Monolights vs. Speedlites

Let’s talk lighting, monolights vs. speedlites. I’ll explain what those are in a second. When picking your wedding photographer you want to make sure that they have sufficient lighting for your wedding day. Not only does lighting allow for creativity, but it is also very important during the reception or dark ceremony locations. Most receptions take place in either really dark rooms and at night. Both instances need off-camera flash to capture the moment. There are two different ways a wedding photographer can light your reception, monolights vs. speedlites.


Let’s first talk about speedlites. Some benefits to speedltes are that they are lightweight and easily portable. This is handy when traveling from location to location. This however, in my opinion, is the only upside to speedlites. Now let’s talk about the limitations. For one, the recycle time on these lights are not reliable. Depending on the type of speedlites your photographer owns will depend on the recycle time of the unit. If the recycle time is 3 seconds that is pretty slow. This means that when your photographer presses the shutter button to take a photo they have to wait a whole 3 seconds to press the button again or the flash won’t fire. This causes missed shots because let’s be honest a lot can happen on the dance floor in 3 seconds. Secondly, speedlites have less power than a monolight.


The photo on the left is lite by a speedlite and the right photo is a speedlite misfire. Both photos were taken seconds apart.

Monolights are perfect for weddings, but typically used for a studio space. So, most photographers don’t realize that they work really well for weddings. Monolights have recycling times as low as 0.01-0.9 seconds depending on the light. This is considerably faster than a speedlite. This allows the photographer to not miss the shot. Instead of waiting 3 seconds the photographer can take continues photos with almost no flash failure. This type of light is also more powerful. A limitation of these types of lights it that they can be slightly heavy, but in my opinion that is the only downside.

Both photos were taken milliseconds apart with a monolight.

Here is a short video demonstrating the two lights and the recycle time between the two. As you can see the monolight blows the speedlite out of the water.

Both lighting techniques technically work, but to us here at Amazing Light Studios, monolights are the winner. So when meeting with your next potential wedding photographer make sure you ask what kind of lighting equipment they have.

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