Pro Studio Lighting Review: Westcott Spiderlite TD-5

I have had the Westcott Spiderlite TD-5 lighting system in the studio for testing for the past couple of weeks. I’ve used them for art reproduction, still life/product photography, portraits, macro photography, and more.


We will have these lights with us during the upcoming Fine Art Printing and Art Reproduction seminar series and Tech Expo, starting later this week in Colorado, moving on from there to New Mexico and Arizona.


NEWS BULLETIN, JUST IN TODAY AT 1 PM PACIFIC TIME: X-Rite, one of the sponsors of the seminar series will provide an iOne Display 2 as a door prize/raffle gift at EACH seminar event. Seminar attendees are eligible to win this gift. One device will be given away at each event (approx retail value just under $200). 


I have used three cameras with these lights: my Hasselblad H-series with Phase One back, the Mamiya AFD III with Leaf digital back, and the Nikon D3. All did well.




The lights were provided in a kit, consisting of a transport bag, light stands, light heads, soft boxes, and a few accessories.


They provide great “window” lighting using the provided daylight corrected florescent bulbs, which are, according to the manufacturer, set to 5500K. I measured them myself with an iOne spectro, and both came in at 5400K. This is an absolutely insignificant difference, in my view.


The lights can also be adapted to other lighting – for example, strobe heads or tungsten halogen bulbs are easily installed.


The light heads are easy to adjust; the soft boxes rotate easily from landscape to portrait orientation, and multiple switches on the back of the light head permit use of varying light levels. The soft box mounting ring is built into the light head – very convenient.




My most color-critical application is art reproduction. Color in artwork is usually so complex that “getting it right in the camera” is extremely important. The even illumination of the lighting system, combined with correct color temperature makes this element of production much easier – and of course minimizes post-production woes.


We also recently held a “Hot Car and Motorcycle” photo shoot at the SCV Center for Photography. The TD-5 lights did a great job of rendering the color in our “guest” Porsche Carrera S convertible. (see earlier post). Also recently used them for some macro work – see below – same level of performance.


flower red combo 1 copy final


Dennis Halley ( and I will have these lights with us on the Focus 09 seminar tour (fine art printing and art reproduction, plus tech expo)  starting later this week. We will be working in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Join us for these seminars – you just might find a new way to improve business!



all images © David Saffir 2009

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