The moment I have been waiting for, my Samatian Photo Box is finally here!
Photoboxes (a.k.a. lightboxes or light tents) are an excellent way to control the lighting and reflections for simple photos of small items. If you display or sell products online, the consistency will help add a touch of professionalism.
Reasons I chose the 24″x24″x24″ Samtian Professional Light Box
Lighting Control: The reflective insides of the Samtian Photo Box help provide good lighting for the smaller items. (This was a problem with my previous 30″ Square Perfect Photography Light Tent, which had thin sides for outside lights to shine through.)
The two LED lights (which attach to the frame and fit inside the box) have a dimmer to help control brightness AND it includes a thin sheet that can be used to help diffuse the lighting within the box. This thin sheet has a hole in the center so you can still open the flap to take pictures from the top of the box.
Reflection Control: If you are photographing t-shirts or children, your money may be better invested in lighting and props. But about half the products I photograph are in highly reflective glass or aluminum containers. I like that the Samtian Professional Lightbox has reflective insides (to pick up colors from my backdrop and the product itself) and that it has four small flaps for me to poke my camera lens in for pictures.
Even if your photo subjects are not highly reflective, you would be surprised how much of a color cast will show up on, say, a matte piece of white plastic.
Size: The ideal photo tent will be significantly bigger than the items you are photographing, but not huge.
Most of the items I photograph are between 4 and 12 inches and reflective. The reflectivity means I have to keep the front flap closed, which brings me closer to the subject. The closer I am, the more distortion I notice on larger items. This distortion is caused by a combination of my camera and how close I have to be for it to look through the hole in the photo tent.
I can photograph less reflective items up to 18 inches if I leave the front of the photo tent open. The lighting is not as good when you put an 18-inch item in a 24-inch tent, but it is still good.
Easier to clean insides and backgrounds: My previous photo tent had velvety inserts that looked great when they were new! But over time, some of them got so stained that could no longer use them. (I ended up getting a pack of large white cardstock to use as a disposable backdrop.)
The Samtian backgrounds are made of an easy to clean, flexible matte plastic. (or some material similar to plastic?) The darker colored inserts are more reflective than I would like. I may end up making a fabric cover for the black one. But so far they have been easy to clean!
Why you need a photo tent
“Need” is a strong word. But did you know that some third party selling websites, such as Amazon, require your product to be isolated on a solid white background? This task becomes much easier when pictures are taken on a clean background to start with.
Even when setting up small scenes, such as posed children’s toys or a prepared plate of food, it can be nice to have a clean, clutter-free background.
Your camera is probably going to work against you! Assuming you have your camera set on auto, it is going to try to adjust your lighting. White backgrounds will come out light gray and black backgrounds will come out dark gray. Your photos will still benefit from a quick trip to your favorite photo editing software.
One size does not fit all. As mentioned before, you will want a lightbox that is significantly bigger than the items you are photographing. Lightboxes come in a wide variety of sizes – even big enough for adults or cars! But bigger tents can get very expensive. And a tent optimized to give a clear picture of a car is not going to be very good for close-up jewelry photography.
The atmosphere just isn’t there. For product photography, more natural backgrounds and images of the item in use will help viewers imagine how your product would fit in their own lives. Photo tents will be great for getting detailed close-up product images. But you should strongly consider taking some in-use pictures or letting customers share their own photos.
And as neat as it would be to get a picture of people or pets isolated on a solid white background, more feelings will be sparked and memories made when you capture them in more natural settings.