Studio Lighting Buying Guide

Painters, photographers, hobbyists and craftsmen who work on detailed projects require adequate lighting. Consider the following points when shopping for studio lighting:


Desktop Lamps have a base that acts as an anchor, allowing you to set them on desks, counters and tabletops.

Floor Lamps, like desktop lamps, have a base that anchors the rest of the lamp. However, floor lamps have a much longer lamp arm and the base of the lamp rests on the floor.

Clip Lamps feature a clip, or clamp, that secures them to tabletops, easels, markerboards and more. Because they clip to surfaces and don't rely on a weighted base to keep them in place, they have a wider range of applications than floor and desktop lamps.

Swing-Arm Lamps sit on moving arms that allow you to adjust the height and position of the lamp head, placing the light just where you need it. Swing arms use both rigid and flexible designs. Rigid swing arms pivot at mechanical joints, making them sturdier, while flexible swing arms have a wider range of motion. Keep in mind, many desktop lamps, floor lamps and clip lamps have an adjustable arm and can also be considered swing-arm lamps.

Bulb Type

Incandescent Bulbs have a very thin tungsten filament housed inside a glass sphere. When you turn on a light switch or lamp, electricity runs through this filament. Because the filament is so thin, it provides resistance to the electricity, which turns the electrical energy into heat. This heat makes the filament white hot, causing the filament to glow and produce light.

Incandescent bulbs cost less than fluorescent bulbs, but they loose a lot of energy in the form of heat. Because of this, they often translate to higher energy bills than fluorescent lighting.

Fluorescent Bulbs operate using a stream of electrons that pass through a tube filled with argon gas and a small amount of mercury vapor. As these electrons bump into the mercury atoms, they become excited. When they settle, they release ultraviolet photons that hit a phosphor coating inside the tube, creating visible light.

The mercury used in fluorescent lighting is extremely toxic and should not be handled. However, a standard thermometer has 100 times the amount of mercury found in fluorescent lighting. And because a glass tube safely contains the mercury used in fluorescent lighting, the potential health risk is extremely low. If the glass tube breaks, you should clean it up right away and dispose of it as you would with broken glass.

Fluorescent tubes produce less heat than incandescent lighting, making them four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs. So paying a little extra can save you money in the long run.


Many lamps include a magnification lens so that artists can view small objects up close. Magnification refers to how much larger an object appears through a magnifying lens. Product specifications usually indicate magnification power with an X, such as 2X or 4X. To find out how much bigger an object will appear, simply subtract one from the number in front of the X and convert that number to a percentage. So, 1.75X magnification makes an object look 75 percent bigger and 3X magnification makes an object look 200 percent bigger.

Other Considerations

When choosing studio lighting, you'll also want to look at cord length and arm reach. Cord length lets you know how far away from an outlet you can set up your lamp, while arm reach lets you know how far away from the lamp base or clamp you can position an object for examination.

Check out our selection of Studio Lighting to start shopping online.

Not sure which studio lighting is right for your needs? Give our knowledgeable sales team a call at 1-800-260-2776.

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