Tungsten light is a type of light that is produced by heating a metal filament until it glows.

The tungsten light has a characteristic orange glow and is often used in photography given its very bright output, which makes it ideal for video production and studio photography.

The term tungsten refers to a chemical element with the symbol W and atomic number 74, which is obtained from wolframite.

Tungsten lamps get their name because they use tungsten filaments as heating elements.

tungsten light in photography

What Is tungsten light in photography?

Tungsten light is a type of lighting that can be used in photography. Tungsten light is sometimes referred to as artificial light, which refers to the fact that it is man-made rather than natural.

Tungsten light is one of the most common types of lighting used in photography. It gives off a yellow/orangeish glow and

What Is Tungsten Light in Photography?

mimics natural sunlight, making it an excellent choice for portrait photography.

This type of lighting does have some drawbacks, such as requiring a heavy power source and producing a great deal of heat.

However, the color temperature of tungsten lights is similar to the color temperature of sunlight, making it easy for photographers to adjust when switching from indoor to outdoor shooting.



Lighting equipment comes in many varieties and several different colors, including red, blue, green, and white.

However, there are only two main types of lighting: natural and artificial. Natural lighting refers to daylight or sunlight, while artificial lighting refers to any other kind of light that is created by humans. 

Tungsten lights are artificial, but mimic natural daylight. For this reason, the best place for such lights is in situations where there is no possibility of getting any natural or other types of artificial lights due to constraints like space, weather conditions, etc.

More on Tungsten Light

A tungsten light is a powerful, hot light source and used in film and video production. Tungsten lights produce a very warm-colored light similar to the lighting we are exposed to during the day.

In comparison to other light sources, tungsten bulbs are very large and heavy. They also have relatively lifetimes. 


Despite this, tungsten lights are often used in filming as they can be used in places where there would be no access to electricity or where it would be too expensive to set up electrical power.

They can also be used for non-studio applications such as location shoots. With the proper accessories, they can often be used more easily than fluorescent fixtures due to their lower heat output and larger size.

Characteristics of Tungsten Halogen Light

Tungsten halogen light is a type of light that uses tungsten filament and halogen gas to produce high-intensity light. Tungsten halogen light bulbs are popular in industrial, architectural, commercial, and residential lighting.

Tungsten halogen lamps are now widely used because they can provide the best quality of light for most lighting applications. There are many characteristics of tungsten halogen lamp that you should know to help you choose the best lamp for your needs. 

The bulb’s appearance reflects its durability, brightness, and design. The bulb must be made from a special type of glass called borosilicate glass, which can withstand heat without shattering. The metal base should be made from a high-quality brass or copper.

The tip of the bulb should have an aluminum coating, which helps distribute heat evenly across the surface area. The bulb’s color also indicates its ability to withstand high temperatures without melting.

Its appearance can indicate its lifespan as well. Bulbs with copper tips often last longer than those with silver tips.

Tungsten Vs Daylight

If you are a fashion or portrait photographer, you probably know how important the right light is. Two main types of warm light are used in photography: natural daylight and tungsten (which is artificial).

They both look quite similar, but there are differences in the way they look on the picture. To find out which one is better, we need to consider some crucial factors.

Daylight is the best to use if you want to capture the true colour of your model’s skin tone. It has a very soft effect on faces and skin.

If you are shooting on a cloudy day, the effect will be even softer. Sharper shadows will be formed if it’s sunny. If you shoot outside under the sun, you need to remember to bring some protection for your camera. There will be a lot of UV rays coming from the sun, which may damage your equipment.

Tungsten is best for shooting indoors when there’s no natural lighting available. As with daylight photography in full sunlight, this type of lighting creates a really sharp shadow, which you can soften by moving the lights further away from your model.

Tungsten light has a yellowish tint, so it’s great for creating warm images but can wash out the colors in your subject matter. 

How Does Tungsten Light Affect Your Photography?


Typically rated at about 3,200 degrees Kelvin, they are perfect for producing high-quality images with an abundance of detail and clarity. This is due to the fact that tungsten lights produce less blue “noise” compared to other types of light.

Compared to tungsten, fluorescent lighting produces a lot of green “noise” on film. This means that, when you use it with film, your images will look yellow or slightly green and washed out.

Fluorescent bulbs also tend to be more expensive than traditional tungsten bulbs.

***A note on color temperature: Manufacturers rate light bulbs (and film) based on color temperature, not color rendering index (CRI).

Color temperature is a measure.

Lighting Scenarios for Tungsten Light

Whether it’s a portrait, a still life, or simply an object, you need to consider the subject of your photo. The right lighting can make a world of difference when it comes to photography.

Tungsten lights are typically much hotter than your average household bulb. This means that they are used in commercial settings or in professional studio settings because the intense heat from these bulbs can actually damage the subject of your photo if not used correctly.

When using tungsten lights, you want to make sure your subject is at least three feet away from any light source. If you have one light source shining directly at your subject, be sure to have another light source shining from the other side as well so that there is no shadowing.

