Best Light Bulbs for Photography: Tips for Choosing & Setting

By Tata Rossi 2 days ago, Lighting & Studio

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned professional, photography light bulbs are a must-have. They provide clean, balanced light that enhances the overall look of your photographs. By using these bulbs, you can eliminate shadows, reduce flaws, and make your subjects appear more natural.

Top 5 Photography Light Bulbs

led light bulb with long lifespan
  • LED light bulbs
  • 30 Watt
  • 5000K daylight
energy efficient led light bulb
  • LED light bulbs
  • 5 Watt
  • 5000K daylight
fluorescent 45w photo light bulb
  • CFL light bulbs
  • 45 Watt
  • 6500K daylight
fluorescent 105w photo light bulb
  • CFL light bulbs
  • 105 Watt
  • 5500K daylight
vintage incandescent light bulb
  • Incandescent light bulbs
  • 60 Watt
  • 2300K warm light

Tip: Different types of photography may require different light bulbs, with various color temperatures. For example, if you're shooting portraits, a bulb with a warm white color temperature will give you a natural-looking image and eliminate shadows on the face. So, consider the subject you'll be photographing when choosing the color temperature of your bulb.

You'll find a wide variety of light bulbs for photography, including incandescent, fluorescent, and LED bulbs. They all are available in different color temperatures, allowing photographers to select the desired tone for their photography.

photography light bulbs types

LED bulbs are increasingly popular due to their energy efficiency, long lifespan (up to 50,000 hours), and lower heat emission, making them a favorable choice for photography. You can use them with LED lights for photography.

Incandescent bulbs are the oldest and least efficient technology, generating a lot of heat and using more energy. In the past they were popular in the film industry, but nowadays, most filmmakers are switching to more energy-efficient options. Such bulbs also have shortest lifespan, generally lasting around 1,000 hours.

Fluorescent bulbs or CFL bulbs are more efficient than incandescent but can have issues with flickering and color accuracy. Their lifespan typically around 8,000 to 10,000 hours.

1. LED Light Bulb with Long Lifespan

lohas led light bulb with long lifespan

Type: LED | Output: 30 Watt | Color Temperature: 5000K daylight | Intensity: 3400Lm

  • ✚ Provides bright and beautiful lighting
  • ✚ 240° angle beam
  • ✚ Easy to set up
  • ✚ Environmentally friendly
  • Relatively expensive

The LOHAS LED photography light bulb promises to provide bright and beautiful lighting for your photo session. It has a daylight balance of 5500K, which is perfect for various photography genres. Plus, it's energy-efficient, saving up to 80% of energy compared to traditional bulbs.

Its high CRI of 80-85 and daylight color temperature make it perfect for photographers who need accurate colors in their shots. It's a great alternative to strobes and can seamlessly fit into any home or business setting.

I also liked that this bulb for photography lighting doesn't heat up like regular bulbs, making it more comfortable to handle without burning your fingers. It can be a part of your studio lighting kit.

2. Energy Efficient LED Light Bulb

asencia energy efficient led light bulb

Type: LED | Output: 5 Watt | Color Temperature: 5000K daylight | Intensity: 450Lm

  • ✚ Energy-efficient with 90% less heat
  • ✚ High CRI of 90 for accurate colors
  • ✚ Suitable for home or studio use
  • ✚ No harmful chemicals
  • Not suitable for outdoor photography
  • Doesn't come with a diffuser

The Asencia LED photography light bulb is advertised as having the lighting power of a 200W halogen bulb, but with the energy efficiency of just 5W. It also boasts a daylight balance of 5500K, which is ideal for capturing accurate colors in your photos.

One of the standout features of this LED light bulb is its high CRI of 90. For those who may not know, CRI stands for Color Rendering Index, and a higher CRI means that the bulb can accurately reproduce colors. This is crucial for photographers who want their images to look as true-to-life as possible.

Plus, it has a very long lifespan, providing around 15,000 hours of usage on average.

3. Versatile Fluorescent Photo Light Bulb

limostudio fluorescent 45w photo light bulb

Type: CFL | Output: 45 Watt | Color Temperature: 6500K daylight | Intensity: 2100Lm

  • ✚ Average lifetime of 8,000 hours
  • ✚ Daylight color temperature
  • ✚ 80-85 CRI
  • ✚ No noise or flickering
  • May become dimmer over time
  • Color temperature can be a bit finicky

The LimoStudio fluorescent light bulb is a popular choice for lighting up home video studios. One of the standout features of these bulbs is their daylight color temperature and good color rendering index (CRI) of 80-85. This means that the colors in your photos or videos will appear accurate and natural.

These energy-efficient light bulb can save you up to 80% on energy costs, which is a significant amount. Plus, they have an average lifetime of 8,000 hours, so you won't have to worry about replacing them too often.

