Review of recommended lighting for high-end digital still photography studios, Videssence lights.

Videssence fluorescent lighting for digital studio photographyPhotographers tend to use either strobe lights or tungsten lighting. Most digital cameras require constant illumination, so strobes or flash will not work at all. Tungsten lighting has the disadvantage of generating considerable heat, so you cannot do digital photography of ice cream with tungsten lights.

Yet digital photography needs a considerably stronger illumination than for normal film, which calls for even more tungsten lights (which melt the ice cream even faster).

After considerable research and discussing the problem with specialists, we soon came to the conclusion that cool lights were the one solution.

But as a photographer, I have long been conditioned to avoid "fluorescent" lights at all costs. So it took me a considerable amount of trust to believe that lights in a shape of a fluorescent fixture could work.

After a long flight from Guatemala to Orlando, Nicholas Hellmuth unpacks the Videssence lamp fixtures.

Professional grade units use tubes that come in "tungsten" and "daylight" variety. The advantage of the software for digital photography is that it can accept any and all light sources. I have even used Videssence tungsten fixtures, during the daytime, with daylight streaming in. When I need some extra oomph in light power, I switch on a Lowel DP just for the moment when I am clicking the image.

Fluorescent lighting has another advantage, the lamps last for years.

Videssence SRGB fluorescent lighting for digital studio photographyYou are looking at the future of the new form of lighting for the digital era, fluorescent lighting. If you are doing digital photography, you will need this class of lights right now. If you are still doing film-based photography, don't worry, the digital era will enter your life soon enough, so you might as well get some sample fixtures now, since you will be needing fluorescent lighting more quickly than you think.

The current models of Videssence were originally made for TV studios, indeed our own college campus station, WBCC-TV, Channel 68, Cocoa, Florida, has many Videssence fixtures. I quickly learned that Videssence was well known and highly regarded in the television industry. Now it is time they become known to still photographers.

We soon found that the Videssence fixtures were not well designed for travel, and did not sit well on top of a light stand (they were made to hang from a TV studio ceiling). So we visited Photokina 1998, Photokina 2000, and Photokina 2002 to see what other lights would be better. We selected Balcar fluorescent lights as being better in design and also offering more light power per fixture.

Balcar lighting is available in the US from Calumet digital, or you can contact for more information. The Calumet contact is, tel 312 944 2777 ext 2202, fax 312 944 4035.


Last updated Feb. 9, 2004.
Posted mid-1998, previously revised March 3, 1999, by Nicholas Hellmuth; updated Feb. 25, 2000; edited Aug. 5, 2001.