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March 14, 2011 / GreenMan

Which Is Better? Halogen or Fluorescent?

Halogen vs. Fluorescent Bulbs

“Dear GreenMan, which type of bulb is better to use on a video set: halogen or cool fluorescent? Is there a difference? -Sincerely, Mike from San Jose, CA”

Well, Mike from San Jose, CA, there is a HUGE difference between the two. Is one better than the other? Well, how about I list the pros and cons of each, and you can be the judge. Like many aspects of  a video or photo shoot, a lot comes down to personal preference (and budget!!). So here’s the major differences between these two very popular forms of lighting. The decision is up to you.

Halogen bulbs have a color temperature of around 3000K, which will produce a warm yellowish to red light (indicative of  interior lighting).

Fluorescent bulbs have  a color temperature of around 5000K, which will produce a cool blue-ish white light (similar to sunlight).

The wonderful thing about halogen lamps is that they are super powerful. You can really make a few lights go a long way. They also have a very rich color temperature, and many people prefer the warm light that  halogen bulbs give off, especially when shooting indoors since it gives the same look as incandescent lamps. However, these bulbs can get expensive to replace, are very delicate, and get extremely hot. You need to allow ample time after shutting off these lamps before you handle them, or you can risk serious injury. And of course, don’t touch them when they are on. Also, be weary of getting cloth and gels too close to the light, as this may become a fire risk. I would advise if you are working around children or pets to NOT use halogen lamps, and to go with the cool fluorescent bulbs instead.

Fluorescent bulbs stay cool to the touch, even after long hours of operation, so you don’t need to worry about fire hazards. These bulbs are also extremely energy efficient and suck up a lot less power than halogens. However, they also don’t produce as much power as halogen bulbs, so you will need more bulbs to produce the same amount of light. Fluorescent bulbs are less expensive than halogens and also last longer. They produce a more blue-ish tint but you can purchase them tungsten balanced or daylight balanced. They produce a very soft light, which is great for video interviews or portrait photos, but again, these bulbs do not put out much light in comparison to halogens.

So there it is, folks. Hope this info has helped. And please, if you have anything to add on the subject, or prefer one bulb to the other, leave me a comment!

Stay green, friends!


One Comment

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  1. Larry / Mar 15 2011 8:50 AM

    For my taste, I like the halogen bulbs. Even though they get very hot, I just like the look they give.

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