171 of 173 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2010
Used the SP500 Studio to take several hundred pictures for a catalog I was putting together, it did the job adequately, and for a decent price but here are some things that might be helpful:
- Bulbs are really not very bright, as others have mentioned, you will have to add light and/or adjust camera settings
- Backdrops will have wrinkles from folding, iron with a light cloth over it on synthetic setting and wrinkles will come out.
- If you want to get the 30x30x30 tent back in it's case you'll need to use the directions on the square perfect site because the ones that come with it are terrible, Tent folded up nicely using the directions on Square Perfect's site.
- Lastly, the light stands, in order to make these work better I had to take off the white pieces on the top of the light stands and reversed the swivel assembly on the light itself and then screwed the lights directly into the stands, worked much better.
Overall for the money there is a lot of value in this package and with the above adjustments it will get the job done.
76 of 76 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2012
I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this package. The reviews looked mostly positive and the package contained the components I needed for product photography. When it arrived I was pleased to see everything packaged up in a relatively lightweight, padded case. Perhaps I didn't read the listing thoroughly, but the case was a pleasant surprise. While not a high quality case, it does adequately store and transport the product from office to location as needed. The included components allowed me to achieve my best product photos to date with less effort than I would have anticipated.
Here's an itemized breakdown of the kit with the pros and cons of each piece:
1) Tents - The large 30x30x30 and small 12x12x12 light tents are packaged in their own pouches for easy transportation. They opened easily enough. However, the first time or two closing them up will prove to be a challenge for most. It requires a bit of technique, finesse and process to achieve a refolded tent. However, after one or two tries and watching an online tutorial it will be easy.
The tents themselves are high quality and well sewn. They fabric is heavy enough to seem durable. The metal hoops that create the structure appear to be solid and durable enough for many opening and closings.
The backdrops conveniently use hook and loop fasteners to attach to the rear wall and floor. They are folded, so each will require significant ironing for a flawless background. The variety of included backdrop colors allows you to do high key or low key photos for a professional final result. Once you have your backdrops ironed roll them up on an old tube from wrapping paper.
2) Lights, Bulbs and Stands - Many reviews complained that the lights weren't strong enough. Well, those reviewers are just wrong. The lights more than adequately lit the entire interior of each tent. One will need to know how to use their camera to achieve correct exposure. The bulbs are labeled as Square Perfect brand and worked well. Some reviewers have complained that the light stands are flimsy. Again, they are wrong. The stands are perfectly adequate for the job and are configurable for an infinite variety of positions to achieve optimal lighting. The bulbs and shades hardly have any weight at all. The stands securely hold the lights in whatever position they're set. Any larger, heavier or higher quality stand would be overkill and a waste of resources. One caveat. The stands are short, so if you have the tent on a small table that doesn't also have room for the stands, you will need taller stands. The solution: Use a long table such as a board room table or conference room table. No table like that available? Move things to the floor. This may only be an issue for some when using the 30x30x30.
3) Camera tripod - This will be just fine for many hobbyists and home photographers using lightweight point and shoot cameras. If you use a professional DSLR consider using a more substantial tripod. Longer exposures require a complete lack of movement and I'm not confident that this tripod will perform to those standards. Its a freebie so don't feel bad about not using it. Donate it to your local goodwill or gift it to someone without a tripod at all.
4) The case - The zippers are cheap and the padding is minimal. I wouldn't consider traveling with this case if I were to check it on a plane or put it with other luggage. While the entire setup is easily stowed in the bag it doesn't provide anything more than adequate basic protection. The front of the case had a chalk marked "02" on it near the logo. I'm not sure how or when that would have occurred but that is the way it came. A minor annoyance, but not anything I'd send it back for.
All in all this product still gets five star rating. For most experienced photographers you'll have a few more pieces than you may need but the overall value is excellent. You could piece together a similar kit, but you probably wont' save any money and you won't have a specially designed case. You could buy a similar kit for $300+, but why? If you're shopping for similar kits on Adorama, B&H, etc, just save your $ and get this one. It will do just fine.
