Photographers tend to use either strobe lights or tungsten lighting.

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Videssence lights, ideal also for still digital photography.

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. What does work?

Videssence fluorescent lighting for digital photography studios.
After a long flight from Guatemala to Orlando, Nicholas Hellmuth unpacks the Videssence lamp fixture.

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, both speaking with Michael Collette (inventor of the Dicomed used with 4x5 inch format) and discussing the problem with other specialists, we soon came to the conclusion that cool lights were the only solution. 

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.

Of course it turns out that Videssence uses SRGB units which are ideal for digital photography. They come in "tungsten" and "daylight" variety. The advantage of the Better Light software 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.

The Videssence fixtures have another advantage, the lamps last for years.

You are looking at the future of the new form of lighting for the digital era, Videssence, SRGB 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 Videssence fixtures now, since you will be needing them more quickly than you think.


Working in Guatemala I have to constantly move the lights, going from one museum to another. The cases are heavy but the Videssence fixtures survived the entire season (two months), plus two long airplane trips. Not one lamp broke (another advantage over tungsten systems).

The current models of Videssence were originally made for TV , indeed our own college campus station, WBCC TV68, Cocoa, Florida, has many Videssence fixtures.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.

Videssence fluorescent lighting for digital photography studios.
Videssence flourescent digital photography studio lighting

Once I began using the Videssence lighting for the digital system, I began to keep the same lights when photographing with film-based Leicas and Hasselblads for taking slides. With normal tungsten film (Kodak EPY), the color balance was about the same as with tungsten lamps on Lowel fixtures. With daylight lamps in the Videssence, the color balance was green with normal outdoor daylight film, so this should not be tried without having the proper filter, either on the lamps or on the lens.

Conclusion: Videssence lighting is cool, secure, and will not melt your subjects, or the photographer. Videssence lights are ideal for high-quality studio digital as well as for regular still shots with film (tungsten film). Don't throw away your old tungsten fixtures yet, because Lowel DP class of lighting is still useful to get depth of field in digital shots. But the next generation of Videssence lamps will increase the light power, and the new generation of Better Light digital cameras already requires less light.

Two years ago I was the most arch-conservative film-based photographer you can imagine. I even used 8x10 inch format to get the highest quality. I can now surpass the quality of 4x5 film with the Dicomed, and the new generation approaches the quality of 5x7. Tomorrow you can take the equivalent of 8x10 quality with the ease of digital technology.


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Page update May 24, 1998, edited July 15, 1999; links added May 1, 2000, links added Mar. 2002
Redesigned January 2004; last updated November 08, 2004
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