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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Easy to set up
Everything fits in carrying bags
Not very bright
Poor stitching on bags and umbrellas
The LimoStudio LMS103 Lighting Kit is an inexpensive umbrella-style kit that’s best used to enhance existing lighting in a home photo studio. It’s a good beginner set but feels cheap and has some quality control issues.
The LimoStudio 600W Day Light Continuous Lighting Kit LMS103 is a very inexpensive, entry-level lighting kit for beginners. Three stands, three bulbs, and two carrying bags make this an easy-to-set-up and highly portable kit for any photographer or video maker.
LimoStudio is a common name in cheap lighting and you’ll be sure to notice why this kit is so inexpensive. Regardless, if you need a basic lighting kit to get started with your new YouTube channel, take pictures of your kids, or get that perfect cat photo for Reddit, the LMS103 kit will do the job.
We’ve recently reviewed several lighting kits and we’re going to take a look at the design, setup process, portability and performance of the LimoStudio LMS103 to see whether or not it’s a good investment for the lower quality and low price.
The LimoStudio LMS103 includes three stands, three bulb socket heads, three 45W CFL bulbs, two 33-inch umbrella reflectors, and two carrying bags. This is a very simple, generic lighting system and you can find many other ones on the market that look nearly identical. Although it functions well and is very popular for beginners, the price definitely reflects the quality.
There are two adjustable stands that reach a maximum height of 86 inches and one smaller stand that can be adjusted up to a height of 28 inches. The stands are made from lightweight aluminum alloy with standard mounting studs on top. They’re not very durable, but the lighting portion of the system is so lightweight they don’t really need to be that sturdy.
All three bulb socket heads are identical and use a single 45W CFL bulb. The bulbs are 6500K color temperature and fit tightly into their sockets, but the socket heads don’t exactly fit straight and snug on the stands and it all feels pretty flimsy. It’s easy to make angle adjustments by loosening a knob on the side of the bulb socket head.
The heads have nine-foot-long, hardwired power cables with in-line on/off switches. The cable connections aren’t great and we noticed one of the lights would flicker when we moved the cable. Each head has a slot for a translucent white umbrella reflector and a knob to secure it in place.
Overall the design is pretty standard for this style of lighting kit, just with cheaper hardware that we can tell isn’t built to last.
Each umbrella is made from thin, cheap nylon and opens like a regular rain umbrella. You extend it to lock it into place and press the spring-loaded metal clip to collapse it down again. The umbrellas are effective in diffusing light from the bulb or a flash, spreading it evenly across your subject while eliminating glare and reducing shadows.
The third stand does not have an umbrella, and we thought it defeated the purpose of the rest of the kit by creating the glare we wanted to eliminate. We definitely think a third umbrella should have been included.
The umbrellas and carrying bags are made from nylon that feels like it could easily tear, so handle them carefully. We also noticed very poor stitching with several threads dangling from the fabric—that’s not uncommon with cheaper systems or products like this and the threads just need to be snipped off. Watch out for missing segments of stitching, though, because that will cause the pieces to fall apart quicker.
There are two carrying bags: one holds the three bulbs packed into their respective styrofoam and boxes, and the other bag is meant to fit the rest of the hardware. It’s a tight fit—we felt a little nervous about closing up the bag with its poor zipper quality, but we got everything inside.
Setup for this lighting kit is incredibly straightforward and easy. You probably don’t even need to look at the directions and it takes all of five minutes to get everything up and running.
Each socket head fits on a stand and there is a knob to tighten it in place. None of the heads fit straight and they feel very insecure, but because the kit is so lightweight, we don’t see that being a problem. The bulbs all screw in easily but felt a little loose compared to other kits we tested.
Possibly the easiest setup we’ve seen in a lighting kit.
The heads each have a knob that can be loosened to adjust the angle. This knob also felt pretty cheap, so be careful not to over tighten it (or any of the other knobs, for that matter). You can open the umbrellas like a normal rain umbrella. The rods slide right into a hole in the bulb socket head mounting piece under the light.
After mounting the socket heads and umbrellas, point your lights at your subject, hit the in-line power switch, and you are good to go. It’s possibly the easiest setup we’ve seen in a lighting kit.
At 9.35 pounds, this kit is incredibly light and portable and set up and breakdown is a breeze. Though we do wish everything fit into one bag instead of two (or that the smaller bag could fit inside the larger one), the whole system is so lightweight that you can easily carry both bags with the same hand.
The bulbs are meant to be stored in the styrofoam and boxes they came in and then stacked into the smaller carrying bag, while the rest of the hardware fits snuggly into the larger bag. If you are looking for a simple, low-output, highly portable kit, then look no further.
For this type of lighting system, the LimoStudio LMS103 Lighting Kit performs fairly well. But it’s not something we would find ourselves using for long without wanting an upgrade. We were a little concerned with the power cord connection, and if you notice any flicker in the lights you might want to return it or at least pay close attention while the lights are plugged in.
This kit doesn’t produce very much light, but it should be okay if you are using it in a space with some other lighting, whether its sunlight or simply the lights in your house. The LMS103 is best at eliminating problems with existing light sources, particularly indoors with overhead home lighting or when using a flash. It does a great job eliminating glare when taking portraits, shooting YouTube videos, or taking amateur product photography.
We wouldn’t suggest relying on the light from this kit alone.
If you plan on shooting a lot of product photography for an online marketplace like eBay, you may want to invest in a brighter kit that produces more light. You could also mix these lights with natural light during the day to get some good product photos, but we wouldn’t suggest relying on the light from this kit alone.
The bulbs can get hot when they’ve been on for a while—LimoStudio says on that, on rare occasion, they may produce a mild burning scent that is normal. We definitely smelled that burning scent, but it wasn’t that mild and it was not very pleasant to those of us with sensitive noses.
It seems like if these are used for shorter times (for us it was under 30 minutes), they don’t get hot enough to release the smell. But we definitely found this a little concerning, especially when coupled with the power cord problem.
The LimoStudio LMS103 lighting kit is typically priced between $50 and $60. Even though this is an entry-level kit, the price still seems high for the poor quality. And we don’t think the short stand and light is very useful unless you really need an extra un-diffused light source.
We generally prefer softboxes to umbrella style lighting kits, and there are plenty in the same price range to choose from. We just couldn’t justify spending the money on such a simple and low-quality lighting kit when there are other better options out there.
The LimoStudio AGG814 is the brand’s softbox equivalent to the LMS103. It’s about the same price, usually selling for around $60. Included with the LimoStudio AGG814 are two stands, two socket heads, two 85W CFL bulbs, and two softboxes—all of which fit in the provided carrying bag.
The stands are exactly the same as the two larger stands in the LMS10 kit, but the bulbs that come with the AGG814 are higher output and it shows. One of the reasons we prefer softboxes is because the lighting is more directional even though it still has a wide and soft distribution.
Although the LimoStudio AGG814 kit is a better alternative to the LMS10, it’s still an inexpensive, low-quality kit with its own quality control problems. But for a beginner, that’s not really a big deal, so if you are looking for an affordable entry-level kit for your hobby, the AGG814 could be an option.
Even for beginner photographers, there are better entry-level options out there.
The LimoStudio LMS103 Lighting Kit is noticeably low-quality and not built to last. If you’re a beginner who just wants to test the waters with an inexpensive setup, we would suggest looking at a softbox kit like the LimoStudio AGG814 or spending a little extra on a mid-level kit that you won’t immediately need to upgrade.
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