Skip to Content

Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Review (Worth the Hight Price?)

Are shadows constantly blocking the exact part of the miniature you are trying to paint? Do you suffer from back pain after prolonged painting sessions? Are your miniatures looking shockingly different when you see them in daylight?

Then, my friend, your miniature desk lamp is likely part of the problem. I know how that feels because I painted with a crappy desk lamp for over half my hobby-life (10 years with a subpar lamp is 10 years too many!).


I can confidently tell you that the Redgrass Desk Lamp can help you solve those pesky paint problems.

I have used a ton of pretty good task lamps.

What they all had in common was that none were designed for the thing I do: painting miniatures.

But the Redgrass R9 desk lamp is made specifically for what we do, painting miniatures. And today we are going to talk about why that is so exciting!

This is my Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Review.

We will talk about how this lamp is designed to convey accurate paint colour, avoid shadows and be comfortable to work under. We will look at the pros and cons of the lamp and compare it to alternative lamp setups.

Review Copy Disclosure

Redgrass sent me this lamp for review. I have agreed to review this lamp, but I have promised Redgrass nothing more than that. No money has changed hands and Redgrass does not get to approve this article before it is published.

You can read more about my Review Copy Policy Here (TLDR: I take this stuff very seriously)

Feature image for the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Review article

Affiliate Link Disclosure
Age of Miniatures is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more about that here.

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

What is the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp?

The R9 Desk Lamp is a hobby lamp designed by Redgrass. It is specifically made for creatives that need perfect colour rendering and a bright light coverage in a sturdy flexible lamp.

Unlike other desk lamps, it is actually designed for painting miniatures. This goes along the lines of the other products Redgrass has made, the Everlasting Wet Palette and the Painting Handle, which have also been designed from the bottom up. Redgrass is no copycat company, just out to reproduce what others have made to earn a quick buck. They are innovative and are trying to produce products for miniature painting that change how we hobby for the better.

This is also why The Redgrass Desk Lamp is made to be the ultimate painting lamp, and it shows in the build and features, but also in the price point. This is a premium desk lamp, but you are also getting the best you can get.

The R9 Desk Lamp is made up of a foldable core, that you clamp onto a table. At the end of the lamp you have two separate LED bars, that you can adjust back (this helps with coverage and avoid shadows). You can tune how much light the LED’s emit. The lamp can be folded together and is surprisingly mobile.

You can also see the video from their Kickstarter, which I think makes a very good short presentation:

The design is elegant and it is clear that Redgrass has taken its time and talked to a lot of hobbyists while making prototypes. This is taken a long time to perfect and the colour rendering is simply unmatched.

This review is based on my experience using the lamp for about 1 month as my “daily driver” for hobby tasks. This has mostly included painting miniatures, assembling miniatures and lighting up my 3D printer workspace.

This is a review of a model that is very close to the finished product that will launch via Kickstarter.

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
Get from Redgrass Games See it on Redgrass
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Light coverage from the LED lights on the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp

Two rows of LEDs on the R9 Desk Lamp
Two rows of LEDs on the R9 Desk Lamp

For a hobby lamp, one of the most important factors in selecting a good lamp is the light it shines. The R9 has two separate LED Bars with a row of 48 LEDs each. Each bar is about 3 cm wide and 42.5 cm long. That means a total of 96 small LED’s to light your painting area. My current painting area is 70×60 cm and there is plenty of light to illuminate everything.

Light coverage of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp
Light coverage of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp

The light coverage on a painting station is simply superb. It is clear that this is what it was made for. I tried painting with it two people at the same time and it worked okay (as long as you are comfortable sitting pretty close).

Length of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp
Length of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp


By separating the rows out on two separate arms, Redgrass has expanded the amount of space the lamp can cover with light, while also giving you flexibility on where the lamp shines. Pretty clever.

