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Light for Painting Miniatures (Best Miniature Painting Lamp)

Do you find it hard to see your miniature when you paint? Are shadows falling on the space you are trying to paint? Do you have to lean really close to your miniature to see what is going on? Well, then you might have a crappy miniature painting lamp.

If you want to upgrade your miniature painting, the first place I suggest people to start is by getting a good LED desk lamp. Improving your light for painting miniatures and decreasing shadows will have a dramatic effect on how well you can paint but also how enjoyable it is to paint miniatures. Just getting a decent LED desk lamp will really help you out a lot.

I have reviewed and used quite a lot of desk lamps in my 25 year hobby career

In this article, I show you the lamps I use to paint miniatures and which one I think is the best miniature painting lamp there is right now.

Be warned:

Once you have tried painting miniatures under a good painting lamp, it is doubtful you will ever be able to paint under poor light again.

Update April 2023:

The world of Desk Lamps have been shaken to its core with the release of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp. It is a lot better than the current competition. It has taken the crown as the best lamp for miniatures. I have also added the Uberlight Flex as super good on-the-go mobile lamp.

The feature image for the Best Miniature Painting Lamp

 

What to look for in a good miniature painting desk lamp?

Colour close to natural sunlight

Minimize shadows

The light should accurately show the colours of your paint (high CRI) and not distort the colours. It should also avoid unnecessary eye strain.

The light should be bright and cover the entirety of your painting station and model.

Quality components

Flexible and mobile

The lamp should be durable, have a LED and last a very long time (with no cheap electric parts)

The lamp should be flexible in positioning and if you paint in different rooms, easy to move about

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Best Miniature Painting Lamp: The Redgrasss R9 Desk Lamp

Best Lamp for Miniatures
Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp
4.5

This lamp is the only lamp seriously designed for Miniature Painting and hobbies like it. And it shows.


Quality design, minimizes shadows, and best colour rendering that exists.


If you simply want the best lamp for painting, look no further.

Pros:
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
Cons:
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
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I want to cut right to the chase, I think the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp is the best lamp for miniatures you can get right now for miniature painting. A few things make this outstanding:

1. It produces bright natural light over a broad area and the light is very flexible

The lamp features an incredible amount of small LED lamps that blast light from above down on your painting station. It has two LED bars that can rotate, so you can shine light on the exact thing you want. The lamp is also made in a way where the light does not “bleed” out from the lamp, so it mainly shines the light on the thing you want.

With this setup the light covers the entirety of my painting station, meaning that I do not have to sit at awkward angles to get the right light. Also, because the light comes from above I can sit upright (head and back in a natural position) AND my silly hands will not cover the light from the lamp, which is just great when painting miniatures.

The R9 Desk Lamp in all its glory
The R9 Desk Lamp in all its glory

2. It casts the perfect light for painting miniatures

You can read my review for a more in-depth look, but this lamp is made to convey the actual colours on your paint palette with good color temperature. Other lamps do not take this much care in reproducing the actual colours and it shows when painting. If you are super serious about wet blending and doing fancy contrast, this is a key feature.

3. Can be used in video and photography and does not strain the eyes

I take quite a lot of pictures of miniatures and do some video stuff. This LED desk lamp is amazing for this, because there is no flicker from the lamp. This also causes less eye strain.

4. No heat, no buzzing and no light bulbs that need changing

Because of the LED lights technology, the lamp produces no heat and no weird buzzing sound (my last lamp drove me insane). Also, you will likely stop painting before any of the LED lights break.

Well designed R9!

5. Flexible setup and well designed

Everything about the Redgrass R9 is just very well designed. From the clamp, to the head, to the body, to the LED bulbs. It is made of all metal with a black finish. You can fold it up and it only weighs a bit above 1kg

In short, this is the desk lamp I would recommend you get if you do not currently have a decent desk lamp.

While on the pricey side, I think it is better to take the top option in the beginning. The price difference is not that big, and lamps are not something you seriously upgrade once you have a good one. You might kick yourself for getting a cheaper option, as you will have to live with that for a very long time (they do not break down).

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You can read my Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Review to understand more about why it separates itself from the competition. In short, it is designed for miniature painting and that is something that none of the other lamps can boast about.

I will later go into some criteria for what a good LED desk lamp needs, but let us first look at some other alternatives.

Best Overall
Best Budget
Best Mobile
Most Versatile
4.5
3.8
4.0
3.9
$220
$135.95
$59.00
$229.00
Pros:
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
Pros:
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
Pros:
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
Pros:
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
Cons:
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
Cons:
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
Cons:
  • Limited amount of LED's will lead to some shadows when painting
  • Limited light settings
  • Clamp can be a bit fiddly
  • Poor CRI for painting
  • No battery option
Cons:
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
Best Overall
4.5
$220
Pros:
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
Cons:
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
Best Budget
3.8
$135.95
Pros:
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
Cons:
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
Best Mobile
4.0
$59.00
Pros:
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
Cons:
  • Limited amount of LED's will lead to some shadows when painting
  • Limited light settings
  • Clamp can be a bit fiddly
  • Poor CRI for painting
  • No battery option
Most Versatile
3.9
$229.00
Pros:
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
Cons:
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
03/01/2024 08:11 am GMT

Best Budget Miniature Painting Lamp: The Neatfi Xl 2,5000 Lumens

Best Budget Lamp for Miniatures
Neatfi XL 2,500 Lumens LED Task Lamp
3.8

The Neatfi XL 2,500 covers your whole painting station in bright white light, making it much easier to paint details.


