Price When Reviewed: 255 . 299
Pros: Collapsible light tent and studio lamp make it easy shoot photographs with even illumination, subtle shadows and subdued reflections on small to medium-sized objects.
Cons: Edges can creep into shot when using the smaller version.
Commercial design or 3D modelling work often throws up a need for product shots, with near-shadowless lighting and invisible backgrounds. Using a professional photographic studio is expensive. Cubelite offers an in-house alternative, described as a small portable studio.
Cubelite is a collapsible steel-framed cube of white translucent cloth, inside which you place your object. It scatters any external light into smooth diffused illumination with soft-edged shadows and no awkward reflections on shiny surfaces. You can place white or coloured background paper rolls inside, clipping them to the upper rear frame and rolling them smoothly across the base. This gives an ‘infinity’ effect with no visible horizon.
It’s great for product and pack shots – and it makes cutouts easy. Another use might be shooting object rotation sequences for 3D model extraction or QuickTime VR movies – Cubelite minimizes colour and shadow changes.
The kit includes a 500W studio lamp with a tripod stand, a roll of white backdrop paper, a Lastolite silver/white collapsible reflector that fits inside to fine-tune lighting and shadows, and two soft carry cases.
Three cube sizes are available – there’s a 2 foot (60cm), 3 foot (90cm), and 4 foot (1.2m). If you have enough space you should choose one of the larger two sizes to avoid the edges of the backdrop paper appearing in shot. The larger cube will give you more elbowroom, too - making it easier to reach inside and arrange the set and reflector.
Erecting the cube is easy. You just have to take it out of its bag and give it a shake to make it spring into shape. A detachable front panel lets you reach inside, and it has zipped openings that you poke the camera lens through when shooting. Additional detachable base and rear panels are available with the 60cm cube for £30 extra.
The spring-framed cube and reflector collapse and concertina down after use to fit a remarkably small carrying bag
– our 60cm cube and reflector fitted into a round bag about 470mm across and 120mm thick.
Most digital cameras have adjustable white balances, so it’s easy to set them up for the tungsten lamp – we used
a Canon EOS 10D camera and simply shot an empty cube interior to set the custom white balance.
Cubelite works brilliantly. It’s idiot-proof, and much cheaper than hiring a professional studio, even for just one day.