Review: Foldio2 by orangemonkie

Welcome to another review on the Workshop! Today I’m taking a look at the portable light box Foldio2, released recently through a Kickstarter campaign by orangemonkie. You may remember that I have reviewed the first model as well – this version has quite a few improvements and changes based on the feedback received for the previous model, so check out what I think about this product after the jump.

I took my photos to show an unboxing and review so let’s get right to the core.

Box Contents:

First impression:

Straight off the packaging you immediately realize how massive this box is. It appears a lot of the feedback to orangemonkie came from people who are in the miniatures hobby who demanded a larger box for larger minis. In terms of volume the Foldio2 is more than triple the size of the original Foldio, with all sides increasing in length from 10″ to 15″. This is quite a difference. Next in line is the material of the box – this time the box is made of semi-transparent plastic similar to elementary school arts bags we used to have which can only work in favor of lighting. And another great addition is the carry handle on one of the smaller surfaces.

However not everything in this first impression is positive. Upon opening the sides of the cube to assemble I was greeted with this little problem:

While it’s a minor nuisance it’s still a point to be aware of – this probably explains the extra stickers that come in the package. The magnets are very strong indeed and it may be prudent to be careful when disassembling the box for future use.

Moving on. Next up I wanted to prop up the box to see if everything works in order.

Setting up:

After a little testing of the electrical equipment I assembled the box fully to see how it works on the bench and it seems that the problem with the first Foldio persists – the sides buckle inwards either from the force of the magnets or simple because they’re not sturdy enough to pull back the other flaps to form a perfect cube. Not a huge problem but again, it’s different from what is advertised in the Kickstarter page. Perhaps this can be avoided by opening the middle flap way out to create some material memory but you still have to disassemble and fold back in so that’s out the window. Oh well. Another issue was the magnetic strip that holds your props. It is cleverly hidden on the top flap on the other side of where the backdrops are held – it would have been easier to locate if it was mentioned in the manual.

The LEDs are pretty much the showstopper here as they come with dimmers which would help a lot with photographers who want to control the lighting. They’re powered through an outlet this time – the first Foldio used 9V batteries that stuck on the magnets for each LED strip it came with. This cuts down on mobility as you can’t set the box absolutely everywhere but since you’ll be indoors most of the time this shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, outlets don’t run out of juice!

Now that the box is ready, let’s try out the backdrops and take some minis for test shots.

Backdrops and test shots:

The backdrops are very different from what Foldio offered. They seems to be a combination of crafts paper and dyed felt surface, which allows for very flexible fabric to work with. The original colors in Foldio could be considered as grey, off-white and very dark grey and this time the colors are pretty much what you would expect from white and black backdrops. The white one seems to be completely made of crafting paper which is troubling as the first time I assembled it with the box I got lots of creases in the background. If you want to work with white, consider setting up your own. The grey and the black work beautifully. Did not try the green but like the white one I reckon it will show creases the way it’s packaged in the box. This instead of curling it around the light box I recommend keeping your backdrops rolled inward in a separate carrying solution.

Here’s a few shots of the Lychguard with the black and white background:

As can be seen I’m still struggling how to shoot in black and white backgrounds but I’m learning. The light box is great at illuminating the mini and if you can set up your camera correctly you can get quality photos with it. At this point I also have to say that orangemonkie claims there will be a Foldio app for the iOS app store and later on, in the Android app store as well. It’s not there yet, so we’re waiting patiently. Update! The app is finally out as of August 4th. It seems to have all the functions you would expect of a specialized camera app like changing focus and white balance as well as changing the warmth of the light by sliding your finger, so I need to delve a little deeper and talk about the functions.

That said, here’s my tally of pros and cons for Foldio2 (including improvements over the original Foldio):

+ Pros:

  • Bigger in size to accommodate larger miniatures
  • Semi-transparent material that helps with extra lighting from the sides
  • Also sturdier material compared to Foldio1
  • Carry case and box has handles and openings for ease of carry
  • LEDs have dimmers for light control
  • Stronger colored backgrounds that absorb light
  • Much smaller holes in the back when fully assembled
  • Outlet powered instead of batteries. No more running out of power
  • Backdrops held with another magnetic strip instead of going into a groove on the back, more stability

– Cons:

  • Price ($75 currently on pre-order)
  • Like Foldio1 the sides buckle inwards when fully assembled
  • Some magnets seem to prove too strong for the stickers that conceal them
  • Backdrops are very thin that create creases if stored over the light box like orangemonkie suggests
  • Carry bags are tight fits, may tear with extensive use
  • Outlet powered means less mobility but should not be too much of a problem
  • Only the pre-order version has diffusers built in to the box.

At the Kickstarter price this product is a solid buy and a vast improvement over the original Foldio but the current pricing is still a little too high for the quality you receive. There are similar products on the market and I would very much like to hear from you if you’ve used them. I have to say I don’t foresee droves of people jumping on the bandwagon to buy Foldio2. After all, this is still a box with inbuilt lighting mechanics and you can always build one yourself with modular lighting. Aside from the slight problems I’ve mentioned above, this is a solid one-time solution you can definitely consider.

Reception: ♦♦♦♦◊ Good

Here’s the link for the pre-order site for Foldio2.

Hope you enjoyed the review and let me know what you think in the comments.

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9 comments

  1. Thanks for the review Roemer. I had a loose magnet as well. I tried to guess where to stick it.

    I’m really surprised they didn’t come up with a better solution for mounting the lights. With so much attention to magnets, you’d think they’d just put a few more in and let the lights snap to them….actually that’s a good idea, I might do that!

    I found that by changing the arrangement of the side flaps (when setting it up), I was able to get more stability. One issue with this thing…if you are like me, and leave it sitting out and open for mini photos…BLOCK THE ENTRANCE IF YOU HAVE A CAT.

    There is cat hair EVERYWHERE because my Render decided he would have a nice sleep inside….

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    1. I went ahead with the default settings and you know what – you’re right about the magnets and you should totally try the setup. Let us know how that works!

      Luckily all we got is Cek, the Red Weaver finch. And he’s rather fond of his home and nothing else – to my luck! I will remember to have everything safely tucked away though.

      Oh and Render is an awesome name!

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      1. Will get to that after I have the next two weeks of craziness! Thanks! Render’s name comes from the “rendering” i would do back in the day when I was a 3D designer. Seemed appropriate.

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  2. Thanks for the review. It is good food for thought. Right now I am using a white shelf with a white curtain for my photos. The lighting is suspect so I really want to work with a better studio.

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    1. If you’re not space deficient or do not have to relocate your working space like I do then by all means the white curtain is a good substitute to a lightbox. As long as the fabric is of the kind that does not reflect light of course. It’s a good idea to invest in some cheap lamps like I did, I have 2 Tertial lamps from Ikea which I got for something like 10 bucks total, add to them some daylight lamps and you’re good to go.

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    1. Hey sonc. There are plenty of lightbox alternatives on Amazon with different prices – I haven’t reviewed those as this is the first one I bought and liked using. You can also build your own box with cardboard and either white cloth or transparent paper (tracing paper for example).

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