on January 31, 2014
I have been all over the place trying to find a good, cheap light tent to photograph my small jewelry pieces for my Etsy shop. I did quite a bit of research before buying this one and was actually pleasantly surprised. The tent itself is great, just the right size and surprisingly sturdy. The tripod was also unexpectedly sturdy and much better quality than my previous portable one, it holds up my Nikon D3100 fantastically and is very easy to use. To top it all off, the fact that it all folds up into a convenient carrying case which is really fantastic when you are short on extra storage space. I would have given this 5 stars if it weren't for the lamps....
To begin with, they burn REALLY hot. So much so that it smelled like something was burning. They are also not bright enough by a long-shot! Not to mention, I accidentally knocked one over and it fell less than 2 feet to the ground on a carpeted surface and the light blew. But I did discover something that obviously most people who write about the same problem don't know; the problem is the bulbs, not the lamp. The lamp fixtures are actually really great and super compact, I love them. Which is what made me so sad when I thought one was now busted because I couldn't figure out how to replace the bulb. So let me walk you through what I found that will make these work about 1000X better for you.
First, the bulb can be removed by unscrewing the very front cap of the fixture, it looks deceptively solid but it isn't and can be removed. Second, the bulbs it comes with are cheap Hallogen bulbs, which burn crazy hot and are just plain crappy. I replaced BOTH of my bulbs with 6000k LED 4w (35w equivelant) Daylight bulbs, and voila! No more crazy heat, no more smell, and they are MUCH brighter, safer, and a major energy saver.
So I highly suggest this product for anyone on a budget, and if the lights are a problem for you just replace the bulbs with 6000k LED 4w Daylight bulbs with a G10 base and there you've got the perfect setup. You can find those bulbs here on Amazon for about $7 a piece.
First, let me say the shipping was FAST. I had this item the NEXT day, and I didn't request expedited shipping. (The company and I are both in Southern California, and that makes a difference, but it does mean they shipped it the same business day they received the order!)
Now, to the product. This is my first time to use a light box, and I did a LOT of research before deciding on this one. I made a good choice. There are other, more expensive, light boxes out there, more powerful lights, etc., but for what I need -- the ability to shoot small products for my eBay and Amazon sales -- this is perfect. The fact that it fits into a compact carrying case is a huge plus. Not that I will necessarily be transporting it around, but the fact that it can be stored compactly and out of the way, is a big plus, and made my wife happy :)
The unit itself it well constructed, comes with a camera tripod (although I seem to prefer to hand-hold my camera), and two lights. The lights are not super bright, but I've been pleased with the photo quality. I've shot photos with both my digital camera, and the camera on my iPhone, both with excellent results. The resulting photos look very professional. So, the lesser-powered lights are not an issue for me, and I shoot in a room with a lot of good ambient light, so it all works well.
I have only two comments, both of which I've sent to the manufacturer: 1) It would be nice to have setup instructions showing the correct orientation of the box and the backdrops. I know it's not rocket science, but I'm still not sure I have it set up correctly. I have the backdrop just draped over the back, although it has velcro for attachment, but setting the box up so the backdrop can be attached via that velcro doesn't make sense to me. Yah, I'm a newbie, but this would seem to be more intuitive than it is. 2) One of the lights did not work when I first switched it on. After a couple of minutes, I figured the bulb might have come loose during shipping, and in fact it had. I unscrewed the "lens" and pushed the light back into the socket, and all is well. I suggested to the manufacturer it might be a good idea to include a notice to check for this condition if a light doesn't work, which could save them having to replace a light for a customer who thinks they got one that's DOA.
I still gave this item 5 stars, as it's everything it advertised, and I'm completely satisfied with the results it produces. In fact, I'm going to buy one of these for my daughter-in-law for Christmas, as she sells a lot of small items on eBay, and this will really help her. I highly recommend this product and seller.
**ADDENDUM: I contacted the company about a setup guide, and they directed me to a link on their site (apparently there was a sticker on the packaging that I overlooked, MY BAD) which directs you to a video on how to set up the lightbox. The video is very helpful, and YES, I did set it up incorrectly. Once I saw how it was done, it made perfect sense, and I felt a little stupid :) But all that to say, the company has been great to respond, the site fully supports their product, and they offered to swap out my light if it gives me any more trouble, which it hasn't. Happy customer here!
on May 19, 2007
This is perhaps the cheapest of this kind of product that I found, and it does a pretty good job.
