My latest hobby acquisition is something I've desperately wanted for a few months now. But, there were other things I thought I should get first, I felt (like a new compressor). Last weekend I finally had the funds available and decided to buy myself a macro (aka "product") studio for taking better pictures of my models. Proper lighting has been the major issue for me for a loooong time when taking macro shots.
So, I bought the Cowboy Studio Portable Studio Kit, which was actually a pretty good deal at $49.95 on Amazon. It came with the standard tent in a storage bag, a camera tripod, two lighting fixtures, and 4 color sweeps (backgrounds) that everyone else offered. But from what I saw, this kit was a little more high quality than the rest for that price point. My budget was $50.00, so this one came in just under the wire, excluding shipping.
In my research, the most complaints folks had about kits like this was that the light stands were really cheap: e.g. they got very hot, they were wobbly, or they didn't have integrated switches. So I focused on getting a kit with high quality light fixtures. After all, the tents seemed all pretty much the same and no one ever complained about those, so I figured good lighting was where it was at.
I can say with complete conviction that the fixtures in this kit are really nice. Very stable with a wide tripod stance that folds up compactly when not in use. They each have an on/off switch and a large shade that is big enough to stay relatively cool when in use. Also, they've got some nifty lever-action clamps that are super fast and easy to use when extending or retracting the main lamp support. They extend to about twice the height seen above.
One of the bulb sockets was loose when I got them, but a simple turning of two screws fixed that. Other than that one small problem, the light fixtures are awesome.
Also, for this price the tent was also on the larger side of things at a 24" cube. It folds up nicely but when you first unfold it, pay attention, as you'll never get it back in the bag if you don't place the process in long term storage. It seems well sewn and the nylon material should be pretty sturdy and last quite a while.
The sweeps were all there, if very wrinkled. I'll likely have to iron them before use, but that's something I'd have to do with any other kit I bought. I typically use a black table cloth for my background, so I don't see busting these out any time soon, anyway.
The camera tripod is pretty good. It's well constructed, very stable, and folds up nicely. The only problem I have with it is that the camera mount is kinda loosey-goosey. In the photo above, the disk with the screw through it holds the camera in place, but it's just not very strong. Accidentally hit the camera while moving about and it may rotate on the ball joint and change all your angles. Not sure how to tighten that up, yet.
There is one issue I had with the kit, though. It is pictured with and described as having bulbs for the lamps, but when the kit arrived they weren't in the box. I have "sunlight" type bulbs already but it would have been nice to have them in the box. I've got an inquiry out to Cowboy Studio and I'll let you know if they send them to me after the fact down in the comments.
It's a great kit and simplifies my macro set up greatly. I give it a...
4 out of 5
Here are some photos I took using the kit. I think they came out fairly well for about 10 minutes of work.