Assuming monitor(s) are correctly calibrated and print viewing is done in a viewing box with its own light source, what should the room lighting be? With no lighting at all I think most people find the contrast between monitor and the rest of the room much too harsh (and its a bit depressing), but what kind of lighting is appropriate? I currently have a 150W 6500K bulb which is very bright and causes a lot of reflection from my screen.

Would a dimmer bulb with the same (daylight) temperature be appropriate?


2 Answers 2


You don't need a dimmer bulb, you just need to disperse it properly so that it is more evenly distributed throughout the room. Rather than placing the bulb where it is shining directly on your monitor, place it in a fixture and bounce it off the neutrally colored walls and/or ceiling so the light is fairly uniform throughout the room.

The standard for viewing photos on a monitor is D50 (broad spectrum light with all of the components, including UV, carefully controlled and centered on 5000K). For LCD monitors the intensity of the ambient light as measured at the center of the screen should be 55 Lux. The monitor should also be calibrated to D50. Recommended maximum brightness with an LCD monitor is 120 cd/mm². For a CRT it is 100 cd/mm².

There are many in the graphics industry that prefer to use D65, which is centered on 6500K, for monitors. This is perfectly acceptable as long as the monitor and the ambient lighting match. However, care must be taken not to allow the 6500K ambient light to affect the perception of the D50 light source illuminating prints in your print viewing booth. In the case of a small print viewing box, you would need to turn off any non D50 lighting when critically evaluating photo prints. Otherwise you risk metameric failure.

Metamerism is when two objects render different spectral power distributions yet visually match under a certain lighting/viewing condition, but not under another. Two objects that visually match under at least one lighting condition are called a metameric pair. When two objects match under one light source/viewing condition but not under another, the resulting condition is called metameric failure.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. If I opt for D65 for my monitor (and room lighting) could I just use D65 in my viewing booth as well? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 12:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other words, prints that match your monitor at 6500K (when the light and monitor are matched at 6500K) won't match your monitor at D50 (when the light and monitor are matched at D50). D50 was chosen because it is very close to daylight. Have you actually measured the output of that 6500K bulb? By the time it reflects off the bulb housing and walls, it may be closer to 5000-5500K than you think. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Ultimately, it is best to critically view a print under the same conditions that you plan to display it. Most art museums and high end galleries display photos at very near D50, although they tend to use lighting that does not contain the UV components of D50 lighting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 21:49

First of all the walls.

Paint the walls in white. You can use a light neutral gray, but it could be not neutral, cool or warm, so you do not want that.

Use the same temperature as your base monitor's one. Normally you will go for 6500K.

You can use flourescent or led bulbs marked as 6500K. Or you can buy specialized lights like solux.net/cgi-bin/tlistore/colorproofkit.html which are more expensive.

Regarding your reflection simply use dimmer lights or put that one further away.


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