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Small lightbox opened to reveal workings

A lightbox is a translucent surface illuminated from behind, used for situations where a shape laid upon the surface needs to be seen with high contrast.[1]


Wall mounted lightbox for inspecting medical X-rays
Lightbox used in outdoor advertising
Lightbox designed to produce images with diffuse lighting from all angles
Lightbox used as a Memorial Plaque

Several varieties exist, depending on their purpose:

  • Various backlit viewing devices:
    • A container with several lightbulbs and a pane of frosted glass on the top. It is used by photography professionals viewing transparent films, such as slides.[2] This device was originally used to sort photographic plates with ease. When laid flat, it may be called a light table. Generally, a lightbox uses light similar to daylight (5,000–6,000 kelvins (K)) and has uniform light strength on the glass pane.[3]
    • In the form of vertical panels, they can also be found mounted on the walls of hospitals and medical offices to review X-ray images (X-ray illuminator).[4]
    • In the science field, lightboxes are often used for looking at bacterial growth and allow better visualization for PCR plates.[citation needed]
    • A lighted display panel used for advertising purposes.[5] The panel can be illuminated by fluorescent light bulbs or LED lighting strips. The efficiency of light boxes improved dramatically after the introduction of LED technology. The user inserts a graphic, which can be changed easily. Some light boxes are designed especially for outdoor purposes so they are more weatherproof.[citation needed]
  • An advertising format at Google Ads that allows users to click and expand an ad in order to engage with it.[6]
  • The fabric reflectors that attach to studio lighting via a connector to create soft lighting by diffusing the strobe flash are called "light boxes".[7] They generally come in various rectangle or octagon shapes. Interior reflectors can be white, silver or gold to alter the temperature of light. Baffling inserts are also available.
  • A variation of this is a box, with one open end, made of diffusing material, to allow the photographing of a sample object with no shadows. It is also called light tent or photo cube.[8]
  • A folder used on stock photography to allow a user to organize digital photos. Photos can be assigned to a viewable lightbox folder by subject, for later convenience, or used to compile unrelated photos for a specific project layout. Lightboxes also allow graphic designers to show clients options for a project in one simple uncluttered folder.[9]
  • The card-reader near the door in a hotel room, used as the main electric switch[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tony White (20 June 2014). Animation from Pencils to Pixels: Classical Techniques for the Digital Animator. CRC Press. p. 309. ISBN 978-1-136-14422-6 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Modrak, Rebekah; Anthes, Bill (2011). Reframing Photography: Theory and Practice. Taylor & Francis. p. 453. ISBN 9780415779197 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Saddington, Roger (2003). The Quick & Easy Guide to Photographing Your Artwork. Penguin. p. 61. ISBN 9781440317507 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ Al-Azzawi, Abdul (2017). Photonics: Principles and Practices. CRC Press. p. 282. ISBN 9780849382949 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Travis, Lily (July 12, 2018). "Light Box Signs And Their Unexpected Benefits For Your Business". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  6. ^ "About Lightbox ads". Google. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  7. ^ Andrews, Ben; Stapley, Jon (August 29, 2020). "The best light tents for photography". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  8. ^ Elizabeth, Diana (December 3, 2013). "3 Great Ways to Utilize a Light Cube". Retrieved May 17, 2021.
  9. ^ Bartosz Porebski; Karol Przystalski; Leszek Nowak (17 February 2011). Building PHP Applications with Symfony, CakePHP, and Zend Framework. John Wiley and Sons. p. 259. ISBN 978-1-118-06792-5 – via Google Books.