It is flexible enough to be where you want it to be, so the light can come from above instead of from the side.


It is sadly not made for miniature painting, but is a good budget option.

Pros:
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
Cons:
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
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The Neatfi XL 2,200 has been my go-to lamp for quite some time. I am super fond of it because I have used it for many years. I have an older version known as the Lightcraft LED Pro, but the Neatfi 2,200 was a small iteration of that desk lamp. Now it can be hard to get the 2,200 and the price difference between that and the Neatfi Xl 2,500 Lumens is so small, it is not worth the bother. Just get the Neatfi 2,500.

When I first found out about it Neatfi/Lightcraft lamp I knew I just had to get it. I was using a regular old lamp, and while I had installed an okay bulb back then, I knew it was holding me back in terms of painting miniatures. Little did I know how much it was cramping my painting style and making me not enjoy my miniature painting sessions.

The Lightcraft Pro Version

I heard about the Lightcraft from the awesome (but sadly extinct) Heelanhammer podcast. I had always wondered what sort of desk lamp the pro painters at GW were using and these guys said it was the Lightcraft Pro. I ordered it on the spot (despite the price tag) and it has served me well for close to 10 years.

Now, for quite some time I never could never confirm that it was used at the GW painting studio. Imagine the grin on my face when I saw the Lightcraft Pro in a video about contrast paint on the Warhammer Community site:

The Lightcraft Pro LED being used at Games Workshop painting studio
The Neatfi / Lightcraft Pro used by Games Workshop painters
Another version of the lamp

While the pros might have used this 5 years ago, I can tell you that they are likely all changing it out. Never desk lamps are on the market and we now have the R9 that is tailor made for painting miniatures.

The kelvin goes from 5600-6500 (okay for hitting natural light), which is a bit boring as you cannot get into the yellows to help eye strain. The coverage of the light is on par with the R9, but you do not get the flexible arms to direct the light and minimize shadows.

But the Neatfi Xl 2,500 is still a pretty good budget option. You get good light coverage, it is sturdy and well-designed.

But it is also bulky and it does not score great on CRI. That means it struggles with showing you the most tones of red and tones of some other colours. If that is not important to you, the Neatfi Xl 2,500 is a true workhorse desk lamp for painting miniatures.

Best Mobile Miniature Painting Light: Uberlight Flex

Best Mobile Lamp for Miniatures
UberLight Flex Lamp
4.0
$59.00

This lamp works well for a small painting station that is moved regularly around.

You can fold it down and take it on the go or hide it away easily.

Pros:
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
Cons:
  • Limited amount of LED's will lead to some shadows when painting
  • Limited light settings
  • Clamp can be a bit fiddly
  • Poor CRI for painting
  • No battery option
Get from Amazon Read Our Review
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03/01/2024 08:21 am GMT

While I find the R9 amazing and the best miniature painting desk lamp, it might not be for everyone. If you are looking for something even more affordable than our budget option way more mobile, the Uberlight Flex might be the one for you.

You can read my review of the Uberlight Flex here, but here is the short version:

It is a small, super mobile and very flexible little lamp. It is perfect for putting in the bag and taking to a friends house or on vacation. It is cheaper than the other options, but it will also cover much less space with the light. The colour accuracy is also not something to write home about.

The small uberlight flex
The small uberlight flex

It can be powered by a USB plug or power plug, but it is sadly not by battery (which would have made it amazing). You could take a power bank with it instead.

Another great mobile lamp is the OttLite LED Mobile Task Lamp, which can be battery powered. if you go to conventions for painting miniatures, that might be a better option.

You can see a bunch of them at the tables of pro painters if you go to miniature painting contests or look at images from the (you can see some of them at the Golden Demon 2022 here)


Most Versatile Miniature Painting Lamp: BenQ e-Reading Desk Lamp

Most Versatile Lamp for Miniatures
BenQ e-Reading Desk Lamp
3.9

The BenQ e-Reading lamp is designed for reading on screens, e-readers and books.


It makes it great for a lot of things, including painting miniatures, but it is clearly not designed for it.

Pros:
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
Cons:
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
Buy from Amazon Our Review
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The BenQ e-Reading Lamp is a weird one. I like it for a lot of things, but have ended up not using it much for miniatures. I simply have better options on hand.

The BenQ lamp
The BenQ lamp

But if you wanted one lamp for a lot of different things, including painting miniatures, this would be a great option. You can dim the light and tune the colour to a very yellow, making it very good for reading and having above your monitor. It also have some fancy electronic sensor, that makes it able to tune the ambient light for the current environment. Oh, and CRI on it is not bad at all.

