Folksy Ltd

Light box advice

I’m looking into buying a small light box / light tent with daylight lamps. They’re not very expensive on eBay, but before I buy I wondered what advice you lovely lot can give me - what type you have, what problems you ran into, how easy it is to get replacement bulbs and anything else you can think of!

These are the two I’m considering, with a preference at the moment for the first one with solid sides, although I’m not sure if that will stop the light from coming through as much.

I bought the second one, but to be honest I hardly ever use it and it’s now up in the loft! I just found it all a bit of a faff and have gone back to using 2 sheets of white mountboard in front of a window! Not much help, sorry! :smile:

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I bought the pop up light box (2nd photo) I love it and wouldn’t be without it now.
It was quite tricky to fold away at first but once you get the knack it’s easy peasy :blush:

I did bodge when buying the daylight lamp though. I got a cheap one from eBay. It worked fine at first but then refused to charge up. My father in law nearly blew a gasket when he looked at the tiny plug attached. Apparently it wasn’t very safe and not to standard. Slapped wrist for me :wink:

I guess you get what you pay for sometimes.

I would have loved the bigger kit which came with stand up lamps, but I just don’t have the space for it all.


I have the first type but never use it any more. It seems to turn out rather dark pictures and the lights get so hot that you can burn yourself if you’re not careful. Some people replace the bulbs provided with proper daylight bulbs which probably give a better effect but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra expense. Like Christine I just use white card and natural daylight.
My advice - save your money!

Bit of a theme occuring here - I’ve got one of the pop up tents available to me (its actually the other half’s) but I don’t use it as I found it too cumbersome. It some how managed to be both too big and too small at the same time and setting up items inside it was a faff (felt like a kid clambering around in a play tent). I use a couple of bits of card covered in foil as reflectors and a semi rigid diffuser as required.
I am thinking about sorting out some sort of lighting rig but you do need to be careful about the colour balance of the bulbs. (different types of daylight balanced bulbs have different proportions of light in different bits of the spectrum balanced to achieve the same overall colour but this alters the behaviour of certain types of gemstone (eg opal) and I’m still researching what would be best for me but probably less applicable to your art)

This is really interesting! I currently use white foam core mountboard as a reflector (the foam core one has a slight shine to it which helps), a window and a sheet of tissue paper if it’s really sunny.

My problem is on dark days when there’s nothing coming through the window. Perhaps I just need the daylight lamp in combination with my current set up then.

Karen @karenscraftybitz did you replace the cheap lamp?

I bought lamps and tent . Didn’t get on with the tent at all and passed it on .
I still use the lamps with a variety of foil wrapped boards and white tissue paper.

My lamps have big daylight coil bulbs - they have lasted years (which is just aswell as I bet they will be really hard to replace.

I later bought a really expensive Cloud Dome system, which I also don’t get along with (reflective textured jewellery is pain to photograph)

I use my set up in front of a window with the camera mounted on a tripod with a shutter release cable - on dark days I increase the exposure as required and accept that the tripod and shutter release cable will keep everything stationary for the duration of the long exposure.

I also have the pop up tent - used it for a while but it was too small for a lot of my things and having spent ages getting a set up for the larger times I no longer use the tent even for the smaller things. I am thinking of investing in some daylight lamps but am waiting to see how difficult it is to get decent photos through the winter first.

I have a popup tent too and haven’t really got on with it either… for most things I use a scoop of paper with boards covered with crumpled foil as reflectors. For the small shiny glass things where reflections are a problem I have a Lightcase which I just find more convenient than the popup tent. Although they are pricey for what they are I think, I got mine cheaper via the kickstarter campaign.

If/when I get into bigger shiny things I might have to give the popup tent another try but until then…

I have the Sanoto mini light box which I bought from ebay at a cost of I think £50 and it’s great for small items of jewellery. It has a light in the box and came with a spare one too. I like it because you don’t have to fold it up or anything, was easy to put together in 10 minutes and you just plug it in.

I bought the first one some time ago. I don’t always use the light and tend to photograph my things in the conservatory on a good sunny day hence why I don’t use the lights. As for getting new bulbs it could be quite difficult as I drop one of mine and tried to get a new bulb from a photographers but they didn’t stick them. I suppose though you could get them on eBay. I only got a blue and white background with mine but have plenty of fabric to make others. I find it a little small for some of my larger items so if the second one is taller then I would go for that, which I should have done in the first place.
The camera stand is a bit fiddly when your trying to put it together but that’s a minor problem.
I can’t really fault it aperture from it been a bit small. Itis handy to have, so I hope this helps you decide on which one.

@StephanieGuy No I haven’t replaced the lamp, and to be honest I haven’t missed it over the summer months. I get really good light in my bedroom so I’ve just been using the pop up tent. I find the tent softens the shadows. I love my tent… A real bargain too.

I may struggle without the lamp now the days are short & gloomy.


Hi - I’ve used a number of light tents in professional product photography. The first one is cheap and simple but I’d say the lamps are not really up to the job - they are not really capable of lighting the wall of the tent at sufficient intensity to use a low ISO and small aperture on your camera - they also tend to run rather hot and have fiddly stands that can bite you when you’re trying to make the feet pop out. The tent itself is OK and it comes with some coloured fabric but you could do as many others here have done and build a simple rig of your own using white foam board with a translucent window to light it or go for one of the other tents made of translucent plastic. You can’t beat a proper flash as it provides so much more creative control. A tent is very useful for photographing small items evenly but I’ve also used a paper roll backdrop and supported products on glass - you just need to watch out for reflections in the object you’re photographing. The exact lighting you need depends on the effect you want to achieve but generally a large diffuse light source is the easiest to use and works well for most objects.

I use a spare shelf on our white bookcases and natural daylight (photo via link to my FB page) although I’m looking into getting a daylight bulb for one of our lamps for gloomy days. Obviously this wouldn’t work for large works of art (my largest cards are 8 inch square) but is OK for me, it’s cost me nothing extra and needs no storage (in fact it stores my wedding bouquet and a book folding project when it’s not a lightbox :slight_smile: )

I use 3 cheap box canvases to make a corner opposite a window. Seems to work fine.


Stephanie I would agree with most of the posts here. I bought the 2nd type - the pop up tent and 2 lights with daylight bulbs. I had to touch up most of the pictures in Photoshop i.e the white background came out greyish and I had a lot of shadows. Also the white background sheet provided with the tent had sort of flock/velvety texture which seemed to attract dust and small specks and I was constantly cleaning it with one of those sticky roller things :slight_smile:

I get best results from taking the photos in a window and I put a piece of white paper as the background. However, I am only able to do this since I moved house and have a large window that get’s a lot of natural light. The main reason I bought the light tent was that I lived in teeny flat with nowhere to take photos. I got the best results from the tent by taking it outside on a sunny day and not using the lights.

Sounds like what I’m already using is doing as good a job as one of these tents. I’m so glad I asked!

I’m wondering now whether one of these would help with reflection, they’re under £10 I imagine will be more effective than the foamboard. I’m still getting slight shadows around my frames.

I imagine will be more effective than the foamboard. I’m still getting slight shadows around my frames.

I don’t see slight shadows as a problem, it makes it look ‘real’. I’d try the cardboard covered with crumpled tin foil reflectors first before spending money (but I’m mean like that ;-))

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I’m with Helen - I don’t see light shadows as a problem the item is 3D after all. And speaking from experience coating bits of cardboard with something reflective (I have recycled used silver wrapping paper for this purpose) is more effective at reducing shadows than a piece of white cardboard so try the cheap option first and see if that works before buying the fancy umbrella.