Review: OttLite 15 Watt Bulb

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OttLite 15 watt lightbulbI purchased the OttLite 15 Watt Bulb out of necessity. I’ve known about OttLite Technologies since my days receiving the old Dick Blick catalogue. It’d be cool to have, but I could never justify the cost. I’ve been perfectly fine with standard light bulbs.

I thought I was pretty smart using GE Reveal bulbs. I bought into GE’s hype that their relatively inexpensive bulbs could filter out the usual overbearing yellow cast and allow for cleaner colors. Compared to most incandescent lightbulbs, the Reveal bulbs do filter out most yellow light, but not enough to avoid color casts that affect your color work. It’s like comparing cheap a point-and-shoot digital camera to a little more expensive pro-sumer camera that’s noticeably more advance but not enough to use professionally.

A Nasty Surprise!

If you’ve read about my train-wreck of a submission, you’ll already know about the nasty surprise I received after busting my ass just to finish my painting on time. At the time I was using a GE Reveal bulb to view the colors in my painting.

There was a dramatic shift in color (in the blues) between the GE bulb and the bulb my Epson scanner uses. I racked my brain trying to figure out why this phenomenon was occurring. (My initial reaction was that this was a software issue or an issue with my color profiles.)

After purchasing the OttLite bulb from a local Michaels, I placed the painting underneath and got a major shock. The colors that I was viewing under the OttLite bulb were a dead match to what my scanner was picking up. My conclusion was that the GE bulb, despite its special glass didn’t remove enough yellow light to allow me to see colors accurately.

a scan of my painting withe the background colors shifted.
What I was seeing under my GE Reveal lightbulb contrasted with what my Epson scanner was viewing with its light source. (Click to enlarge.)

My Initial Reactions to the OttLite 15 Watt Bulb

As compared to my GE Reveal bulb, the OttLite is just as bright. At 900 lumens (the more lumens the better) OttLite 15 watt bulb produces richer colors. This is quite noticeable from the inkjet print of the geishas. The white of the copy paper is much brighter and cleaner. Comparing both of the OttLite bulbs to the GE Reveal, the yellow cast is painfully obvious. The OttLite uses a glass that gives cleaner, truer colors. That’s why I’m currently using it while painting. I want my colors to be consistent from drafting table to computer.

A test sample using an OttLite 900 lumens bulb
A sample taken using an OttLite 900 lumens bulb. Photo taken with a Kodak Easy Share C913 digital camera with flash disabled.
A test sample using a GE Reveal light bulb
A test sample using a GE Reveal lightbulb. Photo taken with a Kodak Easy Share C913 digital camera with flash disabled.

As compared to my Reveal bulb, the OttLite produces a lot less heat. Which is great for me since I have computer equipment right next to my drafting table. This is also good for South Texas summers, which can be pretty awful, especially when the high humidity kicks in.

My Recommendation

The OttLite 15 Watt Bulb is a must for anyone doing color work of any kind. I have no problem wholeheartedly recommending the OttLite lightbulb. You could still get away with using a standard incandescent lightbulb for black and white artwork, but you’ll have a lot more flexibility with the OttLite bulb. This is especially true if you do a lot of painting.

And from my experience, OttLite has a tremendous one-year warranty. All you need is to produce a receipt. My original OttLite 15 watt bulb was defective, and I easily received a replacement after contacting the company.

You can purchase the OttLite 15 Watt bulb [Amazon] at Amazon, Mister Art, or any good art store.

Update 06-12-2021

Consolidated both original (bad bulb) and updated reviews.

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