How To Pick Photography Light Bulbs

By Amy

Apr 05

don't get caught in the dark!

Start using light bulbs for your photo shoots and your photos will improve significantly!

However, just any old light bulb can't do the trick.  

Watch the video below and see what I look for and what I'm using.


Photography Light Bulbs

Don't forget to use an umbrella or soft box to spread out the light, or your photos will still look like snapshots!​

Photography Light Bulbs: How to Pick 'em...

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Improve Your Smartphone Photos With Photography Light Bulbs!

Today I am going to be sharing with you all about light bulbs. You have a few different options as far as the overall type of bulb. But then you also have some color preferences you need to make.

Incandescent Light Bulbs

Most of us grew up with this style of bulb. I don’t even know if they make this style much anymore. Features of the bulb listed on the box include:

- This bulb is a halogen bulb

- Soft white GE reveal

- Unfortunately on the box it does not say what the color temperature is, so I would not stay away from this option as you don’t know what you’re getting.

LED Light Bulbs

Interesting fact: LED stands for light-emitting diode

A lot of the bulbs these days are going LED. What I like about LED labels on boxes is that it actually tells me what color temperature the bulb is set to.

If you’re looking for a photography light, I would suggest getting a LED bulb that is anywhere from 5500 to 6500K. K stands for kelvin which represents the color of light. Outside, midday sun is roughly 5500-6500K, so if you wanted to add light to your natural light setup, this is the color you want to use. It is also not extremely blue and not orange or warm in color either.

Daylight Balanced 5500-6500K

That is a very nice bulb to get.

This one I happen to get at Target. You can also probably find it at online as well.

I have tried using these a couple of times as my photography light because it is something I can get locally. You don’t have to go online and order them online and wait for it to arrive.

The first one I had is this LED - 10W. Which is actually from this box here and it is supposed to be a replacement for a 60W bulb. Keep in mind; this is basically a bare light bulb even though it looks like it has this light covering over it that you assume will spread out the light. It won’t spread it out enough so you still need to modify this style of bulb. To modify means to put an umbrella in front of it to spread the light out further. It’s going to take away a lot of the light and it won’t leave you with very much, you will need a lot of these to really light your scene well.

Photography Light Bulbs

Don't Forget to use something to spread out the light! ie white shoot through umbrella, softbox, white sheer curtains, the middle of a 5-in-1 reflector, etc

So what I tried next was I went to a larger wattage which is this one here. This is a 100W equivalent which is the 16W LED. When you hit a larger wattage, the bulb gets bigger. The socket remains the same so it will still fit in all your regular light bulb sockets, but the rest of the light is a little bit larger.

Ultimately if you are using this for photography, it won’t matter. But if you are using this as your everyday light bulb, it could matter depending on what is surrounding it.

I haven’t actually tried this one yet, the 100W equivalent which was the 16W LED. I haven’t tried that with the photography set up but I am eager to try it.

#smartphonephotographers can take #proquality #blogphotos too! Try adding #5500k #cflbulbs and a modifier.

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CFL Light Bulbs

Interesting fact: Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb

What I have been using and have found I really enjoy working with them is the CFL bulbs. And just like those LED lights, the CFLs come in different wattages and the larger the wattage the larger the physical bulb will get. This tiny baby light bulb is a 13W which is equivalent to a 60W light bulb. I bought a ton of these when we were going away from the incandescent because these last forever. However they contain mercury and from what I have seen in the store is they are selling more LEDS and not selling as many CFL bulbs.

If you look at this box, it tells you 2700K and you can see that the graph shows that it is all the way at the end and not daylight balanced. So if I put this in it will give me a very yellow color and it won’t look great. The photo I take under this bulb will look like a snap shot. It won’t exude professionalism in any shape or form when it comes to photos. I basically haven’t used these other than a few in my bedroom lamps.

2700k is warm/yellow light...DO NOT use for your photos!

This one here is what I have in my photo setups. It’s a 45W. It does a pretty good job although I feel it needs a few bulbs to fill the actual scene with enough light. So I just purchased an 85W equivalent. It’s ginormous! That this is not the “objects closer to the phone appear bigger” phenomenon. It is seriously the size of my head! Compare it to this one here. It’s enormous so this one better give off a lot of light! I am excited to try this one.

Again, it has the same size socket so it should fit my photography lighting gear. I would not recommend using something like this in your regular household lamps. This is huge! It will be fun to play with my photography pictures.

Keep in mind, I prefer to go on Amazon and buy my photography light bulbs, which is where I got the CFL bulbs but I did get the LED lights at my local Target...just to see what I could get in my neighborhood right away. I just want to show you what you can buy at your local stores depending on where you live and what to look for when you’re going out to purchase bulbs

If you have any questions let me know. Drop me a line in the Facebook group or in the contact me page and I would be happy to answer your questions or even create a video blog post for you. Because if you have this question, guaranteed there are a ton of other people who have the same question.

Have a great day.

Happy Snapping!

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About the Author

Amy is the owner extraordinaire at Learn Blog Photography and Amy Paris Photography. She's a single mom to an amazing teenage son. She's passionate about photography and skiing (downhill), the faster the better! Sign up for a FREE 30-min call to light up your photos & biz!