I know I should be using daylight lighting system to achieve natural looks of photographs, but I don't want to spend a lot of money for profesional lighting equipment, so I was thinking to just put a few lamps outside each side of the light box. Like this:

enter image description here

The problem for me is, I can't find powerful and cheap enough daylight bulbs. Maybe I could use warm white light bulbs and then change the white balance in camera settings? The question is. How would that affect the quality of a photograph as oppose to having the right color temperature lighting in the first place? Or do I strictly need the right temperature lighting to achieve best results?

What do you think? Your opinion is more than welcome.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you "know" you should be using daylight bulbs? \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 12:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are the old paper photos color or black & white? \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 15:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Caleb ... both. \$\endgroup\$
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 15:51

2 Answers 2


The color temperature of your bulbs is not as important as you seem to think. What is important if you require fairly critical color accuracy is that, regardless of the temperature their output is centered on, your bulbs need to output most if not all of the full spectrum of visible light. In general for photographic purposes you want lights with a Color Rendering Index of at least 90. Most incandescent or halogen lights are fairly close to full spectrum. Most typical consumer fluorescent lights are not. CFL bulbs made specifically for photography can have as good a score as incandescent bulbs but you need to do your homework to find those that do because many of them don't.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Great answer, so what I understand now is that the light temperature of a light bulb doesn't really matter, because I can achieve natural colors of an old photograph just by matching the Kelvin of the light source, am I right? \$\endgroup\$
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 14:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Giancarlo ... IF the CRI of the bulb is high. Most LED bulbs and CFL bulbs are very "peaky" in their frequency spectrum, meaning there are substantial gaps in the frequencies (i.e., colors) of lights they produce. Whereas incandescent bulbs by comparison put out pretty much equal amounts of every color in the rainbow from red to violet, and every minute different color in between. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @scottbb where do I find CRI number of a bulb? Is it written on the package? \$\endgroup\$
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 15:55
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Giancarlo not always. But usually bulbs designed to have a high CRI advertise that on the package. \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @scottbb how many lumens do you think would be enough for my work? (for each light bulb) \$\endgroup\$
    – Giancarlo
    Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 17:14

You don't need to shoot with "daylight" bulbs. Just match the camera white balance to match the light source. That WILL be the right temperature.

If you shoot RAW is doesn't really matter at all because you can change it or fine tune it in post processing.

I would suggest large wattage 5000K Compact Flourescent bulbs. A 45W CFL equals about 200W. They are very bright and much cooler than incandescent bulbs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I know my answer is not as detailed as Michael Clark's above, but it is correct. Why has it been voted down? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 18:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm guessing the downvote is because of downplaying the importance of CRI/spectrum, but... I'm curious myself whether this might in fact be less important for photographing photographs, since they've already been through a process that divides the spectrum into distinct color "channels"? Would it depend on the specific print process? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 31, 2016 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the spectrum of light illuminating the photograph is missing particular colors present in the photo then those colors will not be accurately reproduced. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 5:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Many fluorescent bulbs, for instance, emit almost no red light. Red is one of those "distinct color channels" to which you refer above. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Feb 1, 2016 at 5:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.