Natural light, often referred to as full-spectrum light, is generally considered the best illumination to work under. Unfortunately, the term “full-spectrum lighting” has no fixed definition.
The phrase is used by the lighting industry to denote bulbs that mimic the properties of sunlight, but some bulbs designated this way perform better than others.
What to Look ForThe color-rendering index (CRI) indicates a light’s ability to illuminate color accurately. The sun has a CRI of 100. Bulbs with a CRI of 80 to 100 are best at revealing vibrant, natural hues.
The correlated color temperature (CCT), measured in Kelvin, refers to how warm or cool a light appears. Too warm a bulb may tint work reddish yellow, whereas too cool of a light can turn things blue.
For a good balance of warmth and coolness, look for bulbs with a CCT of 5500 K, the equivalent of the midday sun. If you prefer cooler light, akin to north light, look for bulbs rated 7500 K.
Luminosity or brightness is also important to consider. The formulas for measuring brightness are complicated. Suffice to say that you want as many fixtures as needed to give yourself ample illumination.
This may sound obvious, yet I’ve been in many under-illuminated studios that just needed another fixture or two to remedy the problem.
Where to BuyMany hardware stores sell fluorescent bulbs with good CRI and CCT numbers (read the packaging carefully). I’ve seen 80 CRI/5500 CCT compact fluorescents for as little as $3 a bulb. Online stores sell bulbs as well, but shop around, as prices vary tremendously.
Make sure the bulb you buy is compatible with your existing fixtures. Rows of fluorescent tube ceiling lights provide good luminosity but are costly.
A more affordable option is to install strips of track lighting that can be plugged into existing outlets and outfitted with screw-in, compact fluorescents. I recommend you employ an experienced electrician for any electrical work.