The best lightboxes for photographers and artists in 2024

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The best lightbox gives you a clear view of an image, making it a must-have for any photographer shooting with film cameras, or who has boxes of old slides and negatives to sort through. 

Like the best light tents, a lightbox can also be used as an extra light source when shooting things like food photography in the studio. And that's just photography. Lightboxes are also used by artists, illustrators, animators, tattooists, architects, engineers, students and others to trace artworks, diagrams and photos, by placing it on the lightbox with some drawing paper on top. 

So how do you choose the best lightbox? Well, you'll want to think about the size, weight, portability and brightness you need. Also consider whether you wish power to come from USB, mains electricity, or both. 

Below you'll find the best lightboxes available today, for a range of budgets, as we explain what each of them has to offer. Meanwhile, you might also be interested in our guides to the best slide viewers and the best film scanners.

Where sizes are referred to as A3 or A4, A3 is roughly equivalent to the Tabloid/Ledger paper size and A4 is roughly equivalent to Letter. See our FAQ below for a more detailed explanation.

Gavin Stoker
Gavin Stoker

Gavin has over 30 years of experience writing about photography and television. He is currently the editor of British Photographic Industry News, and previously served as editor of Which Digital Camera and deputy editor of Total Digital Photography

The Quick List

Best lightbox in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

Best lightbox overall

(Image credit: Kaiser)

1. Kaiser Slimlite Plano lightbox

The best lightbox for photographers

Specifications

Luminance: 650 cd/m²
Connectivity: USB
Working surface: 16.9 x 12.2in
Dimensions: 49.8 x 35.1 x 0.8 cm
Weight: 1.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
Mains or battery powered
+
Large viewing area 
+
Slim profile

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Made by Kaiser, a well-known photo accessory brand among film users, this sleek-looking higher-end unit is ideal for sorting out and reviewing slides and transparencies. 

With a generous working area of 16.9 x 12.2in, you can power it either by the mains or battery. Features include touch on/off control, adjustable brightness dimming, and USB connectivity. The screen surround features a scale provided in centimeters and inches. And if you want to work remotely, the built-in battery will last for up to 1.5 hours at full power, or longer if the screen is dimmed. 

At a slim 8mm, the screen also boasts a very slim pancake-like profile, while the large landscape format viewing area avoids having to cramp your transparencies when viewing several at a time. All this makes the Kaiser the best lightbox for photographers overall.

Best budget small lightbox

(Image credit: Huion)

2. Huion L4S LED lightbox

The best cheap lightbox

Specifications

Luminance: 745.6 cd/m²
Connectivity: USB
Working area: 12.6 x 9 in
Dimensions: 36 x 27 x 0.4cm
Weight: 599g

Reasons to buy

+
Value for money
+
Good working area
+
Stores brightness settings

Reasons to avoid

-
No mains plug 

Want a cheaper option than our number one pick? Huion is a leading manufacturer of graphics tablets, and its lightbox provides excellent value. 

The ‘active’ illuminated area of the box/pad is a very useable 12.6 x 9 inches (so basically A4/Letter) and, as with others here, the brightness is dimmable via the holding down of its on/off button. It also ‘remembers’ the brightness it was set to when last used – so you don’t have to make personal adjustments every time. 

Suggesting that the pad provides the potential for 24-hour usage, its lifespan is estimated at 50,000 hours. Measuring a very slender 0.4cm in depth, this solution is also one of our lighter options at just 599g, so it could double as an additional light source for your photo shoots, if required.

Best medium-size lightbox

(Image credit: Artograph)

3. Artograph LightPad 940 LX

The best A3 lightbox

Specifications

Luminance: Not given
Working area: 12 x 17in
Connectivity: USB
Dimensions: 49.3 x 36.6 x 1.3cm
Weight: 2kg

Reasons to buy

+
Large surface area 
+
Attractive design
+
Even light

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

Seeking a large working area? This light box is an excellent choice. It comes in at 12 x 7 inches, housed within an attractive aluminium frame with chrome steel corners. Being an LED device, it's always cool to the touch, and casts an even light, with brightness variable from 1000-5000 lux. It comes with a mains adapter, protective storage sleeve and one-year warranty. Note that it's one of the heavier devices on our list, though, at 2kg.

Best budget medium-size lightbox

(Image credit: Huion)

4. Huion LB3 LED lightbox

If money is tight, this is the best budget lightbox

Specifications

Luminance: 576 cd/m²
Working area: 16.5 x 11.8in / 42 x 30cm
Connectivity: USB
Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.8 x 0.3in / 50 x 35 x 0.8cm
Weight: 1650 g

Reasons to buy

+
Great value for money
+
Stores brightness settings

Reasons to avoid

-
No mains plug provided
-
Its slenderness may mean this is less robust than some

On a tight budget, but need a large working area? This is a larger version of the Huion LED light box (our number 2 pick) which offers an A3-sized space for your slides, negatives and tracing. It is still a lightweight choice, and has a rechargeable option, making it ideal for travelling, or for use as a light source. It has an adjustable brightness with a maximum output of 1500 lux.

Best large lightbox

(Image credit: Artograph)

5. Artograph LightPad 950 LX

The best lightbox if you want a BIG screen

Specifications

Luminance: 1000 to 5000 lux
Working area: 17 x 12in
Connectivity: USB
Dimensions: 19.6 x 26.6 x 0.7in / 49.8 x 67.6 x 1.8cm
Weight: 8lb / 3.6kg

Reasons to buy

+
Huge 17x24in screen
+
Aluminum frame

Reasons to avoid

-
Weighs around 8lbs, so not designed for portability!

This is the big brother of the Artograph LightPad 940 LX (number 3 on our list), offering a massive working area that is twice the size. With an double-layer acrylic A2 screen measuring 24 x 17inch (432mm x 610mm) it's great for big tracing jobs – or for comparing large-format film negatives. 

This is a mains-operated device with a robust aluminum frame which is best suited to a studio or office setting. It's pretty expensive, though, so if it's beyond your budget, you may prefer number 4, above.

Best lightbox for artists

(Image credit: Huion)

6. Huion A2 LED Light Pad

Perfect for drawings up to A2 size

Specifications

Luminance: 2000 lux
Working area: 51.9 x 32cm
Connectivity: A/C
Dimensions: 56.9 x 37.1cm
Weight: 2.7kg

Reasons to buy

+
Large size
+
Perfect for tracing
+
Adjustable brightness

Reasons to avoid

-
Not actually A2

If you have very large slides you need to view, or large images you want to trace, here's our top choice. Huion's largest light box measures a hefty 56.9 x 37.1cm (22.4 x 14.6 inches), with a working area of 51.9cm x 32cm (20.5 x 12.6 inches). Despite the title, that's not quite A2 size, but it's not far off.

The brightness of up to 2,000 lux can be adjusted gradually, and there's a memory function for when you reach the perfect level of brightness and want to easily select this at a later date. There's also a handy 2m (6.5 feet) long cable to plug into the wall, and its LED lamps promise up to 50,000 hours of use.

Best slimline lightbox

(Image credit: Dörr)

7. Dörr LT-3838 LED light box

An ultraslim lightbox perfect for taking up minimal space

Specifications

Luminance: 1584 lumens
Working area: 34 x 34cm
Connectivity: Mains powered
Dimensions: 38 x 0.8 x 38cm
Weight: 1.12Kg

Reasons to buy

+
Daylight color balanced
+
LED powered so cool to the touch

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs mains power
-
Not available in USA

While it's not available in the USA, this dedicated daylight color balanced solution from Dörr for viewing slides and negative film has much to offer readers in the UK and Europe. Specifically, its ultra-thinness.

It measures 38 x 38cm with an illuminated acrylic panel size of 34 x 34cm – so, just slightly longer than a conventional school ruler. The device utilizes energy saving LEDs – the advantage being that this is a constant and consistent light source that never gets warm to the touch. 

Once again the unit is dimmable to avoid eye strain, via a press and hold of the on/off button. Like its competitors this 14.4 Watt light box is also very slim at just 0.8cm thick, while, in weighing 1.12kg in total, it feels neither flimsy nor prohibitively weighty. Incidentally, this offering sits between two other available lightbox sizes from Dorr at either a smaller 20 x 20cm or a larger 60 x 60cm. Pay your money and make your choice.

Best portable lightbox

(Image credit: LitEnergy)

8. LitEnergy Portable LED lightbox

If you're after a cheap light box for tracing this is portable and powered via USB

Specifications

Luminance: 4000 lux
Connectivity: USB
Working area: 9 x 12in
Dimensions: 36.1 x 26.9 x 0.5cm
Weight: 680g

Reasons to buy

+
Great price
+
Choice of colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively small surface area
-
No mains plug 

Want a cheap lightbox for tracing? With a 9x12-inch illuminated area, this fuss-free, budget priced light pad comes highly recommended. This ultra slim unit utilises a Mitsubishi acrylic panel that measures 14.2 x 10.6 x 0.2 inches, and comes surrounded by a classic black frame. 

You can dim the maximum 4000 Lux brightness by simply pressing down on its power button for a few seconds. And thanks to a provided two-metre USB cable, it can be conveniently charged or powered via a laptop, USB enabled mains plug or portable charge. However, a mains plug will cost you extra.

Best long-life lightbox

(Image credit: Porta-trace)

9. Porta-trace 1012 Stainless Steel Frame lightbox

The best lightbox for longevity

Specifications

Luminance: Not given
Working area: 10 x 12in
Connectivity: Mains only
Dimensions: 30.5 x 25.4 x 8.3cm
Weight: 1.8Kg

Reasons to buy

+
Robust design
+
Neutral & even illumination
+
50,000 hour LEDs

Reasons to avoid

-
Chunkier than some

This sturdily built classic lightbox that makes up in solidity what it perhaps lacks in portability. Resembling something you’d find in a laboratory, this stainless steel framed beast is LED powered with a claimed life of up to 50,000 hours and is said to be eco friendly. Made in the USA, it provides both an even light source across its 10 x 12-inch plexi glass surface and what it boasts is excellent color rendering, thanks to the use of white LED with a neutral color temperature. A provided adjustable metal stand lets the device be angled for greater convenience and easier viewing, and it comes with a three-year warranty.

How to choose the best lightbox

What is a lightbox?

A lightbox is a device used to view slides, negatives transparencies, or other types of transparent materials, such as drawing paper. It typically consists of a box-shaped container with a transparent top or front, and an illuminated bottom or back. The light from the bottom creates a bright, evenly-lit surface that illuminates your material and makes it easier to see. Lightboxes are used by photographers, artists and illustrators.

How bright does my lightbox need to be?

If you plan on using it for drawing or tracing, you will want a light box that can produce at least 3000 lux so that the light can shine through 2 sheets of paper. If you are just using it for viewing film scans you will get away with 1,500-3,000 lux.

What size should I buy?

If you're planning on moving your lightbox around a lot it would be best to get one that could easily fit in a big - so no bigger than A4. For use at home or in the studio, an A2 or A3 light box will allow you to produce much larger drawings but they aren't very portable. 

What do the size references A2, A3 and A4 mean?

There is an internationally defined standard for different paper sizes (ISO 216 for paper nerds), which uses the A prefix to indicate sizes, ranging from A1 from A10.

The US, Canada and some other countries use a different system, with size names including Letter, Legal and Tabloid/Ledger.

Roughly speaking, A4 is equivalent to Letter and A3 is equivalent to Tabloid/Ledger. Check the table below for the precise measurements.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Paper sizes compared
NameMillimetersInches
Tabloid/Ledger279  x 432 mm11  x 17 in
Letter216 x 279 mm8.5 x 11 in
A2420 x 594 mm16.5 x 23.4 in
A3297 x 420 mm11.7 x 16.5 in
A4210 x 297 mm8.3 x 11.7 in
A5148 x 210 mm5.8 x 8.3 in
Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.