Fresnel vs LED Panel | What is the difference?

When a Fresnel lens is added in front of a light, we usually call it a Fresnel light. A Fresnel lens was initially developed for lighthouses. It offers a wonderful control over the light source. Panel lights on the other hand are not controllable as Fresnel lights, but they deliver a decent diffused light. The light emitted by an LED panel is not a hard-light. Let’s compare Fresnel vs LED panel to analyze the differences.

What is a Fresnel Lens?

A Fresnel lens has a series of concentric grooves, different from the conventional lens. This technique allows us to gather light without constructing a heavy conventional lens. The light-weighted fresnel lens allows the photographer to control the light into a narrow beam.

It lets a user control the width of the light beam by rotating the lens by its optical axis. The light intensity can be concentrated into a narrow width like 10-degree, or a wider 50 degree.

What are LED Panels?

LED panel, unlike fresnel, is an array of LEDs vertically and horizontally. In both fresnel or panel lights, LEDs can be Chip on Board(COB), Surface Mounted Diodes(SMD), Flip Chip LeED, or simple LED units. Lower-end LED panels use simple LED units whereas the higher-end panels and fresnels use COB or SMD or FC LEDs.

Unlike fresnel lights, panel lights are used to produce even-light covering a larger area. Often, the diffusion panel is interchangeable so that the user can change the light spread as needed.


Even Light Spread | Fresnel vs LED Panel

Whether it be an interview, or recording for a vlog, an even spread of light is crucial so that the talent or subject is not overexposed, or there is too much contrast between the subject shadow. LED panels tend to introduce the least amount of shadows without the need for a softbox. Fresnel lights, on the other hand, require the use of softbox in order to minimize shadows.

ARRI Skypanel lineup offers top of the line LED panels in the industry and a lot of filmmakers are using it for their large budget films. Bear in mind that these LED panels from ARRI don’t come cheap (Take ARRI SkyPanel S120-C for example). If you’re on a budget, you can look for other alternatives (like Ikan Lyra). There are some insanely affordable light panels in the market as well but they might not be able to provide you a nice bright color-accurate output.

Just like a light panel, you can also create a soft-spread-light with a combination of a fresnel lens and a light dome.

Focusing a Talent | Fresnel vs LED Panel

Closing in on a subject in a group is important in fashion, and sports photography. The high output fresnel LEDs power the user to add a key light to the subject. This cannot be achieved by LED panels since they flood the scene.

Before choosing a light, it is critical to understand the difference between the two. Analyze what you will need to shoot, and then find out the type of lights that you need.

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Adarsh R

A blend of a photographer, a movie lover, and now a writer.