Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review

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Looking to get some great photographs of your best miniatures on a budget, but unsure where to begin? Check out our miniature LED portable photo studio review below for some tips on what to look for.

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Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Summary

As with just about every aspect of this hobby, if you’re looking for a lightbox or photobooth for your miniatures, you’re probably overwhelmed with choice. There are a lot of things on offer, and a lot of variation in between products. Take a look at this 60cm x 60cm light tent, which comes with four standalone lights that can be moved and poised at your leisure, and then this 30cm x 30cm collapsable box.

From front lights to rear lights, strip lights to no lights, coloured backdrops to brittle plastic, and holes in the top to dimmer switches, there are a lot of products available – but you won’t need that much to get your miniatures looking great. As with a of of things in life – and this hobby – you pay for what you get, but that does not necessarily mean what is on offer at the cheaper end of the spectrum is ill-suited to your needs.

Whilst it’s not exactly high-tech, and its construction is flimsy and basic, the Puluz Photo Accessories LED Portable Photo Studio that was used for this review is compact, easy to store, comes with multiple coloured backdrops, is well-lit by two strip LED lights, and is dead cheap. Sold as measuring 20cm x 20cm x 20cm (but, on inspection was more like 22cm tall, 23cm, wide and 22.5cm deep), if you need photos of a select few of your minis quickly and have a decent camera or phone to take them with, you can’t go wrong with this.

Beware, though, large units and big figures – you’ll need to invest in something larger, and will likely see a big hike in the price you’re paying.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio – Introduction

As anyone who has read any of my previous reviews will know, I’m pretty new to this whole hobbling shabang. I’ve previously detailed how my FauxHammer colleagues have had a few great laughs at my expense due to my total lack of painting experience.

For those of you reading, and for the colleagues who will read this article, you’ll be pleased to know that this review begins with a little tale of my woeful unpreparedness and general hobbying inexperience.

Shortly after Dark Wizard FauxHammer had summoned us all into his service, we were all tasked to write a short paragraph for the Writing Team section of the website with a little info about each of us. It was suggested that, for the time being, we each submit a picture either of ourselves or, more relevant, a mini we had painted to be included alongside our introductory paragraphs. Of course, tacked on to this was an expectation that we each be able to upload said photo with a crisp white background so it fits neatly onto the page – the kind that would easily be achieved with a lightbox.

Deciding against a picture of my face, I grabbed one of my more polished minis to take a photo and hit the first snag: I did not own a lightbox. Now, at this point I imagine a lot of people would either buy a lightbox or just slap a photo of their face onto the article but I, descended from Yorkshiremen who are notoriously tight-fisted with their money, decided I could go one better.

I would MacGyver it.

Fifteen minutes later, the sum-total of my genius had been realised: consisting of a cat bet that can be stuck to glass via suckers (don’t ask), a sheet of white A4 paper, and a conservatory window, I was ready. You can see the – quite frankly incredible – result on my entry on the Writing Team page.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio MacGyver
Ancient man built the Great Pyramids, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Colosseum. I built this.

Unfortunately, even I had to eventually concede to my colleagues that my make-do-and-mend genius probably wouldn’t suffice in the long run, and a few days later a Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio arrived in the post.

Philistines.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Contents and Assembly

The portable Studio I received comes packaged in a neat little drawstring bag, and has six colour backdrops provided with it (black, white, red, blue, green and orange). It also comes with a twin-headed micro USB go power the two LED strip-lights in the roof of the box – these are a must-have for any photobooth or lightbox you buy. The LED lights reduce any shadows cast by external light sources, whilst the box itself prevents light interference from the outside world.  

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Desktop Setup 4
Stormsire’s Cursebreakers for scale.

This is a basic bit of kit. I mean basic. Remember at primary school when you’d cut out a cross-shaped stencil, then fold it up, glue the tabs together and make a dice? Well, this is that, but with pretty cheap-feeling plastic. If you could fold one of those paper cubes and glue the tabs together at primary school, you can put this together – there isn’t even any Pritt-Stick involved, so you won’t end up with glitter and pipe-cleaner fuzz all over your fingers, or PVA all over your school sweater that your mum then has to pick off.