This lets you position the lamp much better while still avoiding shadows. And speaking of shadows…


Avoiding shadows via the flexible arms

So, shadows are a funny thing. There is no lamp that is, in essence, shadowless. If you have light and obstacles blocking that light, you will have shadows. In miniature painting, shadows come from your hands, the paint brush and the miniature as soon as it blocks light from your lamp.

Shadows are unavoidable, but we do not want them on the space of the miniature we are trying to paint. It forces us to move the miniature around, craning our neck and head forward to see what is going on and it is in general a bad time (eye strain, back pain, neck pain and so on).

If you truly wanted to paint on a miniature without casting any shadows on it, you would have to illuminate it from all directions. And still, you would cast some sort of shadow on it if you wanted to interact with it.

There are multiple ways of trying to minimize the issues of shadows. Some people use multiple lamps. This gives a broader coverage of light and a way to cast light on the areas where you are blocking light from the other lamp. Another way is to expand a big LED strip across the whole of your table.


A much simpler solution would be the R9 lamp. It tries to solve this issue by having two rotatable LED arms. In this way, you can better direct the light where you need to remove shadows. Not shadowless, but as close as you can get with a one-lamp solution.

I found this to be an elegant solution and worked well while painting. It means I could put the lamp in a good position for lighting the table (and high above my head to avoid inching forward and getting neck pains), but if the light was a bit finicky I could simply move the LED arms around.

Also, if you are thinking about a multiple lamp setup or LED strip, there are other drawbacks to it. You will most likely get poor colour rendering. Should you care about that? Let is fund out.


Colour rendering, light intensity and kelvin

Another important aspect of a good lamp is how much light each LED produces and the colour range it is in. The R9 Desk Lamp has one colour temperature, but you can adjust the brightness of the LEDs

The R9 Desk Lamp shines with a colour temperature of 5000k, also known as the “daylight” range. What we want is a bright white light that is neither too cold (high kelvin) nor to yellow (low kelvin). If your light is on either end of the spectrum it will slightly distort the light. Also, blueish light is not great on the eyes and will cause eye strain petty quickly.

Redgrass did the research on this (and a lot of it). 5000k is what you want if you want good colour rendering. Nothing more, nothing less.

What does good colour rendering mean? In certian lights you cannot see all of the colour spectrum.

As an example, if it is very dark, it is hard to discern what colour something is. If you have a poor light, you will be able to see what colour it is, but it can be hard to distinguish shades of the same colour from each other.

When painting miniatures and doing advanded forms of blending of colours, it is very important to be able to distingush the shades from each other.

Good colour rendering means scoring high on the Colour Rendering Index, also called the CRI. If the lamp you have right now is not making a big fuss about colour rendering, it is likely because it is using components that are not designed for this use. The R9 lamp is different.

Lot us look at something visual to help explain this a bit more:

Colour Rendering Index for the R9 and other stock lamps

The colour index goes from 0-100. 100 means it is portraying that colour perfectly with all shades and 0 means it is not even showing that colour.

As you can see, most desk lamps are extremely poor at showing:

  • Most Reds
  • A lot of Blues
  • Some Yellows
  • Some Greens
  • Some skin colours

Some lamps use a test of CRI where they are not even using red! But look at the R9 Desk lamp instead. Holy damn, that is some sweet colour rendering right there. The lamp even has the name for the colour rendering of red, the R9, because it is so much better than what we have used before for in our hobby!

So at least in theory, the R9 Desk Lamp should produce and show the shades and nuances of paint much better. But how is it in practice?

Note: showing colour rendering via a screen is a fickle beast.

These elements distort colour rendering when looking at images on the web:

  • The lamp used when taking the image
  • The material the colour is on
  • The camera and the information it captures
  • Any sort of post-processing of the image
  • The screen used in post-proces and how accuruate it is
  • The screen you use to view the image and how accurate the colour render it has and the settings used
  • Your own eyes and how you percieve colours
  • And likely many more

A lot of things can go wrong here and a lot of things can be used to manipulate and distort.

