Light Boxes: Worth the Investment?
Updated: May 31
Are light boxes worth the investment? Whether you are a blogger or an artist, you may be wondering if you should buy a light box. While the short answer is that it depends on your goals, we're big fans of light boxes for a number of reasons.
Let's face it. Photography is a critical aspect of blogging. Great writing is an essential part, as well. But excellent images are what will draw readers to your site and keep them browsing.
It can be difficult to take high-quality images for a variety of reasons. Lack of equipment, poor lighting, or just general inexperience make it hard to capture photographs that bring blogs to life. I'm here to tell you that you CAN learn to take a great photo (though I'll save those tips for another article). And you CAN take excellent photos without a ton of expensive equipment.
For awhile, I was taking photos for my blog and online store using a homemade light box. Make a homemade light box is fairly simple. For instructions, click here. For some reason, though, my house is very poorly lit, and no matter how well I tried to light my photography area, I never managed the effect I was looking for.
After making a bit of money back from my blog (check out some of what has worked for me here), I decided to invest in a light box for my photography. After doing a lot of research, here's what I discovered:
1) Light boxes can be expensive. (But they don't have to be--see my list below of the best-rated lightboxes on Amazon, all of which are pretty reasonably priced.)
2) Light boxes are often poorly made.
3) Light boxes often come with a number of handy accessories, many of which you might or might not need. So evaluate costs accordingly. (Check out my list below of some sold-separately accessories you might want and that won't break the bank.)
In the end, I decided to purchase a light box, and I did a lot of careful research to determine which to purchase. The choices were a bit overwhelming, I'll admit.
I ultimately went with the Havox Photo Studio. It is essentially a cube with various openings through which you can take photos. The outside of the box is black, and the inside is silver.
You set the light box up yourself by connecting a framework of posts and covering them with the black fabric. My Photo Studio came with a few backdrop options, including white, black, blue, and yellow. The lights themselves are LED and hook in to the light box at the back.
Taking photos is truly a snap with a light box like this. Every single shot I take comes out 100 times better than if I had attempted to take the photo in natural light. I've been quite pleased so far.
The only drawbacks I've encountered with the Havox so far are:
1) The lights are very sensitive and jerking the power supply around can make them short on and off. For this reason, I don't leave my light box plugged in when it's not in use.
2) The LED lights are VERY bright and can hurt your eyes. Be cautioned!
3) Depending on what you are photographing, you may need to clean the light box backdrop after each use. Anything that can leave behind crumbs, dust, or glitter might make your white backdrop look a bit of a mess once you're done photographing. Just wipe the backdrop with a damp paper towel after each use to avoid this.
Overall, I'd recommend the purchase of a light box to anyone who spends a lot of time blogging or taking product photos. Mine only cost about $50, and I feel like it was a worthwhile investment for the high-quality photos it allows.
Important Light Box Update: April 2023
Unfortunately, in the time since I first wrote this article, the Havox light box that I have seems to have disappeared from Amazon. And when it comes to where to buy a light box for photography, it still seems like Amazon is the best place with the most selection.
In an effort to help you find the right light box for you, I've scoured Amazon reviews and have made a list below of the top-rated light boxes that are similar to the one I have. If you decide to buy one of these, be sure to circle back and let us know what you think in the comments!
Best Light Boxes to Buy on Amazon
This is the #1-best-reviewed light box on Amazon. If you're looking to upgrade your at-home studio, whether it be for blogging or to take better photos of your products, this is the box to get. It comes from the Amazon Basics line, which is usually solid, and has everything you'll need to get started with taking photos.
This light box is rated #2 by Amazon users, and for good reason: not only does it shed lots of lovely, photo-friendly bright light, it comes with SIX colored backdrops to revolutionize your options during photo shoots. Best of all, it's cheaper than the Havox that I bought over six years ago! A major win!
If you're looking to spend a bit more on a light box, this is the one to get. It has adjustable brightness, which would be wonderful to have. (For the record, my HAVOX does not have that.) Plus, it comes with four colored backdrops to really allow you to style your photos and flat lays however your heart desires. This looks like a fabulous light box!
If you want to really up your light box game, this person-sized tent is the right choice. Modeling shirts, bags, jewelry, or other clothing? This light box is big enough for you to easily stand or sit inside. This makes it the perfect option for larger items or photo shoots with people. The light box is 47 by 39 by 78 inches in size and comes with its own carrying case for easy travel.
Best Accessories For Use in a Lightbox (or for Flat Lay Photography)
Whether you're using a digital camera or your smart phone to take photos in your light box, you'll want something to hold your camera steady. This is something I really struggled with at first, until I invested in a clip for my camera. Shakiness of your hands/arms/the camera equals a blurry photo. No one wants that! This clip clamps to your table or even the edge of your light box frame, and it then unscrews to fit your camera and then hold it firmly in place. No more shakiness!
For everything from light box work to flat lays to even your family portraits, this attractive and useful phone tripod is a tool you'll want on your side. It extends to an impressive 61 inches in height and doesn't get too shaky when fully extended, which is important for photo shoots. It comes with a wireless remote, so you can stand anywhere (including in the photo itself) and take an excellent picture. Best of all, it steadies your hand when you use your light box for photography.
You don't always want your photos to have a white background, and this set of double-sided photography backgrounds for lightboxes is the perfect solution! The set comes with white and black marbled backdrops and four colors of rustic wood, ranging from off-white to dark brown. The backdrops are 34.4 by 15.7 inches in size and are easy to store. They make your light box work so much more versatile!
Make Your Own Light Box
If you aren't sold on the idea of buying a light box, you can try to make your own. Here are some instructions on how to do it. Whether you choose to create a flat lay station or a true light box, the DIY light box is a great choice for bloggers, small business owners, crafters, and hobbyist photographers.
Do you have a light box? What do you think of it? Drop your comments below!