Top positive review
10 people found this helpful
Had my doubts but after 1 year, they're still running strong! Buying more! - Using for Product Photography and Photogrammetry!
on October 30, 2017
I've now owned these for 1 year and they're still running strong! I had my doubts because of the other reviews I saw but idk, maybe I got lucky? Mine have been working perfectly. I've been using them on a fairly regular basis and even the original light bulbs are all still working, which: that has honestly surprised me.
I just bought another set! The new set all works just fine, though I have noticed that on the newer "model" (I guess), the switches seem different. Not as fluid as the older switches. As in, the newer switches seem like they are "sticky" or just harder to press. Honestly that's not even a big deal, just something I noticed was different from the original kit.
Another difference I noticed and something I consider to be an upgrade on the newer kit, is that they use heavier duty tripods for ALL of the lights instead of just the light with the "boom arm." This is a big plus for me, since the older light stands that held the vertical lights seemed to be kind of cheap. The new tightening brackets on the new stands are higher quality as well. They look bulkier and just seem like they'll last a much longer time.
The light tones DO match the old light tones exactly, which is a huge plus for me, as I'll be using the new and the old ones in the same space (so I really didn't want two different colors of lights). This is especially essential for my photogrammetry! I use a particular method of photogrammetry that I cam up with that allows me to flip an object in multiple directions and still align perfectly upon processing. The one requirement is that it have even lighting (of the same color) across the entire object.
I also love the fact that these, even though they are at a low price, still come with fuses for the light outlet module! So if anything does happen to them, I can most likely just replace the fuse and continue working with them :) But using the fluorescent light bulbs that it comes with, I don't think there's any risk of that happening. You may have to worry about that if you switch out the light bulbs with incandescent bulbsl, which yeah, if you're using these for portrait photography, you'll definitely want to use a full-frame camera to let in that extra light AND you might consider replacing the bulbs with more powerful ones. The bulbs these come with are perfect for product photography, photogrammetry or other stationary subjects where you can have the camera on a tripod and use a slow shutter speed with low ISO.
As you can see in the photo, I'm not using the "boom" lights right now, but I switch them in and out all the time depending on what I'm shooting. So I do use them.
Summing up (plus additional) Pros and Cons:
- Distributes light evenly - great for product photography, photogrammetry, lighting green screens evenly, etc.
- Sturdy build quality, especially with the newer kit. The one I bought 1 year ago was not as sturdy.
- Long-lasting light bulbs.
- Long lasting light bulb outlet module.
- Includes fuses for light bulb outlet module.
- Fairly intuitive to put together but it can take time/futzing - I didn't need to read the instructions to figure it out, and I had never (personally) owned a softbox before buying these, though I had worked with some super expensive ones - but those used a different method to put them together.
- Even the carrying case seems like a nice quality. I have moved these around a lot and the case still looks like new.
- You can easily access the light bulbs from the back, so if one bulb goes out, you don't have to disassemble the entire soft box to change the bulb out (see photos).
- You can vent out some of the heat by taping the top flap open (towards the back of the soft box) - just undo the velcro there and pull it open. NOTE: This will also reduce the amount of light coming out of the front by a little bit and I don't think the heat is a big issue. I've kept mine closed for a year and they still work fine. So I'd advise against venting it unless maybe you've switched the bulbs with hotter bulbs.
- I noticed on the new soft boxes, they are a little bit more difficult to put together than the old one. The softbox, even though it's the same size as the older ones, seems a little bit tighter. Give yourself about 2-4 minutes per softbox to get it fully put together.
- While the "boom" light IS strong enough to hold the light fully extended, the small bag that is included cannot hold very much. So you can 1. Get some small, heavy lead weights or something to put in that bag or 2. do like I do and use a separate bag (backpack, night-bag, etc) with weights in it. Again, the tripod DOES appear to be strong enough to handle the weight. I have used the boom light fully extended on several occasions with no problems at all, but I do use a night-bag filled with weights instead of the bag that came with the kit.
Even though it's got a couple of "cons," for the price, I don't think these can be beat. I did quite a bit of research 1 year ago and even more research this year before purchasing these. They still seem to give you the most wattage-output for your buck. I'm really happy with this purchase and I think that these will last me a really long time :)
Extra note: If you're wondering what I've taped onto the front of each soft box, it's a linear polarizing sheet. This allows me to polarize each light so I can use circular polarizing filters on each of my 3 cameras to reduce and almost entirely eliminate reflections on reflective objects. The two images attached show Before (highly reflective, without the use of polarization) and After (with the use of polarization to remove reflections) photos of a highly reflective hammer just to get the idea across. If you're interested in doing something similar, just google "Polarizing sheet" and search for by-the-foot sales. I paid $15/foot. Each soft box will require a 17"x24" sheet. I recommend attaching it with black duct tape, as that has worked well for me.
Hope this is helpful!