Over the holiday weekend I posted some items I thought would make great gift ideas. One of those was a portable photo studio that had been recommended for shooting 1:64 diecast. I posted the link, and quite a few of you grabbed one.
One of those people was Rick Moore, a fellow collector who has gotten a some attention on Instagram for his “Collection Collage” photos:
Rick obviously has some talent as a photographer, so I curious about his take on the portable studio. He was nice enough to do a play by play of his set up and use of the studio. It looks like a helpful tool.
Honestly, a good way to photograph your collection is imperative these days. Smart phones take great photos (as Rick says the new iPhone 7 is amazing), and there are tools like hobbyDB that make it easy to document what you have online.
This tool looks like a good one, and be sure to get the one I listed. There are several versions on Amazon of this studio, but not all come with the USB cable to power it. That is important.
Anyway, many thanks to Rick for sharing. If you do get this studio, be sure to share your pics. I would love to see them.
I started shooting my cars just over a year ago in keep a visual record of what I had in my collection. If I was ever in a store and wondered whether I had a certain model, all I needed to do was look on my phone. Those photos turned into an Instagram account that, quite by accident, has a fair bit of followers today.
A friend of mine recently told me I needed to “take my photography to the next level”. I chuckled a bit, because I really didn’t want to be that nerdy about it. However, last week, the Lamley Group posted a “Holiday Gift Idea” article. Being a guy that often buys my own presents, I immediately jumped on the “Amzdeal Portable Photo Studio” for $18.99. It seemed to be the next logical step.
I received the package about 3 days later (thanks, Amazon Prime!) and ripped it open as quickly as I could. I decided to share with the community the results of my purchase. That way you can decide if something like this will work for you.
The photo box (that’s what I’m calling it) came folded up in a a 9×9 inch flat square. Portable, indeed. It also came with two backgrounds and a proprietary USB cable that connects to either a computer or USB charger of some sort. The cord has an on/off switch on it so that you can leave it plugged in all the time. I’ll tell you in a minute why that might be a good idea.
It’s pretty easy to assemble. Slide the two flaps out of the middle and it unfolds into a funky, origami-looking piece of polypropylene. Connect the circular velcro tabs together and you have a box. I found you need to futz with it just a bit to get it to be a true cube shape.
The LED light bar is glued to the top flap of the box. It seems pretty solid. What gives me a little anxiety is the micro-USB plug on the end of the light bar. It takes a fair amount of force to both connect and disconnect the cable. If you’re not careful, or if you have meat-mitts like I do, you stand a pretty good chance of ripping the connector right off the bar. Take caution, my friends.
Inside the box are two tabs. These are to hang the foam backgrounds. They need a little push to get them into place, but the foam hangs pretty well once you have it settled. Once you have everything set, simply push the switch on the cable and you’re in business. Be warned…the LEDs are as bright as the sun, so don’t look directly at them as you light ‘em up.
I bought a fresh 5-pack today that would be perfect for testing the photo box. The Ford GT and the Toyota Supra were the main reason for picking this one up.
As soon as I DLMd the cars, I stuck the Supra in for a test shot. Here’s a picture to give you an idea of the size of the box vs. that of the car. In my initial tests, this photo box is really optimized for 1:64 scale. You can go as big as 1:43, but it’s stretching it. Anything larger than that just doesn’t fit.
My camera of choice is a brand new iPhone 7+. It’s got an awesome lens and sensor, especially the separate 2x optical zoom lens. And to be fair, that is really the lens that gives the best results. I tried a couple of shots with the Ford GT and found that the box just isn’t wide enough; the inside edges were visible. That forces you to try and get the phone far enough inside the box to get a good, close shot without having visible edges in the background. It didn’t work very well.
The zoom lens, though, made all the difference in the world. I placed the car dead center on the base of the box, set my phone up on the edge of my desk to steady it, and then hit the 2x button. Boom. Perfect shot. You will also be fine if you have a handheld point-and-shoot or D-SLR with a good zoom lens as well. A tripod would be useful, too.
I also tried a shot with the black foam background, but found it has way too much texture to be useful. I think a piece of card stock or construction paper will work much better.
All in all, I think it’s a pretty good purchase. $19 was a decent price for what you get. There are bigger photo boxes available on Amazon, but they are also between $45 and $85. It really just comes down to how serious you are about diecast photography. This is as far as I am going—for now.
Now to see if this will work for shots to use for upcoming Collection Collages… 😉