You can read more about what I think about the BenQ WiT e-reading Lamp in my review. The short version is: I like the lamp, hate the foot and hate the electronic elements (which makes me nervous of long term durability).


Best Magnifying Lamp: Neatfi Elite HD XL

Best Magnifying Lamp for Miniatures
Neatfi Elite HD XL LED
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Full disclosure: Magnifying lamps are not my thing. I have tried and I think it is too much trouble and not worth the hassle.

But I get that some people like Magnifying lamps. If a magnifying lamp is what you are on the lookout for, I think it is hard to go wrong with the Neatfi Elite HD Xl.

Best Overall
Best Budget
Best Mobile
Most Versatile
4.5
3.8
4.0
3.9
$220
$135.95
$59.00
$229.00
Pros:
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
Pros:
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
Pros:
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
Pros:
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
Cons:
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
Cons:
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
Cons:
  • Limited amount of LED's will lead to some shadows when painting
  • Limited light settings
  • Clamp can be a bit fiddly
  • Poor CRI for painting
  • No battery option
Cons:
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
Best Overall
4.5
$220
Pros:
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
Cons:
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
Best Budget
3.8
$135.95
Pros:
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
Cons:
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
Best Mobile
4.0
$59.00
Pros:
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
Cons:
  • Limited amount of LED's will lead to some shadows when painting
  • Limited light settings
  • Clamp can be a bit fiddly
  • Poor CRI for painting
  • No battery option
Most Versatile
3.9
$229.00
Pros:
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
Cons:
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
03/01/2024 08:11 am GMT


What to look for in a good Miniature Desk Lamps

Let us look a bit at what a good lamp for painting minis actually needs to do.

1. The colour of the white light needs to show the actual colours of the model (it should throw a white light in the Kelvin 5000 range with good CRI)

When painting miniatures with poor light, it will distort the colours of your miniatures. This is because it either casts a too-blue light or too-yellow tone from the bulb, giving everything a tinge of that colour. It will also have a bad CRI, meaning that it will not accurately reflect the actual colours and tones of the paint you are working with.

This means that you can spend ages getting the colour just right, but when you look at it in the morning (in sunlight) you will wonder why it now looks different.

The best light for painting miniatures will be light in the color range of about 5000. This produces a good natural white light that will reflect how the miniature will look in normal daylight. A CRI of 80 is normal, but not really that great. You need to get up in the 95+ range for this to be fun.

2. The light needs to decrease  the amount of shadow on your miniature

Ever find yourself fiddling around with the models, trying to get the spot you are painting into the perfect light? This is because the position of your lamp and your hands are causing shadows to fall on your miniature.

Preferably you want no shadows from outside objects on your model while painting. To reduce this you will need big coverage of bright light and getting something that sits above your paint station instead of being on the side of it (so you avoid casting shadows on the mini with your hands, brush and so on).

Also, when you cast the light from above you can have a more natural painting position, which will decrease the amount of strain on your neck and back.

In the picture below you can see that the light will come from the right with that particular lamp. You will have to position your hands and miniature very close to the light in order to avoid shadows. Also, you can tell from the image that it does not emit a very natural light, as it is a very yellow/warm tone which is not great for painting miniatures (but nice for the eyes).

A setup with a crappy miniature painting lamp with yellow light
A setup with a crappy painting desk lamp with yellow light

3. The lamp needs to be flexible and mobile

If you are not lucky enough to have a dedicated fixed painting spot, odds are you need to pack away your painting equipment each time you are done. This means it needs to be quick to set up and put away.

A big part of this flexibility is also making sure that my desk lamp is not forcing me to sit with my neck in awkward positions.

A lot of people will paint with their head bowed low to get closer to the light when painting miniatures, because they use desk lamps that are rather small and not high up above them. This is one of the reasons for that neck and back spasm you can feel after a long painting session, and getting a lamp that decreases unnatural head movement can really help prolong your painting sessions.

Something to add here is that desk lamps with adjustment on how much bright light it casts is also great. When painting miniatures late at night, you might want to tone it down a bit and tune the light so it is more yellow (blue light is not great for, you know, sleeping).

 4. The durability of the desk lamp needs to be high and the heat production needs to be low

For some reason, lightbulbs will pop from time to time (it is like we lost the technology to make them last…). I would like as few obstacles to painting my minis, so something that is durable and does not require new lightbulbs is very good.

Another important thing is not having unnecessary electrical parts for the desk lamp. Why have an on / off switch that breaks long before other parts of the lamp? Quality and durability thank you!

If you go with LED you will get all that and you will also not have bulbs that produce heat (not great when you want to thin that paint!). Thank the maker for LED light.

The Lightcraft Pro LED side by side with a lamp that produces a too warm and yellow tinge for painting miniatures and warhammer
The Lightcraft Pro LED side by side with a lamp that produces a too warm and yellow tinge for painting miniatures and warhammer

Other great resources:

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