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More about Lighting and Colour Temperature

What is the ideal colour temperature for product photography?

Large Lights

Tabletop Lights Diamond Dazzler for Jewellery Kuhl Lites SimplyFoto Illuminated Flat Panel Under Lighting 5000K 5000K Perfect Daylight TrumpetTop Bulb

Lighting for Product Photography

The keys to the ideal lighting for product photography are diffusion and light colour. 


Harsh lighting can cause shadows, glare, reflections and hotspots. 

Soft shadow

Soft shadow

Direct light gives a harsh shadow Diffused light inside a light tent gives a very soft shadow

The EZcube® 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:


are the perfect colour for the Northern Hemisphere, giving light identical to natural daylight (see below)


use very little power relative to the light they produce


stay 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)


have a long lifespan (typically 8000 hours)


are eco-friendly

Light Colour

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.

Mixing Light Colours

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.  All 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)

Daylight Balanced Lighting

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!   

The bulbs 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. 

Why spend hours editing the images when you can take them right in the first place! J


Warm White - 2700K

Warm yellow colour (similar to normal household bulbs)

Cool White - 4200K

Less yellow colour - a mix of the green, yellow and orange parts of the spectrum.

Daylight - 5000K

Clear natural and full spectrum pure white light (perfect for product photography)

Super Daylight - 6400K   

Clear natural and full spectrum light with large shadows, tending to blue (unsuitable for product photography)

    The comparison below illustrates the colour and light spread of TableTop Studio TrumpetTop Bulbs

      40w Loop Bulb 30w TrumpetTop Bulb 25w Spiral Bulb  
      2700k Yellow Light 5000k Pure White Light 6400k Blue Light  
      Unsuitable for product photography Notice the Spread of Light Outwards - Utilising the shape of the Reflector to intensify and direct the light

    Ideal for Product Photography

    Unsuitable for product photography  

    Tabletop Studio Lighting


Large Light Medium Light Tabletop Light

The Tabletop Light Stand adjusts from 12" (31cm) minimum to 15" (38cm) maximum.  It has a small tripod base and is designed to sit on a tabletop.  Suitable for use with our 12" and 20" EZcubes.

The Medium Light Stand adjusts from 15.5" (39cm) minimum to 27.5" (70cm) maximum.  It has a small tripod base and is designed to sit on a tabletop.  Suitable for use with our 30" and 40" EZcubes.

The Large Light Stand adjusts from 2 feet (61cm) minimum up to 6 feet (183cm) maximum.  It has a large tripod base and is designed to stand on the floor.  Suitable for use with any sized EZcube.

All the lights have the same 10" (25.4cm) reflectors and the same 30W 5000K TrumpetTop Bulbs.  The size, shape and internal reflective paint of the 10" (25.4cm) reflectors and the unique shape and spiral properties of the 30W 5000K TrumpetTop Bulbs combine to ensure the best spread of perfect daylight light for ideal colour rendering (image colour matches the original item, giving a true impression of the item) and perfect product images.


SimplyFoto Lites

SimplyFoto Lites are a versatile, continuous lighting, compact fluorescent studio lighting solution.  They can be used as full studio lights (diffuser covers included) or to illuminate any light tent.  They come with our own design compact fluorescent TrumpetTop Bulbs 5000K which are perfect daylight colour, cool when in use and have a unique conical shape that spreads the light evenly, all ensuring perfectly balanced results.

SimplyFoto Lites are lightweight and compact and fold flat, making them easy to set up, dismantle, store and transport.

SimplyFoto Lites are available in three sizes - 40 (40cm x 40cm), 50 (50cm x 50cm) and 5070 (50cm x 70cm) in singles or pairs or as a combined set (one SimplyFoto Lite 40 & one SimplyFoto Lite 50). 

SimplyFoto Lites are ideal as full studio lights, for lighting larger light tents or for use when faster shutter speeds and smaller camera apertures are required with smaller light tents. 

SimplyFoto Lites also include Front Diffuser Panels for soft light diffusion so they can be used as full Studio Lights for larger items, video and portrait photography.

Our Professional TableTop Studio Lighting has been developed with the optimum 5000K colour temperature for perfect product photography.  Our cool running TrumpetTop Bulbs allow the SimplyFoto Lites to be placed close up to a light  tent for maximum light utilisation.  They will not overheat you or your products!

We recommend using two lights with a light tent to ensure even lighting for optimum product images.

SimplyFoto Lites work great when combined with an EZcube or a SimplyFotoSqaure Light Tent or a SimplyFoto Light Tent Cube.   They can also be used as full Studio Lights for portraiture, live models and video.

SimplyFoto Lites are also included in the following Photography Kits: SimplyFoto Clothing Photography Kit and SimplyFoto Mannequin Photography Kit

To read more about SoftBoxes, please click here


Kuhl Lites

TableTop Studio revolutionised product photography with the introduction of the original EZcube® and as the first company to introduce 5000K lighting to the UK.  Now we have done it again with the introduction of our new Kuhl Lites™.  Kuhl Lites continue our principle of providing a product that really works, is easy to use, even for those with little or no previous experience, and is lightweight and compact, making it easy to set up, dismantle, store and transport.  A complete light head can be set up, folded up and stored away in seconds.  No tools are required.

Kuhl Lites are ideal for lighting larger EZcubes or for use when faster shutter speeds and smaller camera apertures are required with smaller EZcubes.

The Kuhl Lite 120 has a 20" x 20" high performance softbox reflector and four of our own TrumpetTop Bulbs, giving equivalent of 600W of 5000K perfect daylight.

The Kuhl Lite 30 has a 16" x 16" high performance softbox reflector and a single one of our own TrumpetTop Bulbs, giving equivalent of 150W of 5000K perfect daylight.

Our recommended set up with an EZcube it to use one Kuhl Lite 120 on one side of an EZcube and one Kuhl Lite 30 on the other side.  The Kuhl Lite 120 provides the key light and the Kuhl Lite 30 serves as the fill light.  The large square softbox reflectors are ideal in matching the square sides of the EZcube and our cool running TrumpetTop Bulbs allow the Kuhl Lites to be placed close up to the EZcube for maximum light utilisation. 

Kuhl Lites are also included in the following Photography Kits: Universal Kuhl Lite Kits Clothing Photography Kit and Furniture Photography Kit.




©2003-2012 TableTop Studio Ltd ~ Images ©2003-2012 TableTop Studio Ltd or LLC.  All rights reserved.