If you have ever ventured into the world of product photography, then you are most probably already familiar with the usefulness of using a lightbox. For the uninitiated, a lightbox provides even and soft lighting when photographing a product. This even lighting is usually achieved by light sources being positioned at either the sides or top of the box, which is then diffused through its side panels.
Lightboxes are seemingly simple accessories on the surface, but they have to have a few basic features to make them useful. Along with diffusion panels, the best lightboxes should have a clean and seamless background, provide uniform lighting, and, with some models, portholes for shooting at many different angles.
It’s possible to try and DIY a version yourself, but having gone down this road myself many times, it’s far more cost-effective and convenient to just buy a commercial version that is built for the task. This is especially true if you are shooting products on a regular basis.
1. AmazonBasics Portable Foldable Photo Studio Box (Overall Winner)
Although there are cheaper lightbox solutions on the market, the AmazonBasics Portable Foldable Photo Studio Box includes everything you need to get started with product photography. The kit includes a 25x30x25 inch lightbox, built-in LED lights, power supply, and user manual.
This lightbox is large enough to capture a good range of different sized products, with a front three-door system and various holes to aim a camera through. The lightbox conveniently folds down flat with a carrying strap and handles for on the move. The LED lights also have a consistent 5600k temperature, providing even natural lighting, ideal for the likes of jewelry or non-reflective products.
If you have a range of different sized products that you need to shot on a regular basis, the AmazonBasics Portable Photo Studio is a good first option.
2. HAVOX HPB-80XD
If a fully professional lightbox solution is more your criteria, then you can’t do better than the HAVOX HPB-80XD. This lightbox comes in a range of sizes from a 10-inch square version to the largest 79x32x47 inch version.
This version is the middle-of-the-road size of 32 inches square, featuring 336 dimmable SMD LEDs with a color temperature of 5500k, a luminous flux of 26,000, and a Color Rendering Index of 93+. Along with a large open front, there are also several openings around the box for different shooting angles and three different shaded backgrounds.
There’s plenty of space in this thing for most types of products and the variable height diffuser does a wonderful job of cutting down on reflections. The lightbox conveniently folds down for easy transportation or storage.
This product may be expensive, but the quality of light speaks for itself. Plus, it’s built to a high enough quality to last you for years.
3. ESDDI Photo Studio
A slightly more cost-effective solution than the two versions above is the ESDDI Photo Studio. This lightbox also comes in various sizes, with a simple top and front few openings. The full package includes 156 LED lights with brightness adjustment, throwing out 25000LM lumens at a color temperature of 5500K.
The package also includes a diffuser cloth and four colored backgrounds, which should cover most shooting situations. The lightbox is easy to set up and break down, with very reflective inner panels providing extremely even lighting.
The ESDDI Photo Studio isn’t as strongly built as the two offerings above, and you need to find your own way of securing the front opening. But on every other level, the ESDDI Photo Studio is a good solution and worth the asking price.
4. Emart Portable Photo Studio Shooting Tent
What differentiates the Emart lightbox from the rest is its small and portable size, clip together configuration, and convenience. Also available in various dimensions, this version is 14 x 16 inches, with 26 powerful LED lights, providing ten Watts of power at a color temperature of 5500K.
Along with the very open front, there is a top opening to point a camera through, with the whole unit folding down into a very convenient flat package. The included four colored backgrounds provide a nice seamless backdrop and the small tabletop tripod is suitable for lightweight cameras or smartphones.
This solution works best for very small products or occasional use. For larger products or if you need more illumination, the other lightboxes on this list would be a better solution.
5. Neewer Photo Studio Shooting Tent Light Cube (Budget Winner)
The Neewer lightbox offers a different approach to the others on this list, being completely translucent all around and you will need to provide your own lighting. Some people prefer this type of setup, especially if you already own a bunch of quality lights and want more control over illumination.
This lightbox comes with four different colored backgrounds and is one of the most convenient to set up and breakdown, folding just like a large reflector. The front of the lightbox has a slot for a camera lens, which can be removed for easier access. Once light sources are positioned around the Neewer light cube, the translucent nylon material performs a decent job diffusing light with an even spread of illumination around the product.
The included backdrops, while being initially useful, can crease very easily, which means they must be given extra care or you need to have a ready supply of paper backdrops at your disposal.
How well this lightbox diffuses light is key, which it does very well, as the quality and intensity of light is down to the individual user. As a very convenient and cost-effective solution, the Neewer provides good value for the money if you prefer this way of working.
Finding the Best Lightboxes
The first thing to bear in mind when buying one of the best lightboxes is to gauge the size of products you wish to shoot. You essentially have to think of your lightbox as a mini photography studio which means your product needs to have plenty of space around it in the lightbox. This will ensure better overall illumination and scope for maneuverability.
If you plan on using a lightbox on a regular basis, ease of assembly and disassembly may not be a factor. But, if you plan on transporting one of these regularly, then it not only has to break down easily, but also to be robust enough for regular use.
Other factors to bear in mind are the shooting angles. A large front opening may suffice for most product shots but having the option of other openings can provide different shooting angles that are usually needed for varied product shots. If you don’t go for a kit that includes lights, you will have to supply your own. This generally means that good quality lighting, such as high-powered LEDs, are needed for the best results.