The folding bag opens and turns into a 16" square box with diffusers on both sides and the back. The accompanying lights are small but strong enough for the job. There is a camera stand with a ball head. It had difficulty holding a FZ30 steady. I used a tripod instead. Smaller and lighter cameras should work ok on the stand.
There are 4 color backdrops included, which is great. But the backdrops are little smaller than the available space in the box, unfortunately.
The biggest items you could shoot without any problem would probably be 10 inches.
The fact that everything folds and packs into a nice bag is a great convenience and space saver.
Look at the user uploaded photos with this product for some ideas on the photo quality.
The lights heat up fast and it may be difficult to keep the studio running for continuous operation. But it is not meant to be for long continous usage.
Overall, it is a great value for the price.
If you need to take pictures of small products or objects, it is highly recommended.
on June 29, 2008
First of all I was sort of expecting a mediocre photo setup and then after I received the box (which was the most mangled box I had ever seen), I expected the worst to come out of it. But, I pulled out an unscathed and unwrinkled, little photo setup.
The whole thing (light box, lights, tripod, and backdrops), comes in a very handy little suitcase with a handle. In fact, the box is the suitcase that folds down into a suitcase and on one side is the velcro closure and the other side are three deep pockets where you put the lights and tripod, then 2 snap closures to secure them. Very clever.
You do need at least 4 ft x 3 ft workspace to have the setup, but I did my photos off an small IKEA table and had room to space for my laptop.
The 50watt lamps are ample lighting, but I find that you do need some sort of light source on the top (I use a lamp, but you could use natural sunlight).
I've only used the black backdrop so far, but the pics are super professional! Even with some lint on the backdrop, it doesn't show up on the pics if you use the right set up on your camera.
As far as sizing, it is perfect for smaller stuff and I'd say that you could go up to a size of a good size vase, but anything more will probably need a bigger box.
All in all, I am very pleased with this purchase and recommend it highly!
on November 10, 2010
I like the box and the case, but the lights are... well the bulbs will not stay in contact and keep turning off. We tried to tighten them but this did not help at all.
What I ended up doing is I got rid of the lights - they are useless and got couple of clip-on reflectors from Ikea, 8.99 each (see the photo), plus 2 fluorescent, 60 watt (1700 lumens) day light bulbs. This made a huge difference.
on February 21, 2013
I bought this lightbox thinking that it wouldn't be bad for photographing things and I could get more work done at night and not be so reliant on daylight. Wrong.
First of all, the design of the box is all wrong. There are three white panels but the top is the black part that houses the accessories. Causes shadows and also causes the box to bend even when it's empty. It never stands straight as in the pictures.
The lights are nowhere near bright enough to get the photos of fabric to the colors they need to be. You could add additional lights but it just wasn't worth it to me. I think the money would be better spent buying super heavy duty lights and worrying about the light box later.
This one went back quickly.
My wife makes glass beads. Over the years we've tried a variety of homemade setups but she always ended up spending a lot of time post editing. I thought about buying the material to make one of these but for under 50 bucks it would be hard to do (150 retail is ridiculous). So we thought we'd try this and it works, except for the white background.
It's a great kit. The lights are just fine if you know how to angle them and adjust the settings in your camera (I always shoot in manual mode). The point is to light the inside not get direct light on the object, especially glass or you get harsh light and reflection. The lights shine through the side diffusers but the light is spread out by the diffuser and the white top and sides.
The camera stand is strictly for little point and shoots. I have a Nikon D300s so it's too heavy but I have a tripod anyway. I use the included stand to string the beads off so they hang in the air.
The case folds out into the box and also includes 3 pockets: 1 for each light and one for the stand. The pocket side can also double as added reflection on the top but you may want to not use it as that. When you open up the case into the box you end up with two white sides and a white top all translucent which is a good thing: 3 sides for light to enter. The back however is black which can be a problem.
Included are four different colored backgrounds which Velcro at the top of the back then flow down to the bottom and out to the front. But actually there are only three colors that work. While the black, blue and red work great, white is translucent and will not come out white. First, the black back darkens the white at the back. But whatever the color of your table top is will change the color for the bottom. For instance, if you have a wood table the grain will show through. If your table top is white it will be a different white than the back. I tried for hours changing everything from lighting and camera settings like white balance but it's just too much effort to make it work and I either had a tan or gray/blue background, never white. I will have to buy new material and make a better white background. The backgrounds come folded; you will have to iron them (on low setting! - they have a plastic backing).