Suffice it to say: whatever perceivable difference there is in these photos below, it is not the same as in real life. I have tried to come close, by taking the image with the same set of specs and doing nothing to do them. But it will likely show is the same image

Colours lighted by a CRI 80 Desk Lamp
Colours lighted by a CRI 80 Desk Lamp
Colours lighted by the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp
Colours lighted by the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp. Not much difference

A lot of people say they see a striking difference when looking at various red colours under the R9 Desk Lamp compared to whatever they use. I can see a difference, but it is not blowing my mind.

The differences are clearly there with red, but with the other colours I had to look really hard. I tested by having two lamps set up at once and switching between them. There might be some sort of bias going on.

But what I can say is that this has actually been tested and have been verified via a specromoter. So while I might find it hard to see it, science certianly can! And hey, maybe my eyes are pretty bad…

Also, I might not be the target audience here. I paint quick and a paint to use my miniatures while gaming. This means very little fancy work of blending colours very accuruatley together. So I have never trained my eyes to be able to discern minute differences in shades. I can see why this feature is a must have if you want to take your painting to the next level, but it is not super important for me.

Contrast Paint lighted by a CRI 80 Desk Lamp
Contrast Paint lighted by a CRI 80 Desk Lamp
Contrast Paint lighted by a R9 Desk Lamp

With the image of the Contrast paints you can see a clear difference, but that has more to do with how the images have been taken. The settings of the camera stayed the same through the shot, but how much light was produced was stronger on R9 Desk Lamp than on the other. So take this is proff that the light coverage is great and nothing more.


A somewhat funny tangent: I have always found it extremely annoying that miniature games, especially tournaments, are often done in poor fluorescent light. So I might paintstakingly highlight my miniatures under my incredible lamp, but once I put them on the tabletop no one can see the detail or see the colour rendered even close to what it is.

So if I am painting an army for a tournament, and I am trying to do good in turney paint score, I make sure that my army look good under poor light conditions with a lot of shadows. Sometimes even big painting competitions are judged based on looking at the minis under poor light!

This is a relevant thing to think about for you. While accurate colour rendering is cool at the paint table, will it be relevant for whatever your miniatures are going to be used for?


Another small note: the LED are flicker free. While you might not be able to see it with your eyes, your eyes will feel the difference. It is much less easy on the eyes (and it is a big plus when taking images of your miniatures).


The power intensity has been fine for me. I wish it could go a little lower in lumen, but that is only because I sometimes work at night with only this lamp on.

I also wished I could turn down the kelvin to get a warm yellow light. At times I am working where I do not need good colour rendering, and having less strain on the eyes there would be great. I asked Redgrass about it and it was a sacrifice they had to make. You simply cannot have unmatched colour rendering while also being able to turn the Kelvin up and down.

Best Lamp for Miniatures
Read our full roundup of the best lamp for miniatures
See how the RG9 compares to the rest

The clamp of the R9 Desk Lamp is just brilliant

We will talk more about the general design later, but I think the clamp deserves its own section. The clamp is in, many ways, emblematic of the R9 Desk Lamp and the eye for detail that have gone into the design.

The clamp for the R9 Desk Lamp
The clamp for the R9 Desk Lamp



All other desk lamps I have owned have used the same mechanism for tightening the lamp to the table. You have a small metal rod that can go back and forth and that will press in the metal screw, fastening the holder to the table. If of high quality, the clamp will have some sort of protection on top of the metal so it does not damage the table.

Stock clamp vs the R9 clamp
Stock clamp vs the R9 clamp. As you can see, the metal rod sticking out makes it a pain to screw in if you are tight on space



That design has been tossed out the window with the R9 and good riddance! It just too fiddly. Here you have a small knob that will not bang against the table and that you do not have to move from side to side.

You also have a lot of room on the clamp, which is unlike other lamps I have used (where thick tables can be a bit of a problem). You also have a nice rubbery side, preventing it from damaging the table.

