Customer Reviews: CowboyStudio 30-Inch Photo Soft Box Light - 4 Chroma Key Backdrops
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Size: 30 inch|Change
Price:$32.06+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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on March 12, 2010
After laying out plans to build a light tent using PVC pipe and adding up the cost I decided to do some internet shopping for a "store bought version". With the cost plus the over all size, weight and ease of storage being major inputs for my consideration I found the variety of collapsible light tents to be most desirable.

Having considered the various sizes materials and accessories of the various tents and reading through the comments on Amazon and several photography forums I decided to give the Cowboy Studio 30" soft box light cube a go. (I opted for the 30" version because it's easier to work with too big than too small...).

This particular light cube does not include lamps which makes it less expensive of course and was one of the features that helped in my selection. Reason being I have some 8" clamp on work lights Troy EL2211 6-Ft Clamp-On Work Area Spot Light I use in my shop and after installing 40w CFL 6500k bulbs in them and clamping them on opposing sides of the table I set the tent up on I have found they work perfectly! (I believe you can buy these work lights in any home improvement store for $5-6$).

I have read several comments made by folks who were unhappy with the lack of instruction and seeming confusion of how to open the cube for use and or collapse it for storage. Living here in the desert of Arizona many of us use the collapsible nylon sun shades in an effort to keep our car interior cooler in the summer time and they are very similar to this photo tent in the method of opening and closing them. In addition I see that the Cowboy Studio web site has printable instructions for the setup and take down of the tent here [...] , (although I do admit I am uncertain as to why they do not include them with the tent)? ALSO, for those who are extremely challenged when it comes to such things there is a video to walk you through it on you tube, of course... [...] (Folding an EZcube)

Having used it for some time now I must say I am very satisfied and have no reservation at all in promoting it to one and all that are in the market for a light tent of any of the various sizes they are available in. AND, at just $35 this light tent is an outstanding value.
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on July 21, 2012
I was originally going to buy a 12" unit for smaller items (I already have a 48") Luckily the 12" was out of stock when I went to place my order. This unit was $6 more and I am very glad I got this instead of a smaller one.

Lately I have been on a "de junk quest" We're in our mid 40's and its amazing how much crap you buy over the years. When I was younger and had no kids I used to collect die cast cars well those have been sitting in boxes for at least 8 years so its time to just get rid of them and just sell off all the accumulated crap that does nothing but take up space.

The quality of the product is pretty good I don't collapse mine at all i just set it inside the bigger one and it stays on a table in the corner of the basement I throw a sheet over them to keep the dust off.

I can see how some people complain about closing it as when I opened it up it expanded quite forcibly so you do need to be careful when closing it as to not damage one of the internal wires.

The colored inserts that come with are nice they do require a light ironing as others have said. The one thing I will warn you about is that this type of product requires ALOT more light than you currently are using. To understand why you have to realize that this diffuses direct light and dims it considerably so you will need to add a few spotlights to ensure adequate lighting. I went down to Home Depot and picked me up a three of those old fashioned metal clip work lights that cost $10 each then found the biggest cool white CFL bulbs I could and for $40 have a great lighting package.

If your doing ebay auctions this type of product is a must have. I would recommend any of the cowboy studio pop ups as the 2 I have are serving me very well.


Plan ahead what are you photographing? if its bigger than lets say a 12oz can of pop YOU NEED A BIGGER TENT!

Here's why, Lets say you stick a 1 liter bottle of soda (the big ones), when you take your picture your going to see the edges of the tent. So as another example lets use a barbie doll as an example 15" tall about 10" wide and 2" deep. Placed inside a 17" tens you would see both edges of the tent so instead of seeing your product and a nice colored background you're going to end up with your product an inch of the colored background AND the white edges, the sides and the white top of the tent (it makes for a terrible picture).

As a general rule I would say your item should not be bigger than 1/3 the size of the tent. So if the tent is 17x17x17 your item should not exceed 5 1/2" in any direction.

