Photography is a hobby that can easily get out of hand; for many people, it becomes a passion and a quest. The perfect shot, seeing what others don't, finding the unusual in the usual and the usual in the unusual. But at the same time, photography is also very utilitarian and practical. No matter if you're trying to see the world with an artist's eye or you need to take a clean shot of an item for your store catalog, a
is a wonderful investment and can help give your pictures the professional edge that you need. What can one of these compact desktop studios do for you? This guide will show you.
What is a Tabletop Photo Studio?
- Whether a hobby, an art, or a profession, photography is not only absorbing and rewarding, it is expensive. The camera is just the beginning of your expenses: you've got to add flashes, filters, tripods, and pricy lighting. You can get away without lighting if you're working in optimal conditions outside, but for those who want to do studio work, particularly portraits and product shots, a good set of lights is, if not a strict necessity, then an option that will help you produce professional-quality photos. Studio lighting can be expensive, and buying pieces one by one can be not only a hassle but will add yet more to the cost. Backgrounds, light reflectors, product tents, portable equipment...you can see your cost spiraling upwards.
Tabletop photo studios
are designed to be a bit of a photographer's studio solution in a box. Lighting equipment and background is included so you can take amazing shots of products, pursue macro-photography, or create your own works of art. The central purpose is to provide you with the opportunity to take photos with clear, clean backgrounds so your product appears to be floating in white space (or blue, or whatever color you choose). Great for catalog work, these can be a great way make a still life shot really stand out.
When you're choosing your tabletop photo studio, make sure you look at what the set will include. Some provide lighting, but this is not at all standard across the board. Before you buy, make sure the studio has everything you'll need to start taking those great shots. You can see what tabletop photo studios look like, and what type of photos they can help you take, in this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEpvsPhsXDU). (The photo studio shown is a MyStudio). You can browse the best selling tabletop photo studios here
Best Tabletop Photo Studios:
is one of the top names in tabletop photo studio equipment. Their MS20 Professional Tabletop Photo Studio Kit is a popular choice with Amazon consumers, and as a review in About.Photography says, "even noobies" can take great product shots. The set is of high enough quality for professional photographers, and at the same time it is easy enough for store owners, antique dealers, collectors, and other non-photographers to take clear, crisp, professional-quality photos of their products. MyStudio comes with one 20- x 20- x 12-inch MyStudio 20 Infinity background (essentially a "tent" for your product to create the floating background effect), adjustable height aluminum light stand, 1 5000k fluorescent lamp with bulb for perfect color without flash or additional lighting, overhead light reflector, and two 9- x 12-inch light reflecting bounce cards. With this equipment, a whole range of lighting options open up for you. We compared the Infinity background to a tent, but that's not as true for MyStudio as it is for other tabletop photo studios. In the case of MyStudio, you get an innovative, seamless background with a 90-degree corner so you have maximum shooting angles and depth. The MyStudio also holds a limited lifetime warranty and is made in the US.
One Amazon reviewer, also a seller on Ebay, said he'd tried every tent, light cube, etc., and was always disappointed in his shots. With the MyStudio, though, "Finally, great product images with little effort!" And great product images can help create great sales. You can find the MyStudio MS20 Professional Tabletop Photo Studio for $199 (a savings of $50) at Amazon (see it here
You should also consider MyStudio's Deluxe 20-inch model, as well as their larger 32-inch studio set for larger items.
GoPro is another big name in the photography business; their XPro studios
are well-received by Amazon reviewers, one of whom said this set was tremendously useful for a very low price. What does the XPRO Studio Photography White Photo Light Tent offer? Let's look at their 24- x 24-inch model. This tabletop photo studio includes an outer nylon lining with blended felt PU interior for great light diffusion and distribution, Chroma Key Backgrounds (white, black, and grey and blue), 5 x 2 rows of elastic tabs on upper left and right corners so you can suspend objects, removable front cover, zip release top cover, and carrying pouch. Notice that the light kit is not included in this studio. On the other hand, you'll only pay about $30 for this tabletop studio, so you always use ambient light or flash and add to your studio lighting later.
If you want a compromise between the more expensive (but still incredibly reasonable) Mystudio and the light-less XPro, Sunpak offers a solution in their 620-EBOX Portable Mini Studio
in a box. This little kit comes with two floor-standing lights at 50 watts each, a three-way panhead mini aluminum tripod, and carrying case. It comes with three backgrounds: black, grey, and blue. No white for some reason, and if that is a problem, you'll want to consider a different set. A common refrain among reviewers is that the Sunpak studio in a box is great for the money. If you're on a budget, it will help you take professional pictures. If you need a studio that can travel with you to locations without lighting and photography equipment, it is ideal and very portable. It is a good starter and/or budget kit. You can find this for under $50 at Amazon.
Look here for other great tabletop photo studios
. You will be amazed at the quality and professional edge you can achieve with these simple and effective kits.