Light tents, which are also known as light or bright boxes, can be a very useful solution to provide soft and even lighting. Most commonly light tents are used in product photography where consistent lighting is needed. This is why many people who sell products online use a light tent which can be easily set up and broken down, while also providing a streamlined workflow.
Light tents work so well because they generally have diffused panels from which light can be nicely defused from both sides, the top, and the back. They work well with extremely cheap lighting setups as they don’t need a huge amount of light intensity. But, this point also means you may have to play around a bit with your white balance settings.
Another plus point is that these solutions are inexpensive. Even the professional branded versions are affordable and can be supplied with a bunch of accessories such as colored backgrounds.
However, one of the most commonly asked questions is why use one in the first place? One of the main points is the consistency of lighting. Once set up with your ideal camera settings, it’s a simple matter of rinse and repeat, which is ideal for shooting lots of products.
A light tent is also key for eliminating shadows. You only have to check out a few sample products with white backgrounds on popular selling websites to see a light tent in action. These are simple to use and are often the easiest methods to capture these types of images.
The more creative-minded out there will already be thinking they could simply DIY one of the products below. While this is totally feasible, a commercial version is simply more durable, lasts longer, and has the ideal light temperature of diffusion. In other words, for the minimal price, a light tent is worth the investment if you plan to shoot products on a regular basis.
1. MyStudio MS20J Table Top Photo Studio Lightbox (Overall Winner)
The MyStudio MS20J Table Top Photo Studio Lightbox kit has everything you need for a professional light tent set up. The kit consists of a 20″x20″x12″ cyclorama seamless infinity background, adjustable height light stand, overhead reflector, two bounce cards, and fluorescent light. Also included in this kit are a bunch of accessories for displaying jewelry if that is your outlet.
The seamless background with its curved corners is the standout part, feeling like a mini version of a professional studio. Light is nicely diffused around the area, which works for small to medium-sized products. Plus, the open design allows shooting from many angles, which is ideal for multiple shots of the product.
This isn’t a cheap light tent, but it does have everything you need for product photography wrapped in a professional solution.
The AmazonBasics Portable Foldable Photo Studio Box with LED Light kit is far from being a basic item. In reality, this product is a professional solution. With 25x30x25 inch dimensions, it has plenty of space for most types of products.
The tent itself can be easily folded down flat with its own carry handles and also has built-in LED lights with a 5600k daylight temperature. Although the light source comes from the top of the tent, products on the whole are evenly lit, with the options to have a fully open front or to shoot through the built-in spy holes.
One negative point is that the background can be easily creased, so a lot of care and attention is needed with ongoing use. In every other case, this is a well thought out, all-encompassing solution for shooting products.
The FOSITAN 16x16x16 Portable Photo Studio is another take on the self-contained box with built-in lighting. This version measures 16x16x16 inches, with a highly reflective inner structure and 84 LED lights controlled by a dimmer. There are also multiple shooting holes for capturing images from different angles. The package includes six colored backgrounds and diffuser cloth.
The whole setup makes it very easy to snap professional level images with a DSLR or smartphone, with evenly spread lighting. The built-in dimmer is a useful addition if the light intensity is too strong for highly reflective surfaces.
Overall, this a respectable design if you want an all-encompassing light tent with built-in lighting.
The PULUZ 31cm Ring Light Photo Studio Light Box takes the stance of having a completely open front, with a built-in 80 piece ring of LED lights. Each side of the box is rounded out for easier side shots and if you need to adjust the color temperature, there are three settings for white, soft, and warm lighting.
There are six colored backdrops included, with the whole package being easily folded down and carried in the included bag. The light tent itself is only large enough for small items, but the included lighting setup works amazingly well. Especially with the options of soft and warm lighting, which can be easily changed with the included controller.
Considering the price point of this item, and the included lights, this is a very cost-effective solution for shooting small items.
5. Neewer Photo Studio Shooting Tent Light Cube Kit (Budget Winner)
If you only need the light tent itself, then the Neewer Photo Studio Shooting Tent Light Cube Kit will fulfill your needs. This is the 36×36 inch version and it comes with four colored backdrops and a little carry case.
This Neewer light tent can be easily folded down with a removable front opening and translucent white nylon sides for constant light diffusion. The tent itself is excellent at eliminating shadows and is a great way to illuminate all sides of a product.
The only real downside here is that the fabric can show creases with prolonged use, which you won’t find with the MyStudio MS20J above. However, careful placement of the products and the included backdrops goes a long way to disguise any signs of creasing.
Final Illuminations on Light Tents
All the examples above show the main types of designs currently available for light tents. Many are foldaway solutions, with some having built-in lighting. This feature is a nice addition if you don’t have your own lighting setup to start with.
While the lighting is adequate in most cases, it’s easy to progress to more advanced lighting setups when required, most conveniently with the solutions that have a transparent outer shell.
In conclusion, if you shoot small to medium-size products on a regular basis, then the solutions above should be cost-effective for most applications.