What makes a desk lamp a photographer’s desk lamp? In this case, the ability to adjust the light’s color temperature to match your surrounding light, which is important in a color-managed workflow. This is the third desktop-lighting product that we’ve tested from BenQ, and we’ve been impressed with their options so far. So, does the BenQ Genie make sense for a photographer’s workspace? Let’s take a closer look.
The BenQ Genie offers a thoroughly modern look with it’s clean lines, and its whimsically curving head makes it reminiscent of a cartoon robot. Though I tested a silver-headed model, a variety of colors are available, including gold, red, blue, and a teal green. Opinions will vary, of course, but we find that Genie looks great: sleek and upscale, lending a polished look to a minimalist workspace.
Features & Design
While the BenQ Genie may appear to be just another stylish looking desk lamp, it has some extra functionality that make it attractive to photographers. The large metallic ring on the lamp head is not just a design statement, it’s a capacitative power switch, making the lamp easy to turn on… even if your hands are already full.
Once powered on, the dial on top of the head acts as a dimmer. Click the dial down, and it controls the light’s color temperature: it’s adjustable from a stark, cool white to a warm yellowish glow, and everything in between.
And similar to the BenQ monitor Lightbars, you can opt for automatic control of brightness based on the ambient light level in the room.
Like most photographers, I’m very conscious of the color of light in my workspace, so the BenQ’s adjustability is appreciated. Ideally, BenQ would have provided buttons for color temperature presets: a “neautral” at about 5600K would be most useful, but a “cool” and a “tungsten” might have been nice, too.
While the concave shape of the lamp’s head provides a nice, wide spread of light, it also means that unless you’re looking directly at the side of the lamp (90 degrees from the plane of the arm), there’s usually going to be light shining directly into your eyes. This is not much of a problem while you’re working at your desk, but it can be annoying to others in the room.
Materials & Build Quality
As you’d expect from a high quality desk lamp, the BenQ Genie is rather heavy and solidly constructed, with a sturdy metal arm and metal head. The color-matching power cord is covered in braided cloth rather than rubber, which also feels modern and high-quality, despite being a technological throwback.
The base of the lamp is heavy but has a molded plastic cover, which is fine but nothing special.
My only complaint about the lamp is the build quality of the power-switch ring. Rather than solid metal, the ring feels like chromed plastic (though I’ll admit that I haven’t taken a file to it to test whether that’s really the case). More importantly, if you press on the ring, it gives feels as though it may break away from the circuit board that its attached to in the lamp head. This is unfortunate because the ring is in the perfect position at the joint between the lamp arm and head that it’s always tempting to grasp it when adjusting the tilt and height of the head.
Those of you who have shopped for desk lamps, particularly architect’s desk lamps, will know that their prices can get out of hand pretty quickly, so I wasn’t troubled to find that the BenQ Genie costs $169 (or $219 for the swing-arm version). For the build quality and design, this is about what I’d expect, though it in the more expensive tier of desk lamps on Amazon.
For those who are looking for a more budget friendly option, there are a variety of adjustable (color and brightness) LED lamps available on Amazon for around $50, though they generally have a lower range of color options and questionable design and build quality.
Verdict & Final Thoughts
The BenQ Genie desk lamp is a sleek, modern lamp with clean lines, and its adjustable color temperature makes it a useful tool for artists and photographers, particularly those who are printing and matting photographs. In my months of testing, I also found it to be a wonderful bedside reading lamp and a workbench lamp while working on various other projects.
Overall, the build quality is good and solid, and the price is not outrageous. Photographers who are conscious of the light color in their workspace should give this type of lamp some serious consideration.
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