How big a surface you can screw the R9 lamp unto
How big a surface you can screw the R9 lamp unto



The design where the lamp goes into the clamp is also very sturdy and fits perfectly. The metal part is coveraged by a soft material, to avoid any damage. Just extremely nice to see this attention to detail here. A lot of companies would just have gone with whatever stock clamp their manufacturer could provide.

How the R9 Desk lamp attach to the clamp
How the lamp attach to the clamp

Actually Foldable and lightweight

A lot of desk lamps look like they can be folded, but in reality they are too bulky and cumbersome to take on the go. I was super surprised at how well the R9 folds together and how light it is.

Weight of the R9
Weight of the R9



It is only a bit above 1 kg. While I am not recommending this as a go to mobile lamp, it is super easy to move around the house and you get fold it and put it in a bag if you are going on a long vacation where you need some hobby time.

The Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Folded

Spec sheet of the R9
Spec sheet of the R9

Design and construction of the R9 Desk Lamp

So overall aesthetics is always a bit hard. I usually use my partner as a test, because she thinks almost all of the lamps I have are ugly. For reference, she thinks the Neatfi is ugly, the BenQ is trying to hard and ending up looking “spacey” and the Uberlight is the winner.

The Uberlight is the only one I can leave out in the house, if we are having guests over (the rest are in the office).

Spec sheet of the R9



So what did my partner think about the design and look of the R9? It is miles better than the Neatfi and better than the BenQ lamp. But maybe not “great looking”.

I think I disagree here. Having it on my desk I have grown quite fond of it and would likely not try to hide it when taking images of stuff for the site. I think that is telling. But well, you have to make up your own mind.

The R9 Desk Lamp
The R9 Desk Lamp

But let us talk more about how it is designed, and not how it looks.

The bottom of the lamp goes into the clamp. You can screw that in to make it a bit more secure. You have the black look with the red wire going through. The lamp is solidly built of aluminium with a nice black finish.

The adapter is sadly black and will break the red wire coolness we got going on. In production, it was not feasible to get a red adaptor (would require enormous work to make it legal in all countries). Your version should come with an adapter for whatever power socket you have.

You can almost see how the black power adapter is sad about not being a sleek red colour


You have 3 points where the lamp can turn. Then the head can turn and both the arms can turn all the way around.

Moveable parts of the R9
Moveable parts of the R9
Super sleek

On top, you have one button. You turn it on by pressing. Holding it down will change the intensity of the light.

The one button way of the R9


The button works well and there is no awkward fiddling with it. No crappy touch stuff or anything weird going on. The light fades on and off which is a nice touch.

Very well built, and will last a very long time. Good production value all around and I love it.


Kickstarter and price point of the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp

So the R9 launched via Kickstarter and now it is available for purchase via the Redgrass store. It looks like all backers have their product delivered and Redgrass (as they always do) have made good on the Kickstarter.

And after having gone through everything else about this lamp, we have to talk about the price.

Right now I have to shell out 280€ to get this lamp. For that price, I could get about 2 amazing budget lamps and have plenty of cash to spare. That is one expensive lamp.

Price is a very subjective thing, but I think that you need to paint a ton to appreciate the lamp when spending that much on it.

For those that care: the R9 came very well packaged. Lots of foam, lots of protection and lots of fun for the kid to unbox

Is the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp right for you?

What I really like about the R9 Desk Lamp:

Colour rendering is out of this world

Provides the best light coverage a single lamp will give you

Surprisingly mobile

Designed specifically for hobby needs

Drawbacks of the R9 Desk Lamp:

A bit on the pricey side

Colour precision makes it unable to tune colour temperature

The Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp is for the hobbyist that wants the best light for painting, without sweating about using a good chunk of money on it.

If you want a setup with a single lamp with a big light coverage, the ability to direct that light to minimize shadows and where you know it accurately depicts the colour tones, the R9 Desk lamp is the right lamp for you.

