Will you be shoot­ing in the stu­dio for the first time? Not sure how to work with stu­dio light­ing? What do all these but­tons mean on monoblocks of con­stant and pulsed sources? We tell you how to set up a stu­dio light, what it con­sists of, what a monoblock is and what set­tings it has.

You need to start set­ting up the light from one source, grad­u­al­ly turn­ing on and adding the rest / pixabay.com

Light for a photo studio — what it consists of

Stu­dio light is not just a light bulb hang­ing in the air. This is a whole sys­tem that can scare you with a vari­ety of incom­pre­hen­si­ble noz­zles, devices, racks. Espe­cial­ly when there are sev­er­al light­ing devices, they are scat­tered around the stu­dio in chaos, and you need to under­stand what to do with it and what to approach.

Let’s take a look at what a stu­dio light­ing kit con­sists of.


A device that gives light. In fact, the same flash, but it is called a “monoblock” due to the fact that it com­bines sev­er­al func­tions: it shines; allows you to adjust the light pow­er and syn­chro­niza­tion chan­nel; turns on mod­el­ing light (a weak con­stant light that illu­mi­nates the shoot­ing scene for the con­ve­nience of mod­els and the pho­tog­ra­ph­er), for which addi­tion­al lamps are built into it, and also saves the light from over­heat­ing using the built-in cool­ing sys­tem.

A stu­dio monoblock dif­fers from an exter­nal flash in pow­er, speed and the abil­i­ty to change the nature of the light using attach­ments / Pho­to: negahshop.com

There are monoblocks of pulsed light and con­stant light.

— Monoblock of pulsed light or pulsed light. It does not shine con­stant­ly and is trig­gered when the pho­tog­ra­ph­er press­es the shut­ter but­ton. In order for the flash to under­stand when it fires, you need a syn­chro­niz­er. Such light is char­ac­ter­ized by high pow­er, which allows you to get high-qual­i­ty images even on the most bud­get equip­ment.

— Monoblock con­stant light. Lights up con­tin­u­ous­ly. In order to work with it, you do not need a syn­chro­niz­er. Such light is eas­i­er for a begin­ner: the cut-off pat­tern is imme­di­ate­ly vis­i­ble, and there is no need to deal with the syn­chro­niz­er set­tings. But such light is less com­mon in stu­dios, and it also requires high-aper­ture optics.

Details about the dif­fer­ences between pulsed and con­stant light.


The stand is what the monoblock is attached to so that you do not have to hold it in your hands. What dis­tin­guish­es them from tripods is their increased strength and heavy weight — they must be ultra-sta­ble in order to with­stand heavy light sources and attach­ments. For some racks, man­u­fac­tur­ers pro­duce spe­cial wheels to make it eas­i­er for the pho­tog­ra­ph­er or assis­tant to move the light around the stu­dio.

Most stands are sim­i­lar to clas­sic tri­pod tripods. But also in the stu­dio you can find a spe­cial stand — a crane. This is a sophis­ti­cat­ed coun­ter­weight sys­tem that allows the light to be raised high above the mod­el and also sup­ports heavy light shap­ing attach­ments. For exam­ple, the crane Avenger A4050CS can with­stand weight up to 30 kg.

Light Shaping Attachment

These are devices that are mount­ed on a monoblock and change the type of light. They can make the light soft or hard.

Soft light — dif­fused, gives a smooth light-and-shad­ow pat­tern, when the shad­ow seems to be shad­ed and smooth­ly flows into the mid­dle tone. In such light, the shad­ows are not very dark, and the high­lights are not pro­nounced. Soft light can be obtained using soft­box­es and umbrel­las.

The pic­ture shows three light sources on three stands and with three square soft­box­es as light shap­ing attach­ments / pixabay.com

Hard light is sharp and con­trast­ing. The shad­ows of such light are thick, dark and well-defined. Glare is also pro­nounced. Such light is giv­en by a tube, a reflec­tor.

It is believed that the aver­age light can be obtained using a beau­ty dish. But, if you put a mod­i­fi­er on it — a hon­ey­comb, then the light will be rather hard. This is because the hon­ey­comb directs the light flux, and does not scat­ter.

Details about the types of noz­zles for stu­dio light and the cas­es in which it is bet­ter to use them, in the mate­r­i­al.

Power device

Most often, the monoblock is pow­ered from sock­ets using a spe­cial cable. It comes with a light, you don’t need to buy it in addi­tion. But there are also wire­less monoblocks that run on bat­ter­ies. For exam­ple, Jin­bei HD-200pro.

How to set up the light — managing the settings of the pulsed monoblock

To set up a flash or con­stant light in a pho­to stu­dio, you need to work with the pan­el on the back of the monoblock. We under­stand what levers and but­tons are there, as well as what they mean.

Turns the monoblock on or off.

  • light pow­er

It can be denot­ed by num­bers (for exam­ple, from 4 to 10), per­cent­ages or aper­ture num­bers, which are called steps. With per­cent­ages, it’s sim­ple — the small­er the num­ber, the weak­er the light, and the count­down itself goes from 0 to 100%. It is the same with num­bers — the small­er the num­ber, the weak­er the flash.

