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Customer Review

45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking to buy these for portability.. think again., December 1, 2010
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This review is from: ePhoto VL9026s 2000 Watt Lighting Studio Portrait Kit with Carrying Case with 2 Soft boxes, 2 Light Heads and 10 Fluorescent Bulbs (Electronics)
I just got done spending over an hour unpacking and putting these together for the first time. This isn't going to be a thorough review of the product itself, but rather a word of warning for what you're getting yourself into, and a few tips. I'm also doing this partly because the manual is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS.

First, I'll start off with my thoughts on the assembled lights. They feel moderately sturdy.. the piece that lets you adjust the angles feels pretty weak, and as others have mentioned, the plastic tightening knobs are flimsy. The tripod is thin steel, but seems to stand well. The lights are pretty bright, I have no complaints there. There IS a little bit of a blue tint to the light, but it's very minor. It's not pure white, but close. I love being able to switch on and off all bulbs separately, it gives a lot more control. Each fixture has a removable fuse and came with a spare fuse for both. The cords are a good 10-12 feet long. The diffuser material and reflector housing don't really straighten out when everything's put together, there's a lot wrinkles in it.. not a big deal, but it does make them look a bit cheap. There's a very faint hum emitted from the lights, but it's nothing that's going to get picked up by a microphone if you're doing video, you have to have your ear right up to it, and even then it's hard to hear. Overall, I'm content with them. I don't love them, I don't hate them, but they work well and do what they were designed to do. Would I buy them again? That's a tough call. Only time will tell how long they're going to hold up.

Now for the fun stuff. As my title reads, if you want a portable continuous softbox kit, look elsewhere. There is so much involved in setting these up and breaking them down, it's insane. It's a lot like setting up a tent. Each softbox consists of 15 parts, all of which need to put together and taken apart each time.

1x Slip-on diffusing material
1x Clip-on (4 clips) diffusing material, goes under the slip on
4x Tension rods
5x Bulbs
1x Fixture assembly
1x Reflector housing
1x Stand/tripod
1x Power Cord

The reflector housing goes over the fixture assembly. The fixture goes into a small hole in the reflector. There's a slit in the reflector held together by velcro to make the hole big enough for it to fit into. The four tension rods are what make the reflector pop open. Before installing the tension rods, make absolutely sure the fixture is rotated the right way.. you're not going to want to have to do this again. There's a large end and a small end on each rod, the large ends go into the 4 corners of the reflector, and the small ends go into the sides of the fixture. There's actually 8 holes around the fixture, just skip one each time. There are also little white loops that each rod must go through on the way. If something doesn't seem to fit right and the reflector is sliding off the fixture, one of your rods didn't go in far enough to the fixture (this happened to me twice). The holes go about 3/4" deep, you really have to work at it to get them to go in all the way. After all 4 rods are in, wiggle everything around a little to make sure one of your rods doesn't pop out. If they're not all the way in, you're going to wind up with some broken bulbs. After the reflector and rods are installed, put all the bulbs in. Now is a good time to make sure they all work, so plug it in. The small white diffuser fabric with the clips on the corners gets clipped to the white loops that the rods go through. The fabric is GOING to make contact with the bulbs, there's no getting around this (which has me a little concerned it may be a fire hazard). After that, just slip on the outer diffuser material and affix the velcro on all 4 sides. Once that's all put together, it should feel pretty sturdy and is safe to lay diffuser-side-down.

The only thing left to do is screw it on to the light stand and plug it in. Oh, and then do the next one. ;)

While that may not sound terribly hard, keep in mind that every time you put it together or take it apart to transport, you have to do ALL of that again (everything must come apart), and you also need to put all the parts into their bags, and safely store each bulb. You're looking at about 15-20 minutes to disassemble and 20-30 minutes to reassemble.. each (including packing/unpacking). The styrofoam that the bulbs came in is very brittle and isn't suitable to reuse.. so I advise wrapping each bulb in a cheap rag and putting it back into the bulb box it came in.

What I'm personally doing, is storing the softboxes preassembled, and keeping the light stands and power cords in the big tote bag that came with it. This way it's quick setup and take down.. only problem is storing them, since they're pretty big. There's no way I'm ever going to mess with putting these back together.

Hope this helps someone.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 14, 2011 8:21:55 AM PDT
Caleb Pike says:
Keep in mind these are day light balanced. So they should be on the blue side (5500K = Daylight range). Yes, when you compare them to Tungsten (3200K) they will look blue, just set your camera white balance accordingly.

Posted on Jul 15, 2011 11:38:50 AM PDT
Thanks for those great instructions in simple English. The company should pay you a fee per unit sold here. I appreciate your kindness to fellow photographers.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2011 3:47:23 PM PDT
Caleb Pike says:
Sure thing.

Posted on Aug 4, 2011 3:13:47 PM PDT
Dana Brandt says:
Whoever reviewed this totally saved my butt! I felt overwhemed and couldn't find assembly directions on the net or anywhere else. The tension rods were KILLIN me!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 4, 2011 4:26:57 PM PDT
A. Cooke says:
Awesome! I'm so glad to hear it helped someone. Those were such a pain to assemble, and the instructions were worthless.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 5, 2011 5:39:13 PM PDT
Your pointing out that the softbox isn't square (orientation should be decided first) is very important. It's also vital to realize that only ONE of those four "keepers" at the outer rim of the softbox is a close-able pocket... the other three are just pockets. The FINAL, fourth rod should go into that velcro-close-able pocket.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2011 7:48:57 PM PST
Mark Graban says:
Yes, the printed instructions are worthless. Thanks for what you posted here. The instructions should include a link to the company's videos, like this one:

http://www.ephotoinc.com/4-light-video-light-vl49004.html

Posted on Mar 17, 2013 11:37:40 AM PDT
Thank you so much for your instructions on how to assemble this. I fumbled around for about 20 minutes and finally came online here to see if someone could explain how to put the light box together. You were spot on and I was able to put it together. Why on earth the company does not include something like that is a mystery to me. Once again, many thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013 11:55:00 AM PDT
A. Cooke says:
You are welcome!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 17, 2013 2:09:45 PM PDT
I agree that they'd sell more of their products if they had understandable instructions. If they paid a bunch of good translators, though, they might have to charge more for these products. ;~). To me, for the past two years, anyway, this type of 5-CFL soft box is the most/best lighting for the money.
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