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I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-16-2005, 06:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I've built myself a light table. It's 4' x 6' with supports on the back so that a 6' x 8' piece of lexan can be placed in it and it forma a table with a coved wall/backdrop. Currently, I am using portable tungsten hot lights to light it from below, behind, and above.

My goal is to wire in a flourescent system so the table can be self contained. I would like to build the fixtures into the table, under the lexan.

My question, what is a good, inexpensive way to do this. I obviously would like daylight balanced light if possible with non-dimming lights for a constant source of light. Is there an inexpensive way that anyone knows to do this so I don't have to buy a $3,000 system and modify it?
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-16-2005, 08:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Check Home-Depot in the lighting area. They have everything you need to make
your own flourescent fixtures, or you can buy 4' fixtures.

They also sell color corrected flourescent tubes at various Kelvin temps.

Hope this helps.

Joe

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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-16-2005, 10:39 PM   #3 (permalink)
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really? I can get the color correct bulbs there? Cool, I thought I'd need a special fixture with special ballast for a consistant pulse rate and such.
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Well, sorta...
Old 09-16-2005, 11:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The home improvement places will have "daylight" bulbs. They are generally rated around 5000 degrees K. The question is how consistent are they from lamp to lamp, manufacturer to manufacturer, and over the burn life. You might find some info on the bulb manufacturers web sites.

It may not make a lot of difference for most applications, and unless you are depending on them to be a specific color spectrum output. But then a hundred bucks is a long ways from $3000, and maybe the difference makes it tolerable. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-17-2005, 05:07 AM   #5 (permalink)
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David, the number to look for on the bulb is the CRI. If it is in the 90's then you've got a pretty decent bulb. The last time I checked at Home Depot they were carrying a 4 foot bulb for about $6 that had a CRI of (I think) 93. As far as the ballast goes that is most of the expense of the fancier set-ups. You are not going to get a flicker-free ballast at Home Depot, at least not that I am aware of. However, since you are probably going to be using a tripod with this set-up it won't matter as long as you keep the shutter slower than 1/60 which is the cycling time of the flicker. If you want to give yourself some flexibility with variations in the lighting then wire each individual bulb with its own power switch so you can have different ratios. Having 4 bulbs per side would give you a 3 stop range. One bulb on, two bulbs on, or all four. Gee, can you tell that I almost built some lights of my own? [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-17-2005, 07:15 AM   #6 (permalink)
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The lamps to look for are the GE Chroma 50. They will say on the box that they are balanced for 5000K. The four foot bulbs are not expensive, other lengths are. This has come up before in the "poor man's kino-flow" topics. Since you are building a light table, I assume that you plan to use some of the lights under the table. For this, I would suggest fluorescent strip lights. Strip lights use one or two bulbs. I would suggest the single bulb fixtures so that you can space your bulbs the way you want to. I would stay away from the cheap shop lights. My experience with them is that the ballasts burn out quickly, taking the bulbs with them. Shoplights in the $20 range are usually OK. The strip lights are more expensive than shoplights, but they are meant to last. Another thing to consider for a movable fluorescent fixture is an under counter or cabinet light. These typically use a 15 watt, 18" bulb. You can get these bulbs in Chroma 50. I have found them at Wal-Mart. The fixtures usually have a line cord and an on-off switch.

Bill
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-17-2005, 10:19 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Very cool! Thanks for the help, I'm keeping this information!!!
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Re: Well, sorta...
Old 09-17-2005, 10:21 PM   #8 (permalink)
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[ QUOTE ]
But then a hundred bucks is a long ways from $3000, and maybe the difference makes it tolerable.

[/ QUOTE ]

Ya, that's what I'm thinking too!

Thanks for the info!
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-17-2005, 10:24 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you sir! I was, indeed thinking strip lights would be the way to go!
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Re: I\'m building my own light table/mini cove
Old 09-18-2005, 08:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hey Dave, any chance you could drop a shot of what you've built? I'm familiar with a light table in regards to photo-intel, graphics design, and scrapbooking, but at 6x8, that's one damn big scrapbook. Hate to see what your portfolio looks like! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/laugh.gif[/img]

Thanks!
Glenn K
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