The best lightbox, also known as light panel, 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 go through.
A lightbox can also be used as an extra light source when shooting. That can be especially useful for food photography (opens in new tab) and other types of still life work. (If that's your prime interest, also check out our guide to the best light tents). Lightboxes are even useful in alleviating the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
And that's not all. Lightboxes are also used by artists, illustrators, animators, tattooists, architects and engineers 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 for your needs? Well, you'll want to think about size, weight, portability and the amount of brightness you need. It's also worth considering whether you wish your lightbox to be powered via USB, mains, or both.
With all that in mind, read on to discover the best lightboxes available today, for a range of budgets. Meanwhile, you might also be interested in our guides to the best slide viewers and the best film scanners.
Best lightbox in 2022(opens in new tab)
We'll start with our number one pick overall. 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 by 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 centimetres 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.(opens in new tab)
Short on cash? Here's our top recommendation. Huion is a leading manufacturer of graphics tablets (opens in new tab), and its light box provides excellent value.
The ‘active’ illuminated area of the box/pad is a very useable 12.6 x 9 inches (so basically A4) 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.(opens in new tab)
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.
This is a larger version of the Huion LED light box that's number two on our list, and offers an A3-sized working area. It is still a lightweight option, 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.
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.(opens in new tab)
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.(opens in new tab)
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.
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