IF you are willing to edit the pic and fudge a bit MAYBE you can go to an item 1/2 the size of the tent. Remember your goal is to not photograph ANY part of the tent just your product and the colored background that its sitting on.

Hope that helps!
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The CowboyStudio "24in Photo Tent" is exactly what was needed for our product photos. We own a small business and do all of our own product photography. The results were somewhat hit-or-miss since getting the lighting just right could be very challenging. Using a Photo Tent eliminates a lot of the guess work and helps to produce consistent results between shoots, and it also saves me a lot of time fixing things later in Photoshop. Here are my observations:

* 24"x24"x24" Photo Tent
* Front Screen w\Slit (attaches with Velcro and allows lens to poke in the box)
* Red, Blue, Black, and White Back Drops (attaches w\Velcro)
* Carrying Bag w\handle

Pros -
+ Good Quality; the material is thicker then expected
+ Easy to Setup; the box literally springs in to shape when taken out of the bag
+ Works Great; material diffuses light and eliminates shadows just as expected

Cons -
- Hard to fold back up
- No Instructions; CowboyStudio emailed shortly after we ordered and it included a link to the folding for storage, but not on the use of the product

Misc -
* Backdrops should be ironed or steamed before use to remove creases
* Look for the two small eyeloops on the inside top sides (bottom has the Velcro), these are useful for suspending light objects with fishing line
* We made our own Back Drops by cutting fabric to the same size as the ones included and attaching Velcro to the same points

This is a great Photo Tent and is a real value for what you get!

Highly Recommended!

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on July 29, 2010
I was using a homemade cardboard box with tissue paper sides to photograph my small bicycling accessories that I make. My previous light box worked fine, yet I wanted to be able to pack everything up and store it instead of having this huge box taking up space all the time.

The Cowboy studio light tent works as described, and my pictures are still awesome with it. I miss being able to rearrange my product without having to carefully lift it up and put it back down and then smooth any wrinkles of the velvety background, yet the size and compact storage of this light tent are worth the nuisance.

I also ordered the 24" as a present for a friend. I received the 30" white backdrop with a stain and my 24" tent was missing its 4 colored backdrops. A quick email to CowBoy studios and they had replacements in the mail right away.

small aside, as you may read in other reviews, these tents can be a little tricky to fold back down. Easy fix, pay attention the first time you open it, don't let it just pop open on you.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 1, 2013
My first Cowboy Studios purchase, the 30-Inch Photo Soft Box, will not be my last. This product helped make my first foray into food photography both beautiful and profitable.

I've been a professional photojournalist for a number of years. My expertise, if you can call it that, is in capturing unstaged moments, & images of life on the fly. Much of my work is at scenes of accidents, fires, festivals and concerts. It was with some trepidation that I accepted my first paid job as a food photographer for one of our local restaurants. The restaurant ended up using these photos both on their website as well as in print ads. The Cowboy Studios Soft Box made my job far easier than expected.

The Cowboy Studios Soft Box came packed in a circular shaped nylon bag. It was folded and rolled in a manner that might remind you of some of the more expensive sunshades people use in their automobiles. In addition, the package included several pieces of background fabric of different colors. Opening the light box was quite simple. Pull it out, give it a little shake and a little pull and it pops into a giant white fabric cube -as if it were spring loaded.

The "door" on the front of the cube is attached by several velcro strips. The door itself has a slit sewn into it where one could easily put a camera lens through. Speaking of the door, one of my few complaints about the Cowboy Studios Soft Box is that there is no way to partially seal that slit. In my opinion, CS should have included some form of velcro closure or double-headed zipper so that photographers could fully seal the door with the exception of where they stuck their lens through.

