Why Use a Fresnel Light?

why use fresnal lighting

Named after its inventor, Augustin-Jean Fresnel, these lights have been a cornerstone in stage lighting for decades, providing a soft, controllable glow that enhances performances and captivates audiences, but what is a fresnel, and when should you use them?

Quick Facts

Fresnel: pronounced fruh-nel

The fresnel lens was originally created for use in a lighthouse.

What Is a Fresnel Light?

The key feature of a fresnel is a fresnel lens. The distinctive stepped design of the lens enables the light to be collimated into a parallel beam, resulting in a concentrated and directional output. The Fresnel lens allows for easy adjustment of the light’s beam angle. This makes it possible to focus the light tightly or spread it out more diffusely, providing flexibility in shaping the illumination to suit your specific need.

Fresnel lights are celebrated for their ability to produce a soft and even wash of light, making them ideal for general stage lighting. The design of the fresnel lens allows for a smooth transition between the center and the edges of the beam, resulting in a gentle and uniform illumination across the stage.

When Should You Use a Fresnel

Your General Wash:

  • Fresnel lenses are often used for general stage illumination when you need a wash of light over a broad area. The soft, even light they produce is useful for creating a smooth and uniform background illumination.

Highlighting Actors or Objects:

  • Fresnels can be used to highlight specific actors or objects on stage. Their adjustable focus allows you to change the size and shape of the beam, making it easy to direct attention to a particular area.


  • Fresnel lights can be used for creating silhouettes when positioned behind performers or objects. This technique can add drama and depth to a scene.

Top and Backlighting:

  • Fresnel lights are commonly used for top and backlighting to separate performers from the background and create depth on the stage. The soft, controllable beam helps prevent harsh shadows.

Three-Point Lighting

In Conclusion

In the world of theatrical lighting, Fresnel lights have proven to be indispensable tools. Their soft, even illumination, variable focus, and efficient light output make them a timeless choice for enhancing performances and creating captivating visual experiences. As technology advances, the enduring appeal and practicality of Fresnel lights ensure their continued prominence in the ever-evolving landscape of theatrical and house-of-worship design.

When Not To Use a Fresnel?

LED Par vs. LED Fresnel

LED fresnel lights and LED pars are both popular lighting fixtures. Each type has its own characteristics and advantages, and the choice between them depends on the specific requirements of the lighting application. Here are some key differences between LED fresnel and LED par fixtures:

Light Characteristics:

  • LED Fresnel: Fresnel lights are known for their adjustable focus and soft, even light distribution. They have a lens with concentric rings that allow for the adjustment of the beam angle. This makes them versatile for creating different lighting effects and adjusting the size and focus of the light beam.
  • LED PAR: PAR lights produce a more concentrated and defined beam of light compared to fresnel lights. They typically have a fixed beam angle, and the light is distributed in a more uniform and concentrated pattern.

Beam Angle:

  • LED Fresnel: Fresnel lights offer a variable beam angle, which means you can adjust the spread of the light beam according to your needs. This flexibility makes them suitable for a variety of applications, including key lighting, fill lighting, and general stage illumination.
  • LED PAR: PAR lights have a fixed beam angle. While this limits their versatility compared to Fresnel lights, they are often used when a specific beam angle and intensity are required.


  • LED Fresnel: Fresnel lights are versatile and commonly used for theater, film, and television production. They are suitable for creating a range of lighting effects and can be used for both spot and flood lighting.
  • LED PAR: PAR lights are often used when a more focused and intense beam of light is needed, such as highlighting specific areas on a stage or providing accent lighting.

Size and Portability:

  • LED Fresnel: Fresnel lights are generally larger and may be bulkier due to the lens design. They are often mounted on lighting grids or stands.
  • LED PAR: PAR lights are often more compact and portable, making them a popular choice for smaller venues or events where space is a consideration.

Ultimately, the choice between LED fresnel and LED par lights will depend on the specific lighting requirements of a given production or application. Each type has its strengths and may be chosen based on factors such as the desired beam characteristics, flexibility, and the overall lighting design.

LED Fresnel vs. LED Ellipsoidal

Here are some key differences between LED fresnel and LED ellipsoidal lights:

LED Fresnel Lights:

Beam Angle Adjustability:

  • Characteristic Feature: Fresnel lights have an adjustable beam angle, allowing you to change the spread of light from a spot to a flood. This makes them versatile for various lighting scenarios.

Soft, Gradual Shadows:

  • Light Quality: Fresnel lights produce a relatively soft and even light. They are known for creating smooth, gradual shadows, making them suitable for general stage and studio lighting.


  • Versatility: The focusable nature of Fresnel lights allows you to adjust the beam size by moving the light source closer or further away from the lens.

Compact Design:

  • Form Factor: Fresnel lights typically have a compact design, making them easier to handle and move around. They are often used in smaller spaces or where a low-profile fixture is needed.

LED Ellipsoidal Lights:

Precise Beam Control:

  • Optical Precision: Ellipsoidal lights offer precise control over the shape and direction of the light beam. They are known for sharp and well-defined edges, making them ideal for spotlighting and highlighting specific areas on stage.

Gobos and Patterns:

  • Projection Capabilities: Ellipsoidal lights often have slots for inserting gobos (stencils or patterns), allowing for the projection of intricate shapes, logos, or textures.

Long Throw Distances:

  • Distance Reach: Ellipsoidals are designed for longer throw distances, making them suitable for applications where the light needs to be projected over a significant distance with minimal loss of intensity.

Less Spill Light:

  • Controlled Light Output: Ellipsoidals are designed to minimize spill light, directing the majority of the light precisely where needed. This characteristic is valuable for controlling light spill in theatrical productions.

Considerations for Choosing:

  • Application: Choose based on the specific needs of your lighting application. If you need soft, adjustable lighting with a focus on versatility, a fresnel light may be more suitable. If you require precise control over the light beam, sharp edges, and the ability to project patterns, an ellipsoidal light may be the better choice.
  • Space and Placement: Fresnel lights are often more compact, making them suitable for smaller spaces, while ellipsoidals are designed for longer throw distances.

Ultimately, the choice between LED fresnel and LED ellipsoidal lights will depend on the specific requirements of your lighting design and the effects you wish to achieve.

Introducing The Springtree Spartan Fresnel!

We design products only where we see a need, and while there are many brilliant high-end fresnels, there was a need for an affordable fresnel that is extremally high quality. We are excited to introduce to you the Spartan300-VW. Watch the video to learn more 🙂.

Thanks for reading!