A light tent that makes product photographers rejoice
As someone who writes about technology day in and day out, I find myself having lots of crossover between writing and photography. What I mean by this is that is as a photographer I am using these skills to take photos of the products I review. Sometimes my shots look outstanding and other times I feel like I should shelf my camera. You don’t have to have the most amazing gear to be a great photographer — but it can help. That’s where the Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent comes into play.
The Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent is a nice size foldable light tent that sets up quickly and easily. It’s the perfect size for a tabletop photography shoot. It breaks down fast and even has the LED’s built into the wall of the tent. There are two sizes of tents — 17″ and 27″. The 17-inch version is perfect for smaller objects while the 27-inch model will give you the depth of field to take pictures of larger products. The tent comes packaged with a power cord that has a dimmer knob, as well as an on/off, switch built into the cable. The tent has a foldable frame that allows for quick set-up and tear-down of the cube. The sides connect with fastener strips and all the panels fold flat for easy transport. There is a built-in panel of 120 LED lights, which deliver clean, even, shadowless lighting. The LEDs are adjusted to 5400K color temperature to simulate natural sunlight and a diffuser is included to help soften the light. There are openings on the front and top of the tent to allow you to shoot multiple angles for different details of your products. The Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent comes with four different backgrounds — high key, low key, gray, and chroma green.
- LED Count: 120
- Color temperature: 5400 K
- CRI: ~85
- Luminance: 22,200 lx
- Power consumption: 50W
- Input power: 85–260 V, 50/60 Hz
- Dimmer range: 10% to 100%
- Dimensions: 17 x 17 x 17 inches
- Weight: 2.65 lb.
The box the tent comes in is pretty plain. If I saw it sitting on a shelf, I would probably pass it by because it doesn’t look like anything other and a brown cardboard box. That said, there is a photo of the product on the front of it that identifies the contents as the Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent. When you first remove the contents from the box you will find yourself graced with the 4 backgrounds, diffuser, power cables, and the folded up box. Now, the first thing I will say is that the product information describes the box as ‘easy to transport’ and yes, I would say that is true. The tent folds up neatly into itself forming a square with a handle on its top so that you can carry it from place to place. That said, there is no place for the backgrounds or diffusion to be stored for easy transport. So, while you can carry the tent in a folded up position from place to place without it causing any problems, the accessories that really make the tent a portable photo studio would be a bit of a problem.
As far as set-up goes, it’s not terribly difficult but the instructions from the included user manual are a bit hard to follow. The photos that are included aren’t very helpful and I believe there should be better directions for using the diffusion. Each of the sides folds up to form a cube and the panel with the LEDs attached doesn’t really have a good option for the diffusion. The instructions for the diffusion tell you to attach the cloth to the fastener strips from the side panels of the cube and not the panel that has the actual lights on it. This causes a sag in the diffusion and it’s very difficult to position a camera through the opening in the diffusion panel — should you choose to shoot through the top of the box. Every time we tried to open up that center square of the diffusion, the entire panel would tear off the sides.
Another issue I ended up having concerned the use of Velcro-style fasteners to hold the cube together. While I know this may have been a budget-conscience choice for the design, I also think it causes a bit of an issue when it comes to stability and keeping the interior environment clean. On more than one occasion, I found small black bits that were apart of the fasteners from where they had been ripped up and replaced to form the cube. Since I use this set-up for product photos, I want the background to be free of dust as much as possible so the use of fasteners requires me to take one more step (clean-up) before I can use the tent.
Now, while it may seem that I’ve been a bit down on this product, I do want to point out that this provides a very quick photography set-up for small products. While it may not be perfect, it is useable. Once I got through the awkward set-up phase of the tent and shot a few photos, I was really impressed with the quality of the pictures I got. Lighting was very even and I didn’t have any other objects or outside lighting interfering with the subject of the photo. The Port-a-Cube does a really fine job of isolating products for photos.
My time with the Angler has been fun. I have found it nice to be able to take small product shots without the need to set up and breakdown my lighting for stuff as small as phone cases, car mounts, dash cams and so on. I think that it’s a budget-friendly option for a portable photo studio. At the time of this review, the Angler Port-a-Cube LED Light Tent is running $65.00. That’s not cheap but it’s not overpriced for what you are getting in this kit. I have used full-sized sloped tabletop photo studios and they take a lot more from your pocketbook than this kit does — and they didn’t even come with lighting. The light tent is a nice product to have in your arsenal as a photographer.
For more details, visit Angler.