But maybe you think it is too pricey? Or maybe you do not really care for accurate colour rendering? Then other options are better suited for you.

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
Get from Redgrass Games
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Alternatives to the R9 Desk Lamp

Best Overall
Best Budget
Best Mobile
Most Versatile
4.5
3.8
4.0
3.9
$220
$135.95
$59.00
$229.00
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
  • Lacks colour accuracy
  • Not possible to tune the Kelvin down in the yellow range
  • Bulky and a bit ugly
  • 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
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
Best Overall
4.5
$220
  • Insanely accurate colour rendering
  • Works well for minimizing shadows
  • Surprisingly mobile
  • Superbly designed quality lamp
  • A pricey option
  • No ability to tune colour temperature
Best Budget
3.8
$135.95
  • Great bright light coverage
  • Sturdy and high quality
  • On the cheaper side
  • 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
  • Sturdy and Highly Rated by users
  • Mobile and light design
  • Provides good light coverage for many use cases
  • USB powered
  • 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
  • Accurate colour rendering
  • Nice bright light area to work under
  • Versatile light for lots of different uses
  • Too many unnecessary electronic components
  • Flexible, but sometimes not
  • Foot is badly designed (so get the clamp
03/07/2024 07:11 pm GMT

Neatfi Xl 2,500 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
Buy from Amazon
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

The Neatfi XL 2,500 is a workhorse of a hobby lamp (I own a very similar older version). It is cheaper than the R9, much bulkier, the CRI is a classic 80 (read: poor colour rendering)

The kelvin goes from 5600-6500, 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.

The Neatfi XL 2,500 Lumens is a good hobby lamp, but there is not the same care taken in the design to make it a perfect miniature painting lamp like the R9 above. But it is cheaper and if

BenQ e-Reading Desk Lamp

In my talks with Redgrass, they made it clear that they had actually looked at the BenQ e-Reading Desk Lamp as a very good competitor to what they were trying to produce. It is also a high quality desk lamp, in this case made for a lot of various use cases and not specifically for hobby.

You can read my review of the BenQ e-Reading Desk Lamp here, but here is the short differences from the R9:

  • The BenQ lamp is slightly more expensive (at least if you get the R9 via Kickstarter)
  • The BenQ lamp has more electronic elements that can break (touch on/off button, various sensors to control the light)
  • The BenQ lamp has more features to dim and control the colour of the light (3000-5700 kelvin), but at the cost of colour rendering (but still good colour rendering).
  • The R9 just looks better (in my opinion)
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
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Who should buy the R9 Desk Lamp & Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp Review Conclusion

If one or more of the following statements are true, the R9 might be the right lamp for you:

  • It is very important for me that the colour I see while painting are the colours it actually is when I see it in daylight
  • It is very important that I can see all of the tones of all colours while I paint, because I paint very detailed and with a lot of nuanced contrast between colours
  • I want one lamp above my painting station, but at the same time it is very important to avoid shadows while I paint

I have been extremely pleased with using the Redgrass R9 Desk Lamp. But what I am most pleased with is that I finally feel we have a lamp made for painting miniatures, instead of having to do with a lamp that is made for countless other activities. It really shows in the care and design of the R9.

This is also why I have declared it the best of the bunch in my “Best Lamp for Miniatures” article.

And I am not alone in praising it. Everyone seems to be raving about it and apparently, they won an award from RedDot (but it is not looking like it is official yet).

One thing I will note: If you already got a good painting lamp, upgrading is likely not something that I would recommend. That is unless you have something else you can use your old lamp for. While it is super great, it is not something that will completely blow you away.

But if you have no lamp or a lamp that is not very good, I would definitely go for the Redgrass 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
Get from Redgrass Games
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
Best Lamp for Miniatures

Our rundown of the Best Miniature Painting Lamp

Read our guide

Other great resources: