Bias Lighting

I've talked about computer workstation ergonomics before, but one topic I didn't address is lighting. We computer geeks like it dark. Really dark. Ideally, we'd be in a cave. A cave … with an internet connection.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

Totally agree… on my laptop (MSI CR620, does the job for me!) the brightness in ridiculously bright, and even with it turned all the way down, I still find it too bright :frowning: Gonna have to try out biased lighting!

Can it be that a guy like you hasn’t heard of flu.x?

If you want to get more accurate colors, instead of LED, get a ‘fluorescent daylight light’. They are cheap, efficient, last long, and have around 5000k-6500k color temperature.

I disagree… I hate working on my computer in a dark room, it makes the bright screen hurt my eyes. I prefer to work in a brightly lit room.

“like the excellent Samsung I review here” - link please?


Cited article:
Linked Samsung SyncMaster 753DF review:

Google is your friend! Though, I highly doubt you can still find that screen on sale anywhere :wink:

James, the linked article is over 10 years old and refers to a Samsung CRT:

I’m a big fan of the IKEA Ledberg and have one stuck to the back of my TV which makes it much more pleasant to look at in the dark :slight_smile:

I started out using bias lighting when watching movies on my plasma years ago. A bias light with a neutral color temperature around 6500k (for NTSC TVs) really enhances the viewing experience when watching large TVs in an otherwise dark room. I was so pleased with the effect on my plasma that I put lamps behind my monitors as well. Since I just do development on my PC, I wasn’t so worried about spending extra on special lamps with the proper color temperature for my pc. If you’re a designer, color temp for a bias light is an important consideration since bias light color temp can skew your natural judgement of colors.

If you’re looking for a professional grade solution to the problem or looking for more info, checkout I bought a plasma bias light from them many years ago and have been very happy with it.

Right now I’m reading this on my phone lying in bed. The screen imo is way too bright, despite that I turned the brightness down to 0%. (No I don’t know how that works either.)

You know, I had always wondered why I liked my lamp placement so much (pointed directly behind my monitor).

I’m afraid I have to agree with Tomlev2. My 50-year-old eyes aren’t what they used to be, and in order to see well I need lots of light. As for reflection, the only place I get any reflection is the bezel of my monitor, the screen doesn’t reflect the room behind me.

What make me alternatingly laugh and scream is the excuse many of my co-workers use, which is, “I don’t like the 60hz refresh rate of the flourescents.” Oh, you mean the EXACT SAME REFRESH RATE YOUR FLAT PANEL MONITOR USES? I personally also consider it just a tad unprofessional. I don’t know about you, but if I walked into the office of my doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial planner, or any other profession and the office was all dark except for the glow of the monitor I’d find another person to handle my business.

Our company uses slotted metal diffusers fitted on every fluorescent fixture in our work areas, that direct the light mostly straight-downward. The result is zero reflections on our LCD screens, and plenty of lighting.

“What make me alternatingly laugh and scream is the excuse many of my co-workers use, which is, “I don’t like the 60hz refresh rate of the flourescents.” Oh, you mean the EXACT SAME REFRESH RATE YOUR FLAT PANEL MONITOR USES?”

Erm. What refresh rate? Are you using CRTs?

In any case, the fluorescent flicker is hardly an issue. It might be an issue with some cheaper and older tubes (like the sort you might find at stores), but I have never, ever seen a compact fluorescent flicker. I can’t stand CRTs at 60hz btw, because I can see the flicker very clearly.

I’m with Tomlev2 and Craig Warner. This article is way overgeneralized.

Many computer geeks like it dark. Many computer geeks like it bright. My experience has been that the split is roughly 50/50 – from working at a place with private offices, where people could control their own lighting.

And of course, there are all the people who have medical reasons to like bright light. People like Craig, who are above the median age in the industry. People who are low myopes or mild presbyopes – brighter lighting may increase the depth of field just enough that they don’t have to wear glasses to see the screen. People like me, who need bright lighting so that the pupil does not dilate past the blend-zone on our corneas – this includes people who’ve had refractive surgery, and people who wear hard contact lenses (which are smaller than soft contacts).

@Craig Warner and Stephen Eilert: Modern fluorescents are electronically-ballasted, so they do not cycle at the line frequency (60 Hz or 50 Hz) – but at 20-30 KHz. The “refresh” rate on LCD monitors refers to how fast the image data changes – not to how fast the backlight cycles.

@tomlev The screen being too bright is the source of your problems, did you read the article? ;). @craig Refresh rate isnt very important with LCDs because they have long decay rate, therefore no flicker.

Personally I use xmas (or the white version) lights around my workspace, it provides for warm diffuse light.

An interesting side effect of having lower levels of light is that the LEDs that indicate (e.g.) that the monitor is turned on become proportionally much brighter. The blue LED on the front of my monitor becomes a super-bright point light source, and I’ve had to cover it with a yellow stick note.

Couple of other notes … there might be a difference for those who wear glasses, which can enhance glare. (Especially if they’re micro-scratched.) And per Craig’s note, older eyes have their own set of issues. Anyone who has early-stage cataracts (i.e., if you’re in your late 50s or beyond) will likewise experience various diffusion effects that make it harder to deal with high-contrast light sources – which is one reason why night driving becomes so much harder.

It’s definitely worth experimenting with different levels of ambient light, different brightness levels on the monitor, etc.

This article seems to assume that people are working with the terrible black-on-white colour scheme. As someone who prefers yellow-on-black for purposes of minimizing fatigue, should I avoid bias lights? After all, I’ve adapted my setup so that a completely dark room is entirely comfortable and the negative space is not blindingly bright in comparison to my surroundings.

I don’t know why so many of you like being in a dark room. It is proven to increase headaches when looking at a bright screen, and I find headaches to be a distraction.

I like this idea very much. My question is how do you get the other people in your office to respect the lighting? I literally crawl out of my skin when the overhead lights come on.