Are you looking for the best miniature painting lamp or light? Every hobby at modeling scale requires your ability to see and work with small details. Good contrast and correct color temperature are essential for consistent, high-quality output at any scale. The best light for hobbies are those that provide daylight neutral white light at a comfortable brightness. Hobby lamps that provide this kind of light should also diffuse illumination evenly across the working surface.
In this article, I show you what to look for in the best lamp for painting miniatures and models. I also review 13 of the best miniature painting lamps for hobby scale modelers and tabletop wargamers.
In a nutshell, the recommended lamps for painting miniatures have light color temperatures that falls within the daylight range (5000 – 6500K or Kelvin) and provide sufficiently diffuse and bright illumination to prevent eye strain.
Whether you’re a scale modeler, e.g., trains, military, or a tabletop gamer who assembles and paints miniatures, e.g., Warhammer 40k and other Citadel Games, you’ll always want to see things well. Look to get the best hobby lamp and light. Check ’em out!
Continue reading below for an overview about lights, and the lamp/lighting system review for minis and models.
Best Color Temperature for Miniature Painting and Hobby Lighting
Color temperature is the way you characterize the appearance of light color casting. All light has color in it, and for the empiricist, we characterize color temperature with units of degrees in Kelvin (K) (1,000 to 10,000).
- Warm light – at low Kelvin (2000 – 3000K), light will be warm (orange or yellow light)
- Neutral light – in the middle (3000 – 5000K), light will have a more neutral tone that may have some cool, blueness in it
- Cool light – at the higher Kelvin temperatures (above 4500K), light will have cooler temperature, with blue-white tints that many feel mimics daylight
For accurate color representation on a working hobby surface, using a light that is either in the neutral or cool light temperature range (5000-6000K or Kelvin) is ideal. For miniature painting, specifically, the best lamp emits light that mimics natural sunlight. To reproduce natural light (from the sun), lamps should have LED lights that provide a color temperature of around 5500K. If you’re looking for a lamp for painting miniatures, be aware of the need for its color temperature output.
Fun fact: A warmer light has less “blue light” and can therefore help you sleep better. Bright LEDs with blue light can disrupt your ability to sleep by suppressing melatonin. Interestingly, a bright daylight lamp could be useful, because some research has shown that it can keep you alert, focused, and even help with symptoms of depression. Overall, blue light with a cool white tone may be beneficial for those of us who want to be more productive at the hobby.
3 Must-Know Hobby Lamp and Lighting Features
There are 3 features of desk hobby lamps you should know:
- Source of Light
- Light Power in Lumens
Source of light
Light emitting diode (LED) lamps provide an excellent source of light. All of the recommended lamps that I list below use LEDs as the source of light. An alternative light source could also be a lamp with daylight bulbs (e.g., compact fluorescent light or CFL). However, for the sake of modernity, the LED provides the most efficient and useful kind of illumination.
LED for miniature lighting provides several benefits. LEDs do not produce much heat. You won’t sweat from the extra warmth from the lamp hovering near your head. Because LEDs consume very little power, they are energy-efficient and a sustainable way to enjoy your hobby.
Importantly, LEDs have very long lifespans. Standard LEDs are able to endure tens of thousands of hours of continuous use. Depending on the kind of lamp you choose, you can change the brightness of LEDs to suit your needs, and in some cases, change the LEDs’ color temperature. The best desk lamps can reproduce many of the qualities of natural light through adjustable lighting modes.
Light power (lumens)
What is the maximum brightness of your hobby lamp? For lighting systems, such as desk lamps and other utility lights, the brightness of the light source is measured in lumens. Lumens is a measure of the total quantity of visible light over time.
For example, the higher the lumens, the brighter your lamp. For those who are more familiar with regular bulbs, which use wattage as a measure of brightness, here is a conversion table (watts vs lumens). As a point of reference, a 60-100 watt light bulb is equivalent to about 800-1000 lumens (generally measured for LED lights).
|600 lm||40 W||10 W|
|900 lm||60 W||15 W|
|1125 lm||75 W||18.75 W|
|1500 lm||100 W||25 W|
|2250 lm||150 W||37.5 W|
|3000 lm||200 W||50 W|
What is ergonomics? Ergonomics is the science of making a workplace fill the user’s need. Good ergonomics increases productivity, efficiency, and comfort.
Of all the ergonomic benefits of good lighting, I think comfort is the most important. The best light for painting miniatures, for example, is one that doesn’t cause eye strain. This is due both to the quality and output of the light itself, as well as the physical stature of how the light is placed over the working area.
For good lighting ergonomics, a lamp should be flexible enough to be move around the work space, but stable. When I put my lamp over the perfect spot, I want it to stay there for the duration. When you light miniatures, you want the shadows and highlights to stay in place!
The best lights for hobbies, e.g., scale modeling assembly and miniature painting, are those that have secure clamps, floor or desk stands, and flexible armatures (i.e., swing lamps). A lamp for painting should stay where you place it.
As mentioned above, ergonomics must fit the need of the user. The user is you. So, at the end of the day, the best lamp ergonomic system will be the one that fits your personal needs.
