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Showing 1-10 of 434 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 459 reviews
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 May 1, 2017
I'm actually returning the 30 inch and bought 24 inch instead. I love this tent and it is going to work perfect. Makes beautiful soft but bright white light inside and all I'm using is 4 desk lamps from Walmart. I over shot the size. It just looks like a giant cube lol I could fit 5 kids in the 30 inch. I think it's taller than 30 which is fine but the 24 inch will be Stellar size. One thing I really like is that it folds down/pops open but it's like a sturdy frame once you pop it open it's not flimsy frame like you would think. I mean you couldn't hang lights on the frame but I think of you are buying a photo TENT you should realize that and it should be a given because the material is thin/soft to allow light to come through but it is by no means cheap. I bought an 18x24 inch acrylic sheet at lowes for only 10.78 too which will sit in it perfectly to add bit of professionalism to my photos and by the way I am by no means a professional. I just started taking pictures when I opened my etsy shop in January so I have a lot to learn but this has been my best investment since far. I added a picture of beads you can see the color contrast change from first to
Second pic and keep in mind this was without any photo editing or even trying real hard plus the fact that since tent too big I could use 2 more lamps. I know the 24 inch is going to be answer to my photography problems. In closing my words of wisdom is that sometimes you have to look past any negative reviews so that you don't miss out on something you might have loved, I almost did!
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on June 23, 2012
Really easy to setup and take down, provided that you pay attention when opening it the first time.
Convenient storage pouch really helps to keep it clean during storage. Also its very easy to store due to it folding down flat into a small thin cylindrical package (2.5" x 14" diameter). Much better than my DIY light box that takes up a lot of storage space and gets dusty. The 30" cube size is great upgrade for my needs as I can use it for much larger items now, yet is still effective for tiny items.

Cons: Imperfect seams and loose threads. Didn't even bother to use the backdrops based on other folks comments and used a 24" wide white paper roll instead for a infinity background. For $35 though, these are non-issues IMHO.

I would happily pay more for something of much higher quality, but based on what I'm seeing at the local pro shops for ~$90 to $150, there is no perceivable difference in quality and only a different name brand. This is $35 well spent.

Attached is an example photo I took using this lightbox. With full noon hour sun blazing, the lightbox was placed on the hood of my car while at a race shop. I wanted to quickly get a photo of these parts before they were installed in my engine. No additional lighting was used beyond what the sun provided for this photo. This should give you a good example of the diffusing capability of this lightbox.
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on September 2, 2015
This soft box works fine for my product shots. It is reasonably priced and holds up well as I use it for on-location shoots.

Hints:
Opening - As you open the soft box, firmly hold the edges to keep it from "snapping" open. That will increase its lifespan and prevent tearing.
Closing - This is a three part process. 1) Push the front, top edge back to fit inside the box until it lies next to the bottom, back edge, making a triangle. 2) Close the triangle by pulling the front top and bottom edges together. 3) Grasp the sides, one in each hand, and twist in opposite directions. The box will fold into three circles.
Wrinkles - Use a warm iron. (I used the polyester setting.) Spray with water. Keep the iron moving all the time and have some patience. a warm iron will eventually get the wrinkles out. Don't be tempted to use a hotter iron as the material can melt under high temperature.

I shoot with studio flashes and get good results. Shop lights will work fine, but don't allow you a lot of camera control to adjust things like depth-of-field. Buy the largest box you think you'll need. For most products that I shoot, I'm using the 30" box.
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on August 11, 2014
I bought the 40-inch version of this tent and it has paid for itself about ten times over already. This tent easily and consistently recreates a product setup that allows for diffused lighting with minimal shadows and a wide variety of materials. It is great for copy work or a quick and simple product shots given that the object fits within the size you purchased. You can quickly move between reflective and non-reflective objects without too much time spent in post-production. Honestly, I probably could've used one of these a few years ago but I just got around to purchasing one now.

I will admit that the first time setting up the 40-inch tent is a little bit daunting if you can't figure it out on your own because you can't easily hold the whole thing with two hands like its smaller counterparts but the concept is the same. Basically all you have to do is work your way around the cube and keep pulling on the edges of each side until it pops into place, it's made pretty sturdy so you can be a bit rough with it if you need to. If you find that one side just doesn't want to pop open try to push it in a bit and then tug it back out and it will pop into place.

To pack it up just start pushing a side inward and then the opposite side inward after it, pushing the diffusion material in along with it until you end up with one flat panel like a collapsible disc reflector. For a tent this size I usually stand it up on one side and put the tip of my foot on the end of it on the floor and twist the top edge down counterclockwise until it squishes back into a disc and fits in the bag.

This also comes with a few pieces of fabric to use as backdrop on the inside, the backdrops it comes with work great and have velcro on them to attach within the tent. I would have loved to see it come with a backdrop in grey but I had to retro fit one out of Savage Seamless backdrop paper for a couple shoots and that worked like a dream.

The zipper on the front is also great and allows you to hide everything but the very end of your lens from view if you're shooting a glossy or reflective object.

For lighting I usually put a speedlight with an umbrella on the sides and one on the top on a boom but you can probably even get by with one light for this system.

Overall, this setup is worth its weight in gold. Cowboy studio has consistently made great equipment for those of us who can't afford to buy high-end name brand photography gear just yet. None of their products have failed me and as long as my cat doesn't get to it I think this light tent should hold up for a very long time. Take good care of your gear and it will last forever. Buy the biggest version of this product that you can and you'll have one hot setup!
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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:

Included;
* 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!

CFH
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on June 14, 2013
Ordering the 30" kind of seems like a no brainer, you can photograph small things in a big tent, but it doesn't work other way around right? Well, that is true but there are unintended consequences: the 30" tent is gigantic, it's like some sort of giant entity in your living room or den. But more importantly, with a 30" tent, with your light sources outside tent walls, you lose a lot of light intensity and that makes it a lot more difficult to achieve the white limbo effect you're after. For the technically inclined the intensity of the light falls off as the square of the distance increases. So if your object is in the middle of the tent and it's 6 units from the side of the tent its lit with 6 squared less lumens, not 6 times less, 6 x 6 less. The falloff of light is 36 times. There's a reduction factor of 36.

The folding issue is a pain. Not just because they couldn't be bothered to put a sheet of instructions in the package (I could do without one of the colors for a decent set of instructions) but because even when you go to the trouble of going to the website for instructions, the instructions blow. The "helpful" photographs are taken right after each tricky move is accomplished..."see? do it the tricky, counterintuitive move just like we describe so it ends up like this". Specifically, they use the term "opposite" for a 3 dimensional object, as in fold the front corner to it's opposite. Now, in a cube, is the opposite corner the corner directly behind it, below it, or the corner diagonal to it on the same plane? Or maybe the corner diagonal and on the opposite plane? oops. There's that opposite word. Yo, Cowboys! We don't like feeling like knuckleheads. Number the fricking corners in the photos, direct the action according to the numbers as in: fold corner #1 to corner # 4, holding each side twist with left wrist clockwise, while twisting with right wrist counter-clockwise at the same time. etc etc.

By the way, before attempting to fold this bugger, wash hands thoroughly. Your hands will be all over this sucker so completely (after gingerly holding by the frame edges for all other actions) that if you've been handling dusty books or whatever, the tent is now folded, yes, and filthy. Just saying.

I own a 30" model (slightly dirty) and will be purchasing a 16" model, hey, it's still the cheapest game in town.

UPDATE: There's a video on Utube that you can find by noodling around on the Cowboy Studio Website. It's not perfect, but it's much better than the written instructions. The kind of hilarious thing is that by looking at the comments it becomes obvious that there are a lot of people who have been living with this giant cube in their lives for like, weeks, because they can't fold it. I fold like nobody's business now, if it use the thing regularly. If I don't practice regularly though, folding becomes a problem again.
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on January 30, 2014
I'm not a professional photographer, I'm not even an amateur one. All I do is take photos for ebay listings, and these seemed like just the thing for it. I use another reviewer's advice that the items I'm photographing shouldn't be more than 1/3rd the length/width of the light box because otherwise you'll get the box in the frame. That advice is probably solid, but I ended up going a size or two up more than I should have. This thing is huge, it does not fit on my desk. It is inconsiderate, demanding up to a quarter of my hallway space. I can't open the door all the way. Worse yet, it does almost nothing for me. It does not make me coffee, update my twitter, or use its spare processing power to feed starving children somewhere. It does not even make good conversation, its topics are simplistic.

On the upside, it seems to be good quality material. Note that when you open this thing it will pretty much explode. Seriously, make sure you clear room for it BEFORE you open it.
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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 October 4, 2012
This is a good buy and depending on what you need it for it could work.

It did not work for me and I returned it for the following reasons:

1. It's HUGE. I did look at the measurement and thought I knew how big it was going to be but it still surprised me how big it is and it needs a pretty big desk or table to set this up on it. This isn't a negative, just worth a mention. Make sure you know how big it is once it pops open!

2. Very low quality backgrounds, the black was practically see through the material was so thin.

3. The Velcro attachments weren't sticking to each other so the backgrounds wouldn't stay up. And for what I needed, the background can't be placed on the inside top. By this I mean, I needed the inside of the roof to be black as well but it's not set up like that. You can only line the bottom and back. :( which didn't make any sense to me for what I needed to accomplish. So you still get the white sides and roof reflecting on your photo.

4. I ended up returning this and making my own with some black material and a cardboard box. It worked 100xs better.
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