Saturday, May 28, 2011

Study Lighting

ZebraLight SC51w, H30-Q5;
HDS/Ra Clickies (100Chc, 140Cgt) and Twisty 70Tr;
SureFire 6P-M60Wl, L1;
Inova T1.

May is a month of intense studying; the first half of it at least. For years, one of my biggest study problems has just been finding a comfortable amount of light. My room lighting is... awful. I love portable lighting, but fixed lighting holds little interest for me, and I tend to prefer dim environments anyway, so I'm not well equipped when I do actually need to see what I'm doing for long periods indoors. For a while now, I've used my flashlights, usually with diffusers, to fill in for my missing desk lamps, with mixed results, but recently I've improved the situation a little. Since I've just come through an extended period during which this was the most important (and sometimes only) use of my lights, and I was relying on my lights to allow me to get my work done on a nightly basis, I'd like to devote a post to taking a look at how they serve me in this role.

My Nalgene lamp (with 100wwC Clicky attached) was a clever idea, I thought, but not truly that useful for this application. I have the terrible habit of trying to study on my bed, so getting this lamp to stay in one place and aimed correctly was more effort than it was worth. Still, something to remember if I ever go camping.

This has been my most successful technique for about the last year: a series of lights with either diffusers or very floody beams suspended over my bed. Here we see my 6P with Malkoff M60Wl and Inova T1 (the 2008 edition with the K2 TFFC). Not sure what's above and behind them.

Eventually I wised up and cleared some desk space for myself, just in time for my final study sessions, after months of doing math propped in bed. Here are a couple of Clickies standing by while my new ZebraLight SC51w lights up the book from above.

The ZL SC51w has kind of revolutionized my study lighting. The output, beam, tint, and runtimes make it a breath of fresh air for this kind of use. The neutral XPG emitter has a tint that is very comfortable on the eyes and produces a beam with a very wide spot that can actually be used to read even at fairly close distances without a diffuser. (The effect is a bit better than it appears in this shot.) Wish I'd had it sooner.

A look at the lights used in the days leading up to this year's final, including that wonderful little green Zebra standing there with the Clickies. Lying in the crease is the gen6 SF L1, though I can't remember how I made use of it here. At rear left is the ZL H30, which is always useful, though I've found its cool tint and limited runtime at high outputs rather limiting for this application.

The hanging setup over the desk, similar to what I strung up over my bed before. I've got the SC51w, 6P-M60Wl, and a Clicky going here, though I found I could usually make do almost as well using just the ZL alone. It really is great, I can't emphasize that enough. Because it doesn't have to be diffused, its beam remains focused. Because it retains its normal throw, less output is needed to put proper lux on the page. Lower output means greater efficiency and longer runtime, and its efficiency is already cutting edge to begin with.

Another look at the desk setup. This time I had the SC51w and the diffused high CRI Clicky (Moby Click) hanging above to provide page lighting while the Twisty tailstands in the center of the desk and reflects a little soft area lighting off the folded paper above. At the top right corner of the book stands the little H30 set to a low level. It's adding a little lighting to that corner of the book, but its primary function there was actually just to provide a little illumination on the calculator screen with the edge of its beam.

Final look at the same setup, showing one of the other Clickies (the 140Cgt) attached to the bookcase a few feet up to add another 35lm of area lighting when I wanted it.

My study lighting setup is probably far from ideal, mostly because of the battery concerns and trouble it takes to set it all up, but the results aren't too bad and I'm very grateful that I'm able to create adequate illumination to work despite my lack of more traditional lamps.