Product photography may not be among the most exciting gigs we get as photographers, nor are the subjects all that interesting. At least products stay in the exact pose you put them in!
For a lot of us, product photography is our bread and butter… and we want to do it well. If you’ve ever spent an hour or more fiddling around with lighting just so you can take a few shots of a necklace, a shoe, or a box of chocolates, you can imagine the value of a good light tent.
When I heard about the release of the Foldio3 Portable Studio Light Tent I was keen to try it out since the Foldio2 has been so handy.
What follows is my review of the Foldio3. I’ll be covering specs, features, and the price.
Foldio 3 Portable Studio Light Tent | Intro
Light tents are a tool which photographers use to take high-quality photos of objects in any setting, regardless of the natural light.
As the name suggests, light tents are “tents” with in-built lighting systems, kind of like miniature, portable studios. Since they eliminate shadows so effectively, light tents are my go-to for product photography.
Designed to make product photography simple, the Foldio3 is large enough to capture images of bigger products like shoes, camera bags and model cars. Taller items such as a bottle of wine will fit inside as well.
Foldio 3 Light Tent | Features
Made from sturdy and durable opaque plastic, the Foldio3 is easy to set up and to pack away. Magnets hold the structure together so there aren’t any complicated parts to configure. You simply place the sides of the tent close to each other and they snap in to place.
After just a couple of tries I managed to have it set up in around 20 seconds.
The magnets also provide an anchor for the add-on halo lights which you can get at an additional cost.
The triple LED lighting system which is provided with the Foldio3 gives a strong white light – strong enough that the optional halo lights might not be necessary for everyone.
The LED system is on a controllable dimmer so you can adjust the light output easily. It also has a diffuser cover.
I tried the Foldio3 with and without the halo light add-on. I was impressed with both but in most cases, having extra light is better than not having enough. This makes the decision to get the halo lights an obvious choice – they really do make getting rid of every last bit of shadow a piece of cake.
The kit comes with 2 backgrounds in white and black. These can be draped on the inside of your “studio” and kept in place with Velcro attachments. They could have included a couple more backgrounds with the kit, but that said, it’s easy enough to make your own.
One of my favourite features is that you can detach the side panels so that hands or objects can enter easily from the side of the tent.
Measuring 62.5 x 64 x 55 cm when set up, the Foldio3 is large enough for a wide range of products you may decide to shoot. Packed down, it measures 62.5 x 39 x 6.5 cm – not tiny but certainly not huge or hard to carry around either.
I tried the tent with my DSLR and with my smartphone camera for comparison. Both gave good results and I was surprised by how decent the phone photos turned out.
Foldio 3 Light Tent | Price
Before we get stuck into the nitty gritty, you should know that Shotkit fans who live in Australia can use the discount code SHOTKIT for an additional 5% off HYPOP’s prices with this link.
[Editor – If you live outside of Australia, all the links in this review will take you to your local Amazon store, where the Foldio3 and accessories can be purchased.]
The basic Foldio3 kit includes the studio itself, the LED lighting system, dimming control, a power adapter, and two backdrops.
The Halo Light system can be purchased separately. But if you’re thinking of getting them eventually it works out cheaper to get the halo lights as part of a package.
If you’re looking for the full package, you can get the Foldio3, the halo bars, and the Foldio360 together and save more money.
If you’re not familiar with the 360, it’s a smart turntable that let you get the perfect 360-degree photos and videos each time.
Foldio 3 Light Tent | Conclusion
The Foldio3 is an awesome tool for product photography. It’s easy to transport, a breeze to set up, and the lighting is excellent.
I can see why some people might be put off initially by the price point. What I’d say to them is that what you spend, you’ll make back in time because these mini studios really do make product photography much simpler.
After all, finish one commission faster and you’ll be able to move on to the next.
I recommend the halo bars too – the extra cost isn’t that much more and for objects with a lot of tiny or intricate parts, and these lights are fantastic for cutting out shadows.
If Foldio had provided a green screen background option then it would be a 10/10 for me.
All in all, I think the Foldio3 is going to be as popular as its predecessors, and with good reason.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit.
Pat Barlow is a professional urban photographer from Sydney and founder of Black Jellybean Co.