The unit is made of a light-weight fabric that transmits light very nicely. The Soft Box does not come with its own lighting which allows photographers to choose their own light sources- be they economy clamp lights from a hardware store or multi-thousand dollar flash rigs and tripods. For my first project, I chose the economy route and purchased clamp lights and a number of CFL bulbs.

I set the light box up on the table in the restaurant's back room and positioned four clamp lights at different angles all around the box. After setting my camera up to the corresponding white balance, I stepped back and had a look and was very pleased by what I saw. The transmission of light on this unit is excellent. I didn't notice any shadows cast from the outside because of the ribbing/framing of the box and I had little problem producing a fully lit white interior similar to what one might get outside on a perfectly lit overcast day. I spent the entire evening taking hundreds of shots of numerous dishes that the restaurant chef had prepared specifically for their ads. I didn't employ any food groomers nor did we use any strange techniques you may have read about which would include anything from coloring to shoe polish to oil in order to enhance the shots. The resulting photographs are outstanding, if I do say so myself and I credit much of this to the use of Cowboy Studios Soft Box. If you'd like to see some of the results of my first foray into food photography using this light box, do a web search for M and M Italian Restaurant in Los Banos. When the website comes up, click where it says "outstanding choices" on the home page and then on the next page that comes up, click on the link that says "restaurant's photo gallery page". Look for the photos with the white background. I am particularly fond of the photos of the drinks and desserts.

After the photo shoot was over, I struggled a little bit with putting the light box away. Folding it back up so that it can fit back into the blue nylon bag is not intuitive but is a fairly easily learned skill. The trick to doing so is to use a proper twist of your wrist after making the initial two folds to perform the final collapse. The video showing this technique was found on YouTube and after practicing it 4 or 5 times, rebagging the light box became easy to accomplish.

The quibbles I have with this product are small and include the aforementioned door issue which makes shooting near surfaces more of a challenge but can probably be overcome with safety pins. I found the included background fabric to be a nice thought but pretty much useless for my purposes as it wrinkles all to easily. Another quibble I have with this product is that the light box itself is prone to slight wrinkling too. If you are using the light box rear wall as a background without direct lighting from behind, you may end up having to do a little bit of post processing / Photoshopping. Similarly, the base of the light box is made of the same fabric that the sidewalls and top are. While this would be great for light transmission if lit from below, it doesn't make for what I consider to be a perfect base / background as the color of the table you set it on will likely show through. I solved this problem on the food shoot by borrowing one of the restaurant's perfect new white tablecloths.

Despite the minor nits outlined above, I really do like the way this product is made. If treated properly, it is my opinion that the Cowboy Studio Soft Box should last for a good long while. Having never had another light box and only looked at its competition briefly in camera stores, it's my opinion that the construction is solid, the stitching is good and I'm expecting this product to hold up for a long time.

My first attempt at food photography was made much easier by using this product. Not only was the chef and restaurant manager quite pleased with the results, but the publisher of the local newspaper selected four of the shots in which to construct an ad which appeared in the Life in Los Banos Magazine. Prior to purchasing the Cowboy Studio Soft Box, I had considered attempting to build my own light box using a PVC frame and white fabric. While it is true I would have saved about ten dollars, I would have also created myself a kludgy, hard-to-transport soft box which likely would have resulted in more frustration and maybe even less attractive photos. I would recommend this product and I have continued to use it for various projects. Despite its minor shortcomings, I think the Cowboy Studio Soft Box is a great value and I'm glad I purchased it.

Note: I wrote this review with my husband who is a professional photojournalist and product & event photographer. All of the sentiments described above are his from his point of view. :-)
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on October 17, 2010
Original Order Placed on September 1, 2010

If you like this product order from Amazon. I suggest that you do not place orders for their products directly from the CowboyStudio Website.

I wanted to purchase the CowboyStudio 30" OPEN TOP Photo Soft Box Light Tent Cube (item has a flap opening on top to allow access to items in cube), which is very similar to the item pictured here. I contacted CowboyStudio asking if they would sell the product I wanted through Amazon. They said that some products just aren't available on Amazon. I then ordered the 30" OPEN TOP Photo Soft Box Tent Cube directly from the CowboyStudio Website.

