Using a low-cost IKEA spotlight for studio effect

IKEA has a very low cost optical focusing theatre-style spotlight which can be used, or adapted, for studio work. It comes complete with an adjustable iris diaphragm unit, a four-blade square aperture adjustable unit, a gobo/filter holder, a set of stainless steel cut gobos and a set of coloured glass filters. The focusing lens is not sealed against light leaks but open to allow heat to dissipate, however if this unit was adapted to hold a flash light source in place of its halogen bulb, you could also make a tube to seal off the light leaks from the optical assembly.

IKEA spotlight

This spotlight was featured in f2 magazine, December 2004. Here’s what I wrote:I can put up with being lynched by the Flash Centre and Studio Workshop for printing this article, because the items you see on this page are low in power and only suitable for small product digital photography.Visiting IKEA for office sundries I found a spotlight called ISBRYTARE on sale for £29.95 (now 45 Euros in Europe apparently 2008). The box indicated a full set of accessories. As you can see, this light is just a housing which contains a transformer for the usual 12V 50W halogen, and it’s not light sealed or especially well cooled. But it has twin rails, which accept a focusing lens, a square aperture variable shutter mask, an iris diaphragm, a filter holder and a gobo holder. It comes with several pattern gobos, and six circular glass primary colour dichroic filters.

Focus rails 

Since you would pay more for the filters alone, it’s great value, but it is also correctly designed. The lens focus allows a sharp or soft circle to be projected, or the gobo patterns. You can change the order of the accessories. And it has a 4 metre mains cable with the switch near the plug, not the light.


Round spot

It actually projects anything from a tiny circle for macro work to a big spotlight thrown over 20 feet or more – still pin sharp.

Salt pot

The crystal salt pot is sitting on a £4.95 IKEA paperweight illuminating plinth called KUBBO. The fitted, high quality transformer plug looks worth more than that before you start. Again, illumination is low, to prevent overheating, but enough for a hand-held pic at 100 ISO for my quick example.With auto white balance and easy image reviewing, digital cameras are ideal for experimenting with such affordable mini studio lighting. All my shots here were taken within a few minutes using a Konica Minolta Dimage A2 and its anti-shake function, but exposures were all faster than 1/20th.The KUBBY light is very warm in colour temperature and would not be suitable for use with daylight film. The spotlight is normal tungsten halogen balance, and with its colour filters, would normally be used for effect anyway.Replacement lamps are very low in price, overall quality is reasonable, and the ISBRYTARE is a versatile addition to any small studio. You read it here first!

– David Kilpatrick