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Solux lighting setup at my computer

Steve T. , Nov 15, 2010; 12:11 a.m.

Monitor- NEC MulitSync P221W with the NEC calibration system, Epson 3880 printer.

I need to improve my lighting at the computer, and I'm going to go the pathway of Solux bulbs. My work space is a spare 10'x13' room that is also shared with some bookcases. The carpet in the room is already a mid-shade of gray, but it does have a very slight blue tint as well, but that won't be changed. The room needs a coat of paint, so I'm thinking of a pure white for walls and ceiling. My work surface is a neutral (seems to be, anyway) light gray laminate. There are east and south facing windows, but I'll likely hang an opaque curtain (neutral colored surface) in front of those at photo work time, to block out the varying kinds of outside light.

The Solux lights will not be the primary lighting for the room, it will only be used for photo work on the computer and printing- task lighting at the computer. Reading up the information here http://solux.net/cgi-bin/tlistore/infopages/color-proofing.html I think I'm going to use the 3500k bulbs, most likely their PAR (screw base) units http://www.solux.net/cgi-bin/tlistore/soluxparbulbs.html I'm thinking a simple swag (hanging) fixture would be easy to do if I used a single bulb, otherwise a track system for multiple bulbs.

From the layout standpoint, can you offer suggestions of which wattage to use (50, 75, or 90), beam spread (10 or 30 degrees for all, and also 50 degree for the 90 watt), and the location relative to the computer screen (height above the desk surface, plumb above the monitor, half the distance between my body and the monitor, somewhere else?) so when I'm holding the print in front of me while I sit at the computer monitor I can see how the two images compare. Is there anything I'm missing or not considering? I feel like I'm putting too much thought into something that would otherwise be an easy process, but...

Thanks for your thoughts and assistance.


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Andrew Rodney , Nov 15, 2010; 10:08 a.m.

Higher wattage, bulbs of course don’t last as long. Since you can’t dim the bulbs without affecting the color, the wattage OR the ability to move the lights closer or farther from the print to aid in making a match to the display is useful. I’d go wider beam. Control of the light is important, you don’t want spill on the display and ideally would flag off light from hitting anything but the prints.

Robin Smith , Nov 15, 2010; 05:00 p.m.

I worried about this and I got a Solux anglepoise light to illuminate a print just by my workstation. After about a year and a Solux bulb or two later the light stopped working and I just got a cheap daylight-balanced fluorescent tube light for about the tenth the price and quite honestly for my purposes this is entirely adequate. In my experience as long as you have a color-controlled workflow you should be able to accurately control your color balance via the screen. For color balancing slides I use a light table and loupe and compare with the onscreen image andf/or final print and find it works just fine. My approach may not be sufficient for you if you have to do a lot of critical color matching of fabrics/paintings etc etc, but for general use I look back on my earlier worries (not unlike your approach) with amusement. My workspace is dim and has off-white walls and very little daylight so the monitor is well isolated from stray light.

Steve T. , Nov 15, 2010; 11:40 p.m.

Good, maybe the 75 watt in the 30 degree spread will be the one I go with. Before rigging a swag light, I'll round up a swing arm desk lamp and give it a go, shading the monitor if needed. Thanks.

Robin Smith , Nov 16, 2010; 10:50 a.m.


That should work. I agree with Andrew a wider beam is useful. I have to say that Solux bulbs are expensive and because of their filters are inefficient for halogens. This is why I found the daylight-balanced fluorescents are better for my purposes - their color accuracy is something like 88% vs the 95% of the Solux from what I remember - quite good enough for me. Many people find the daylight GE reveal bulbs also sufficient - I find them a little less suitable myself. Of course, regular tungsten bulbs such as Reveal are doomed anyway destined to be replaced by fluorescents in the near term.

Andrew Rodney , Nov 16, 2010; 11:04 a.m.

The new PARs are pretty great if you don’t prefer Halogen bulbs and don’t suffer the spectral spikes found in all Fluorescents.

Tim Lookingbill , Nov 16, 2010; 12:25 p.m.

Andrew, does Solux make a neutral looking PARs bulb other than the 3500K linked to above? Had to edit this post because I misread Andrews last post about fluorescent lights.

I never found the Solux MR16 halogens to be that expensive, around $6-8. It's the lamps driving them that can get pretty expensive, though.

Andrew Rodney , Nov 16, 2010; 12:52 p.m.

Yes I have several of the PARs and they work as advertised.

Steve T. , Nov 16, 2010; 01:59 p.m.

Andrew- are you saying that the PAR bulbs are not halogen? What type of bulb is it? I'll still get the 75 watt/30 degree unit, though.

Andrew Rodney , Nov 16, 2010; 02:21 p.m.

They probably are a Halogen filament. They are screw in type, Parabolic reflector type bulbs.

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