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on January 11, 2013
This softbox kit, as other reviewers have said, is not bad. I was looking for more or less permanent lighting in my home office to shoot video blogs. These seem to fit the bill. I bought 4 of these puppies, two for the wall and two for me, and they do a good job. I wouldn't want to break them down too often. The are replacing a set of incandesant lights which were very hot. These babies do heat up a little but nothing like the regular bulbs. After setting up 3 of them, I timed myself for the 4th in this video. 8 minutes and 16 seconds start to finish. The light is from two of the first ones I set up.
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on August 10, 2011
For the price, I didn't expect much. I needed more light than I owned for an upcoming project. I was going to rent some similar (but higher quality) lights from a local company. Then I ran across this set. For what it would cost me to rent lights for the time needed, I could own these.

Putting them together was not difficult (except for the hoods)- the instructions don't help much. (Hint: make sure the hood rods are FULLY inserted when you attach the hood, they have a tendency to slip out a little, then you have problems).

The stands themselves are pretty decent, but the fixtures and adjustable clamps are of lesser quality. If you plan on putting these together and leaving them in your studio - they will work fine. I would not suggest them for remote/location shoots - the hoods are way too difficult to put together.

The quality of light and brightness is just fine, and having a separate switch for each bulb gives you plenty of variation. Not as handy as a real dimmer - but it works.

If you need some extra, light-duty, studio lighting, and you have a place to store them (without tearing them down) - these will do nicely. For less than $150, it's really tough to beat these.

As usual - Amazon did a great job with on-time delivery and packaging.
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on February 27, 2011
Outstanding light set. Easy to set up and the lighting is perfect for video which is what I am using it for. It looks just like daylight and the blubs do not get very hot at all. I had them on in a small room (8 X 10) for an hour and they were just getting warm. No broken parts and the shipping was super fast. I love the lights and can strongly recommend them. Note that I am a amateur making videos, but I am very sensitive to what light looks like in my pictures and videos. However, people often comment on how nice the lighting and color is in my pictures and videos - so I do have a good feel for what is good.
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on October 16, 2012
The Good: They lights turn on and they light up your environment pretty well.

The Bad: The build quality is noticeably cheap. The plastic feels like its going to crack under its own weight. The softboxes are very tricky to build. It feels like one of those metal rods is about to shoot out and jab you in the throat at any moment. It comes with a carrying bag but you're not going to want to rebuild these boxes every time. The stitching on the softboxes themselves is pulling apart after one build but is holding together. After repeated rebuildings these won't hold. The tripods are ridiculously shoddy. Luckily I had better ones that I used instead. Not only are they very light to the point that the softbox itself would make it tip if angled low but the legs would just bend making the pole tilt at weird angles. I had to take a screwdriver and wrench to it to lock that think in place which then made it impossible to fold the tripods to put them away again. I just tossed them and used my old ones.

The Ugly: The aforementioned stitching and shoddy tripods.

The Summary: Though this review seems mostly negative, its just a warning to those expecting quality boxes. AT THIS PRICE you get what you pay for. Lights that work and that's what I focused on and why I was not quite "happy" but satisfied. The lights work and with two your subject appears very well lit and ultimately that is what matters. If you plan on this being a mobile solution, look elsewhere.
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on December 7, 2011
Yes, they take time to set up (unlike simple umbrella-type flash soft boxes). I haven't figured a way to safely store the heads with the bulbs in them, so it takes time to take it all apart for storage. However I haven't found this much (directional yet diffused) light per dollar in any other form.

The second pair of these soft boxes I bought were an improvement. The corners of the boxes near the light are velcro slits on the new boxes, which make it simple to assemble them. The first set I bought had fixed sides (no slits) and one convertible pocket. Here are my instructions for those with the convertible pocket and no side slits:

Don't screw the CFL bulbs in until the softbox is constructed. Put the 5-bulb base in your lap with the swivel (which will attach to the light stand) towards you and the empty bulb sockets facing up. Fit the inner opening of the softbox (foil side up) onto the bulb base. (This is a fairly tight squeeze to keep stray light from leaving the box.) Note that the box can be either taller than wide, wider than tall, or you can even put it on the base at a 45 degree angle. I usually prefer to have mine horizontal, so I make sure the wider panels are away from and towards me (not to my left and right).

Now look out at the edges of what will be the inside corners of the box. You'll see four narrow, black pockets. Notice that just ONE of those pockets is made with an OPEN flap at the far end. THAT pocket will recieve the LAST of the four metal shafts. Install one of the metal shafts into the bulb base at 90 degrees to that open pocket and bend the shaft (without kinking it!) to fit it into its softbox pocket (all of this happens on the foil/inside). Then install the shaft opposite that first one... into the bulb base, bend, into the black pocket. Now do the same with the third shaft (opposite the open pocket). THEN, slide the last shaft THROUGH the remaining open pocket and put it into the bulb base hole. PULL the remaining corner of the softbox up along the shaft (bending it, too) until you can close that fourth velcro pocket. SEE? Not that hard, especially when you've done it a couple of times.

Now install the bulbs and plug in the cord to make sure they all light up. (One of my switches required a wire to be re-soldered. Now's the time to change any bad bulbs.) Attach the inner diffuser at those white Velcor corners inside the box, and fit the outer diffuser on, pressing it against the velcro on all four sides. I usually build the boxes at home and bring them to the location already assembled. The five switches on the back allow you to choose how many of the five bulbs are on, regulating the light output.

