A few weeks ago, AJE team member, Diana P., mentioned that she was replacing her Foldio 1 with the larger Foldio 2. I was like, “What in the heck is a Foldio?”
I learned that a Foldio is a portable light studio or light box (see picture above), available through Photojojo. I did a little research and bought the larger Foldio 2 right away. I already had a very good light box by E-Z Cube (see picture below), but it takes up a lot of space and we expect to be moving to a smaller home in January.
The Foldio has several innovative characteristics that are not to be found in a standard light box. As the name implies, if folds up easily and compactly. My E-Z Cube folds up too, in principal, but its like wrestling with bed springs. You have to twist it a certain way (that I never mastered), while pressing down, and then fold in the sides and slide it into a nylon bag, before it springs open again, like a Jack-In-A-Box. Needless to say, it was just easier to leave my E-Z Cube open at all times.
The Foldio is made of lightweight, corrugated plastic which unfolds into a cube shape with one open end. The sides of the cube overlap in the the same way as the folds on the
bottom of an envelope do. Each side is held in place by three powerful
magnets. If you look at the photo below you can see the faint outline of the magnets on each tab. Pull the magnets apart and the cube folds flat in seconds.
Because it folds up so easily, I can simply fold it up and
store it in the closet or on a bookshelf if I have guests over or if I need more working space.
The Foldio lighting system is also innovative.. Both the Foldio 1 and 2 come with streamlined, inbuilt LED lighting. The lights on the Foldio 1 run on batteries, so you can use it outdoors or anywhere, without requiring electricity – it is entirely portable in this sense. The Foldio 2 is larger and has 2 rows of lights that run on electricity. I turned my Foldio on its side, in the picture below, so I could photograph the 2 rows of tiny LED lights. The round knobs on the right can dim or brighten the lights. I love that feature!
My E-Z Cube (and every other light box system I’ve heard of) has separate lights, which are quite expensive. I couldn’t afford the lights offered by the E-Z Cube company and so I
jerry-rigged shop lights with high wattage daylight bulbs. My shop lights worked well, but they took up a lot of space. My E-Z Cube and lights took up the entire top of bedroom dresser that you see in the first picture.
Since the lights on the Foldio are built in, they don’t take up any extra room at all. I love the extra space that I’ve gained on my dresser top, but I have to say that the Foldio lights are a mixed blessing. The space savings and that fact that you can adjust the light intensity are big pluses! However, because the lights are built in at the top of the box, it is difficult to avoid casting shadows on the product item you are photographing. With free-standing lights, you can set one on either side of the cube, which reduces shadows, plus you can move them around to adjust the angles of the lights. With the Foldio, the lights are always up above and if you try to shoot downward, from above your product, your hand and camera will cast a shadow. You can work around this, but I find it annoying. If you decide to get a Foldio, I suggest lowering your camera to the height of the product you are photographing and then shoot straight at it. If you want to take a shot from above, hold the camera outside of the box (so your hands are not below the lights) and then use your zoom to get in closer.
In summary, I think the Foldio, although not perfect, is going to meet my needs at the moment. It is perfect for someone with limited space and/or a limited budget. I think the EZ Cube plus lights or a similar arrangement from another company, is a better option for the professional or someone with the necessary space.
Linda Landig Jewelry