Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cabinet Light Comparison

A while ago on Orchid, (http://www.ganoksin.com/) a large jewellery forum, there was a discussion about lighting up your jewellery. Shops, cabinets and display cases. A poster suggested a company called http://www.econo-lite.com/ I contacted them, since they were in Florida, and they sent me out a metal halide lamp fixture that I thought might prove suitable for a test for one of my jewellery cabinets. I had built these two identical cabinets a while ago, so a comparison would be good. Check out http://www.econo-lite.com/products/recessed1.html

The lights and bulb cost about $180-ish .The first bulb I received with the fixture was too bright. I was rated at 4200K.
And it was so white that all the 18ct gold looked silver. In fact I had an "argument" with a customer who told me that my jewellery was silver, not 18kt. Right, dude, like I didn't make it!
So I phoned econolite up and they sent me another halide light that was rated at 3000K. That one, was in my opinion, perfect.
The comparison: Shot with a Nikon 4500 on manual with fixed f/stop and speed.
This is a cabinet with Quartz Halogen lights. It has 4 x 50 watt ( 200 watts total) globes in it and they produce a powerful heat and consume a lot of electricity. The result is that I have jewellery that tarnishes quickly and that is a REAL problem if they are multi metal pieces containing silver. See the previous post concerning that subject.
This has one 70 watt metal halide bulb. Very low heat and muchos light. Low electricity consumption. High price initially. Also, unlike 'normal' lights, if you switch it off and then directly on again, nothing happens. Only after 6 or so minutes does it start again. And when you switch it on for the first time it goes through a heating cycle, and it takes a couple of minutes before the light is at optimum strength.

The front and the rear of the fitting. It is a bit bulky. The light diameter is 100mm with this model, which is the smallest fitting I could find. But it is simple to install and wiring is simple too.
Conclusion:
The unit price of the metal halide is very high. The unit is a bit bulky. It has slow start up abilities. But compared to Quartz halogen, fluorescent, or LED lights, it beats them hands down in the light/heat department. This is critical for me. I live at the sea, so jewellery tarnishing, including 18kt is a real problem for me. The high cost is way offset by less cleaning time, lower heat, more light and lower electricity consumption. In the next few months I am converting my entire shop's displays to metal halide. I will go from 1000 watts to 280 watts.