive the lighting style you are talking about. The size of the softbox you need will be dependent on the distance from your subject. Please see our ‘lighting theory’ section for further information.

  5. Karl, I am really excited to learn from you. These gems that you are sharing with us have motivated me to take my equipment out and enjoy this art of photography that I love. Thank you so much for your dedicated approach and attention to detail. I hope I can master these techniques. You are masterful in shaping the light, and I want to learn all I can from you. Thanks so much for re-invigorating my passion for this beautiful platform. I can’t tell you how much I antiscipate gaining the confidence I need to do this. I am so grateful and honored to learn from you and your masterful teaching techniques. Thank you so much!

  6. Hi Karl, you are a great inspiration for photography, it’s incredible what you create. It was the reason for me to also follow your education. It’s amazing and my best investment on photography ever. You have a totally no-nonsense approach, I love your style and highly respect the craftmanship you possess. Thanks, and greetings, André

      1. Like your videos. May I ask you something? I just have a speedlight and Id like to know what is the difference betweeen it and a strobe. The spread of light, due to a rounded bulb surface? The full light spectrum? Thank you!

        1. Hi Alessandra, a speedlite puts out a burst of light that is 5600K (daylight balanced). A studio light does exactly the same except it is more powerful and the bulb protrudes outwards a bit, there are also more modifiers available for studio lights than speedlites. The spread of light from the protruding bulb makes the modifiers more effective. That is really the only differences.

  7. Thank you great lesson! is there anywhere where you discuss TTL vs. Manual? I want to get lights but I am confused with these options.

    1. Hi Molly, there are several live shows where I mention how pointless TTL is in studio flash lighting. Don’t worry about TTL, as you progress through this platform and learning lighting you will see how simple it is to control the power of your lighting like the volume control on your music player.

  8. Many thanks Karl i learn a lot from you i am from EGYPT i need to do Business with you here like a academy in Egypt or make a studio for any business need

  9. Hello Karl, thank for the video and explanation above. since im also using some of broncolor product, i wanted to ask if can a broncolor move L head lamp powered by a broncolor sccoro 3200 pack/capacitor ? if yes, are there any risk that it will be damaging the move L head because of power difference ? thankyou

    1. Hi Nugi, don’t plug a 1200 Move/Mobi head into a Scoro pack. Check with Broncolor or your dealer on this.

  10. Hey Karl
    I’ve yet to find in your videos an explanation of why you might use a fresnel lens on a light. I’ve heard it mentioned in various videos I’ve seen on youTube and I think you mention it in some of your videos but I haven’t seen what it does, or how to use it, or why you might choose to use it. With a light it creates a spotlight or focus of the light.. I am assuming, but have not seen it used. I used to shoot 4×5 and I am understand the way it works as the focussing screen uses the aid of a fine fresnel, but that is a different purpose, even if the physics and principles are the same.

  11. Hey Karl when using an Studio Strobe Flash Light do you have to close the lights off the room and keep it dark and when using the camera light meter do you need to keep the button on 0 to get right exposure
    Because when using 50mm 1.8 it’s not getting right exposure with the flash studio strobe is that because you can not change the shutter speed less than 1/200

Leave a Comment