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In our never-ending mission to improve the quality, speed, and user experience of digitizing cultural heritage material, we’ve designed an exciting new controller for our DT Photon Lighting Systems.

As anyone that’s spent hours working under the bright (although low-temperature) DT Photon lights, looking back and forth from a brightly-lit object to your computer screen can cause fatigue and strain on your eyes. The DT Photon SmartController solves this problem by adding a low-level continuous light setting, which then raises to full-power only when capturing the image.

Those familiar with the modeling light/strobe process in traditional studio photography will immediately understand the benefits of this new system.

We’ve made sure that both the low-level and high-level are fully-controllable with easy to use knobs, and added the ability to turn off the “flash” setting, so you can use same continuous-lighting setting as before, giving you the best of both worlds.

What it Does

The DT Photon SmartController adds four key features to the Photon family

  • Dimmability: The power of the lights can now be reduced, symmetrically or asymmetrically
  • Strobe Mode: The lights can optionally return to full power while the camera fires
  • Per Light On/Off: Each light can be turned on or off, without affecting its dim level setting or mode.
  • Easy Access: All the controls are on the front panel, while all cabling is on the rear

The combination of Dimmability and Strobe Mode perfectly balance ergonomics with productivity: the operator doesn’t have to contend with the dazzling effect of bright lights, but the camera can retain fast capture speeds.


  • Light Heads: The DT Photon SmartController works with all Photon family lights, including the DT Photon and DT Photon XL, for both reflective and transmissive illumination. Current Photon users can replace an original DT Photon Controller with the SmartController, and receive a trade in credit.
  • Cameras: The SmartController’s Strobe Mode works with any DT or Phase One camera, and with most 3rd party cameras (contact us for more details).

Years of R+D

At the heart of the DT Photon product line is a complete and total dedication to cultural heritage imaging. There is no other use case, no other market, no other group of users that this light is designed for. Every decision made in the DT Photon product line is made because it improves the quality, productivity, and safety of cultural heritage digitization.

When we first developed the DT Photon we couldn’t find a way to maintain its extraordinarily high spectral quality (i.e. CRI, CQS values; see here for more details) while also allowing for dimmability. In the years since, we’ve continued to exhaustively work on the issue. Finally—after many long days, and many iterations—we have achieved what we once thought was impossible: dimmability without loss of color quality! Our exhaustive testing included:

  • Direct spectral observation and analysis by Robin Myers using his SpectraShop software and a professional-grade spectrometer
  • Colormetric analysis of Image Science Associates Golden Thread targets, verified by Don Williams
  • FADGI, Metamoforfoze, and ISO 19264 standards testing using Golden Thread software
  • Visual and LAB value comparison of exposure bracketed images using Capture One CH, and calibrated Eizo monitors

Verified Quality; Proven Stability

This controller warms up almost instantly, is stable for long-term continuous use at any power level. Made in the USA with industrial-grade quality of construction, every unit is individually tested by hand for tight adherence to a spectrally-defined specification (rather than a specification based on a looser definition like degrees kelvin white-balance).

Moreover, because we can count on every unit producing the same spectrum of light, we are able to produce a master bespoke ICC color profile for the DT RCam, Phase One iXG, and Phase One XF; this produces preservation-grade (FADGI 4-star / ISO 19264 A-tier) image quality right out of the box, saving the user from having to make cumbersome and error-prone in-situ color profiles. Those who still choose to make their own custom profiles will find the smooth spectrum and extreme spectral stability of the Photon family make this task much easier.

Arrange Your Own Testing

Lighting is one of the most important components in any digitization system. If you’d like to test the performance of the DT Photon family for use in your library, museum, archive, or institution, please contact us and we will gladly arrange it.

This new controller is both available on new orders and compatible with the existing DT Photon and DT Photon XL, so contact your DT rep to upgrade your system or fill out the form below to learn more!

The DT Photon SmartController