Desktop, Swing-Arm, or Floor Lamp?
You can categorize all hobby lamps and lights into 3 categories:
- Desktop lamps
- Swing-arm or flexible armature lamps
- Floor lamps
Each miniature painting lamp or hobby light has pros and cons:
Desktop lamps are generally the easiest to set up. All you do is unbox the lamp and sit them on your desk or table. They are generally as powerful and bright as the other types of lamps, with the added benefit of size (and portability).
Swing-arm lamps are the most common type of lighting system among serious hobbyists who need more tabletop space. Swing-arm lamps clamp onto the side of the workspace, which frees up the rest of the table for actual work. Moreover, these types of lamps are highly flexible. Hence, the swing/flexible arm component allowing you to place the light directly over your work.
Floor lamps are not as commonplace due to their larger size and limitations regarding placement. However, floor lamps are awesome because they provide some of the most powerful lights available. In some cases, they can light up an entire room!
Quick Note: What about an Arch Lamp for Painting Miniatures?
Arch lamps are a beautiful type of lamp that can be used in a variety of different ways. They are perfect for adding an elegant touch to any room, and they come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. Some arch lamps even have a built-in dimmer, which makes them perfect for creating the perfect mood lighting.
For painting miniatures, you can buy arch lamps that provide evenly distributed lighting above and around your work space. These often have powerful LED arrayed over your desk area that provide natural light for painting, just like you would find outside.
The Arch Light pictured above has a long-lasting LED arrays that provide excellent diffuse light for painting, and it’s an especially great deal because of the powerful 2,100 lumen output and adjustable color temperature (2700 to 6000K). For other options, you can find other arch lamp designs.
What Lamp or Light Can You Afford?
For lamps, you get what you pay for. “Pay for the quality you need!” A high-quality, durable lamp that I expect to last years will probably cost about $50-100. The first lamp I purchased was about $125 and recommended by Matt DiPetrio, a former studio painter for Privateer Press. This was my first lamp (no longer in production).
The best lamp for painting minis is the one you can afford. When I was shopping for lights for my hobby space, I had to choose between getting this or that. It was either great lights or that beautiful hardwood desk. Not both.
In those days, LEDs were uncommon. A few experts suggested that I install a daylight bulb in my bog standard desk lamp. At that time, CFL bulbs were the hot stuff for artists.
With the advent of new technology, however, LED bulbs are the only source of light you should consider. Ultimately, get the best light system you can afford. I never purchased that fancy hardwood desk, I invested in the light source instead. I now also use them for photographing my miniatures. Win-win.
Best Lamp for Painting 28mm Scale Models and Miniatures?
The good lamp for painting tiny details on miniatures create a diffuse, spread out illumination, that reduces hard reflections. Harsh lighting reduces surface contrast, which makes it hard to see details when you’re working on model surfaces. A soft light provides a much better experience when painting minis, which may require that you look for higher standard lighting systems than what you would find in a typical reading lamp or those conventional office work lamps.
Lamps like the Neatfi XL Task Lamp or Phive LED Task Lamp are perfect for lighting small surfaces on 28mm scale miniatures, like those you may paint for Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), Warhammer space marines, or the fine details on 10mm scale models for Dropzone Commander.
For an extra advantage for painting finer details, lamps with built-in magnifying glasses, such as the Brightech LightView PRO will come in really helpful. I use one of these for assembling models, too. For a more in-depth review and comparison of magnifying lamps for hobby work and painting minis, check out this article.
Best Light for Painting Large Models, Such as Vehicles and Terrain?
The challenge with painting large models and terrain is that they take up a lot of desk space. For example, scale model terrain and buildings are both tall and wide. As such, you’ll want a lamp (or two) that can stay out of your way and don’t take up too much desk real estate.
For more space on your desk, I would consider a floor lamp like the Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp. You can roll the lamp around your hobby desk, saving table space for your actual work area, and use the magnifying glass to zoom in on areas you want to see up close.
For those with standing desks or workbench height table tops for hobbies, a floor lamp is great because they have the height to light up your elevated work area. You also don’t need to balance a desk lamp on the edge of a standing desk tabletop.
For a flexible lighting option, a swing arm lamps that clamps to the edge of your desk will work well. Just be aware of the maximum armature height and length. Some lamps are too short for working with large models. Although you can angle them to accomodate large terrain pieces or vehicles, these lamps will get in your way.
In my case, I use multiple lamps that I angle upwards to work on large model buildings and flying vehicles (e.g., Warhammer Stormravens). Suffice it to say, look for a lamp that casts light across a broad area of your working space. I use the Neatfi XL Task Lamp along with photographic studio lighting to improve my ability to see what I’m doing with larger models.
Desk Lamp for Better Miniature Photography?
Any desk lamp can help you take better photos of your miniatures, with a few conditions. Whether you’re documenting your work-in-progress or want to share your completed paint jobs, all you need for good photography or video recording is really bright and diffuse light. However, most hobby desk lamps may not provide both sufficiently bright or diffuse light.