I said the black, blue, and red work great but only if you have some distance between the object and the background or you will get little white spots of lint in your photo. Which is why I had to hang the beads; they are too small and close to just lay on the fabric. For larger objects it should work okay.
The way I use the box is I place each of the two lights on the sides and adjust so that they don't point directly at the bead. My wife does fancy things with her beads and they aren't always smooth. So occasionally I will point a diffused flash through the top.
Like all photography, you have to do a lot of different settings and setup for the perfect shot. Manual mode works best (also described in the instructions but their suggestions may not work for you as all objects reflect differently). The lights do get hot so BE CAREFUL you can burn yourself! I like how it all folds into a neat carrying case with pockets for the lights and stand. I fold the backgrounds just in half and put them between the sides for storing so I only have one crease which ends up at the bend anyway.
Overall I think it's a pretty good deal, a lot less then I could buy the material and make one. Like me you will probably need to make your own adjustments and additions. But it does help and my wife has to do very little post editing!
on December 9, 2011
I am ok with the product in general. With some modification the light box works really well. We flipped it around so the 3 white panels make a bridge and the black cover hangs in the back, and then cut a piece of white poster board the right size and added Velcro to make a proper backdrop. We then suspended an Ott Light above, and the two table lamps on either side. So basically, if you use this product like the picture shows it doesn't work very well. If you do it "my way" then it makes very nice photos indeed. However....
My three major complaints are:
#1 It should come with instructions on the "right" way to put it together, because either it's not put together "right" in the photograph, or we just found a better way to assemble it.
#2 The tabletop lights it comes with REALLY desperately need anti-skid feet. Rubber pads or caps or something would help hugely. They slide around like little hockey players at the slightest vibration. The third time I used the set I barely touched the table and one of the lights literally flew off the table, hit the floor, and the bulb blew out. Fail.
#3 I don't like the fuzzy back drops because they attract lint like a magnet and the creases don't come out without washing. A piece of poster board cut to the correct width with self-stick Velcro added to the top edge works 110% better.
The skeleton of the light box is great and very portable. I love how self-contained the set is when it's all folded up. The tripod is ok too, but I still have to work to avoid jiggling the camera (then again my hands tremor a bit). I had to be conscious about re-tightening the bolts on the tripod every time I moved the arm. Over all, 3 stars.
on October 13, 2010
Purchased this to replace my home made cardboard box / paper setup for some basic photos. It's very portable and everything fits in / is built into an easy to move around fold up bag. I am no expert on photography, so I cannot comment on how well it actually works, but it's easier to use than my home made setup and seems to work fine.
The lights do smell like they are burning though - but this may just be because they are super hot and only been used a couple of times.
The only other thing to mention is the backdrops - 4 nice colors come with it, but they do have fold marks from packaging. I'm also not sure what the best way to store these in the unit is once properly ironed. If I refold them they will probably get fold marks again, but I can't think of a better way to do it.
on April 1, 2013
Looking to sell some stuff on Ebay, I have been researching these little desktop studio kits.
This one seemed to be getting good reviews, it's priced right, and at 16" square, it seemed about the right size for the objects I intend to photograph (mostly watches, kaleidoscopes, and knickknacks).
Although I have only used it once as I write this review, I am impressed by the quality of the components, the cleverness of the kit's design, and the value for the money compared to other desktop studios on the market.
I like the way everything folds up nice and tidy into a black portfolio case with a handle. The two lights seem adequately bright for my purposes. The tripod probably wouldn't hold a heavy SLR camera, but it's fine for my Canon point-and-shoot, and I like the rubber foot pads and telescoping camera support with adjustable tilt at the bottom end and a swivel mount for the camera on the top.
The kit includes four colored backdrops (black, white, blue, and red) against which to display your photo subjects and also comes with detailed instructions on unfolding and folding the components, plus some suggestions on camera settings for optimum results.
I had hoped to attach the very first photo I took using the kit, showing a Steuben crystal elephant, but I don't see that option on the review page. So you'll have to take my word that it looks very professional! I used Corel Paintshop to optimize the photo and remove the crease lines in the blue backdrop.
The one thing I am going to add to the kit is an adjustable stand (like a book stand), allowing me to angle flat objects (watches in boxes) like the orange and green whatever-they-ares that they show on this product page.
In conclusion, I think this kit is pretty nifty for an Ebay newbie like myself. I'll report back if I find reason to think otherwise...