By the way, when you double the number of lights (say you have a 100W bulb and add a second), the light falling on your subject does not double. All other things remaining the same, it will multiply the first light by 1.4. That's half a stop, not a whole stop.
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on September 26, 2014
I really want to say nice things about this light kit.

On paper and in the pictures it looks great. It has everything you should need for a studio set or a reasonably inexpensive traveling / location kit. 10 powerful, daylight balanced CFL will let you shoot all day with plenty of light. Soft boxes are nice an large, providing an even light flow. Cords are long enough to be useful - but extention cords would be helpful. Tripods are nice an tall. And the bag is easily large enough to hold it all in an easy to handle size.

Then reality kicked in. The tripods are extremely light weight and unless weighted down cannot handle the weight of the soft boxes at a moderate extension over 6 foot tall. Mounting heads for the soft boxes leave a LOT to be desired - a locking bolt to hold them in place would be a good start. So would proper size mounting heads. Moving on to the lights - they're fantastic. Exactly as advertised and in individual Styrofoam boxes for protection. But the softboxes... oh the PAIN!!!! To say they are difficult to assemble is putting it mildly. There were NO instructions included in my kit for how these fabric creations go together. A video in a prior review made it appear easy - only 8 minutes to assemble. He much have practiced. The "caps" for the stiffening rods are for all intentions non-existent or little snippets of Velcro that form a pocket for the end of the rod. Trying to get the diffusion cap on was impossible - the Velcro attachment was either missing / fell off / too small to do the job. By the way only gravity and tension hold these rods in place. And as you might predict, in the middle of the photo shoot - gravity won. The bottom rod fell out of the light base and the whole box collapsed. One bloody knuckle later - as it slipped and nicked my fingers when being put back together, it was back in operation if looking somewhat dilapidated.

As for the carrying bag, it makes for an awkward load when you have photo equipment and background to bring along with it to the location. It really should have a sturdier frame - it is just thin fabric - and wheels for easier transporting. I don't give the fabric carrying handles much time if I added the weight of my background to the bag.

Overall rating: IT SHOULD BE BETTER.

I'll be replacing the light stands as soon as possible with a far sturdier pair similar to my background supports as quickly as my finances permit. They are just too flimsy to handle any needed weight bags without the risk of bending. I suppose they might be all right if able to be left alone in a permanent studio set up. But certainly not on location or where they have the slightest risk of being bumped.

The light heads / lights are keepers. Although I plan on get a better mounting head/bracket for them, if I can.

I would gleefully throw away the soft boxes in a heart beat if I can find a more reliable option. They need a better sown in pockets for the rods, a sturdier way of attaching to the light head, would a mounting ring be too much to ask? As for the diffuser, the loops and internal anchor points need to be totally redesigned. A simple alligator style clamp / tension cord would be 1000X better than what they have now. The external cover is impossible to use unless you can get the softbox to ridged perfection. Even then, good luck attaching that Velcro as the slightest touch can have the tension rods slipping out.

This really should be a good starter lighting set. It has everything you would need / want in one convenient package deal. But given that you'll soon be wanting (and needing) to replace / upgrade just about everything, I would recommend spending your starting money on a more traditional umbrella style kit.
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on January 30, 2016
I use these to shoot product photography and portrait photography. Overall for the price they are a great kit. The stands are not super duty, but are strong enough to support the light box. Easy to adjust and the light out-put is strong. Below is a photo taken with only these two lights evenly balance on left and right. White backdrop with no back light. Camera: Canon T31, ISO400, Shutter Speed 1/50, Aperture 4.5
review image review image review image
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on December 28, 2014
So far, I am super-pleased with these lights. For the price, I was expecting a lot worse but this has turned out to be a great purchase.

Stands are the standard inexpensive ones, but not the cheapo super-flimsy ones. The light fixture itself appears very solid and of good quality. The inside of the soft box is reflective and it comes with both an internal and external diffuser, offering several lighting options.

While I read some review saying that assembly of the unit was difficult, I found it pretty straightforward, similar to setting up a child's pop tent. Packaging of the kit is nice. You will want to keep all the boxes so that it will fit back together into the bag.

Once I set one of these up and turned it on, it lit up the place like a sun. Best of all the reflector/diffusers do a *great* job scattering the light -- my kids marveled at the "magic lights" that cast no shadows.

I think these do as good a job as much more expensive 1K lights and the soft box is great quality for the price.
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on July 17, 2015
I bought my first set of these 1.5 years ago. One of them just quit working a few days ago. I bought my 2nd set which arrived today, a few of the bulbs were shattered when it arrived. This lighting set works pretty good for someone who records videos out of their home, or takes photos out of their home. I make a living using these lights and they work pretty darn good. I subtracted one star only because one of my lights no longer worked after 1.5 years and some of the bulbs were shattered upon arrival upon my 2nd purchase.
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on January 10, 2016
These could've been better without charging anymore money, and perhaps even saving on materials. The poles that hold the umbrellas open are too long. The holes they go into on the lights are not re-enforced which only makes matters worse because I'm already warn out one hole on the first install. The stitching is also not going to hold up to the stress levels, so basically by not identifying and cutting the poles to an optimum length, the manufacturer chose to highlight the weakest part of the product. If I keep them, I will likely cut them down a little, because the tension on the fabric, poles, and lighting fixture is unnecessary and will only shorten the lifespan of all three pieces.
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