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2007
I am satisfied with this product. The main reason I bought it was because I didn't want halogen lights. The lights that come with this light tent are much cooler, and I don't have to worry about burning down my house. There are actually two light tents that come with this kit. One is 12"X12"X12", and the other is 30"X30"X30". It was a good buy.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2007
This is the first review that I post. This morning I got the studio box and so far it has exceed my expectations. I needed it for my business and take photos for my website. I was about to buy the Cubelite that I saw in one of the trade shows for $500 (they said it was a special price) an it only had one 3 ft Cube, one light and it had a Adjustable silver/white reflector, and pretty much that was it. With the SP500 Platinum Photo Studio in a Box I just saved $350 and I got twice of the things that I was expecting before seeing this product.
With out the studio all the photos that I took to the watches I sell looked blurry, now it looks so clear that will help me display them better on the website and catalogs. There are many different brands of thsi product, but with this great price and everything that comes in the package, you can't go wrong!
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2010
Retails for $250, but is only $99 on amazon.com. The best kit for the price. It came with a few scratches on the outside of the light reflectors, crappy ultra-light tripod, but I believe they can offer this price because it is a scratch and dent item. Overall, it was in very good condition. Didn't really care about the tripod, since I have a Sunpak and Gitza already. Makes a perfect light stand or remote flash stand. I wouldn't trust the tripod to hold a camera body and lens over 55mm. Probably get a lot of camera shake when the shutter releases because the center of gravity sucks and it's way too light.
Awesome purchase, though. Eight BG's, 2 boxes. I'd pay $200 for it at full price, just because of the whole tripod thing. But like I said, I wouldn't be concerned if you have a pod already. The only complete kit out there for under $300 with 2 tents, 2 lights, and more than 2 backgrounds. Very high quality materials and construction. Definitely produces professional results. Great Purchase. Go to the website for folding instructions.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2010
I purchased my SP500 set over two years ago for taking photos of my products for online marketplaces -- the same photos I now use on Amazon and my own eCommerce sites. I still use this setup today and have always been happy with it. I've even combined it with other Discount Tommy systems for various light box sizes, green screen backdrops, and video shooting lighting to create a nice little collection of photo studio tools. Now if I could just find the time to learn better photography skills and faster software video editing -- I'd be set! :)
PROS: Higher quality and more durable materials than other kits I've owned. Customer service for replacement or defective parts was outstanding -- first rate. For the price, I wasn't able to beat the quality that came in the SP500. I've used my kit along with other, related kits, for 2 to 3 years now.
CONS: As other reviewers have mentioned, wrinkles in the backdrops are an issue --- however, I've found this to be the case with any flexible backdrop equipment. If you stuff your backdrops into a little ball between uses, then wrinkles will be a problem. If you properly store them it shouldn't be an issue. For me, I've rolled my backdrops across the cardboard rolls that gift wrapping paper comes on which retains the smoothness better than folding in quarters and creating crossing lines in the backdrop. Photo editing software can also be used to eliminate such wrinkles. The folding of the tents can be tricky at first.
Wish List: A nice addition would be a video instruction on caring for the equipment.
Instruction: For video, I've relied on Dave Kaminski's 'Web Video University' free monthly newsletter for tips on everything about photography, video, editing, lighting, et cetera. If anybody has better suggestions for lighting, please comment.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2012
When I purchase a product like this, a discounted product that normally sells for quite a bit more at say, my local camera shop, I don't go in to it with many expectations. In one sentence here is my review: it does the basic job that a light tent should.
I did at least expect that the light tents themselves would work for what I needed, and that is definitely the case. They diffuse the light, the hold the background just fine, the fold up and fit into the packaging as they should. The 30" tent is huge. Looking at 30" on a tape measure is in no way representative of what the tent looks like on my dining room table. This is fine though because it makes it versatile.
