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If you're regularly photographing small to medium-sized products, there's no better way to get consistent photos than with one of the best lightboxes. These inexpensive tools are a fantastic way to provide soft, diffuse lighting to your subject, preventing dark spots and harsh shadows. Besides the overall size of the lightbox, which dictates the size of the items you can shoot, there are a couple of factors to bear in mind.
Unless you have a dedicated photo studio or space, you'll want to consider the portability of a specific lightbox, and how easy it is to set up or break down. Also, certain lightboxes come packaged with a variety of accessories, such as supplementary fill and backlights, as well as different colored backgrounds.
Check out our best photo light boxes below:
Multiple sizing options available
Remarkably accurate colors
Havox's Photo Studio lightboxes are admittedly pricey, but you get a lot for your money. Available in three different sizes — 16", 24", and 32" — each box has one top and three front openings, maximizing shooting options while keeping outside reflections to a minimum.
Boasting particularly accurate colors (CRI of 93+) at a near-daylight 5500 Kelvin, the adjustable diffuser near the top of the box softens and spreads the light to minimize shadows. Each of the three lightbox sizes also comes in an "XD" version, which doubles the number of LEDs inside, and therefore the light output. Whichever version you get, dimmers on the power supply lets you adjust the brightness as needed.
Assembly and breakdown are relatively straightforward, taking 10 to 15 minutes, and the construction of the unit is noticeably sturdier than most of the cheaper competition. Throw in a compact carry case, and you've got a high-quality lightbox that's portable enough to be moved around as needed, and delivers excellent results.
USB powered lighting
Easy to transport
Only 9 cubic inches of shooting space
If you know you'll only need to be taking shots of small items, and don't have a large budget to spend, the JHS-TECH portable lightbox is a great place to start. At nine cubic inches, it's ideal for shooting images of jewelry or toys, and it collapses down to fit into a bag or backpack for easy transport. Open at the front, you can choose to shoot from straight on or take top-down shots via a large hole in the roof of the box that's covered when not in use.
The strip of LED lights at the front and back of the box are reasonably bright and can be controlled individually if necessary. They're powered via a USB cable, which can be plugged into a computer, wall socket, or portable battery pack.
Included LED lamps
No carrying case for lamps
Might not be suitable for larger items
Looking for an all-in-one lightbox kit that has everything you need to get started at a reasonable price? It's hard to go past the Fovitec StudioPRO. As well as the lightbox itself, the wide range of accessories in the box includes four colored backdrops, two height-adjustable lamps with 45W fluorescent bulbs, and small black and white reflective tabletops with magnetic legs for placing products on if necessary.
The dual lamp setup lets you light items from any angle (you can add extra lights if you need them, of course), and, being wall-powered, are both brighter and more flexible than the USB-powered strip lights you find on other models.
Ideal for shooting small to medium-sized items, the lightbox pops up into shape and can be set up in a matter of seconds. When you're done, the lightbox and all other accessories except the lamps pack away into a compact carry case.
Easy set up
App allows for 360-degree photography
Feels a bit flimsy compared to larger models
Need a highly-portable lightbox for shooting product shots on the go? The crowdfunded Foldio3 is ideal as its unique design allows it to fold down to just an inch high while expanding out to a full-size 25" lightbox for taking photos of even relatively-large items.
Assembly and disassembly only take a few seconds as magnets speed up the process. Attaching one of the two backdrops is equally quick, rolling up from the bottom to attach at the top.
Three LED light strips are built into the Foldio3, and if you need extra light or a customized location, the optional Halo Bar attaches to one of the side or bottom magnets. A control unit lets you dim the lights together or separately.
If you're planning on taking 360-degree photos, pick up the Foldio360 as well. This turntable sits inside the lightbox and connects to a phone or camera over Bluetooth. Rotating and shooting photos automatically, it then combines them into a 360-degree photo in the accompanying app.
Seamless curved background
Provides flexibility in shooting angles
Hard plastic isn't collapsible
If you're a professional product photographer or have aspirations to become one, it's worth spending a bit more on the MyStudio range. The company sells a few different variations of its lightbox kits, ranging in size up to 53", but for shooting small to mid-size items, the MS20PRO-LED is ideal.
This "Pro" version of the MS20 replaces the basic fluorescent lamps with a pair of ultra-bright color-corrected LED lights, yielding far better results. There are also two pairs of bounce/fill cards with their own stands, to help manage shadows and provide illumination exactly where you want it.
Made from hard plastic rather than fabric, the 20” x 20” x 12” cylindrical background ensures no wrinkles or seams showing up in your shots, and provides greater shooting angles and less time editing afterward as a result. The kit also ships with black and white acrylic pads for getting professional-looking reflections under whatever you're shooting.
Big enough for even the largest items
Excellent light diffusion
Difficult to find space for
While all of the lightboxes on this list are fine for taking photos of smaller items, most are too compact to fit larger subjects inside. You'll have no such problem with the Neewer 60" Photo Studio — its huge, five-cubic-foot capacity is enough to handle anything up to pets and children.
The translucent fabric sides do a good job of diffusing external light sources, so as long as your lights are bright enough, you'll end up with a consistent, shadow-free result inside the lightbox. Four colored backdrops are included in the box, allowing for greater flexibility and better results when shooting white or other light-colored items.
The company makes this lightbox in half a dozen other sizes as well, making it easy to get the right size for your requirements. That said, don't be tempted to buy one much larger than you need — the bigger the lightbox, the harder it is to find space to set it up or fold it back up into its carrying case when you're done.
The Havox photo studio provides unparalleled color accuracy and a variety of sizes and shooting options, making it our top choice for anyone needing reliable, consistent lighting in their photography.
Size - A lightbox utilizes a closed environment to effectively diffuse light over your subject. Therefore, a larger subject will necessitate a larger lightbox. If you're shooting jewelry, an 18-inch box should suffice, whereas someone shooting desktop computers might need a 48-inch.
Accessories - If you need a little more flexibility in your lighting setup, some lightboxes come packaged with a variety of accessories to let you fine-tune your lighting environments such as different backdrops or supplementary lighting.
Portability - Much of this will have to do with the size of the lightbox you choose and whether you have a dedicated space for photography, but having a lightbox that makes it easier to set up and break down will give you greater flexibility in where you can stage your photos.
David Dean has worked in corporate IT for 15 years in a variety of support and managerial roles in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. His work has also appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and other major publications.