Best Photo Studio Boxes
Images are a crucial part of any online product listing. A high-quality photo helps you put your best foot forward as a seller, showing customers everything your product has to offer and cultivating a trustworthy brand. However, having a professional take your photos can be expensive and time-consuming. Fortunately, photo studio boxes and light boxes make it possible to achieve professional-level product photography yourself, all without renting an expensive studio.
With more online purchases than ever, a good photo box can go a long way in helping you attract more customers. These boxes have a smooth white or neutral backdrop and a lighting mechanism to illuminate your product with diffused, natural-looking color. The result is a crisp, well-lit product that pops off a web page.
Types of Product Photography Studios
Photo studios for product photography go by many names, including photo boxes, light boxes and studio kits. Whatever name they take, they’re usually square-shaped and can vary in size to suit different products. Ideally, your light box will have a curved background called a sweep — so there are no seams or creases to avoid or edit out — and soft, evenly-spread lighting. It should also allow you to move or remove the walls to get the right shooting angles.
Light boxes can vary in how the lights are set up, what materials they use and their adjustability. Additionally, light boxes are very phone-friendly. A professional camera can help you get exceptional results, but many modern smartphones, when paired with good lighting, are all you need to capture stellar, high-quality photos.
With that in mind, here are a few different types of photo boxes:
- Foldable light boxes: As the name implies, these boxes fold up easily, making them great for shooting in various locations or storing in a small space. However, if the walls are made of thin fabric or easy-to-bend material, the box can tear or warp. Look for a more rigid material, like the plastic we use in our Foldio boxes. This plastic also works as a diffuser for the light.
- Edgeless boxes: A good photo box should have an edgeless backdrop, but not all of them do. If your box has visible seams on the background, you’ll need to get creative with angles or be prepared to edit them out of your photos. You could leave them in, but the lines can be distracting and make a photo look unprofessional. An edgeless box has a sweep, a backdrop that curves smoothly into the “floor” to eliminate shadows and lines. A sweep can make your item appear to float, which is perfect for online posts and further editing.
- Rigid boxes: Rigid boxes are sturdy but much less portable and flexible than foldable boxes. They might also be hard to store, move or otherwise use.
- Rotating boxes: A rotating platform inside your photo box opens up new possibilities. You can rotate your item in a short video, create an interactive 360-degree module or simply get another angle without disturbing the position of the product. You can place a turntable inside a photo studio box or use our unique Foldio360 Smart Dome for an edge-free photo studio — ideal for highly reflective, small or hard-to-shoot items.
Whatever the light box looks like, it should help you achieve even, natural-looking lighting and remove shadows.
How to Pick the Best Photo Box for You
Choosing the right photo box for your products isn’t always straightforward. You may shoot many types of items, and you might not know what the different features will do for your photos. Let’s go over some things you’ll want to consider before you buy a photo box.
1. Size and Style
Your box needs to fit your product comfortably so you can photograph it without catching the edges of the background in the frame. A larger box ensures you can work with more items, but a small box could be easier to store. A smaller 10-inch box might be well-suited to jewelry photos, but you’ll need something larger for a tall wine bottle or a pair of shoes.
Still, your item’s size won’t be the only factor in choosing a light box. You’ll also want to consider how portable you need it to be and what kind of style it is, such as rigid or foldable. A foldable box will be much more portable, and it might make a large box seem much less cumbersome by folding up into a discreet, flat panel. If you’ll be taking your photo box to multiple locations, make sure you look for a design that’s quick to set up and take down. Foldio, for example, uses magnets that easily click together.
Another element to consider is whether the box has a removable front cover. Some light boxes only have a small cutout for your camera, but this can limit your ability to get creative with different shooting angles. Look for a light box with a removable front cover.
2. Lighting Options
Photo studio boxes can come with a range of light configurations. They might use rings, panels, bars or strips. For product and food photography, diffused lighting is essential. In simple terms, when light moves directly from the source to the product, it’s harsher, showing off more imperfections and creating shadows and reflections.
Diffused lighting, on the other hand, causes the light to scatter across the surface for a smoother, more aesthetically pleasing image. Diffused light is why many photographers like to work on cloudy days — the clouds diffuse the sunlight.
Virtually every type of product photography benefits from diffused lighting, but this is especially true if you’re working with reflective items like jewelry or glass. Make sure your light box has this feature. By placing lightweight LED strips underneath the translucent wall material, our Foldio boxes effectively diffuse light throughout the box.
Some other factors to consider regarding the light source include:
- Additional lights: You might want to add more light with extra devices. A studio can allow you to attach extra lights anywhere on the frame and connect them to the overall light control system for ease of use. We offer magnetic Halo Bars that do just that to amp up your lighting.
- Dimmable: “On” and “off” aren’t enough for most photographers. Dimmable lights give you much more control over this setting, and you can even achieve some cinematic effects with it. Pair these with a turntable for more dramatic, appealing videos and photos.
