Tuesday, May 3, 2011

[Lantz's Corner] Lightbox Review

Lightboxes are an important tool for any of us hobbyists that are also completionists. You've clipped, glued, painted, based, varnished and anti-shined each and every model in your unit and finally it's time to show it off. I'm starting to come across this situation pretty regularly as of late, and so I first set out to build my own lightbox. It wasn't that hard of a task, but unfortunately my cardboard skills aren't as fantastical as my plastic and resin skills as a couple of months after use it was starting to fall apart. It was then I noticed a lightbox kit on sale from eBay. More after the break.

At the time of my search this thing was $29.99 with $9.99 for shipping, but it looks like the price has raised about three dollars. So overall, more expensive than a DIY lightbox. But having failed at my last attempt for a DIY lightbox, I decided I would try my luck on this product lest I waste another $25 bucks attempting one myself, again. So what does it all come with?

This item includes the following:
  • 1 Lightbox
  • 4 different colored backdrops
  • 2 lights
  • 1 tripod
  • 1 carrying case
Upon delivery, I pulled this thing out of the box and was a tad confused. All I seemed to have gotten was a pretty tough/well-made carrying case. I thought, surely not everything fits into this thin little bag:

But sure enough it does. And quite brilliantly, too. The front pockets contain the lights and the tripod and to my surprise, the lightbox is the case. It folds out into the following form:

This is surprisingly sturdy, using a sort of bendable plastic for the frame of each side and a stretchable white fabric for the sides themselves. The back of the light box is the carrying case folded together, which holds sturdy as well. The backdrops that are included are your choices of white, black, red or blue and all come in resealable plastic bags:

As for the lights, both seem surprisingly well made and have spring-loaded legs that retract for portability:

The lights are also surprisingly bright. A note, though. If left on for a while these things get very hot:

I use my phone to take pictures for the time being so the tripod didn't interest me, for others out there this thing comes in two pieces and is a mix of metal and hard plastic:

When setup, there are many options for height and tilt. It seemed like it would be too top-heavy since the legs only spread out in one direction, but the legs are quite heavy and I believe this would be stable for most medium-weight cameras out there:

So how are the pictures? Using only the two lights it came with, the pictures came out a tad dark for me. Bear in mind, I'm using a phone with no options and that is two years old; so take all of this with a grain of salt. What I ended up doing is taking another lamp I had lying around and placing it on top of the light box which resulted in the following picture (sorry, I didn't have any finished models with me:)

Any additional lamps can be added, of course. I even added two more lights on the sides, but this ended up being overkill. So really only one more light should be needed at most, unless you have a good camera that can have settings changed on it for brightness and sharpness:

Cheap pricing
Durable and well-constructed
Storage bag leaves you with lots of room when lightbox is not in use

May need additional lighting

Maybe it was because for the price tag I had overwhelmingly low expectations, but I was blown away by this purchase. Everything seems well constructed along with the lights that were brighter than what I was expecting. Even with the three dollar increase, I'd still pay for this thing if I hadn't already. For those of you without a lightbox or with a DIY that is in shambles, this is definitely worth a look.

~Lantz aka Sinaura


  1. I ended up buying the exact same lightbox a couple of weeks ago, and have been just as pleased with it. It's really improved the quality of my pictures (though I don't take them quite as often thanks to the minor hassle of needing to set everything up).

  2. Hi Lantz,
    I have the same lightbox (purchased it via Amazon a while ago) and agree with you that the lamps get VERY hot after a while and that additional lights are required.
    Even though they look bright (and get hot) the light isn't sufficient enough. By now I use my normal desk lamp for an overhead light plus I have an additional LED light that I usually place right below the camera, adding some "bottom" light...the results are now a lot better.
    All in all a very good purchase :)

  3. I have the same kit and I love it. The only thing I added was using my painting lamp as a top light source, but overall I love this product!