4. Bright Fluorescent Photo Light Bulb

slow dolphin fluorescent 105w photo light bulb

Type: CFL | Output: 105 Watt | Color Temperature: 5500K daylight | Intensity: 4500Lm

  • ✚ High-quality and consistent lighting
  • ✚ Suitable for slow motion shooting
  • ✚ Emit true white light
  • ✚ Comes with ROHS and CE certificates
  • Gets fairly hot during extended use
  • Not really budget-friendly option

The SLOW DOLPHIN fluorescent photography light bulb is a fantastic option for beginner vloggers who are looking to upgrade their studio. Unlike tungsten lights that flicker due to the AC current frequency, CFL lights like this one provide a consistent and regulated output. This means you can capture smooth slow-motion shots without any distracting flickering with this light bulbs for natural light.

Another great advantage is that using strobes with this bulb allows you to use lower ISO numbers and faster shutter speeds. This translates to better image quality and sharper subject capture.

5. Vintage Incandescent Light Bulb

jslinter vintage incandescent light bulb

Type: Incandescent | Output: 60 Watt | Color Temperature: 2300K warm light | Intensity: 230Lm

  • ✚ Provides natural-looking warm lighting
  • ✚ Fits standard E26 sockets
  • ✚ Reliable option
  • ✚ Designed in Edison vintage style
  • Gets very hot when in use
  • Not as energy efficient as LED photo bulbs

The Jslinter incandescent light bulb for photography is a real gem when it comes to achieving natural-looking warm lighting for your photos or videos. It mimics the color of natural sunlight, so your photos will look as if they were taken under the beautiful rays of the sun.

One of the downsides is that these bulbs get really hot and can put a dent in your electricity bill. But if you're on a budget and need that warm and cozy feel in your photos, this bulb might just do the trick.

How to Choose the Photography Light Bulbs?

Choose eco friendly light bulbs with a color temperature between 3000K and 5000K, and a CRI of at least 80. Consider the subject you'll be photographing and avoid bulbs with a green tint.

photography color temperature table

Color temperature. All light bulbs for indoor photography have their own color temperature – their individual color that is among the red to blue color scheme. You'll often see color temperature measured in Kelvin. The higher the Kelvin rating, the cooler (more bluish) the light, while lower ratings indicate warmer (more yellowish) light. For most photography purposes, a color temperature between 3000K and 5000K works best.

types of studio lights 2700-4000k


types of studio lights 4000-6000k


types of studio lights 6000-10000k


For example, many common sources of light are “warm.” You can see that candles, sunrises and tungsten bulbs have a color that is similar to red. As for the camera flashes, they transmit “cold” light, which is similar to blue.

If you are interested in incandescent or halogen lights, they have about 2500K – 3000K. Many photographers use natural light, which corresponds to 5000K.

color correction service by fixthephoto color correction service by fixthephoto

Accidentally Chose a Wrong Color Temperature?

FixThePhoto can easily fix the white balance for you. They also can adjust shadows, tones and other color settings on your images. For $0.20 per photo, you will get professional result.

CRI. This measures how accurately the bulb displays colors compared to natural sunlight. The simple scale includes marks from 1 to 100. A higher CRI means more vivid and natural colors. Aim for a CRI of at least 80, but the higher, the better. Bulbs with a high CRI are also long-lasting and energy-efficient.

light bulbs photography lighting tips cri

How to Set Up the Lighting for Your Photoshoot?

One of the commonly-used techniques in photography is the three-point lighting. It helps to illuminate a subject and create a sense of depth and dimension. It involves the strategic placement of three primary light sources: the key light, fill light, and backlight. You can change the size, distance, brightness and other parameters of the light source in order to correct the result.

key camera light scheme

Key light is the primary and brightest light source in three-point lighting. It's placed to one side of the subject and serves as the main source of illumination. Drawing a line between the view of the photographer and the subject, we will see the key light at a 45-degree angle to the camera. This type of light is placed above the level of the model’s eyes.

For portrait photography, it is located on one of the model’s sides. As a result, one side is well illuminated and another one has a slight shadow.

fill camera light example

Fill light mirrors the position of the primary one and is opposite to the photographer. Its function is to remove the unwanted shadows. You should use the fill light that is only slightly less intense than the main source of light. The difference between them is known as the “lighting ratio.” For example, if this parameter is 1:1, the brightness of these two sources of light is equal.

When dealing with portrait pictures, I recommend choosing a 2:1 or 4:1 ratio. If your purpose is to get smoother images, you should use the lower ratio. Those who prefer textured, edgy pictures should use the higher one. It’s important to use this second light source to fill-in shadows under the model’s eyes, nose, and chin.


Tip: You can also use any type of a reflector or a white card instead of a real photography light bulb. In this case, you will receive softer results.

back camera light scheme

Backlight is placed behind the subject. It is used to highlight the subject’s outlines. So, the backlight separates the background and adds depth to the composition.

It looks really good when the model has black hair and stands near a dark wall. So, you should know when her hair ends and the background begins. It’s normal if the backlight does not fall on the front camera side of a subject.

Free Tools to Correct Lighting on Your Photo

free tools to correct lighting on your photo

If you chose the wrong lighting for your photo session or want to experiment with other lighting, you can correct it at the photo processing stage. To correct white balance or make deep color correction quickly, you need to install Lightroom presets and do it in several clicks. This bundle includes over 500 presets that are compatible with Lightroom 4-6, Lightroom CC, Lightroom Classic, and Lightroom Mobile.