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Cheap Bulbs (& ones that work!) lighting solutions
  • @LPowell mentioned that for shooting with the GH2, he preferred 5000K color temperature Compact Florescent Light (CFL) bulbs over the more common (in photography) 5500K daylight bulbs. That got me to thinking...
    Most photographic quality CFL bulbs are expensive because they have more phosphors inside the bulb to decrease the greenish tint generally associated with florescent light. My working theory was that since all bulbs come from China, some at the local store may be the "right stuff."
    Since the photography market is rather small and 5000K bulbs are relatively more common, it made sense that overage would make it's way to retail. I felt there was at least a chance. After all, they make the things by the millions.
    I felt I had a better than average chance, however, a talk with an insider made me feel chances were even better, yet.
    So... I went out and bought a bunch of bulbs.
    Good news!
    I'm still testing but may just have a winner...& it's the cheapest one!
    Any interest?
  • 21 Replies sorted by
  • Of course.
    Jusr remember to post actual photos of all bulbs and shooting results :-)
    Also note that bulb models change very fast.

    I also moved your topic to gear subcategory.
  • my testing was based on GF1 + old uncoated zeiss lens ...histograms.
    Is that a good enough test method?
  • I think best method is to use gray or color cards and look how each bulb shifts color.
  • I had a heck of a time trying to find CFL's with a CRI higher than 90. I ended up settling for 5500K CRI86 daylight photog bulbs.

    Keen to see your findings, and price too =)
  • @MRfanny
    Until then:
    I've got one from Lowe's that has to be the Best-bang-for-the-buck! $9.00 for 12.
    Utilitech 1600 series 23w 1500 lumens Catalog #0345544 (4 pack) $2.98
    Note: There are 2 styles of this bulb, one with black writing on the base and one with green writing. The black is better. Also the base shape is more cylindrical than the other. I will eventually post pictures.
    Distributed by LG Sourcing, Inc. No GRI stated but appears high (& one of the better balanced histograms, so far.) I also compared the color to images taken with my known good 4 ft tubes.

    The Politics: The local electric utility is buying down prices to make them this cheap. Also the utility rep. doing this job told me the quality varies because of the different motivations behind the bulk sales to the distributor!
  • @bubba

    these: ? They seem to be $12 for 4 here, but maybe my local store will have a different price.
  • @csync Yep, that's the one.
    Must be: The Politics: The local electric utility is buying down prices to make them this cheap. Also the utility rep. doing this job told me the quality varies because of the different motivations behind the bulk sales to the distributor!

    also: according to rep, seems goods get cheaper as manufacturers have to sell to pay bills
  • I have never seen anything like the BlueMax 93CRI bulbs at a discount store, but if you or anyone sees any let me know! I would be very interested in buying a tub of them. I'm sure they are custom fabbed elsewhere but even looking on aliexpress I haven't seen anything similar. They are 5500K, 93+ CRI, and the mercury is bound to some sort of glue or substrate so if you drop one you don't send mercury dust all over the room.
  • @DrDave
    Get us good physical description of bulb. We can see.
    Due to loans being hard to get, I understand many companies were funding inventories through loan sharks. That stuff may be what is being liquidated to pay-up.
  • I found it cheaper and easier to simply buy 1/16, 1/8 and 1/4 minus green gels and match them to the bulbs.
  • You prefer that to custom WB?
  • Also interested in why to minus green if you're only using the fluorescents.
  • I would like to see a shootout with a good camera and and bad light, and a bad camera and good light.
    I wonder how many people buy a $400 lens and a $3 light bulb :) (I include myself in this category)
  • I'll jump on drdaves wagon if you source 93+cri bulbs, in particular 70 or 85w ones.
  • @DrDave, a reason might be that when you white balance a shitty fluorescent that's green spiking that white balance increases the gain on the other channels to match the green, resulting in additional noise. If you gel to correct the spike, it's a more realistic estimate of the amount of light you have to work with and should reduce noise.

    Could anyone verify that this is how white balance works? (Sorry if this should be in another thread)
  • Haven't seen any noise, but thanks for the tip.
  • You can't WB away the green spike, that's why I still minus green if I can. You have to minus green the cheaper HID/HMI lights too as they have tons of green in them as well.

    That and I use mixed sources.
  • Those Lowe's bulbs are dirt cheap, but I guess it's US only?

    I bought some of these to use with softbox

    Them are available internationally, extremely bright (150W) and the color temperature 5500K is true. I'm not professional, but with naked eye I'm not able to spot green/blue tint (I know what that is because I also have some cheap LED lights). And the video doesn't flicker either. I attach screenshot from actual video footage, on the left there's yellow kitchen light but at the right light comes from softbox. I used daylight settings for WB.

    I'm using this softbox . Ok build quality, everything works, but those bulbs I mentioned are so big that there's room only for 2 of them. Doesn't really matter because light power of 2 is totally enough for me.
    400 x 400 - 56K
    400 x 400 - 27K
    1920 x 1080 - 2M
  • I have seen some LED light bulbs, they are called "LED corn lights". Like this I wonder if anyone has tried these?
  • @bubba
    CRI measurements don't really provide an accurate comparison of light sources of different color temperatures. The CIE standard illuminant D65 used in the CRI test has a color temperature of 6500K, which means the test is actually measuring how well the lamp simulates a 6500K light source. This is why 5500K lamps tend to score higher CRI's than 5000k lamps. In practice, a CRI over 80 is very good and it is the metameric qualities of the lamp that determine how balanced the light will appear to the camera's image sensor.

    When evaluating light sources, do not use your own eyes to view the light directly, as they will automatically color-correct it to appear white. You should instead use your camera to take sample shots of a gray-scale card, preferably at matched levels of exposure. You would then ideally use a color-calibrated monitor to view the results.