A Solution for Lighting

For quite some time I wanted to get myself a proper light box to get better photos of the miniatures I work on and one time I even built one from scratch, using a cardboard box and some copying paper for sides. While it was adequate for diffusing light, it was still bulky (no way to carry it around) and quite fragile due to the paper sides that could just break any time. Then last week it got thrashed by the cleaning lady and pretty much became useless. So, I looked around for a mobile alternative and found Foldio, by orangemonkie and ordered one to see how it works. Find out what I think about the product after the jump.

Before getting myself hooked up with the product I searched around the hobby blogs to see what other people’s solutions were to this particular problem. Most people go with a scratch built box which they stuff somewhere until needed, others get themselves a complete solution with light reflectors and remote flashers etc. For me the key point was ease of use and being able to set up fast as I do not have a dedicated workspace for the minis, let alone photography. On quite a few blogs I saw praise for Foldio and long story short, I decided to give it a spin.

I got the package yesterday by post (ordered on Monday) and was quite impressed by how fast they delivered. I guess the Express shipping option really paid off. Thank you DHL delivery guy!

The version I purchased was the 2-LED variant. The single LED variant seemed to be a bit dark comparatively. However, for testing I only bought a single 9V battery, while the box requires 2 to be fully lit. Silly me.

Very first impression: The device is a lot bigger than I imagined. When I saw the intro videos on the site it seemed that only the tiniest of items can be photographed in this booth, but I was mistaken. Sure, the site gives you dimensions and you can always measure it in the air with a ruler but it definitely gives a better vibe when you unbox the item itself and set it up. It’s as easy to set up as portrayed on the company website, which is a huge bonus for mobility and ease of use.

Foldio comes with 3 different colored backdrops: white, gray and black. I think I’ll use my own backdrops with textures and hellish landscapes for a majority of models but for smaller ones for money shots or perhaps WIP pictures I foresee using the white one often. All backdrops are made of a soft felt product (I can’t quite name what it is) that absorb light very nicely and do not get creased when bent to extremes (they even come fully bent in the package).

Well, now that it’s all set up it’s time to put it to use! Along with the DSLR camera I got this light box should complement the photography of all my models quite nicely. I immediately went about taking the pics in the new box and check the results. I used both the DSLR and my iPhone to compare. I’ll let you be the judge, but be reminded that I’m still quite the amateur with the DSLR… I’ll leave my wife to handle that!

iPhone:

DSLR:

Here’s my list of pros and cons:

Pros:

  • The product is very light and sturdy. Works very well if you have an appropriately sized bag to carry it around.
  • Very easy to set up. Even without the manual you can fiddle with it and figure out what goes where. Idiot-proof.
  • Even with one LED it gives off enough light for an infantry miniature. You can always set up new lights directed at the model.
  • The backdrops do not move around when you reposition the device.

Cons:

  • The box has quite a few holes in the back when fully assembled, which may disrupt with shots that are not up close.
  • The carrying bag is a very tight fit. I can foresee rips on the sides after some extensive use. Not the best material used in it either.
  • While one LED is enough, you definitely want to have 2 stripes just to have those better lighting conditions. Not a con, really, but a warning.
  • The price is a bit steep. And combined with the bullet before, you really want to get the second variant which doesn’t leave you much choice.
  • While adequately big for smaller minis, anything bigger than the Dreadknight (maybe a Maulerfiend, will see) will have trouble fitting. My Heldrake certainly didn’t fit.

All in all I consider this an OK investment. While at $59 plus cargo it’s certainly not cheap, the results are satisfactory. Recommended to any hobby enthusiast for taking pictures of your smaller miniatures (or other smaller items), especially with non-professional devices like phone cameras. If you work with titans and larger models however, look elsewhere.

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One comment

  1. This is great. I’ve been curious about this for a very long time. It looked like a good investment, but I was always curious on the size. I wonder if they plan on making a larger one. I’ve got a lot of tanks!

    I think working with the different backdrops may give you better results. James Wrappel recently had a post a few weeks ago where he showed you the effect of backdrop color on the models. You may find it really interesting if you missed it!
    http://wappellious.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-friendly-skies.html

    With DSLR, I find the most important things are when photoing mini’s
    1) Tripod
    2) Remote shutter device (can get very cheap)
    3) Aperture mode

    The tripod and remote shutter devices allow you to prevent any type of minor vibration from effecting the photograph. Generally this isn’t a big deal, but when you are taking photos of tiny things, even the tiniest vibration (touching the shutter on a tripod), will give you a less then satisfactory image.

    Aperture mode allows you to allow the maximum light to come in, without going to higher ISO’s, or using the flash. It also creates a lovely depth of field (blurred background), which helps mini details pop.

    Generally this also requires that the shutter be open longer then normal, which goes back to the tripod and remote shutter release device.

    Like

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