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Natural light is excellent when it comes to taking stunning shots. Unfortunately, you can’t have this type of light always, especially for indoor photography.
The weather may be unfavorable with clouds hanging over the sky. Something outside might be blocking your window or main light source. You might want to take photos at night. Any and all of these factors can make you seek alternative light sources for capturing images indoors.
Light bulbs are great alternatives, but not every option will give you the desired effect. If you are considering buying the best light bulbs for indoor photography, you will find great recommendations in this post.
Light Bulb Options for Indoor Photography
Let’s get this straight; light bulbs are great for taking quick photos of your kids or a small party at home. These are not what should be considered for professional shoots. Instead, they will give you decent lighting, enabling you to take shots at home as if you are a pro.
The light bulbs you choose for your indoor shots will largely depend on the effect you want to create. Here are some of the best options to pick and the benefits as well as the drawbacks of each.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
LEDs are considered the best light bulbs for indoor photography, and for good reasons. First of all, they are energy efficient, consuming far less energy than incandescent bulbs. That’s another way of saying you will be saving a lot of money on energy bills and replacement bulbs. Besides, there will be no need to deal with the hassles of changing light bulbs ever so frequently.
Unlike other types of bulbs, LEDs do not give off as much heat. But most importantly, they do not contain hazardous materials, making them one of the safest options for home use and studio use. They are also environmental-friendly, but you won’t be throwing them into the trash any time soon because they are built to be extremely durable and typically have a long lifespan.
Switch them on, and they will warm up very quickly, ready to give you the best lighting for your shots.
These advantages notwithstanding, LEDs come with their own share of disadvantages, the most obvious being their high price tag. Some of them are not as bright as other light bulbs and might not be suitable for lighting up your space for taking great photos.
Thinking of buying LEDs for indoor photography? Check out these recommendations:
Bluex Bulbs Dimmable LED Light Bulb
Dimmable LED light bulbs are preferable in some conditions, and Bluex offers some great options. Your purchase gives you eight LED A19 bulbs rated at 2700K and 9W (equivalent to 60 watts of incandescent light bulbs).
Installation is quick and easy – simply screw them into any standard E26 socket, and you are good to go. Each of these bulbs can last for up 15000 hours, meaning you are not likely to shop for a replacement for a long time.
Great Eagle LED Light Bulb
If a dimmable light bulb is not a top priority for you, but a higher watt is, the Great Eagle LED Light Bulb is definitely worth checking out.
While this option is rated at 5000K like the previous model, it produces 100W bright light using 120 volts.
These non-dimmable LED bulbs are quite popular with buyers, especially as they can reach full brightness in an instant, even in sub-zero temperatures. This is a great choice, as far as daylight-balanced LED light bulbs are concerned.
LOHAS Dimmable Smart Light Bulb
If you have a smart home or prefer a light bulb that communicates with a virtual assistant, you might want to check out what LOHAS has to offer. The 4-pack LED Dimmable Smart Light Bulb can work seamlessly with Google Home, Alexa, and Siri. You can even set a timer for when the bulbs should turn on and off.
But these are not merely fanciful bulbs. They are rated 5000K, making them perfect for daylight lighting and taking crisp photos.
Halogen Light Bulbs
Too hot to handle, yet very bright; these are the common qualities that halogen light bulbs are known for. These types of bulbs produce light when the tungsten filament heats up with electrical current, which explains why they can get extremely hot.
On the good side, halogen light bulbs produce brilliant white lights and reach full brightness instantly. Many of these bulbs are dimmable, letting you create special effects in your shots. You can safely put them in the trash when they are no longer useful because they are not hazardous waste.
Some of the drawbacks with halogen bulbs include high cost, relatively short lifespan, and they can get dangerously hot. Besides, they might be too intense for certain conditions where a less bright light will be more ideal.
Here are some of the best light bulbs for indoor photography in the halogen category:
SerBion GU10 Halogen Light Bulb
SerBion designed the GU10 Halogen Light Bulbs to consume low-power while giving off a warm white light. They come with a glass cover and will fit in any lamp or fixture with a twist and lock base.
The 6-pack product is rated for 2700 Kelvin, making it ideal for giving your photos a relaxing mood. To create more desirable effects, the bulbs come with a dimmable function, so you can set them to suit different conditions.
If all goes well, these bulbs should last for at least 2500 hours.
SKYEVER Halogen JDD Bulb
At 2900K, Skyever’s option is suitable for producing the right type of lighting for a warm, cozy photo shoot.
What sets these halogen light bulbs apart from others is their shock-resistant and vibration-proof filament. Screw them to any E26 standard socket in your photo studio or your home, and confidently go about taking eye-catching photos without worrying about knocking down the lamp.
The bulbs come with UV filter technology, creating even 360-degree lighting for your photoshoots. The product has an estimated lifespan of up to 3000 hours.