A lot of the lower-end lightboxes/photobooth are like this: whilst some can be put together with Velcro or literally just pop up and pop down out of their bag, they are just about all made of this same plastic material. It’s not the sturdiest stuff in the world, what with it being made out of the same sheet of inexpensive folded plastic, but it won’t need help standing up by itself and probably won’t collapse on you too quickly. Just don’t expect to be able to rest anything on top of it or clip too many things to its edges.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Desktop Setup 1
Small enough to be pushed to one side of a desk – I just unplug it and wrap the cable up when I’m done. Then chain-drink tea.

Once you’ve managed to put the thing together – which, in my instance, really wasn’t difficult at all, which is a good job as the guide provided with it is a completely hopeless Chinese to English translation, so you’re on your own either way – for the vast majority of the boxes I’ve looked at, all you have to do is plug it into the nearest USB outlet (most are powered by micro USB) and you’re good to go. The colour backdrops provided with the box can be hooked over two tabs at the back of the box to finish the set up with whatever colour you need for your photo.

Seriously, that’s it.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Use

Photographing Single Models in a Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Studio

The first thing I tried to do with this lightbox, given its size, is photograph a few individual miniatures. I started with my recently completed Knight-Questor. The following is an unedited image takes with an iPhone XS in the lightbox.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Knight Questor Unedited
On a quest to test a lightbox.

First off, a small lightbox is a good size for single figures. There’s plenty of room for you to move the miniature around to find the ideal spot, and, if you need to, get your camera in nice and close.

A little selective editing on Google’s Snapseed allowed me to completely white-out the background with very little quality loss on the miniature (there’s a little around the edge of the cape and on the sword), which means FauxHammer would let me use this image in an article or review.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Knight Questor
Background conquered.

To check this wasn’t a one-off, I did the same thing again with my Lord-Relictor. Here is the first, unedited photo:

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Lord Relictor Unedited
The most Monday miniature photo ever.

I encountered a couple of issues with this lightbox that will ring true for a lot of lightboxes available, and with this image of the Lord-Relictor comes the first. This box, like many I’ve looked at, does not have a front light. As you can see from the above photo, my Lord-Relictor looks a little dark. As a larger model, he’s more prone to getting shadows on his surface, and in the above image he just looks a little desaturated. Because the lightbox comes with only two top-lights in its roof, parts of certain models can end up looking a little drab, especially if they have, I don’t know, whacking great standards with skeletons in them blocking out the light.

In some other tests, I tried to mitigate this with a camera flash on the iPhone XS, but because the light of the flash on the phone was that much stronger than those in the roof of the box, this cast large shadows over the box, and also added some truly horrible shiny patches to the metallic or glossy areas of my models, so was no good.

I managed to save this with some careful editing, and put the colour back into the model – of course, doing this means you run the risk of making your models look artificially saturated or exposed. If you have a swanky new phone or high-quality camera, or know your way around some of the apps available to mobile devices, then you’ll be able to mitigate this, as I have below.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Lord Relictor
Shiny, golden, glorious.

Failing that, there are certain more expensive boxes on offer with individual, posable lights which will negate the need for a flash and lots of editing, or whacking great things with loads of moveable lights built-in inside.

But, with the help of a free phone app you won’t have any issues photographing single models. A little editing is always necessary to make sure your pictures look tip-top, but with some practice and ingenuity, you can make your models start to look really great. I’d call this a win.

Photographing Small Groups/Medium-Sized Models in a Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio

Next, I decided to try out a few different things. First off, I grabbed Averon Stormsire and his titular Cursebreakers and chucked them into the box to see how easy it would be to photograph a small group of models. Below is the first, unedited picture.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Stormsires Cursebreakers Unedited
Breakin’ curses and kickin’ ass – but not able to dispel the shadows cast by the rear corners of the box.

