The New Westcott Spiderlite TD5 Bulbs

I’ve been a fan of the Westcott Spiderlite TD5‘s for a while now. Although I have two of these wonderful lights, there has been one single thing that has kept me from using them more often. That one thing is that they just weren’t bright enough for all the situations that I shoot in. Well Westcott has been aiming to change that by working on brighter bulbs. You would think it would be a no brainer right? Just make ’em brighter! What’s the big deal? The big deal is that brighter alone is not enough. The catch is that these lights are “daylight balanced.” So you just can’t make the bulbs brighter without rigorous testing to make sure the bulbs are also still daylight balanced to 5500K. So a lot of work went into these new bulbs.

They also grew in size. The New bulbs are at least twice as big as the old ones and man are they bright! However, just like the old ones, they’re not hot. So your subject won’t melt after being under them for a while. The new bulbs are 50 watts each (old ones were 30 watts each, and 26 watts each before that) for a total of 200 watts. You get 4 bulbs plus a small modeling light that goes in the center of the TD5 head (pictured above).


How do they perform?

I’ve had 3 different occasions to use these new bulbs. I used them for the first time recently at Photoshop World right in the Westcott booth doing a lighting and Lightroom demonstration. I also used them recently at a friend’s wedding reception doing some portraits for the newlyweds and their family. My most recent experience was in studio, which is where I got this shot:

The above shot with was taken with 1 Westscott Spiderlite TD5, medium size softbox (skip the medium box and go for the large one!), shot with the Nikon D300, f 5.6, 1/30th sec, ISO 400, 70-200mm f/2.8 lens at 105mm, RAW. I shot tethered in to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.0. No exposure adjustments were made and only minor retouching and a white balance adjustment. I was very pleased with the results.

With the new bulbs you easily gain a full stop. The beauty of working with the Spiderlites is that there is no guess work. What you see is what you’re going to get! If you own a Spiderlite TD5, then you owe it to yourself to upgrade to the bulbs. I’ll certainly be using my lights more now!

9 Replies to “The New Westcott Spiderlite TD5 Bulbs”

  1. Joe, Never had a problem with breakage except I did break one of the modeling lights due to the way I packed it in a bag with a bunch of other heavy stuff (which was not the fault of the bulbs.)

  2. Hi Terry,

    we are considering these for our new studio. We will be shooting kids and small groups ( 3) and wanted to see if you thought there was enough output to shoot at iso 400 @ 250/4.0 . We will be using the new 5D Mark 11 , the old 5D and the Mark 111 all shot in raw.

    I also will be shooting some portraits on location of professional athletes in various conditions. I won’t need them to overpower daylight but to add light to existing space such as a clubhouse, tunnel, dugout, batting cage ,etc..

    I would appreciate any thoughts you have.



  3. Terry,

    I realize this is an old post, however, are you still using the TD5’s? Can you shoot 5 people together with these lights or do you need more? Thanks.

    1. A follow-up to Jay B’s question: Shooting a group of 5 or 6 people, what is a representative exposure, in F stop, time and ISO?

    2. Terry, thanks. Your thoughts are really helpful. If I could, I want to run a specific project by you to see if the TD5s lend themselves to it.

      I’m a good amateur photographer beginning to get into artificial light. I’m volunteering at school benefit for which I need to shoot groups of up to 5 or 6 people. I’d like to shoot at f11 to ensure focus, hopefully at a shutter speed faster than 1/100th of a second. Obviously, I’d like to use the lowest possible ISO, ideally 100. What am I likely to experience with two TD5 large kits? Can I do f11, 1/100 at 100 ISO? Not that it matters, but I’m using a Canon 5D body.

      Thanks Terry,


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