Review of recommended lighting for high-end digital still photography studios, Videssence lights.
Photographers tend to use either strobe lights or tungsten lighting. 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.
Yet 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 Field Pro 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.
After a long flight from Guatemala to Orlando, Nicholas Hellmuth unpacks the Videssence lamp fixtures.
Videssence uses SRGB units which are ideal for digital photography. They come in "tungsten" and "daylight" variety. The advantage of the Better Light software for digital photography 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.
The current models of Videssence were originally made for TV studios, indeed our own college campus station, WBCC-TV, Channel 68, Cocoa, Florida, has many Videssence fixtures.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.
Five 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 BetterLight scan back digital photography approaches the quality of 5x7. Tomorrow you can take the equivalent of 8x10 quality with the ease of digital technology. More information.
Posted early 1998, updated March 3, 1999.