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When it comes to photography, having a good camera is crucial. But with phone cameras getting better and better each year, everyone has a professional-grade camera in their pockets. So what sets a casual Insta brunch post apart from a magazine-worthy food photo? Lighting and staging are a big part of it, and photographers use accessories and tricks to get the best lighting possible in a setting that’s most flattering to their subject. If you’re a product photographer, you can enhance your photos with a lightbox. The best lightbox photography kits are an easy and relatively affordable way to take better photos.
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If you’re shopping online, you’ll notice that most retailers have their products on a white background. Having a white background allows your product to pop, and you’ll remove unwanted distractions in the background. If you have your own storefront, or you sell on a third-party marketplace like Etsy or eBay, a lightbox can make a bigger impact compared to your competitors. Photographing using a lightbox also reduces unwanted shadows, which also improves how your subject looks.
So what exactly is a lightbox? As the name suggests, a lightbox is a box with a light. It’s essentially a five-sided box, with an opening on one end for your camera. Lightboxes often have a curved wall from the top to bottom to the front, eliminating potentially distracting lines in the background. Lightboxes will also have a place for attaching a light for the clearest photo possible.
SPY’s Reviews Editor Anthony Mastracci has photographed a lot of products in his day, and he had some tips for using a lightbox and taking better photos. “Product photography has become SO incredibly easy in 2022 with high-quality phones and disappearing background apps. With a lightbox, you do gain an edge in the lighting department which ultimately enhances the overall definition of the product being shot.”
As for staging your product, Mastracci suggested “don’t be afraid to use props that are related to your product, but be aware of the spacial ratio. Negative space always makes a clean impact and you don’t want to detract from that too much.”
Beyond product photography, a lightbox can be great for art photography, flower photography, food photography and a range of other creative uses. And if your studio is also your apartment, lightboxes are often collapsible for easy storage and portability for on-the-go photo sessions. Here are a few lightbox photo kits you can buy online to get you started.
1. Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent with Dimmer
This option is one of B&H’s best sellers for lightboxes. It folds up neatly and is easy to set up, and there’s an adjustable opening for precise shooting. The interior of the cube is a reflective silver material, and the built-in lights consist of 156 LEDs, which are daylight-balanced. Black, white, green and gray backgrounds are also included.
2. Amazon Basics Portable Foldable Photo Studio Box
Amazon is the everything store, and Amazon Basics stocks, well, everything. That includes good value on photography equipment, too. This versatile foldable photo studio box has a narrow window, to reduce outside glare. Or, you can open it all the way. A drawback is that there is a crease in the back, which may need to be edited out depending on the photo. Likewise, some found that the lighting could have been more even.
3. Studio Essentials Pop-Up Shooting Tent
BEST POP-UP BOX
This affordable pop-up tent is easy to take on the go. It has a sturdy but flexible steel frame. Unlike the light boxes on this list, this pop-up tent doesn’t include lights. That may be a drawback for some, but the advantage is that you can add your own, higher-quality lighting or swap out the lighting as needed, making this a more versatile pick.
4. Foldio3 Studio Light Box
Though this is a more expensive option than some others, it comes with accessories to enhance your product photography. A turntable is included, allowing you to photograph your object from all angles, or create a video for an added wow factor. The lightbox opens and closes using magnets, making it easy to set up in seconds. Halo bars are also included, which are dimmable, movable LED lights.
5. Neewer Photo Studio Light Box
If you need to photograph larger objects, consider this option from Neewer. Its 24″ x 24″ size allows you to photograph more types of objects, but it folds flat for easy storage. Built-in LED lights make it easy to get the best lighting. The diffuser cloth allows you to change the lighting. Four backdrops are included.
6. Glendan Portable Photo Studio Light Box
This top-rated option is packable, making it easy to store and move as needed. There are also a variety of options available, depending on what you need to photograph. There’s a 10×10, 12×12, and 16×16. The window on top allows you to photograph at different angles. Plus, 6 waterproof PVC backdrops are included in different colors, allowing you to add an extra pop to your images. Though there are more premium options on the market, this is one of the most affordable picks.
7. Bower – Foldable Light Box Studio – White
This kit from Bower is one of the most affordable and simplest options to buy. It’s available with a range of backdrops, and it folds down to a compact size to take on the go. Like others on this list, this light box is equipped with its own lighting for ease of use.
8. Impact Digital Light Shed
A good pick for larger items is this digital light shed, which is 47″ x 47″ x 47″. It doesn’t have built-in lights, unlike the other light boxes on this list, so you’ll need to supply your own lighting as needed. There are multiple zippers throughout, allowing you to control the flow of outside light. A white fabric sweep and black fabric sweep are both included.
9. Replica Surfaces Photography Panels
BEST LIGHT BOX ALTERNATIVE
We recently discovered Replica Surfaces, and we’ve already started using them for product photography on SPY. While these panels don’t create an enclosed space, they do allow you to create hundreds of background surfaces and combinations for more professional-looking photography. You can choose an all-white background or opt for stylized backgrounds such as marble, subway tiles or natural wood.
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Read More: How To Take Better Photos With a Lightbox