If on the device you see 1/1, ½, ¼, ⅛, 1/64, 1/128, then the monoblock man­u­fac­tur­er dis­plays the pow­er in aper­ture num­bers. The num­ber 1/1 is the max­i­mum pow­er that this light is capa­ble of, and 1/128 or 1/256 is the min­i­mum. The min­i­mum pow­er depends on the spe­cif­ic light mod­el.

Some­times when you adjust the pow­er of the light, there may be oth­ers with + or — next to these num­bers. For exam­ple, +0.3. These are “steps” that allow you to fine-tune the pow­er by slight­ly increas­ing or decreas­ing it.

If you press the but­ton, the flash will reset the accu­mu­lat­ed charge. This is use­ful if you have changed the pow­er up or down and want to “zero out” the monoblock so that the next frame will turn out with the set­ting you need.

The con­stant stu­dio light does not have a Test but­ton, as it is lit con­tin­u­ous­ly and does not need to accu­mu­late any­thing for the flash / pixabay.com

A but­ton that links the flash stu­dio light and the syn­chro­niz­er. You can choose one of two options depend­ing on the type of syn­chro­niz­er: RADIO or IR (from the word “infrared”). Radio syn­chro­niz­ers are more con­ve­nient because it and the light source can be at a great dis­tance from each oth­er. Infrared have a short­er range, but they can “set fire” to flash­es of dif­fer­ent mod­els. How to choose a suit­able syn­chro­niz­er, read this text. Con­stant light does not have such a but­ton.

So that in the same stu­dio or in the same room the radio syn­chro­niz­ers do not con­flict with each oth­er, we can set a chan­nel for each syn­chro­niz­er-monoblock pair. It’s like choos­ing the right radio fre­quen­cy in a car. By press­ing this but­ton, you can select the desired chan­nel and let­ter with the pow­er adjust­ment but­ton. The same chan­nel and let­ter must be on the syn­chro­niz­er.

The pulsed light needs some time to recharge. With this set­ting, you can choose how the flash indi­cates when it is ready to fire.

There are three modes for this:

  • BEEP/AUDIO (dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers have dif­fer­ent names). The flash beeps when reloaded.
  • DIM. The monobloc turns on mod­el­ing light when the flash is ready to fire.
  • FC (flash check). The mod­el­ing light turns off when the flash light is ready.

That is, in the first case, we under­stand that the light is ready for work, by sound, and in the sec­ond and third — by light.

If none of these func­tions is high­light­ed, then the flash will not sig­nal in any way that it has accu­mu­lat­ed a charge of the required pow­er. In this case, if it does not have time to recharge, then some of the frames will be slight­ly dark­er than the rest.

Adjusts the mod­el­ing light. Mod­el­ing light is a con­stant light of low pow­er for pulsed sources. It is turned on to under­stand what kind of black and white pat­tern will be on the mod­el, to help focus if you are shoot­ing in a dark room, and to inform you that the flash is ready to fire (if Ready is in DIM mode).

— Prop (from “pro­por­tion­al”). The stronger the pulsed light, the more pow­er­ful the pilot will shine.
— Free. Allows you to inde­pen­dent­ly adjust the pow­er of the mod­el­ing light. To do this, press the Mod­el Set but­ton and select the desired num­ber.
— Full. Always the bright­est mod­el­ing light pos­si­ble, no mat­ter how pow­er­ful the flash is.

Allows you to con­trol the monoblock remote­ly if there is a spe­cial remote con­trol (suit­able for Ray­lab RL-100 Sun­light) that needs to be pur­chased in addi­tion. But, for exam­ple, the Godox SL150II comes with a remote con­trol.

Setting up a constant studio light

Con­stant light tends to have few­er set­tings. Many mod­els, espe­cial­ly bud­get ones, may have only two but­tons — pow­er on and pow­er adjust­ment. More expen­sive mod­els also allow you to adjust the col­or tem­per­a­ture. Using the Godox SZ150R RGB as an exam­ple, let’s fig­ure out how to set up a pro­fes­sion­al con­stant light for pho­tos and videos.

The pho­to shows a bud­get con­stant light. Ide­al for a begin­ner, since you don’t need to under­stand a large num­ber of set­tings but­tons, as well as for prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy, since the light of the econ­o­my seg­ment is small in pow­er / pixabay.com
  • Pow­er but­ton. Turns the light source on or off.
  • MENU. Allows you to set up a chan­nel for wire­less con­trol, enable Blue­tooth con­trol, or turn on a fan for cool­ing.
  • fx. Allows you to set one of 37 light­ing effects. For exam­ple, imi­tate a bro­ken light bulb, light from a can­dle, a flash­er of a police car.
  • DIM. Light pow­er.
  • HSI. Allows you to select the col­or of the light, its sat­u­ra­tion and bright­ness.
  • CCT. Mode for adjust­ing the white bal­ance. You can make the col­or warmer/colder, as well as adjust the hue — green­er or pur­pler.

Types of syn­chro­niz­ers. How to set up a syn­chro­niz­er
What is a beau­ty dish and how to use it