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Photography Question 
Cindy Wibowo

What Is a Strobe?

Is that flash light or continuous light? Thanks!

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8/29/2007 9:42:25 PM

Bob Fately   A "strobe" refers to a flash unit (think of the strobe lights in the discos of the '70s that flashed 5-10 times per second).

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8/29/2007 11:14:10 PM

John H. Siskin
BetterPhoto Member
John's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
  Hi Cindy,
A strobe is an instantaneous light source, with a duration of around 1/1000th of a second or shorter! To most people, that means flash. The light in a strobe is created by a spark that goes through a tube filed with Xenon and other gasses. I refer to any light created in this way as a strobe regardless of size. So the light source on top of your camera is a strobe, not a flash.
A flash is an aluminum filament in a bulb filled with oxygen that burns when you use it, so it is a single-use light source. The reason that I refer to strobes is that it makes them seem simpler. Most people use the light on their camera, so they have experience with strobes. Strobes are the best light source for controlled light in the studio, and often the best light on location.
If you want to see pictures made using flash, you should check out the work of O. Winston Link, a master of flash!
Thanks, John Siskin

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8/30/2007 2:12:31 PM

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