Which Color Temperature Is Best for Lighting a Video Studio?


The color temperature of a scene, when not ideal, can modify the look and feel of your photos and videos considerably. But like most other functions of a camera, ascertaining the right color temperature for a video studio is not straightforward as there are too many things to set as “standard”.

The best color temperature for a video studio light is the one that suits your exact requirements. If you want a blue color cast in your video, a light with a 4,000 to 5,000K Kelvin rating will be ideal. If you need a more neutral lighting scheme, the bluish hue would seem incorrect.

The way the human eye perceives light is different compared to a camera. Learning the color temperature of your shots will help you comprehend those discrepancies. Read on to learn in-depth how to ascertain the ideal color temperature for a video.  

color temp 1
Left to right – Candle light to sky light

Color Temperature – A Brief Overview

Color temperature is the level of warmth in a light. It basically denotes a light source’s “coolness” or “warmth” in the visual sense.

Color temperature is usually expressed in Kelvin (K), a unit that measures absolute temperature. There is no negative number on a Kelvin scale, which means it’s simpler to compute variances between temperatures.

Kelvin numbers can be converted to other units of temperature in the following way:

  • Kelvin to Fahrenheit (F): Deduct 273.15, multiply it by 1.8, and then add 32.   
  • Kelvin to Celsius (C): Just add 273 to the Kelvin number.

In lighting applications, the Kelvin scale helps pinpoint color temperature, such as blue, white, or bright red, in relation to an object’s physical temperature.  

Based on Kelvin numbers, a light’s color temperature can be broadly classified as:

  • Soft white (2000 to 3000K): The light falling in this range is referred to as “warm white”, and it could be orangish to yellowish-white. Firelights or incandescent bulbs project orangish light as their Kelvin rating is usually under 3000. Such soft white lighting is ideal for living rooms and bedrooms as it offers a warm, cozy feeling.
  • Warm white (3000 to 4000K): Lights falling in this temperature range are considered “bright white” or “cool white”. The lights are neutralized white light and could also have a slight blue tint to them. Bulbs with yellowish-white hues are best for bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Bright white (4000 to 5000K): Lights with this color temperature fall somewhere between blue and white tones. They offer a more energetic and less cozy vibe, making them ideal for workspaces (like a garage or home office) and kitchens fitted with a lot of chrome.
  • Daylight (5000 to 6500K): Above 5000K is “daylight” territory or lights in this range give off a daylight-mimicking bluish-white hue. This light hue helps increase contrast for colors, making it best suited for reading, applying makeup, or working.

Cool light is generally preferred over warm light for visual tasks as it helps create higher contrast. Warm lights are ideal for living spaces as it’s more flattering to clothing and skin tones. A 2700-3600K color temperature is usually suggested for most indoor tasks and general lighting applications.

How Color Temperature Influences Videography 

Color temperature not just determines how the white areas in your scenes get recorded, but it also helps create the right color shade for all other colors in the shot.

A good video shot is one that mimics reality or what you see outside of the lens. When looked at by the naked eye, the white surfaces should look the same shade of white when recorded through the lens. And when that is achieved, all other colors in the shot get balanced or replicated correctly too.

Though not visible to the naked eye, a white surface could be reflecting an overcast day’s blue light or the dipping sun’s deep orange.

Unlike the human eye, a camera doesn’t continually adjust to changing light scenarios. You should communicate to your camera the color of light currently illuminating a scene, and it should be modified each time light changes. This is your “color temperature” or “white balance” setting in the camera.

Not to mention, getting the color balance right while shooting is critical as correcting errors during post could be difficult and time-consuming.

Video Studio Lights and Color Temperature

Not all video lights, or lighting in general, are made equal. Lights emitted from various light sources could cast their hue on a scene. Depending on the bulb type, lights could appear “warmer” or “cooler” on camera.

