Are your prints being seen in the best light?

An Inkjet NEWS & TIPS article by Royce Bair for 2006 Nov 30



Good light allows your prints appear as beautiful as they can be. If your prints are viewed under improper light, all your efforts to make great prints may have just been sabotaged!

Attendees to the Epson Print Academy learned about a revolutionary light source. According to Kevin McGuire, the inventor, no other light source in the world matches daylight more closely than SoLux (incidentally, they arrived late and we had stolen their table so they had to get a new one).

SoLux is a patented new light bulb that simulates daylight far better than any other light bulb on the market. It is a high performance halogen type bulb (rated to last 4000 hours) that currently comes in the low voltage (12 volt) MR-16 format (2 pin socket). SoLux uses a multilayer thin film coating on the reflector to reflect the desired daylight spectrum forward and pass unwanted light out the back yielding the closest match to daylight.

Many galleries and museums use SoLux to insure that patrons are able to make accurate judgments on color and have a more colorful viewing experience. The Van Gogh Museum, the National Gallery of Art, the Library of Congress, and the Pete Turner Exhibit at the George Eastman House are just of few of the notable places that have turned to SoLux lights.

In addition to accurate color rendition, SoLux has been engineered to have very low heat (IR) output and ultra-low UV output. This means that with SoLux, you will have the brilliance of daylight without the negatives aspects of UV and IR. The result is a superior presentation that won't cook or bleach the subject being illuminated.

Color Rendering Index (CRI) is one indicator of the ability to simulate daylight, and a CRI of 100 is considered perfect. SoLux bulbs have virtually perfect CRIs of over 98 and 99. This makes SoLux the best light available for seeing true colors.

Some light manufacturers market their bulbs as "full-spectrum" light sources. Full-spectrum can be a misleading term. Technically, a candle can be considered full-spectrum. What is implied is that the light provides ideal light for rendering colors. This can only really be determined by looking at the spectral power distribution graphs for a given light source. SoLux is the only daylight simulation product that emits a full and even spectral power distribution equivalent to daylight.

SoLux lights are also being used for reading, studying and to help suffers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The FDA issued a "Health Fraud Notice", stating claims for a full-spectrum lamp were a "gross deception of the consumer". Full-spectrum light sources often are no more than glorified incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.

SoLux bulbs come in four different color temperature (3500K, 4100K, 4700K, & 5000K). Independent experts agree, the SoLux 4700K is the light that best simulates the D50 standard. The reason is the spectrum from the SoLux models D50 more accurately than any fluorescent "daylight" tube.

Photographers and other artists can set up their own color proofing lighting system for under $200. Most 4-color printing and proofing houses, as well as some photographers, choose the SoLux 4700K (D50) light for critical color proofing.

A REVIEW: Your editor strongly recommends reading this review by John Paul Caponigro to help you decide which lighting to use for proofing and displaying your prints:

John says he uses the 3500K bulbs for my studio and gallery. He evaluates and displays prints under the same light. He also uses four SoLux Gooseneck fixtures for portable light sources: two with 3500K bulbs to evaluate display conditions and two with 5000K bulbs to evaluate color management issues, monitor calibration and soft proofing. (We'd suggest the use of the SoLux 4700K bulbs, which are the D50 standard used in the calibration and proofing industry, rather than the 5000K -- which is used more for reading lights and SAD therapy. However, after talking to other SoLux experts, you may even want to simplify your life and try using 3500K for everything, even monitor calibration - unless you also use your monitor for color balancing your images for 4-color offset printing and publishing.)

3500K IS THE NEW FINE ART LIGHTING STANDARD. An independent paper by Weintraub, Gordon, Scuello, and Abramov confirms that 3600K (which virtually matches the SoLux 3500K) as the preferred lighting condition to illuminate art work (although some black and white photographers claim that the SoLux 4100K bulbs give them the purest whites).

SOLUX 3500K MAKES ART ROCK. Originally, the only SoLux bulb available was the 4700K. However, later experiments like the one above showed that 3500K makes art rock! An experiment (to illuminate Vermeer paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington) was set up so the proper amount of footcandles illuminated each painting. Seven curators from the Van Gogh Museum were allowed to adjust the lighting to the most preferred color temperature using SoLux at 4700K while maintaining a stable footcandle level. The color temperature that was most frequently chosen was 3500K! Most thought the lighting was such an improvement that it appeared as if the paintings had been recently cleaned. Under the SoLux full spectrum light source, the paintings appeared significantly brighter, clearer, and more saturated; and the 3500K color temperature was most pleasing to the eye.

PRODUCT OPTIONS: SoLux bulbs are the heart of their lighting system, and many artist will use low-voltage track lighting systems. But there are many other fixture options and accessories besides track lighting.

SoLux Art Light:

SoLux Gooseneck and Telescoping Clamp-On Fixtures:

SoLux Clip-On Lamp:

SoLux Monorail Lighting Systems:

QUESTIONS: If you have questions about SoLux, talk to Philip Bradfield the Vice President of Tailored Lighting, Inc. (the manufacturer of SoLux): 1-800-254-4487 or Email: Phil told your editor that most artists should choose 3500K (unless we plan to do serious color proofing for 4-color offset printing). While many photographers have been brought up thinking that 5000K to 5500K simulates daylight - this is the color of daylight at high Noon on a clear day. Photographers should remember that there are different "shades" of daylight, and that the SoLux 3500K simulates that "sweet" period of daylight that many photographers prefer to do their shooting. Even at 3500K, SoLux bulbs simulate the Spectral Power Distribution Curves of that shade of real daylight.

PURCHASING SoLux bulbs, fixtures and accessories: InkjetART does not sell SoLux, but you can buy them direct from their online store at prices that are comparable to other MR-16 halogen bulbs (as low as $6.95 each, when buying 10 or more). SoLux also carries the "Black Back" bulb with no light escaping out the back. Bulbs are available in 4 beam spreads (10, 17, 24 and 36 degrees).


NOTE: The above article may have links to web pages when referring to certain inkjet products. While is NOT associated with, many of the articles found in this section originated from news letters, which were written by Royce Bair, a private consultant.


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