Here begins the second problem: size. Whilst on the one hand the fact the box is small means it can be set up just about anywhere, simultaneously you’re going to struggle to get a decent picture of any really large models or units as the box just isn’t that big. Whilst it’s perfect for small groups or individual figures, if you want to get a decent picture of your entire army together, you’ll need to invest in something far larger (that you can even chuck your baby in, if the product images are to be believed).

If you’re also not so great at editing, you may struggle to get rid of the corner folds at the back of the box, visible in the above image. The more models you try and get in the shot, the further out you’ll have to hold your camera, which meansyou will have to make clever use of where you position your models and how you crop your images (again, I got rid of these with Google’s fantastic Snapseed application).

Once again, editing Stormsire and his Cursebreakers were reasonably easy to do: making all the background the same crisp white colour was easy, but the creases now visible at the rear of the box took a little more work to get out.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Stormsires Cursebreakers 2

Once again, to ensure this wasn’t just a one-off, I subbed out Stormsire and his pals for a Celestar Ballista and its crew.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Celestar Ballista Unedited

Compared to Stormsire’s Cursebreakers, this image is far easier to edit. Composition is key: here, I was able to better position the three miniatures to make editing easier, as I could get the rear corners of the lightbox out of the frame. However, this further emphasises the point that this box is small, and may make photographing your minis difficult.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Celestar Ballista

Ultimately, though, with a little patience and some clever positioning, you’ll be able to fit small groups of your miniatures into a small lightbox without too much difficulty. Though you’ll have to be much more aware of where you’re placing them, and careful how you arrange them so they don’t cast shadows on each other, you should not have too many issues.

Photographing Medium-Sized Groups with a Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio

Much the same as previously, any medium-sized groups will require some clever placement and editing skills to take full advantage of your lightbox. As you can see from the unedited picture below, getting all my Sequitors in the picture and avoiding the corner folds/shadows was impossible.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Sequitors Squad Unedited

At this point, editing becomes completely unavoidable: whereas previously you might’ve been able to get away with a little of the background left in the picture, now the interference from the shadows at the back of the box is becoming unsightly and unavoidable – again, an issue that would have been solved with a well-placed front or backlight.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Sequitors Squad

Anything that half-a-dozen models on 40mm bases and you’re going to be putting things on top of each other. I took a photo of the Nighthaunt Thorns of the Briar Queen unit, as although the Briar Queen herself is on a 40mm base, her underlings are on 30mm bases, so it was far easier to space them out and get a neater, more finished look,

Monument Hobbies Bomb Wick Brushes Review Thorns of the Briar Queen
More Nighthaunt, smaller bases.

With some care, you might be able to just about cram a couple more 40mm models in the back, as if putting them on the corners of a heptagon. Again, with smaller models you’d be able to do something similar, but if you want to get more figures into the frame, you’ll have to start getting clever with how you position them. If you’ve got any models with extra sticky-out bits, like my Sequitors in the image below who are waving their hammers around their heads like madmen, you also run the risk of ending up with weapons, limbs, or other bits obscuring the models behind, so you’ll need to mind the angle you take the photo from.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Sequitors heptagon

Trying to take photos of anything larger or any more models than demonstrated here in this section feels futile. The lightbox is not particularly wide, so trying to fit anything more than half-a-dozen or-so models in a line or V-shape formation across the box will begin to get very tricky, and you’ll more than likely end up overlapping your models and covering up that sword or bolter you spent ages on.

Photographing Large Groups in a Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio

This section is more of a courtesy and a warning: most miniature LED portable photo studios will not cut out for anything big.

Straight off the bat, you’re not going to get any large figures in this box. if, like mine, your box is around 20cm x 20cm x 20cm, you’re never going to get any large models – Nagash, Archaon, or any Imperial Titans, for example – into the box. It’s simply too small.