Fluorescent light hue is different from tungsten lights, which is different from candlelight. Candlelight hue is not the same as quartz. Quartz iodine or quartz-halogen lamp is different from sodium-vapor lamplight. This difference can be perceived by the naked eye, too.

Here is a video elucidating the difference between daylight and tungsten:

Several modern LED lights for photography and videography have flexible hues, or they could be tungsten or daylight balanced by default.

Kelvin temperatures for residential and commercial lighting purposes fall anywhere between 2000 and 6500K. The lighting kits used for shoots or on a movie set usually have high Kelvin numbers. Comparatively, softboxes and fluorescent lights are neutral (4000 to 4500K range), emitting clear white light.

These hues could be captured by the sensor or film in your camera or neutralized with electronics or filters so that the cereal bowl’s white interior looks white and not beige when captured beneath an incandescent light bulb’s warm hue.

Read this article to see how softboxes compares to reflectors!

What Is the Best Color Temperature for Video Studio Lighting?

As mentioned above, there is no “best color temperature”. Each color temperature has a purpose and caters to certain requirements. Your preferences count too. Contrary to what most non-photographers might believe, there is simply no rule that says you must neutralize the white balance of a shot or image. 

For product shots, the light’s color temperature should be neutral – not warm or cold – so that the product could be accurately represented through the shots. For example, if a blue color shirt is being shot for an ad, the shirt must look the exact shade of blue in the video. Even if the color is slightly off, the client who is particular about the item’s color won’t be happy.

Color Temperature Settings in Your Camera 

Most digital cameras come with various white balance settings. The following are the most common:

  • Auto (A)
  • Tungsten (light bulb symbol)
  • Daylight (sun symbol)
  • Fluorescent (a symbol that resembles a light tube)
  • Shade
  • Cloudy (cloud symbol)
  • Flash (lightning bolt sign)
  • Manual/preset

Kindly note these preset settings will not neutralize color casts for sure. Kelvin temperatures for certain lights are purely estimates and not precisely matched to all light sources available in a video studio or outdoors.

Smart Bulbs Can Come to the Rescue Too 

Smart bulbs offer quite a few benefits over traditional lights, but one of the primary reasons why they are so popular is the level of convenience they bring to the table. In other words, you can change a smart bulb’s colors or the “color temperature” of the light on the fly so that you don’t need to buy a set of bulbs with varying color temperatures.

If you’re looking to buy a set of smart bulbs for your video studio, consider this Lumiman Smart Wi-Fi Light Bulb.

Smart WiFi Light Bulb, LED RGBCW Color Changing, Compatible with Alexa and Google Home Assistant, No Hub Required, A19 E26 Multicolor LUMIMAN 2 Pack
21,632 Reviews
Smart WiFi Light Bulb, LED RGBCW Color Changing, Compatible with Alexa and Google Home Assistant, No Hub Required, A19 E26 Multicolor LUMIMAN 2 Pack
  • Voice Control - LUMIMAN Smart bulb compatible with Alexa Echo (via PLUSMINUS skill), Echo dot and Google Home Assistant, control the wifi bulb by your voice, No hub required. (e.g. ‘Alexa, set the bedroom to purple’)
  • Remote control from anywhere at any time - With the free PLUSMINUS app on your smartphone or tablet, you can turn on/off the smart light bulb whether you are at home or away.
  • Adjustable and Dimmable - You can free to switch light modes and brightness on PLUSMINUS App to match different occasions. White light for work and life, warm white light for relaxing and resting, multicolor light for party, etc.

Conclusion 

With good knowledge of color temperature or white balance, you will be much more adept at managing your camera not just in your video studio but also in scenarios where you have little to no control over lighting.

As mentioned above, setting the right color temperature in your camera is easy. It certainly isn’t something you’ll look forward to correcting in post. Therefore, get the color temperature right at the get-go so that you have fewer headaches to deal with later. 

Find out more about how to professionally light your video studio in this article here.

Sources 

Last update on 2021-05-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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