There are 3 pro tips for using your current desk lamp to take better photos of your models:
- Move the light closer to your miniature subject
- Place the lamp low and in front of your model
- Use a tripod to stabilize your smartphone or regular camera
For more information about how to improve your miniature photography, here are articles devoted to miniature photography lighting and recommended photo lightbox studios. I also use LED rings lights (reviewed here) for videography for my YouTube channel.
In general, all of the desk lamp setups reviewed below are useful for taking good photos of your miniatures. Just take into account that you may need to move your lights much closer to your model and at a lower angle. For this reason, a flexible swing-arm desk lamp may be the most versatile desk lamp if you plan to take photos at your hobby desk.
Quick tip: For macro type photography, you can photograph your models directly through the lens of magnifying glass lamps, like the Brightech LightView PRO
Great Office Lamps You Can Use for Painting Miniatures
If you’re looking for a lamp that can double as a home office lamp and an effective miniature painting light, have a closer look at the Architect Desk Lamp Gesture Control and TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp. Both lamps have great features that will come in useful for office work, e.g., USB charging ports, color temperature control, adjustable brightness. They also provide great lighting support for those of us who paint miniatures or work with other fine scale hobbies.
Wouldn’t it be great if we got a lamp that did more than one thing?
If you’re working at home and need better lighting, check out these cool office lamps that work well and look great in any space. For those of you who already have a decent desk lamp, but want to use the best light bulbs for miniature painting, here are some fun tips for upgrading your light bulbs for hobby work and miniature painting even better.
Recommended 13 Best Lamp and Light for Painting Miniatures and Models
- Architect Desk Lamp Gesture Control
- Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Floor Lamp
- Brightech LightView PRO – LED Magnifying Glass Desk Light
- Brightech LightView PRO (Touch Dimmer)
- BYB E430 Metal Architect LED Desk Lamp
- LED Magnifying Lamp, Alisr Daylight Bright Magnifying Glass Light with Clamp
- Neatfi XL 2,200 Lumens LED Task Lamp
- Phive LED Task Lamp, 20 Watt Super Bright Desk Lamp
- Phive LK-3 Metal Architect Swing Arm LED Table Lamp
- ROZKY Drafting Table Lamp, Metal LED Desk Lamp
- Metal LED Swing Arm Desk Lamp
- OttLite LED Task Lamp
- Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp
Read on for a full review of the 13 best lamps and lights for miniature painting and modeling hobbies.
1. Architect Desk Lamp Gesture Control – OTUS Metal Swing Arm Dimmable Led Lamp
The Architect Desk Lamp with Gesture Control is at the top of the list because I think it’s one of the coolest lamp systems on the list. As a tabletop lamp, the Architect Desk Lamp has a few neat features.
To operate this lamp, you wave your hand across the lamp to turn it on or off. Using motion-sensors, the lamp allows you to use hand gestures to control it. As a lamp in the $100 range, it gives you a lot of control. There are 12 dimmable settings for brightness, which gives you fine adjustment for whatever your hobby needs.
As a lamp for painting miniatures, this is one of the best features because you can avoid harsh reflections depending on the “brightness” of your paint job (high value colors, e.g., white or silver metallics). You can change the color temperature of the light to 3 different settings (warm, cool, and a neutral tone).
The ergonomics of this lamp are excellent. With adjustable metal arms, and head that swivels. There is a handle that lets you easily move the light source without leaving fingerprints across the shiny surface of the LED housing. The stand has a small footprint, filling up only a base diameter of 8″. This thing will fit anywhere on your desk without getting in your way.
The LEDs are bright at 1200 lumens and use a non-flickering feature to prevent weird eye strain. Given that the total amount of energy required is about 10 watts to run, this is a very efficient lamp with LEDs of an average lifetime of 50,000 hours (or 5.7 years if the light is operated for 24 hours in a day).
- No-touch, gesture control
- Flexible swing-arm
- Adjustable brightness and color temperature
- 1200 lumens (bright)
- Small desk/table footprint
- Approximately $100
Recommended Lamp User:
I find bright lamps like this one are great for a variety of purposes. As a hobbyist, you’re looking at a fancy tasks lamp that will light up a large work surface area. If you’re looking for a desk lamp that can serve your home office, or a unique reading lamp, this will give you a broad set of features. The ability to operate the lamp without touching it also seems handy. Maybe both your hands are occupied with a project, but you need to turn off the light. Use a gesture! I love it.
2. Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Glass Floor Lamp
This is a rolling floor lamp with a magnifying glass feature. This is not a desk lamp, obviously, but has the mobility to be near any desk or flat surface you’re working on. One of this lamp’s best uses is if you have a workshop in a wide open area, e.g., a garage or basement. In this case, the Brightech LightView Pro Floor Lamp is an excellent, versatile option.
The lamp has a relatively large 5″ glass magnification lens. Glass lenses are the best material for magnifiers because of the optical clarity, neutral color cast, and durability. Glass lenses are also easy to clean and aren’t bothered by harsher cleaning chemicals that might damage plastic lenses.
