A couple of years ago I did a product review on
a lamp called an Ott Lite. At the time, I
mentioned that the light I tested was great for
tying flies and reading, but not all that great
for photography. I also mentioned that I was
waiting for the photography version of their
lamp that they were developing, and wanted to
try it out. Well, I have now tried it and have
some good news to report.
The light they sent me was the small, flip open,
desktop model. It costs a lot less than the big
model, and it is a more convenient size to use on
a fly tying bench. I was skeptical about the idea
that anyone could create a light that produced
exact colors on film or digital media. I took 117
photos under natural light and the Ott Lite to compare
and determine if there was any color shift. Fortunately
for you, I narrowed the field of photos down to three
for you to compare with me.
I took my digital camera and set the white balance
feature to natural sunlight then took pictures of a
Conranch cape in natural sunlight and under the light
of the new Ott Lite. That's the best way I have to
test the light for the color shift toward green
that's common with fluorescent lighting. I
noticed that the light from the Ott Lite has a
little more contrast than natural sunlight, but
the colors are pretty close to natural sunlight.
Next, I did a white balance under the Ott Lite
so my camera would adjust the picture to make
all the colors true to color (at least that's
how it's supposed to work).
I really like the colors of this particular Conranch
cape because it is a natural golden badger color with
a slight tinge of rusty dun. I have never seen
another cape with that particular color, so I chose
it for this test. As you can see, the three pictures
aren't the same and there seems to be a difference in
color. I thought the difference was more likely due
to the higher contrast of the Ott Lite rather than a
color shift, but I do think there is a very slight
shift toward green under the Ott Lite with the camera
set for sunlight. And, that subtle dun hue had shifted
slightly toward a ginger color under the artificial
light of the Ott Lite. Somewhere between the two
is the photo with the white balance.
What happened next surprised me a little. I compared
my photos to the actual cape in natural light and
noticed that the cape looks more like the picture
taken under the Ott Lite after I white balanced my
camera. Now what? Well, I think the difference
could be due to the color of the sky. The sky is
blue, and the photo taken in sunlight has a slight
shift toward blue in its color. This photography
stuff can present challenges once in a while.
My conclusion? I know one thing for sure. If you're
using a digital camera and use the white balance feature,
your photos under the new Ott Lite will be as true to
the natural color of your subject as you can get.
If you don't do a white balance or if you're using
print or slide film, your photos will be closer to
natural under the Ott Lite than they will be under
any other artificial light I have used, including
those expensive and hot photo bulbs. And, if you're
using natural sunlight, your photos might not be as
close to the natural color of your subject as they
could be under the Ott Lite, especially if you white
balance your digital camera before using it.
Is the Ott Light worth the price? Yep, and it works
for more than photography. It's the best artificial
light I've found for fly tying or any other craft that
requires true color detection. As you grow older,
you'll appreciate how gentle this light is on your
eyes when reading or working with small objects.
If you want to do some photography but can't always
rely on the sun to help you out, this is your ticket
to photographic freedom.
You'll find information on the Ott Lite and all of
their models in the Sponsor's section. If you decide
to order one, and if you plan on using it for photography,
make sure they know that is what you want it for.
I don't think all of their models were designed for
photography, so you'll want to ask for the right model
for that purpose. The model number for the one I am using
is Model L13338.
Environmental Lighting Concepts, Inc.
1214 West Cass Street
Tampa, FL 33606
Ph: 800-842-8848 or 813-621-0058
Or visit their web site at: www.ott-lite.com