Received the 30" Light Tent that did not have the Open Top feature. Contacted CowboyStudio, returned the Light Tent Cube to exchange for the Open Top Version, and received the same exact 30" Photo Soft Box Light Tent Cube with NO Open Top Feature. I also requested a refund of shipping fees due to the error their company made in shipping me the wrong product. As of this date no response and no refund.

The low prices that CowboyStudio offers for their products is great. Similar merchandise from other vendors is sold at a higher price (double or triple for similar products).

Customer Service and Order Accuracy were horrible for the order I placed. I paid the original shipping fee and additional return shipping fees, all because CowboyStudio could not ship me the merchandise that I ordered. Poor customer service. Can't trust them to get the order right on products they are selling.

I rate the CowboyStudio 30" Photo Soft Box Light Tent Cube - 4 Chroma Key Backdrops at Three Stars. In the end I kept the 30" Light Tent that did not have the Open Top. I did not want to spend additional funds as it appears CowboyStudio is unable to correct their shipping error. The Light Tent does what is supposed to do, but the metal rings that give the tent shape are really stiff and difficult to twist to return to folded up storage form. Also the metal rings apply a great amount of pressure on the White Nylon material, which in time may tear the material or rip the stitching apart. May not last due to quality of merchandise.

I will not order from the CowboyStudio website from this point on. Lesson learned. I will avoid dealing with them directly and can see that you get what you pay for. Lower prices don't always mean you are saving money. Order through Amazon, just in case there are any problems, Amazon would be able to assist you. I have never had any problems (return, exchange, refund) with orders placed through Amazon.

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on June 14, 2010
It's a little hard to get the thing to fold back up into its original size, but the material and construction make this light box worth it.
The backdrops that come with it are decent, too. They have a velvety side and a smooth side. And yeah, they need to ironed before you use them.
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on November 1, 2011
This is definitely a table-top sized light box, and it works great. Position lights on either side, and if you can, one in the front angled down to cast a milky white glow across everything. A tad big for small jewelry, but perfect if you're doing photography of pottery, electronics, or anything else larger than a bowling ball. The included inserts work very well (steam them first to get rid of the wrinkles) although I prefer to use seamless paper.

To properly light an item in a light box/tent like this, you need to make sure that your camera is metering off of the object itself, and not being influenced by the white background. This is one of those situations where a handheld light meter will give the most accurate results, although you can also use trial-and-error or spot metering. Either way, make sure you DO NOT use an automatic setting, unless you want the luminosity of the white material to change from item to item.

Now, about the biggest item of complaint in these reviews; folding it back up. Yes, it's a hassle, and it takes a few minutes. If you force something too hard, the seams of the metal hoops can rip the material. Google the directions for storage of the Cowboy Studio Light Tent and follow them. Do it when you have at least ten minutes to practice it a few times, so that when you need to pack it up in the studio, or in a client's business, you don't break the thing or look like a fool. If you follow the instructions, you'll pick up on how the hoops collapse into themselves (much like a circular light reflector) to fit back into the pouch. Just don't force it, and when in doubt, let it flop back out.

The ability to take top-notch product shots in any environment, whether using continuous lights or strobes, is a big plus. Once you know the light/camera/product distances and light/camera settings, you'll be able to bang out shots of nearly anything consistently and professionally. You just have to be patient and read the instructions.
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on January 27, 2011
Good beginners light box, especially for macro or small object photography. This will assist in taking a beginners photography to the next level. Good shadow management, even light distribution and four backgrounds from which to choose.
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on November 28, 2011
I bought this light cube to photograph the jewelry I make and sell and it is perfect. It is small, easy to use, easy to fold and store and does a lovely job for my purpose providing even light without shadows.
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