The lens on this floor lamp has a 2.25x magnification power, which is my recommendation for hobbyists working with miniatures in the 28-35mm scale. If you’re painting miniatures, this magnification power will certainly help you with finer detail brush work or free handing designs. Not sure you’d like a freestanding magnifier? Try wearing a headband visor with a magnifying lens.
Additionally, the focal length, or distance from the lens to working surface, is about 8-12″ which is sufficient for you to operate with a standard length brush handle.
The brightness of the LEDs (there’s a lot of them under that ring) is about 800 lumens (equivalent to a 60 watt lightbulb). With a dimmable function and the ability to adjust the color temperature, this lamp is versatile for different hobby tasks.
The 6 wheels on the stand are smooth operating on hard flooring and, as mentioned above, lets you take this where ever you need it. If you’re into hobby arts and crafts and need to move around different stations, this mobility is very useful.
The overall height of the light stand is sufficient to reach over bar height tables (those you stand at). So in regards to ergonomics, for those of you with standing desks, this could be a great option.
Because this sits on the floor, the lamp takes up no desk space at all. If you’re limited by a small desk, but plenty of room around yourself, this is also a fantastic way to provide focused light for your hobby or craft work.
For long painting sessions or hobby work, e.g., soldering, model-making, this is probably the most cost-effective magnifying lamp you can get.
- See more details with the magnification lens
- Great for crafts and miniature hobby work, e.g., painting and assembling models
- 800 lumen brightness is sufficient for many tasks
- Dimmable and color temperature adjusting light source
- Good value for those who need the ergonomics of a fairly tall, rolling floor-stand lamp
Recommended Lamp User:
This is best for those hobbyists or artists who want the mobility and height of floor magnifying lamp. This is particularly useful for you if you have a standing desk or bar height workbench and you don’t want to use a table clamp light. I’ve recommended lamp also because it comes with the large glass lens which is easy to clean and provides a crystal clear optical view of your working surfaces, e.g., miniatures, scale models, etc.
3. Brightech LightView PRO – LED Magnifying Glass Desk Light for Close Work
The Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Desk Lamp is the lamp I have. This is one of the best modern desk lamps available for miniature painting and hobby work. I write a little more about this lamp in another article.
In general, the reason I purchased this lamp is because I needed a brighter LED lamp with magnification capabilities. As I got better as a miniature painter (see my gallery), I wanted to improve the level of detail I applied. I realized I could do a better job with magnification.
This lamp has a 2.25x lens with a 5″ diameter. It is perfectly suited to painting miniatures. The cover over the lens is a benefit I only realized after I started using the lamp. With the cover on, you can operate the desk lamp without having the light shine elsewhere in the room. The cover also keeps the lens free of settling dust and other debris.
The clamp is easy to use and works great on the side of my desk. It is secure, while at the same time allows you to move it around, if needed. My desk is about 1.5″ in thickness, but there is a lot more space in the clamp if you have the need to clamp it down on something much thicker.
With 800 lumens, I do sometimes wish it was brighter, but I have several lamps in operation now. Combined with other lighting systems, this is a versatile lamp that I use on every project. This is a reliable lamp at a reasonable price.
- Comfortable to use
- Large 5″ diameter glass lens for great optical clarity
- Average brightness LED (800 lumens)
- Stable clamping system to attach the light to your desk or table
- Adjustable swing arm system that holds the light in place
- Good value for the money
Recommended Lamp User:
This is a generalist hobbyist lamp that is best used by miniature painters, scale modelers, or artists who want magnification. The focal length and working distance of the lens is ideal for paint brush work, e.g., so you don’t bump your handles into the lens. Bright, ergonomic, and affordable, this is a great choice for casual and experienced individuals working with miniatures and models. The clamp system saves space on your desk or tabletop, too. In my opinion, every painting station can benefit from a magnifying lamp at some point. They are so versatile!
4. Brightech LightView PRO – LED Magnifying Glass Desk Light for Close Work (Touch Dimmer)
This lamp is similar to the Brightech LightView Pro above, except this has a few more features. Let’s start with what is the same. This lamp has a glass 5″ diameter lens with a 2.25x magnification. This is great lamp for painting miniatures and seeing fine detail on your working surface.
As a light system, this is also one of the best desktop crafting lamps for hobbies in general, e.g., sewing, needlepoint, and more, as you’ll see below.
In addition to the normal Brightech LightView Pro, this version has the ability to dim to different brightness settings (though it has a lower 650 lumen brightness maximum setting). This lamp also allows you to change color temperature. Switch to a warmer temperature for a more comfortable reading experience (bright white pages with black text is a harsh reading context. A warm, yellow light will reduce eye strain).
As with all LED lamps, you have an efficient, low-energy light source that will last years.
- 5″ diameter glass magnifying lens
- 2.25x magnification power
- 650 lumens (this is great if you have other lights working alongside this one)
- Adjustable armature that lets you put light where you need it
- Dimmable brightness and adjustable color temperature
Recommended Lamp User:
This lamp is similar to the Lightview Pro (above), except it has a lower brightness setting. All all use cases are the same. Are you a hobbyist looking for a space-saving clamping style desk lamp with magnification? This is a good choice! I would be satisfied with either of these magnifying lamps (#3 or #4). I often recommend that if you need more light over your workspace, add a second lamp instead of a single very bright one.
