One issue I’ve had with both taking photos of people and close-ups of items is the lack of light. A couple of small halogens really doesn’t cut it, so I’ve been thinking over affordable and adaptable replacements.

I picked up a couple of clip-on lamp holders cheaply from EFG Housewares, a wholesaler I use for some of my shop supplies. I wanted to get some simple reflectors for them, but couldn’t find any at a reasonable price online. Even simple one-piece pressed aluminium shades seem to carry excessive prices. So it was off to the 99p Shop in Walthamstow High Street, where I found a couple of suitably shallow 30cm cheapo stainless bowls.

I next borrowed one of my dads Q-Max sheet metal punches. They’re very nice and provide a clean hole in sheet metals very easily.

I used a 30mm punch, but really should have used a 28mm or so. I measured from the inside of the lamps collet, not the thread. Whoops. But that’s alright in the end. I used my home-made centre-finder to mark out the bowls. It finds centre well on circles, but I also forgot the pegs on it weren’t the same length, so on the bowls curves sides it skewed the centre. So the error on one was enough in the end to correct for the error on the other! There’s a lucky break, eh?

Next up, a 10mm hole is drilled so the bolt of the punch can go through. The bolt is tightened and pulls the cutter into the punch block from the other side of the metal.


Voilà! A nice clean hole! (can’t say the same about the bowl)

I took some burrs off with a hand file and did the other bowl to match, then took them back indoors to fit the lamp holders to them.

Next I ordered some energy-saving high-brightness “daylight” bulbs off ebay. It took a few more days and a trip to the sorting office, but I got them this morning.

They’re 36Watt (180Watt equivalent), rated at 2160 Lumens, an 8000Hr lifetime and a colour temperature of 6500! They’re also wide mushroom-shaped coils, so should give a fairly diffuse light with no harsh shadows.

Without new lighting


With new lighting

And finally, fitting them they work perfectly. I was a bit worried the light would be too directional, but it’s both bright and pleasantly diffuse. I’m sure my opinion will refine the more I use them, but for the moment I’m pretty happy with the results!

(auto-exposure doesn’t like looking directly at them when they’re on)

Total cost:
Lamps – £1.65 each (Total £3.88 inc VAT)
Stainless bowls – 99p each (£1.98)
Lamps – £4.29 each (Total £12.06 inc Postage)

TOTAL: £17.92

That’s about the same as for a single studio lampshade. A complete lamp runs to about £50.

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