I purchased an Optex Portable Photo Studio & Lighting Kit at a Henry’s Camera outlet in Nova Scotia, Canada, for $129.00 CND + tax (February 2015), for the purpose of improving my cookie photography and I will give you my impression or review. We had a “real” winter in Nova Scotia this year, with one snow storm after another, and continuously cloudy days. As well, much of my cookie activity tends to occur in the evening, and my lovely house does not have the greatest of lighting. Given all the time I spend on these cookies, I want my picture “memories” to look their best. Maybe someday I will become a highly successful and sought-after world-renowned cookie entrepreneur, and I will want my portfolio to look it’s best! (Insert roars of laughter here!! In my dreams! If someone would pay $50/cookie, maybe then it would be worthwhile!)
First, let me qualify this post by saying that I am in no way an expert in photography. I am gradually learning new photography techniques. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer…
I read about making my own DIY set up, but don’t have the time to build it nor access to all the necessary supplies. I was also tempted by the way the Optex Portable Photo Studio & Lighting Kit folds up for storage and is self-contained. It is very compact, and creates its own case, measuring 16 1/2 x 16 1/2 x 5 1/4″. The store also carried a Cameron Tabletop Studio for $199.00 CDN, but I did not want to spend that much money, and the Cameron kit was less compact.
The Optex kit opens up to have a 16″ cube photo tent and includes two 15 W compact fluorescent bulbs with fixtures (which are the equivalent of 60 W incandescent bulbs), two reversible backgrounds giving four backdrops (green, blue, grey and white) and a mini tripod.
It was easy to set up, but initially neither of the lights would work. Grrrrr!!! 😡 I live 3 1/2 hours away from the store. I was NOT impressed. Fortunately my sweet husband bent the metal contacts out a bit in the lighting sockets and that solved the problem. Whew!
The pictures which show Valentine’s Day cookies (pink and white cookies) were taken with my iPhone 5 in the same room lighting conditions.
I can see a difference in the background brightness, but I find it hard to discern other differences in the above pictures with the plastic obscuring the lighting around the edges of the cookies. (These cookies were ready to gift, and I wasn’t about to unpackage them.) The cookies above are from my Valentine’s sets.
The following pictures of the blue tulip cookie were taken on a different day with a Canon EOS 60D camera body and a Canon EF 24-70 mm 1:2.8L II USM lens. In the first picture, taken under ambient room lighting conditions, there are harsh shadows on the left of the cookie. In the second picture, taken using the Optex Photo Studio with the cookie on the floor of the cube, there is a soft shadow around the entire cookie.
In the two pictures below, the cookie has been raised 8″ on a cake pedestal to be closer to the light sources, which are 8″ above the floor of the cube. This further eliminated shadows.
Overall, I can clearly see an improvement in the pictures, and it appears the “studio” will perform the job for which it was intended. I will also be able to add various backgrounds to my lighting scenarios and won’t have to worry about what household clutter appears in the background of my pictures! Now that’s another great benefit!