5. BYB E430 Metal Architect LED Desk Lamp, Swing Arm Task Lamp with Clamp
Of the desk lamps on this list for painting miniatures, crafting work, or other scale modeling hobbies, this is one of the most attractive lamps. I love the clean lines and brushed-metallic finish.
The lamp is made of aircraft aluminum grade metal, which makes it light and strong.
There are 144 LEDs in the light housing, which provide a collective 1000 lumens of brightness. The lamp is bright and spreads this illumination over a fairly wide area. The LEDs are adjustable for brightness and color temperature (with 4 memory functions to remember the lighting modes you choose).
The lights don’t flicker and have low glare (light is diffused), which makes for a more pleasant viewing experience. There’s less eye fatigue, which is great for a professional workstation or for performing a hobby task like painting miniatures or working with scale models and other handicrafts.
Depending on your decorative tastes and the motif of your hobby space, this will either fit right in with your Apple products, e.g., Mac computer, or clash horribly.
I personally love the look of this lamp, and it’s functional as a great light source, too.
- Side-emitting light approach reduces flicker and glare
- Bright 1000 lumens of light
- Diffuse light, which reduces eye strain
- Adjustable brightness and color modes
- Beautiful, brushed aluminum metallic finish
- Secure clamp with swing arm rotational system
Recommended Lamp User:
I recommend this lamp to anyone who appreciates minimalism in their hobby. Simplicity over complexity is the name of the game with an architect lamp. Bright, diffuse, and a secure swing arm that lets you place the light exactly where you need it and keep it there. I’ve found that what this lamp lacks, e.g., no charge port or remote features, is made up by a mastery at what it has. Amazing light!
6. LED Magnifying Lamp, Daylight Bright Magnifying Glass Light
This LED Magnifying Lamp is a budget-level lamp at around $30-40. But, despite the lower cost, this LED desk lamp has several higher end features.
The lamp has an adjustable brightness feature for its LEDs. The maximum brightness is up to 850 lumens (this is pretty bright). And, the LEDs have a lighting mode that lets you change the color temperature: cool white, white, and warm white (3-6.5K).
The loop or ring housing (5.5″ diameter) spreads the light out across a larger viewing area. This diffusion reduces glare and eye fatigue.
You shouldn’t be squinting when you use this light and the lamp should work well over a long period of use when painting miniatures and working with models. Like many other lamps with a swing arm design, you can move the light source to where ever you need it over your desk or table surface.
The best desk lamps all have this capability, of course, but the budget aspect of this lamp comes from the fact that the stability of the joints in this lamp come from external, tension-loaded springs. These springs may wear out over time, catch dust and grime, and squeak.
In either case, for the lower cost of this lamp, it provides excellent value as a hobby lamp.
- 5.5″ LED ring that spreads out the light
- 3 color modes and adjustable brightness
- Adjustable spring-loaded armature
- 850 lumen LEDs
- Budget friendly
Recommended Lamp User:
As with all magnifying lamps, this is best suited for the hobbyist who work with fine scale miniatures. Whether you’re painting models, assembling them, or working with other crafts that require visualizing details, a magnifying lamp like this one is a great tool for your workspace. My personal experience with magnifying glass lamps is that they are effective at reducing eye strain, especially when you’re hyper focused on working with fine details. While there is less color distortion on more expensive lamps, this magnifying lamp is a good painting lamp with budget friendly price tag.
7. Neatfi XL 2,200 Lumens LED Task Lamp with Clamp
This is one of the brightest lamps you can buy. At 2200 lumens, this stylish lamp will spread incredibly bright light across a wide surface (23″ length LED housing).
READ MORE: FULL REVIEW OF THE NEATFI XL LAMP
This is the best modern desk lamp for any hobbyist’s workbench that requires really bright light. The light housing pivot is fully adjustable and attached to long arms that extend up to 32″ in reach. This lamp is awesome just for these features.
The balance of the light housing and the arms should be provide stability over long periods of time. The super bright LEDs have a brightness adjustment mode that lets you dim that 2200 lumens down to 25% of that top power.
Notably, you can’t adjust the color temperature of these LEDs on this lamp. This is kind of bummer considering that the color temperature for this lamp is not available.
Nonetheless, the LEDs are very long-lasting, with an expected continuous life of up to 100,000 hours. As with any LEDs, the lights on this lamp do not produce much heat. You can work continuously painting miniatures or modeling with this lamp and stay comfortable.
- Very bright LED lamp (2200 lumens)
- Diffused light across a wide surface area
- Adjustable brightness, but no color temperature modes
- Long-lasting LEDs (up to 100k hours)
- Stable clamp and balanced swing arm system
- Approximately $100
Recommended Lamp User:
This is my favorite desk lamp for working with miniatures and other hobbies. Are you a professional artist or simply someone who wants to get better painting minis? The Neatfi lamp is bright, durable, and outputs a color temperature that is pleasing to the eyes when working with fine details. Some my perceive the light color as a tad cool, but in my view, the illumination is a perfect neutral tone that works great for my needs when painting miniatures. I also use this lamp for video tutorial recordings and photography. For those looking for a do-it-all desk lamp and don’t need magnification, this is one of my top choices.
8. Phive LED Task Lamp, 20 Watt Super Bright Desk Lamp with Clamp
The Phive LED Task Lamp is very popular for hobbyists, especially miniature painters, as well as computer gamers (as you’ll see below).
Although the clamp attaches to the back of a desk, the lamp spreads its bright LED light across a very large area. The attachment system with the arm is very stable. The ultra-wide (31.5″) LED light bar delivers broad lighting coverage over a workbench space.
I have one of these over my computer desk and it lights up everything I need it to. The light is bright at about 20W or 1200 lumens. The design is suited for people who use multiple screens (computers, tablets, etc) without leading ghosting, glare, or flickering on reflective monitor surfaces.
The arm as I mentioned is a stable gooseneck design that has a flexible height and angle. It does not have the multiple degrees of freedom of other swing arm lamp systems, but that is not this lamp’s purpose. With the light bar, the light doesn’t need to be focused. It is literally everywhere.
The LEDs have a brightness function as well as 4 different color temperature modes. The neat part is that the lamp also has a memory mode, so you can switch tasks and needs for this lamp on-the-fly. For under $70, this is an awesome lamp that comes highly recommended.
- Very wide light bar (32″) for spreading illumination
- Bright LEDs at 1200 lumens
- Stable gooseneck design that clamps to any desk
- Adjustable brightness
- 4 light color temperature modes with memory function
- Cost-effective, budget friendly
Recommended Lamp User:
This is also a top recommended task lamp for hobbyists. I and others in the miniature painting community have advocated for large desktop sized lamps for working in a variety of tasks. The benefit of this light in particular is the width of the light source. Depending on the size of your tabletop, this could potentially span the major length of your workspace and serve as your only light source! This is a highly recommended and popular choice by many modelers and scale modeling hobbyists. Also works great as a light for any office space.
9. Phive LK-3 Metal Architect Swing Arm LED Desk Lamp/Table Lamp with Clamp
The Phive LK-3 Architect Swing Arm LED Desk Lamp has a patented diffusion panel that covers the battery of 144 LEDs. The panel reduces glare and hot bright spots on your working surface. This provides a pleasantly bright, but soft light that is easy on your eyes. The maximum brightness on the lamp is around 600 lumens, in part due to the diffusion panel.
The LED bulbs use high-CRI lighting technology, which means that the light has the ability to more accurately reproduce the colors of objects faithfully in comparison with natural sunlight. CRI stands for color rendering index. The desk lamp is wonderful for miniature painting because of the ability to control brightness, color temperature, and store those settings in a personal memory setting.
In addition to the diffusion panel, which I’m intrigued by, the light housing part of the lamp can swivel independently from the swing arms. This gives this lamp a greater degree of freedom than its competitors. The clamp itself further provides stability with a system that can attach to a desk or table with a 2.36″ or less thickness (this will encompass almost any professional wood working bench, too.)
As with any LED lighting system, the LEDs are power efficient, run cool, and last a really long time. For close to $90, this is a versatile lamp for any hobbyist. As a miniature painter, this lamp is on my short list of lights to consider buying when I upgrade or expand on my work bench area.
- Diffusion panel reduces harsh reflections and glare (less eye strain)
- 600 lumen brightness
- Excellent color temperature modes to reproduce natural colors
- Unique swing arm and light housing unit for flexible positioning
Recommended Lamp User:
This lamp is another great example of a light that works great for a miniature painter who needs that extra bit of diffuse light to push away those harsh shadows on their model’s surface. It is not the brightest light you can get (in terms of lumens), but the illumination is soft and will give you a lot of control of how your subjects appear to your eyes (e.g., control features). Use this lamp as a second source of glare-free light for a magnifying lamp, or as a diffuse fill light if you’re flat lay videographer.
10. ROZKY Drafting Table Lamp, Metal Architect LED Desk Lamp
The Rozky Drafting Table Lamp is a fairly standard swing arm-type desk lamp with a few unique features. The clamp secures the lamp to the side of a desk or tabletop workbench. The swing arms swivel in multiple directions and will meet any of your needed angles.
The entire lamp is made of aluminum and zinc alloy, which is both a lightweight and strong material. The LEDs provide about 850 lumens of brightness and is dimmable. There are also 5 color modes to adjust the color temperature of the light.
What is neat is that the lamp is operated through simple touch controls (not standard physical switches or buttons). The LEDs have a long lifespan of up to 50,000 hours and are energy efficient. For the price of this lamp, it sits somewhere in the middle of the more expensive and budget lamps on this list.
If you’re looking for lamp with a slim profile with sturdy arms and a reliably bright light, this is a good choice.
- Lightweight and sturdy clamp-on desk lamp
- Flexible swing-arm
- 850 lumens
- 5 dimming levels and 5 color temperature modes
- Touch controls instead of conventional switches or buttons
- Fairly inexpensive for a lamp with these features
Recommended Lamp User:
I always recommend swing arm clamping style table lamps for those looking to save space. If you’ve got limited desktop room, or need to move your light around a surface for various tasks, this is a good lamp for you. As with other lamps in this class, you’re getting features that may already expect at this price point. This desk lamp also uses unique touch controls, rather than switches, for operation. Modern and simple, this will do the job you expect.
