Product Review: Light Box

As promised, a review of the commercially sold light box (American Recorder Technologies’ Photo Studio In-A-Box) I bought when I was looking to improve my photos. Warning: This is not a positive review. You will need to find a different site if you want a positive review of this product.

Let me begin at the beginning. I had heard that you didn’t need a commercial light box to take good photos (or even that you didn’t need a light box at all) but the homemade light box I had made wasn’t working. Then I found out that you need to be able to adjust the f-stop on your camera to get away with no light box (which I can’t do on my not-too-expensive camera), so I decided to buy a light box.

I live in a fairly small town, and we lost our photography store to the recession last year (a new one opened up since this happened, though). So first I thought I would need to buy from a mail-order catalog. All the products I found in the catalogs were too cheap. I was afraid I wouldn’t get a good product if I paid too little.

Then I discovered that a local jewelry store also sold cameras. I inquired, and they told me that I could special order a light box from them. I didn’t like the special order idea, that I couldn’t see the product before I bought it, but I looked around a little more and found that it was probably the best I would find.

So, sight unseen, I bought the light box. It arrived in the store in a week, and I took it home. Later that week, I opened it. I had bought the model that came with lights.

I read the instructions before opening the case, and they had all these warnings about being really careful with the lightbulbs, because they were really fragile. There were also scary warnings about how you mustn’t touch the lights, and keep them 8 inches (20.32 cm) from the light box at all times, and keep them off when not taking an actual photograph.

I opened the case, and glass fell out. They were compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), and they had been put in the case with no extra padding besides the shrink-wrap around them. The case had been in the box so the bulbs had been on the bottom of the box. Because they were CFLs, there was now mercury as well as glass all over the floor of my studio.

My husband helped me clean up, and we put the lights in ziploc bags, still in the shrink wrap. I returned the whole thing to the store the next day. They gave me my money back, but I will never spend the money on a commercial light box again.

Luckily, I figured out how to fix my homemade one and am now taking beautiful photos.

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