- Light temperature: Light temperatures run on a spectrum from warm to cool, and choosing the right one helps you represent your product as accurately as possible. Some boxes with LED lighting allow you to adjust the temperature across the entire spectrum for small adjustments or creative effects. A cool tone might look great on a winter ad for an icy blue gemstone, but natural colors are usually best for product listings. For studios with a fixed light temperature, look for one in the daylight range — about 5,000 Kelvin or higher.
Since product photography is so focused on the tiny details of your item, even the most subtle lighting effects will have a big impact. A light box helps you create the best environment for it.
Photo studio boxes use an array of materials for the outer walls and the backdrop. Some use reflective, foil-like materials to reflect light throughout the box, but they can look harsh or shadowy without appropriate diffusion. If you’re using a lot of equipment or shooting for a long time, they might also trap heat in the box. Foldio studio kits use a semi-translucent white wall that works as a diffuser to spread the light across the area of the box.
The material of your photo box can also affect its durability. A fabric box might tear or rip, but that’s much harder to do with a solid plastic material. These materials are also non-porous and easy to clean. This is especially helpful if you do food and drink photography. You can simply wipe up splashes and spills and keep shooting.
Another material to consider is the backdrop. Make sure it is non-reflective and won’t distract from your products.
Most photo light boxes are stationary — you simply place your item and shoot. A rotating turntable — either as a standalone tool or part of our smart dome — adds a whole new element to your photoshoots. If you want to show your buyers more of your product, create dynamic video or interactive elements, a turntable is a must-have.
5. Available Accessories
Lastly, consider what kinds of accessories are available for your photo studio box. Consider backdrops, tripods, filters, additional lights and any other tools you want to have in your setup.
Here are some accessories to look for:
- Backdrops: Photo boxes are fairly unique in their designs, so you’ll generally need to get backdrops that are specifically fit for the frame. Look for a studio that offers additional colors, particularly green and black. Green backdrops can be keyed out for easy editing, and black backdrops are useful to prevent washing out a light-colored item. Other great colors to have are neutral tones and textures.
- A companion app: Consider whether your light box has a companion app, too. The Foldio360 Smart Dome, for instance, allows you to control the brightness, color temperature, turntable position and much more from within the app for streamlined product photography. Phone controls are easy and intuitive and can help you through the 360-degree shooting process, all without wires.
- Tripods and mounts: Fit your phone or camera precisely to the height and angle of your studio with these accessories.
- Power adapters: Make sure you have the right kind of adapter for your country’s power outlets. If you plan to take product photos internationally, ensure you can get an adapter for the system.
Which Photo Boxes Provide the Best Quality?
While the right photo box for you will vary based on your kind of work, there are a few elements that every product photographer needs to achieve high-quality photos.
Color Rendering Index
For starters, you’ll need a product with a strong color rendering index (CRI). The closer this value is to 100, the more accurately it reflects natural light. For some applications, like lighting a home, this isn’t too important, but it’s critical for food and product photography. You want a studio light to have a CRI of at least 95.
Your images will look more professional when they’re consistent. A high-quality photo studio should offer consistent lighting every time — bonus points if it helps you position your items appropriately. The Foldio360 app has tools to help you center your items, move them around and line them up for 360-degree video, so you can ensure everything matches up correctly and is well-framed.
In general, the main goal of a light box is to eliminate shadows. Whatever your studio looks like, it should meet this demand. Shadows can add harsh lights and unwanted contrast to your item. More light fills in that harshness and illuminates all of the details of your product.
Say you’re shooting an ad for a smoothie, but the height of the glass is casting a long shadow on the fruits and other ingredients you have laid out. Light boxes use a combination of features to reduce shadows, like diffused light and light sources that hit the item from all angles.
Similarly, your light box should help you minimize reflections. You don’t want to see your camera lens reflected back at you in something shiny. Whether that’s metal, glass, plastic or something else, the diffused lighting of a studio box can also reduce these reflections. You’ll also want to make sure you have the freedom to find alternative angles and avoid configurations that create sharp reflections. Removable front covers, matte backdrops and boxes you can flip on their sides can help.
ORANGEMONKIE, INC All-in-One Photo Studios
At first, product photography might look like a simple point-and-shoot operation, but if you’ve tried it, you’ve seen just how much work actually goes into it. An all-in-one light box is an ideal solution for product or food photography, helping you address everything from the right light source to diffusion and positioning your items.
ORANGEMONKIE, INC was the first company to create the foldable photo studio. Since then, we’ve perfected the design with three versatile Foldio studios, the Foldio360 turntable and the Foldio360 Smart Dome. Whether you’re looking for a simple stage for your items or a comprehensive platform for fast, creative product and food photography, ORANGEMONKIE, INC has you covered.
Explore these photo studios and accessories and start leveling up your photos today. For photography news and ORANGEMONKIE, INC updates, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with your email address!