11. Metal LED Swing Arm Desk Lamp
This Metal LED Desk Lamp is great lamp for general office work as well as hobby crafting, e.g., miniature and modeling. Miniature painters will love the utilitarian operation of this swing arm lamp. This lamp reminds me of my first painting studio lamp, which used obsolete fluorescent bulbs. The form factor is the same, and it is very affordable. With the clamping system to attach it to any flat tabletop surface, it clearly works in any hobbyists workspace without the need to consider space limitations.
As a modern LED desk lamp, this lamp has features that were not available a few years ago. You can use the included adapter to power this light using it’s USB cable, and operate it with a wired remote. I have a feeling that more of these popular lights for miniature painters will include USB powered options, since the technology allows for an extra level of versatility and portability. It’s already a part of one of the more portable lighting systems that I reviewed (that doesn’t use batteries).
The light output is estimated around 800-1000 lumens (based on its 14W LED power rating) and has color temperature adjustment modes: 3200K or 6500K. The swing arms will angle the wide LED-light bar exactly where you need it. Of course as a less expensive lamp, you will find that the springs may loosen over time, and squeak a little, but it’s characterful.
My old swing arm lamps all had squeaky springs and a lovely bounce whenever I moved them around. There isn’t much else to say about this lamp. It works well as a lamp for providing you light over a hobby working surface. It is the best swing arm hobby lamp for the price.
- Utilitarian, practical swing-arm desk lamp
- LED brightness of up to 740 lumens
- Two color modes: warm and neutral-cool temperature
- Good value desk lamp for hobbyists and generalists
- Long-lasting LEDs (50K+ hour lifespan)
Recommended Lamp User:
This is the lamp to buy for those looking for the best bang for their buck. This is the best valued lamp (with no magnification). At this price point, you’ll have a hard time finding a lamp that will push out this much good light on a swing arm, clamp system. This lamp reminds me of my old and trusty fluorescent daylight lamp before LEDs became the standard in desk lighting technology. Take a closer look, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The metal desk lamp is perfectly suited for the hobbyist, generalist, or home office space.
12. OttLite Dimmable LED Task Lamp
The OttLite dimmable LED Task Lamp is the most unique lamp on this list because it is portable. It does not run on batteries, however, but comes with a lightweight power cord that travels with the lamp. I’ve written about a battery powered Ottlite, which I also highly recommend for miniature painters and scale modeling hobbyists with limited space or travel needs.
Miniature painting is often done in a dedicated space. But, for some, working on a hobby may require moving to different rooms or even traveling out of town. Do you take your hobbies with on vacation or business trips? I’ve heard this is very common. Well, if you do, this Ottlite is perfect.
The Ottlite has a powerfully compact LED with a 3 brightness settings. The controls on this lamp are touch activated, and allow you to dim the light brightness for whatever your needs may be. The overhead light shade opens and closes on a swing pivot for easy use and storage.
The quality of the light is incredible. With a CRI of 97, this lamp exemplifies why Ottlite is so highly-regarded. The lamp shows colors vividly and accurately, with a smooth and uniform neutral light.
As claimed by Ottlite, with proprietary technology that the company employs in almost all its lamps (i.e., ClearSun LED), this lamp is expected to reduce eye strain by nearly 50%.
Another neat feature of a lamp that is small and portable is that they work great as photography constant lighting systems. Are you into product photography, flat-lay photography, or create dioramas with your miniatures and scale models? The best photos require great light. You may even want to take photos in a different locations. See this article on 5 ways to improve your photojournalist skills for tabletop games.
Do you vlog about your hobby? Maybe you want to record a painting tutorial, but it may require some extra lighting in a small area. Here’s your portable LED Ottlite the rescue!
- Lightweight, portable
- Built-in USB charger
- Digital display features calendar, time, alarm, and ambient temperature
- No batteries needed (corded electric power)
- Closes for easy storage
- Long-lasting LEDs 3 brightness modes
- Touch activated control
- Excellent value
Recommended Lamp User:
Are you constantly on the move and require reliable lighting? Then the portable OttLite task lamp is the perfect companion. It’s not just a source of illumination but also a multi-functional tool with features like a built-in USB charger and a digital display for the clock, alarm, and weather information. Its lightweight, foldable design means it can fit into your travel bag or hobby case effortlessly. This lamp is especially recommended for those who need a versatile and portable lighting solution.
13. Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp for Creatives
Who buys a hobby lamp that costs over $250? Well, I did and so did a few of my fellow mini painters. What began as a successful kickstarter for Redgrass Games is now available to everyone.
You can read my full review of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp to find out what I think after using the light in many miniature painting projects. In summary, you pay for what you get. As one of the most utilitarian designs out there, highly functional, yet minimalist, I fell in love with the simplicity of using this miniature painting light. So much so, that I got a 2nd that I now use in my work office space.
