Preference on beamshots. Which do you prefer.

I’ve noticed that there’s often quite a bit of difference in exposure when it comes to beamshots between person to person. I’ve noticed that some people prefer to take nice long exposures that often enhance the overall light output of a light. Then there’s those people who prefer to set their camera exposure to match what their eyes see. Which do you prefer? One extreme or the other? Somewhere in between? Feel free to post an example on what your ideal outdoor/indoor beamshot looks like (on something other than a white wall).

Personally I prefer something closer to what my eyes see when I turn on the light. I think it will help temper expectations, if someone chooses to buy the light. I still need to perfect my beamshots because I feel that oftentimes they’re slightly underexposed.

Close to what the photographer sees and with a note how close it is, it’s hard to get accurate reproduction sometimes.

How do you set your exposure to make it approximate what the eyes will see? Is there an ISO/shutter/aperture ratio that is recommended? If everyone used the same settings in a forum that make all beamshots relative to each other which would be nice. At the moment I view beamshots as something that can only be used to compare against other beamshots that were shot at the same time, in the same location, with the same camera settings.

Personally I leave the light on, and take a series of photos, dialing up or down the aperture (and shutter speed)… until whatever appears on the preview screen looks like what my eyes see. The exception being is if you’re comparing moonlight modes between lights you may have to really dial the shutter speed to take long exposures. But then it really blows out the high modes because you’re artificially bumping up the low/sub lumen modes.

As long as it’s not over saturated it’s accurate.

Ironically it just so happens that a couple of days ago I did take an overexposed series of shots that don’t do me much good, so I’ll have to go back and do them again.

Spark SL6 with XM-L2:

and how it compared to an SD6 with the flood lens:

and how the same scene looks when taken by a friend of mine that knows nothing about LED’s but really knows his way around a camera:

I've been taking a series of shots with a range of shutter speeds. My goal is to have beam shots that show the difference between lights, which means that overexposed shots aren't acceptable. I'm still working on refining how I do my beam shots. I noticed another reviewer "zoom in" to objects further away...same shot, but cropped in post. That would fix the problem I have with my furthest target looking the same because it's too small in the photos to tell otherwise.

Btw, this is the kind of thread I think would be perfect in the reviewer forum I suggested.

Personally I prefer to do the shots very close to what we see in person, with possibly a slight bump in the light/exposed direction. I go that direction sometimes because I’ve found that down sizing, uploading & etc. tend to darking the shots at times. So in an idea world, those very slightly over exposed shots turn out being pretty correct once posted.
Now of course it doesn’t work out that way all the time. But that’s what I shoot for. Before my last outing, I took my camera out and experimented with several main settings and then tried all the close variations to it. For example, I tried ISO 200, 400, 800, & 1600. And timing ranging from 1.5 sec up to 4 sec… And lastly, F5.6 up to F22. I tried every variation of those settings until I found the most focused, realistic looking shots. That gave about 4 that were pretty good. Of those I decided to get the most exposed of those 4 good looking & close to normal looking shots.
But I admit this is still a learning experience for me. I still want to work on getting even more clear shots. But that’s hard to do with out long timed exposures.

I’m a photographer. I have camera’s that can make midnight with no moon look almost like daylight. The objective is to take a shot that looks like what your eyes see, but when comparing two lights your eyes adjust automatically to the difference and negate some of what is actually a fairly wide spread. So I like to use manual settings, choose middle ground…like the middle of 3 different lights…make the settings to expose how it looks to my eye and leave the settings alone. It’s not going to be right of course because the weaker light will look much weaker and the stronger light will look much stronger. Nature of the beast.

But it does show the difference between lights in a given setting. I also like to zoom in on distant throw shots, but include a wide angle to show the overall beam pattern.

Use a tripod, leave the camera in the same position, and use another tripod or box, fence post, hood of the car, whatever to hold the lights in as close to the same position as possible. I split a piece of pvc pipe and drilled a hole in it, threaded it, and mount it on a tripod. With a Velcro strap around the end to ensure the light doesn’t fall out, I can easily take exactly the same shot with different lights.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!


when I need a flood light I prefer a floody light….
and when I need a spot light I prefer a spot light….

The pictures are all relative, so I don’t think over exposed is really a big deal. As long as the settings don’t change between shots and it’s not over saturated it should be fine.

Whatever you want to call it, if the hotspot is all 255, the ability to compare it is limited. It's like maxing out a lux meter.

I’m not quite sure I follow. Over exposed means it is brighter than it really is. Over saturated means it’s 255, 255, 255 any you can’t discern the difference between hot spots.
You can over expose a photo without over saturating it.

And when I when I need a thread to read, this isn’t the one….

You follow just fine.

I actually think this is quite interesting.. Even though people have different opinions, its good to see WHY people do what they do. And it can bring others to some ideas.

I think that comparing beamshots is always a good thing, instead of just showing "my newest light" because of the things that are mentioned in this thread (under exposure, over exposure of the actual picture.

And if you have some monsters in the 2000+ lumens, for long range beamshots, a standard Aperture and Shutter speed might be useful. Just so you are able to compare them, even you end up doing a review 6 months after the other.
(without too much difference in weather condition)

I have been using my Canon G1X for beamshots lately, because it’s quick and easy. When I’m going to be comparing a change, such as a driver upgrade or stacked chips, or even a new light as compared to shot’s I’ve shown recently of others, I go to the same set and use the same settings on the camera. For me, a standard shot is directly in front of a large 8” diameter corner fence post and pointing towards a red oil drum in our shed 97 yds away. Our house is hard left, a trailer shed hard right, and trees and other stuff in the picture that help show depth and distance.

Keeping that same set makes lights comparable over time.

The two shots above are from July 10th, and August 1.

For distance shots I use the same target, same camera settings. The target? A barn 610 yds from our fenceline on the driveway.

In this case, by request, I cropped heavily into the zoomed shot (took a wide angle and a zoom) to show detail on just how much light was hitting the barn at over 600 yds, this is a Solarforce M3 on an L2P host, modified of course…de-domed and running 4.28A with it’s stock XM-L U2 moved to a copper SinkPAD.