WIKI, helps a ton in these cases. Sun/beacon/fire/glowstone/jack'o'lantern(face)/lava/redstone lamp(active) are all 15, torch is 14. The rest are moot because its 13-1. I tend to take a block out of the surface and place a half slab under it, then again around it, so its one block deep, put lava in and it won't move, then make sure there isn't two blocks of air between said lava and the roof or you will fall in. This isn't as effective w/ lava not creating inf source anymore. P:
Glowstone, jack-o-lanterns, and sunlight are all equal and are the best. Torches are just one light level below them, though, so it doesn't matter much what you use unless you're aiming for aesthetics.
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Did something happen to you in your childhood to give you this unreasonable fear of rutabaga?
Glowstone, Jack-o-Lanterns and Redstone Lamps all have the highest luminosity, in kahoots with the sun, all at a maximum light level of 15 (so the light will travel up to 15 blocks away from the source). Torches only have, I believe, a light level of 14.