FJ Westcott TD5 Spiderlite Review

FLAAR is in the process of evaluating the Westcott TD5 Spiderlites. We like them because they provide a cool light that does not melt the subject you are photographing.

Based on our usage of these lights so far, we have several reports that are available showing the photographic results of using these lights.

Why Westcott Spiderlites and not Tungsten Halogen lighting?

We tend to use these Westcott Spiderlites for photographing flowers (because the heat from tungsten halogen studio lamps would cause the flowers to wilt, and quickly).

We have experience with Dedolights and for decades have enjoyed using Lowel lighting. We have Lowel Tota-Lights which have been used around the world for decades: they do not break or fall apart. We also really like Rifa lights from Lowel and Omi-lights from them also. We use these for monumental stone sculptures of the Maya and Aztec, which we have photographed at museums around the world 30 years ago.

But for flowers we graduated to fluorescent lighting since most locations in Central America do not have enough power to support tungsten halogen systems.

Westcott Spiderlite TD5 Tungsten halogen
Westcott Spiderlite, tungsten halogen digital photography
Westcott Spiderlite TD5: tungsten halogen digital photography lamps

Why Westcott Spiderlites and not flash?

We have macro ring-flash (which we sometimes use together with Westcott). And we have the Nikon and the Canon and the Hasselblad macro flash systems. These are useful out in the field where there is no electricity. But with the Spiderlites you can find large batteries which will keep them running for several hours.

Plus I am simply more accustomed to using studio lighting instead of strobes.

Westcott Spiderlite TD5 Tungsten halogen
Using the Westcott Spiderlite TD5

 

F. J. Westcott company

The F. J. Westcott company is in Toledo, which was our neighbor to the north during the years that FLAAR had research facilities at Bowling Green State University. In addition to lighting, they also have seminars and training programs, so check out their website. Remember how to spell Westcott correction, and add the FJ in front: fjwestcott.com.

We do not yet have the Westcott TD3 Spiderlites so canít yet evaluate their performance in the field. Whereas the TD5 Spiderlites have 5 lamps, the TD3 have three, hence they can be battery powered for a longer time period.

At first we thought 5 lamps would be too much power to draw. But if you get a portable battery of professional quality you can power an entire TD5 fluorescent lighting studio outside. We have had all four Westcott TD5 lights in action in remote parts of Guatemala, Central America.

We are so accustomed to the TD5 that we prefer these (we have not yet tested the TD6 system).

What are the alternatives to J.W. Westcott Spiderlite TD5 or TD6?

Since we have a lot of experience with batteries made in China (which do not last very long), we are a bit shy about trying any Chinese brand of digital photography studio lighting.

To compare prices, yes, Chinese lighting is lower price, but I prefer lights that hold up for many years.

For evaluating we would prefer to move to the TD6, since when we are doing archaeological photography in Copan Ruinas, Honduras, tungsten-halogen lighting requires more electricity than is available in this village.

Plus some of the 7th century Maya stelae are several meters high, so we need more light power (which would be available in the Westcott Spiderlite TD6 kit). Our decades of experience has documented that we can produce better photographs if we have four of each light figures.

photographic equipment
Westcott Spiderlite TD5 on the left of the picture.

Here is the final result of our setup with the Westcott Spiderlite TD5

Click on the image to see it on High resolutrion

Most recently updated May 16, 2014.
First posted Feb. 27, 2006.

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