3ds Max provides two types of lights: photometric and standard. All types are displayed in viewports as light objects. They share many of the same parameters, including shadow generators.
Photometric lights use photometric (light energy) values that enable you to more accurately define lights as they would be in the real world. You can set their distribution, intensity, color temperature, and other characteristics of real-world lights. You can also import specific photometric files available from lighting manufacturers to design lighting based on commercially available lights.
Standard lights are computer-based objects that simulate lights such as household or office lamps, the light instruments used in stage and film work, and the sun itself. Different kinds of light objects cast light in different ways, simulating different kinds of light sources. Unlike photometric lights, Standard lights do not have physically-based intensity values.