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Questions about light bulb wattage,brightness for lightbox lighting.


Hello Forum;


Question One: Which is better for product photography a 5500K temperature light or a 6500K temperature light?


Question Two: Which is better for portrait photography a 5500K temperature light or a 6500K temperature light?


Question Three: Would a 65W 6500K bulb (Option 1 below) or would an 85W 5500K bulb (option 2 below) give out the brightest light?


Question Four *: Would three (3) 65W bulbs (Option 1 below) give out more light or be brighter than two (2) 85W bulbs (Option 2 below)?

* A different way of asking Question Four would be does bulb wattage compound meaning does (3) x 65W = 195W and (2) x 85W = 170W or does (3) x 65W = 65W and (2) x 85W = 85W?


Question Five: Which of the two options below would be best for an entry level photographer?


Option 1.

Two (2) 24"x24" lightboxes with stands, one (1)16"x16" lightbox with stand/boom(overhead), three (3) 65W 6500K E26 CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) spiral light bulbs with E26 socket.

Sold on eBay, $60.29

[Link removed per Forum Guidelines]


The listing above says a). the 16"x16" lightbox can use up to a 105W E26 light bulbs and b). the 24"x24" light boxes can use up to an 85W E26 CFL light bulb. I take it to mean that the 24"x24" light boxes would have heat damage with bulbs with wattage greater than 85W.


Also, the listing above says that there are two levels of light control available for the light boxes. I am not sure what they mean by that.


Option 2.

Two (2) 24"x24" light boxes, two (2) 85W 5500K CFL spiral light bulbs with E27 socket.

Sold by Amazon, $59.99

[Link removed per Forum Guidelines]

Thank you in advance.



Hi, petenorris,


I wanted to let you know I had to remove those links from your post - we don't allow any links in the forum to auction sites or anyone other than well-respected Canon Dealers or brick-and-mortar shops. This prevents people from being scammed, or being taken advantage of. You're welcome to discuss third party gear, and whatnot, but we can't allow links to selling things. Be sure to review the Forum Guidelines HERE, if you have questions!

Oops. Sorry about that.


It is impossible to say about any of this with out knowing exactly what the actual setup is.  Any of that could work for something and not work for a lot of everything else.

I can tell you a 24"x24" light box and certainly any one smaller is almost useless.  48"x48" and bigger is what you want.


As for heat build up I have been using 100-Watt Equivalent T2 Twister CFL  Daylight Light Bulbs in almost everything.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!


Trying to compare light bulbs by wattage isn't going to work, the value in watts is the amount of electrical power consumed and doesn't neccessarily relate that closely to the light output. The only true way is to compare the light level in lumens.

Ray-uk made a very important point!


I would also add that depending upon the light box design, heat buildup can be an issue with a lot of bulbs.  CFL (and LED) bulbs have a power supply built into the base and when they are operated in high ambient temperature the power supply life will be decreased and with some low cost CFL designs that life may be only a few hours when operated even moderately above the manufacturer's poorly chosen design temperature. A lot of CFL bulbs were listed in small print by their manufacturer for base down only operation because the base mounted power supply was so heat sensitive that base up operation killed it very quickly and base horizontal wasn't a whole lot better.  So be careful with cheap CFL bulbs.


LED bubls are similar in that most designs dump a lot of the input wattage as waste in their power supply section with the actual light emitting diode dissipating very little power.


And although it may not be important for your intended use, CFL and many LED bulbs will flicker at the line frequency or in the case of some LED bulbs using a high efficiency supply some other flicker rate and the built in anti-flicker setup in the camera which is selectable for a 50 or 60 hertz standard line frequencies won't help with these high efficiency supplies that aren't tied directly to a standard line frequency.  Incandescent bulbs have sufficient thermal inertia that they won't create flicker nor will LED devices driven from a pure DC source.



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

"As for heat build up I have been using 100-Watt Equivalent T2 Twister CFL  Daylight Light Bulbs in almost everything."


There is no significant heat build up with these.  I mean if you are comparing to what we used to have to do.  Girls would actually start sweating under the big lights.  But you need to use a good light meter to determine what lights you need.  You can't guess!   I can also tell you it takes a lot of light.


I am not into this type photography much since I retired but I think everybody uses LED lights now.  You can get a cheap starter kit from Smith-Victor.  Remember bigger is better.

EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!



Thanks for stressing the light meter.  The alternative is copious amounts of frustration, wasted time, and wasted money.


You are using good quality lights but there are some really crummy CFL products that are probably still out there even though the breed is dying out rapidly due to LED technology which is superior for almost all applications.  I was concerned when I saw Ebay mentioned in the original post because there is both great and also very sketchy stuff sold there and a lot of it doesn't come close to meeting standards for the EU or North America. 


One of the more fun risk management projects I was involved in several years ago was testing a variety of CFL devices purchased from various retail outlets under typical rather than best practice use conditions.  It was fun watching how quickly many of them had heat stroke and malfunctioned in various entertaining ways but I wouldn't want it happening indoors unless you wanted to dynamically test your fire detection system.  Most of the poorly designed products when subjected to a less friendly environment just quickly discolored the base, emitted a little smoke, and died but a few put on a noise and smoke show with a bit of fire thrown in for good measure as they went to light bulb heaven. 



EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, M6 Mark II, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

I have not used the LED systems so no comment. I have used the CFL units for years.  You used to, maybe still, be able to buy them in lots of temperature ranges.  I think mine are 6000K.  But I have used some that were 4000K.  I have most of them set up over my work shop bench now!  It is in the formerly stop bath stained walls of my old darkroom.


I know Smith Victor has cheap starter kits that are good enough to teach yourself how to use this gear without breaking the bank.  If you dig it, you can get better gear later on. This isn't easy. It takes some time, some thought and set up to get just a single good shot.


EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and less lenses then before!