The backgrounds will wrinkle and crease. Taking photos here at home isn't such a big deal, I just iron them and they are ready to go. I've tried to think of a way to store them without folding them,, like rolling them around the outside of a cardboard tube. This works a little better, but then if you want the background furthest inside, I have to unroll the whole thing to get it out.
My biggest complaint is probably the same as everyone else's: the lights are not very bright. The documentation gives suggestions for DSLR camera settings, but I found that they were way off from what I needed -- the bottom line is that a tripod is necessary because the shutter has to be open for long enough that you will get blurry photos otherwise. Even the documentation recommends using a remote or 2-second delay to avoid camera movement. I will explore using other bulbs, but for right now it's doing alright.
Oh, one thing I've done when possible is to take the light tent outside to shoot. Direct sunlight diffuses pretty well through it and lights fairly evenly so this is a nice way to avoid all the set up, slower exposure times, and to get some sun on my skin.
The packaging is okay. It comes with a case to store everything. It's decent although I opted to store it all in a smallish hard-sided plastic tote for better protection and so that I could keep the bulbs in the lamps and the lamps on their stands. Using the included packaging would mean having to store the bulbs inside their boxes, inside styrofoam and having to assemble/disassemble everything for each photo shoot. I needed to have a faster way to set up and tear down when I'm doing shots for Etsy products.
As other people said, the overall quality of the stands and tripod aren't great with things like plastic fittings. I have a much better tripod and haven't even bothered with this one. The light stands are sufficient and I'll just know to handle them with a bit of care.
So, as I said in the title, this product works, but could use a few improvements. Overall I'm pretty happy with it and will continue to use it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2013
If you enjoy getting robbed then this is definitely the company from which you should order. When I opened it, one light stand was broken and one light bulb was broken. Called their 'customer service' line several time and left several messages. Not once did I hear back from them. Eventually had to go through Amazon, like a babysitter for their company, to get any resolution. HORRIBLE business ethics and cheaply made products.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2014
I have had nothing but trouble with this product.....I ordered it on November 1 and received it with broken bulbs.....returned it and received a replacement in a very timely fashion....I unpacked the replacement and went to plug in one of the lights and it has two Large prongs, instead of the standard electrical setup(the second light is ok) with one large and one small prong......so it is worthless......I am not going to deal with the hassle and delays of sending the entire collection of gadgets back again.....I will contact an electrician to replace the terribly built light fixture......be careful with the quality of this item!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2012
I bought this almost a year ago and have used it many times since then. It's wonderfully fantastic! Since there are two boxes, it's great for very small items as well as medium sized. I use it to photograph my doll clothing as well as doing artistic barbie photography. It's beautiful. However, it should be noted that there is not a great deal of light from the lamps. I find it difficult to photograph at night, even with my dining room light on. But during the day, with the curtains back, it's perfect!
The backgrounds are quite wrinkled and need to be ironed pretty much before each use, which is inconvenient, but not really a big deal. They can be rolled up, but they don't fit in the case that way, so you may want to plan accordingly.
Some people have mentioned that there was difficulty in folding the large tent back up after opening it, that the directions were too difficult to understand. I read them and had no trouble understanding them, but I have some experience with reflectors and such, those that fold up in a similar fashion. It doesn't take much to figure out, but does take a little practice.
To fold: Push the top of the tent down into the inside of it, then fold the back (and top) down so that it's flat. Put your hands on opposite corners of the, now, flat light box and pull them together, forming sortof a taco shape. Hold the corners together with one hand and push the outside corners under, one at a time, with the other. The two top corners will fit on top of each other making a circle. I may not have explained that as well as I could, but the directions on the website do pretty well.
I am very happy with this purchase and considering the price, it's a fantastic deal!! I would definitely recommend it to anyone!!