Aside from aesthetics, the lamp operates through a single button. Press quickly to turn on or off. Press and hold to cycle through brightness settings. The dimmer algorithm that govern the LEDs operate smoothly, allowing you switch from dim to bright without lifting your finger more than once.
With a near perfect CRI rating (>97) across a wide color gamut, including the elusive red wavelength, the R9 Desk lamps boasts accurate color reproduction of your working surface. You’ll see your subject, likely this will be the miniatures that you’re painting, as though they were illuminated by natural daylight.
When it comes to ergonomics, the dual LED panels can swivel independently from each other. In my use, I was able to “shape” how light shone onto my desktop. I could narrow the beams so they focused strongly in a confined area, or broaden the light sweep. This came in useful for some filming I did of my miniature painting work I did, which required strong directional lighting for the camera to capture good footage.
All in all, I continue to thoroughly enjoy working with this desk lamp. If you can stomach the cost, this is one of the best lights for your miniature painting hobby that you buy now.
- Clamp on desk lamp
- Very high degree of movement for the LED lamp head
- Dual LED panels allow you to shape the light beam
- 1800 maximum brightness
- CRI score (>98) at 5000K color temperature
- No flicker dimming
- Single button control
Recommended Lamp User:
If you’re a hobbyist looking for the premium, top shelf option for your workspace, the Redgrass R9 desk lamp is in my view the best light for painting miniatures. It offers a no-nonsense premium design with a LED illumination that is comfortable for your eyes to use for long periods of time. The independent adjustable LED panels along with the fully adjustable pivoted arms, and minimalistic aesthetic are a secret cocktail of features that in my opinion gives this lamp an unmatched versatility. It will fit and function in any professional work or creative space you can imagine.
I’m sure I missed some favorite lamps. Check out this DIY arch light for illuminating a hobby table space. By the way, I recommend using cob led light strips for your homemade lamp designs. They are super bright, color corrected, and often have a high CRI (>90).
Are you looking for the best lamp for miniature painting? There are a lot of options, but are several key features:
- A daylight illumination that accurately represents the natural color of objects (i.e., neutral to cool color temperature: 4500-6000K)
- LED lights that provide more than 500 lumens (800 lumens is equivalent to a 60W incandescent bulb)
- Good ergonomics, which includes a lamp the uses space efficiently, and has a flexible and stable system for adjusting the direction of the light source
Ultimately, as with any hobby equipment, you generally pay for what you get. Be willing to invest in better quality and functionality as you consider how much time you spend working on your hobby. Lighting for miniature painting is one of the best investments you can make for your modeling hobby.
The best lamp is the one you love using…but don’t even notice it’s there.
Thank you for visiting and happy painting!
Summary: Top 13 Best Lights for Painting Models and Miniatures
|Architect Desk Lamp Gesture Control||Gesture control
Bright 800 lumens
|Brightech LightView Pro LED Magnifying Floor Lamp||Great value
Excellent ergonomics for a rolling floor lamp
|Brightech LightView PRO – LED Magnifying Glass Desk Light||Large 5″ diameter glass lens for great optical clarity
Stable clamping system to attach the light to your desk or table
|Brightech LightView PRO (Touch Dimmer)||Large 5″ diameter glass lens for great optical clarity
Stable clamping system to attach the light to your desk or table
|BYB E430 Metal Architect LED Desk Lamp||Side-emitting light approach reduces flicker and glare
Bright 1000 lumens of light
Beautiful, brushed aluminum metallic finish
|Alisr Daylight Bright Step-less Dimming Magnifying Glass Light||5.5″ LED ring that spreads out the light (diffused illumination)
|Neatfi XL 2,200 Lumens LED Task Lamp||Very bright LED lamp (2200 lumens)
Diffused light across a wide surface area
Stable clamp and balanced swing arm system
|Phive LED Task Lamp, 20 Watt Super Bright Desk Lamp||Very wide light bar (32″) for spreading illumination
Bright LEDs at 1200 lumens
|Phive LK-3 Metal Architect Swing Arm LED Table Lamp||Diffusion panel reduces harsh reflections and glare (less eye strain)
600 lumen brightness
Excellent color temperature modes to reproduce natural colors
|ROZKY Drafting Table Lamp, Metal LED Desk Lamp||Feature rich
850 lumens with 5 dimming levels and color temperature modes
Touch controls instead of conventional switches or buttons
|TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp Rotatable Dimmable||Small, tabletop desk lamp
Soft, diffuse light that is pleasant for light hobby work
|Metal LED Swing Arm Desk Lamp||Utilitarian, practical swing-arm desk lamp
Estimated LED brightness of up to 800 lumens
Good value desk lamp for hobbyists and generalists
|OttLite Dimmable LED Task Lamp||Folds for travel or storage
ClearSun LED (high CRI)
Built-in USB charger
Display for time, calendar, temperature
|Redgrass Games R9 Desk Lamp||Simple, elegant design
Incredible CRI rating (>98)
Ergonomic and flexible
Bright, clean, neutral illumination
Purpose built for artists, hobbyists, miniature painters