Sylvania Halogen Light Bulb
The Sylvania Halogen Light Bulb is a fully-dimmable light source that can be adjusted up to 0% and can last for up to 2000 hours.
It has a color rendering index rated at 90+, meaning the reds, blues, and greens in your photos will appear with greater clarity and more accurately.
The pack of four produces 72W (equivalent to 100W of incandescent light bulbs) and rated 2800K (soft white light).
Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs)
CFLs are another energy-efficient type of bulbs that are good for taking good photos indoors. These light bulbs typically use little to no heat.
CFLs’ upfront cost is usually on the high side, but you will save money in the long run because you won’t be shopping for replacement bulbs too often. After all, they typically last long, at least a lot longer than incandescent light bulbs.
However, this option comes with a few of its own drawbacks. Top on the list is the hazardous materials found in CFL bulbs, namely, mercury. Of course, you will not likely drop dead the very instant you switch on this type of bulb, but it might have some adverse effect on humans and the environment, especially if the bulb breaks.
Secondly, it doesn’t reach full brightness instantly. If you are going to use this for indoor photography, you have to give it some time to warm up and reach its full capacity.
The market is rife with literally tons of CFLs, but here are some great options to consider:
Emart 5500K CFL Daylight Photography Light Bulb
Emart’s CFL Daylight Light Bulbs is available in a pack of two, with each producing a 150-watt output, equivalent to 500 watts of a regular incandescent light bulb.
With these bulbs, you get an average of 8000 hours of extremely bright 5500 Kelvin color temperature without noise or flicker. They can fit into any standard (E26/E27) socket.
The spiral-style bulbs are a common feature in professional photo studios and work great for home use too.
Slow Dolphin CFL Full Spectrum 5500K Photography Light Bulb
Here’s another great CFL option from Slow Dolphin. The 5500-kelvin full spectrum light bulb comes in a pack of four and is suitable for studio lighting and taking beautiful photos at home.
You’ll be saving up to 80% of energy with these bulbs, and like the previous option, these too can last for an average of 8000 hours. That means you won’t spend money on replacement light bulbs for quite a while.
Fit them into E26/E27 standard base sockets and light up your room with an equivalent of 225 watts of full-spectrum light for those stunning shots.
G-raphy CFL Daylight Balanced Bulb
Available in a pack of two, the G-raphy CFL Daylight Balanced Bulb provides 150W, rated to last for up to 5 years. The 5500-kelvin daylight-balanced bulb is a near-perfect light source very similar to natural light.
With an accurate color rendering index rated at 90, these noise- and flicker-free light bulbs are both indoor photo and video-friendly.
Here’s something else you might like about G-raphy’s CFL bulbs. You can use them as grow lights for your indoor garden.
Tips for Choosing the Best Light Bulbs for Indoor Photography
- Your best bet is daylight-balanced LED light bulbs. For best results, consider choosing options with a 5000-kelvin temperature rating.
- Stick to one brand when you use light bulbs as your primary source of lighting. That’s because daylight bulbs can have slightly different effects or feel, depending on the company. You don’t want to create a bigger lighting mess by using different daylight shades in one photo.
- Avoid mixing different lights in the same photo. Using light bulbs to complement natural light is okay. But you will end up doing a lot of heavy editing if you have natural light, tungsten light, and daylight bulbs all in one shot.
- You can use dimmable lights to create certain desirable effects in your shots, and you can use them in non-dimmable circuits or fixtures. But do not use non-dimmable bulbs in a dimmable circuit, as it may damage the bulb and fixture. In any case, be sure to read the labels and only buy bulbs that are compatible with your switches and circuits.
Understanding Color Temperature
Color temperature is not a complex thing to figure out, and you really don’t have to be a pro to understand it. To keep things simple, here’s what you need to know to help you get the best out of your indoor lighting, especially as it concerns taking great photos.
Without getting into many details, the color temperature of light is rated using a scale known as Kelvin (K), and it goes from 2700 to 6500 Kelvin.
The color temperature of the light bulb you use will determine the quality of pictures you get from your photoshoot – soft, warm, cool, crisp, and more.
2700K to 3000K Color Temperature
Choose color temperatures between 2700K and 3000K if you want a soft and warm white light with a faint yellowish tint. This gives your photo a cozy and comfortable effect.
3100K to 4500K Color Temperature
Color temperatures ranging between 3100K and 4500K will produce a neutral cool white light. Choose light bulbs with this rating if you want to create a dynamic effect or highlight certain details.
4600K to 6500K Color Temperature
This range creates bright, energetic, and crisp light that looks very much like daylight. This is the closest to natural lighting, and you should consider choosing this if you want to shoot photos that require little to no editing.
The best light bulbs for indoor photography will depend largely on the effect you are looking for in a photo shoot. Decide how you want your photos to appear and choose any of the light bulbs on this list, not forgetting the tips on getting the best results.