Next, whilst you may be able to get a Mortach-sized figure, such as Arkhan or Neferata, into the box, you might struggle to get a reasonable picture. You’re definitely not going to get a good photo of any large units that really show off the effort and detail you’ve put into each one of your miniatures, as I demonstrate below.

Got a unit larger than those demonstrated above? Or just want to get your prize Tyranid hive all in one frame? Well, chances are, you aren’t going to be able to get your figures arranged in a way that is conducive to taking a decent picture that truly celebrates the time and attention to detail you’ve put into your models. The box just isn;t big enough.

As something of an experiment, I decided to see how many Sequitors I could stuff into my lightbox and how easy it was to get a reasonable picture out of it. Below is the result.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Desktop Setup 5

I managed to get eighteen Sequitors packed pretty tightly. There’s a little room at the back where the white covering curved to meet the rear of the box, and a little space at the front that I could not use as any subsequent image contained the background outside the box, visible through the cutaways on either side. there is also a little space between the bases of some of the models where, due to sticking-out weapons or shields, I couldn’t get them all touching.

With some careful camera positioning, focusing, and being mindful of the exposure from external light sources – and then a heap of cropping and other editing – I was able to get the below.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Sequitors Group
Yes, they haven’t all got transfers on their shoulderpads. That is because transfers are the worst.

I mean, it’s a dreadful setup if you want to show off every model in your large unit, but it does demonstrate the absolute limit of a smaller lightbox. It’s not really suitable for anything large-scale given its modest size.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Storage

A lot of the smaller lightboxes available come with their own storage solutions. Whilst just about all of them will fold down as easily as they go up, those that can be slotted into a bag along with all all their other components equates to some top marks.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Bag

Once all packed up, the lightbox can easily be stashed in a desk draw or slid into a cupboard out of sight. It’s not too big or bulky, so finding space for it won’t be difficult, and its components feel reasonably robust so you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging anything.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Price and Availability

There are dozens upon dozens of compact lightboxes on offer. The particular one this review is based off (the Puluz Photo Accessories LED Portable Photo Studio) is not a revolutionary or professional product, and its price reflects this. It is available on Amazon for, at the time of writing this, a meagre £16 which feels like a very reasonable price for what you get. It’s also available for even less on eBay. There are also dozens of similar things available, such as those found on AliExpress.

Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Cheap
Portable
Simple to use
Easy to store
Effective results with very little effort
Comes with bag, micro USB
Multiple backdrops
Looks and feels cheap
Lack of front light
Really small

A small LED portable photo studio is a good place to begin if you’re new to miniatures, just want tome easy photographs of a select few pieces, or are short on cash or storage space. Whilst it’ll likely meet all the basic requirements for miniature photography, and is easy to set up, pack down, store and carry, they do come with a few drawbacks.

Size is the biggest let-down: (depending which version you get) certain large miniatures will not fit in some of the smaller lightboxes, and getting a good photo of an entire unit or squad might be challenging if you’ve anything more than half a dozen or so miniatures you want in the frame. If, however, you just want a few quick pictures of your favourite models to share on Facebook or Instagram, to keep, or, if you’re like me, to send to your mum, this box is the way to go.

Also worth considering is that if you’re prepping some snaps of your award-winning Magnus the Red, or want to make sure your sure your photos of your next diorama looks great to get all the likes on social media, you’ll want to invest in something to match your ability. If, though, you’re a beginner- or intermediate-level painter who just wants some decent photos of their favourite miniatures, this is an inexpensive and reasonable solution.

If, however, you’re only after something to help you get a few nice snaps of small groups of your minis or just show off your fantastically painted solo figures, you won’t go wrong with one of the more humble offerings similar to the one I got – such as this.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Miniature LED Portable Photo Studio
Author Rating
31star1star1stargraygray
Product Name
Puluz Photo Accessories LED Portable Photo Studio
Price
GBP 16
Product Availability
Available in Stock
About VoltorRWH 19 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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