Lighting for Product Photography
to the ideal lighting for product photography are diffusion and light colour.
Harsh lighting can
cause shadows, glare, reflections and hotspots.
Direct light gives a harsh shadow
Diffused light inside a light tent gives a
very soft shadow
is the ideal way to diffuse the light. Although it is possible to
illuminate the EZcube®
using sunlight, the availability of sunlight tends to be unreliable so a
professional lighting solution is the best approach. A good balance of lighting
is achieved by illuminating the EZcube® from two opposing sides, although
please note that no single light position will work for every item or every
situation and many and varied results and effects can be achieved by
adjusting the angle and position of the lights.
We recommend using
Perfect Daylight 5000K Compact Fluorescent Bulbs because they:
the perfect colour for the Northern Hemisphere, giving light identical to
natural daylight (see below)
very little power relative to the light they produce
cool and so are safe to touch
do not heat up
the lamp holders, light tent or the products being photographed
(especially important for some products)
a long lifespan (typically 8000 hours)
The colour of light
(correctly known as the "colour temperature") is measured in units of Kelvin (K).
The range of the Kelvin (K) scale for visible light is 1500K to 9000K. The
lower the number the warmer or more yellow the light and the higher the
number the cooler or more white and/or blue the light. The human
eye is not able to see all of the colour in the range of colour temperature.
The ideal colour temperature for product photography is 5000K as this
provides the best colour balance and representation without the need for
filters or software editing. This ensures correct colour rendering and
balance such that the colour of the image closely resembles the colour of
the original item. This is very important if you are selling items
online as your customers need to be sure that your image accurately reflects
the genuine colour of the item.
It is important to be
sure that you do not mix light colours - all the light sources that you use
at one time need to be the same colour temperature. No camera, no
matter how good or expensive, can cope with more than one colour of light at
the same time.
the light sources that you use together should be the same colour
temperature. Remember that UK Daylight is 5000K so it is safe to use
our 5000K lighting with natural daylight from a nearby window (for more
about this see below)
There is a lot of
confusion about "daylight" or "daylight balanced" lighting. Lighting
described as “daylight” can be anything between about 4700K and about 6500K
but not all of this range is suitable for specialist product photography.
The range of suitable lighting is very much smaller, in the region of 5000K
to 5500K maximum.
Our lighting is 5000K
because this most accurately reflects true natural daylight of the kind that
will be coming in your window. As mentioned above, it is important always
use lighting products that all match in their Kelvin value and this applies
to window light just as much as to any artificial light you might use.
Unless you want to work in the dark (at night or with blackout blinds) then
the artificial lighting you use should be the same colour as your natural
window light. Natural window light can actually be used to advantage
providing that your artificial lighting is the same colour.
The colour temperature of “natural daylight” (the
daylight coming in your window) depends on where you are on the planet since
the colour temperature of “natural daylight” varies with latitude. The
colour temperature of “natural daylight” on an average day in the UK and
Europe (Northern Hemisphere) is 5000K. Colour temperature of 5400K only
occurs at noon on a very sunny day (very rare in the UK) and so lighting of
5400K is inappropriate at any other time or under any other circumstances.
Lighting of a colour temperature above 5400K is suitable only for Central
Latitudes. The diagram below illustrates this well.
It is clear from this
explanation that for perfect colour representation, so that the colour of an
image appears identical to the way the object would appear under normal UK
daylight conditions to someone who was viewing the object (and not an image
of the object), 5000K will give the perfect match. Therefore, lighting of
5000K will give the very best images without problems or corrections.
Why we use 5000K and not 5400K
or 5600K or 6000K?
The choice of which Daylight
Colour Temperature does confuse a lot of people. 5400K is the average
northern hemisphere average temperature AT NOON. This means that natural
light in the UK is 5400K ONLY at noon. This is fine if you only want to
work at 12:00 noon and not the rest of the day! 5000K is the average
northern hemisphere temperature measured throughout the day. So at noon it
will be a little higher and early and late it will be a little lower, but
with 5000K you are never very far away from the natural light levels at any
time of day. Early and late you will be much further away from natural
levels with 5400K and at 5600K you will be even further away. Average
colour temperature will peak at noon, so to be closest to the daylight
temperature all day you need to be quite a bit below 5600K. 6000K, another
popular daylight colour temperature, is the average equatorial temperature.
This is ideal if you are at the equator, but not very helpful if you are in
the UK or Europe!
supplied by most companies are “off the shelf”, whatever is available.
Our TrumpetTop, Sparkler and Diamond Dazzler Bulbs are all custom made to
our own specifications, both in terms of the unique shape to maximise the
distribution and spread of light and for the ideal colour temperature.
Since we are able to exactly specify what we want for perfect product
photography we are able to specify the most ideal colour temperature for all
our lighting equipment.
The reason that most suppliers use 5400K or 5600K or even 6000K is these
are the colour temperatures that are readily available off the shelf, where 5000K
is not. Then, of course, their job is to persuade you that what they can
easily buy in is what is best!
If you want
perfect daylight 5000K, you have to have it specially made and most
suppliers will not do this. 5000K is the perfect white natural
daylight for all product photography. No other colour temperature will
give such perfect results.
spend hours editing the images when you can take them right in the first