Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Printing Series: Solux Natural Daylight Par 30 Light Bulbs

Solux Bulb with Beam Spread Diagram
Solux Bulb with Beam Spread Diagram

So your lusting over the GTI PDV-2020ex, but the CFO of the home nixed your chances of getting one. What’s are you to do now? Well, I’ve got a decent backup plan – Solux Natural Daylight (3500k) Par 30 light bulbs. What these bad boys are is an inexpensive bulb that you can screw into your standard household canned lights to get daylight balanced light anytime of the day. I have three of these in one half of my studio and three regular bulbs in the other half of my studio, and the difference is literally like night and day (no pun intended).

How do they work?

Ordinary bulb on left and Solux on Right
Household bulb left, Solux bulb right

These are just high quality light bulbs (Par 30, 75W 120v) that you can screw into an ordinary canned light (or other source if you don’t have cans) and it emits 3500 Kelvin light at a 30 degree angle from the ceiling. They emit a bright white/blue light with a more narrow spread than typical lights, and because they are short they go deeper into your canned lights than a traditional bulb. To compensate for the later issue, you can get a Porcelain Medium Base Socket Extender.

How did you test them?

My studio with Solux 3500k bulbs
My studio with standard household bulbs
The shots were custom white balanced using an ExpoDisc
(the only tool for doing this type of test accurately)

For about a month I had three installed in one half of my studio above my desk and printers (pictured above top cell). The one above my desk (far right in above top cell) had an extender for the last couple of weeks, but the others did not. At first I was a little startled by the light because my eyes are so used to the traditional light bulbs. However, I quickly got used to them and loved them every time a print rolled out of the printer because I could immediately see the results nice and clearly – especially on papers with OBA’s. The colors and whites just pop which always put a smile on my face. I did hate not having the extender because the narrow 30 degree beam became even more narrow so it was light three flashlights in the ceiling instead of three lights, so the dead dark spots really annoyed me. However, the extender mostly solved that problem in the one I tested it in. The spread on regular bulbs is definitely wider, but these are adequate for my needs.

Why Solux?

Solux is a trusted name in high quality light bulbs that has earned the respect of many great photographers like Vincent Versace. Other companies such as Litetronics make a similar bulb, but it is only 15 watts and it isn’t by a name as trusted as Solux (the defacto standard for fine art museums and galleries). What’s more, they are about the same price with less wattage – why not just get the best?

Won’t these lights cause my prints to fade?

While I know you may think highly of your work, I think the fact that Arles Wallraf-Richartz Museum trusts Solux lights with Van Gogh’s Drawbridge is a great testimony as to how safe these bulbs really are for your fine art work. Here’s a video (with poor audio quality so crank your speakers up) that discusses this piece of art and why they use Solux bulbs:


While I can’t comment on the other products by Solux because I haven’t used them yet, I can tell you that these light bulbs have improved the quality of light in my studio. When print rolls off the printer I usually hold them under these lights to do a initial evaluation before they go to the GTI PDV-2020ex , so if you can’t get a PDV I highly recommend these as a inexpensive print proofing solution. In fact, I like these bulbs so much, I’m going to get another three (all with extenders) so that my studio is fully daylight balanced at all times.

Click here to order some of these bulbs for yourself and please be sure to tell them you came from my blog. I don’t get a commission, but I’d like them to know that this blog drive business to them.


I was given three bulbs and one extender for this review, but I do not get compensated in any other way – even if you buy from Solux and mention my blog. I would appreciate if you do mention my blog if you order from them, and I may get a small commission if you use the Amazon links in this article. Thanks for supporting this blog!

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