Also, try not to take pictures with more than one person in the shot because it will be hard to get everyone’s face evenly lit. Try different angles and poses to find which looks best for your picture.

Some shots work well with multiple light sources, while others work best with only one light source as long, as there is good placement for that source. 

Experimenting with different arrangements can make all the difference!

Three-Point Video Lighting Using Tungsten Lighting

In video production, three-point lighting is a technique of lighting that complements the main light source by adding two additional sources of illumination. Ideally, one of the fill lights is placed above and to the left or right of the subject’s head, and another is placed at an angle pointing down at their feet.

To use this method correctly, set up your lights first and then adjust your camera settings. For example, if you are using three 400 W tungsten lights with soft boxes, and you’re shooting on a white seamless background, set your camera to 400 ISO at f5.6 (for a 2-stop loss of light).

The reason for this is because these three lights will add up to a total equivalent output of 1600 W (3 x 400 W), which would normally require an 800 ISO setting (1/2 stop loss). In this method, you’re reducing the amount of light by 1 1/2 stops to keep the lighting ratio between key light and fill lights consistent with each other.

This will help prevent shadows from appearing when they shouldn’t be there. The next step is to adjust your shutter speed. Use whatever shutter speed gives you a good exposure without creating any motion blur in your subject. 

Pros and Cons of Tungsten Light Photography

If you are looking for a natural-looking light source for your photography, you should know about the pros and cons of tungsten light for photography. Tungsten light is a warm light source, meaning that it produces a yellowish light rather than the blueish light produced by daylight sources, such as window light or the sun at certain times of day. This can be used to great effect in certain situations and with certain subjects. 

Another advantage of tungsten lighting is its low costs. It is cheap to purchase tungsten lights and they don’t consume much power, which means they are cheaper to run than other types of lighting.

They can provide stable and continuous lighting because they have large bulbs with long lives, unlike fluorescent lights, which need regular replacement of the tubes. Tungsten bulbs provide a huge amount of illumination because they have a large bulb with lots of surface area that is covered in tiny filament wires.

However, Tungsten lights have some cons too. They produce a lot of heat, which can be a problem in small spaces or if you are trying to use them outdoors where there is no cooling air flow available. If you want to shoot outdoor portraits using these lights, you will need to use reflectors or diffusers to bounce some of the light away from your subjects.

Tungsten Light in Filmmaking

Tungsten lights are really heavy. Weighing in at about four pounds, the Arri MR-16 is huge compared to the relatively weightless and compact fluorescent bulbs.

This can be especially cumbersome for people who are shooting on location, hiking up mountains or walking long distances. You can definitely feel the difference when you have one of these bad boys in your hand.

While an electrician can easily carry a few different wattages of fluorescent bulbs in his toolbox, he’s going to need a lot more room for tungsten lights. Fluorescent bulbs use much less energy than their tungsten counterparts, which is great for the environment, but it can also mean that you’ll need several of them set up to match the brightness of one tungsten lamp.

The added benefit of fluorescents is that they are much more efficient and convenient. The long life of fluorescent light bulbs makes them an ideal choice for lighting interiors on a film set because they provide consistent light output over time without emitting as much heat as tungsten bulbs.

The fact that they are smaller and lighter means electricians don’t have to worry about juggling heavy equipment. This matters if you’re working on a small film set, where every move counts

Tungsten Light in Still Photography

When a photographer says he or she uses natural light (or “available light”), it means the only light source illuminating his or her subject is coming from outside or from a window. The use of natural light has numerous advantages.

Natural lighting can be unpredictable, but it has wonderful qualities that cannot be duplicated with artificial light. The softness and gradation of natural light lends a special look to images captured with it.

It is important to remember, however, that different types of light have different characteristics. Tungsten-type bulbs are not as bright as other types of artificial light.

They are also orange in color and emit significant heat, which affects the overall quality of their illumination. For these reasons, many professional photographers choose to use flash units when shooting indoors.

Tungsten-bulb flash units give off a similar orange glow as tungsten bulbs, so they can provide the same look typically associated with images lit with tungsten bulbs. I’m creating a video series called “Lighting For Photography” where I’ll talk about the different types of light and how to use them in your photography.

In this first episode, I talk about tungsten light and how to work with it. 

The Takeaway About Tungsten Photography

Tungsten photography is a style of photography that uses incandescent light bulbs or flash bulbs as a source of illumination.

Tungsten lighting has been used since the early 20th century and is still used today in many studios and on-location shoots. Using tungsten lighting gives off an orange glow, which can be used to warm up skin tones.

It is also very easy to use because it requires no special equipment other than a camera and light bulbs. Tungsten photography also offers a lot of control over the photograph because you can adjust the amount of light being produced.

Tungsten photography has its cons as well. The lights cast hard lighting, which can cause shadows under eyes or noses, especially when taking headshots or close ups.

It is also more expensive to have tungsten lighting than other types of photography such as digital photography or flash photography because you must hire lighting technicians who know how to use these types of lights effectively.