Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit Review

If you are into product photography, or perhaps sell items on a regular basis on sites such as ebay, it makes sense to have a lighting studio kit that can produce consistent, high quality results. The Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit is an out-of-the-box solution that enables you to quickly and easily start capturing quality product photos.

Lens 2

1) Initial Thoughts

This is another well-built kit by Impact that provides good value for the money and is a worthy alternative to kits selling for significantly more.

2) Product Specifications

SP Desktop Shooting Table
It consists of a frame and sheet of white translucent plexiglass.
Horizontal shooting area: 23.25 x 17″
Curved vertical rise: 23.25 x 14.5″
Includes: 23.25 x 35.5″ plexiglass sheet

Desktop Shooting Table

Impact 8′ Air-cushioned Light Stands
Number: 2
Minimum Height: 26.75 in (68 cm)
Maximum Height: 8 ft (2.4 M)
Closed Length: 27 in (68.5 cm)
Footprint Diameter: 3 ft (91.4 cm)
Leg Tip: 20mm
Weight : 2.4 lbs (1 kg)
Maximum Load: 7.5 lb (3.4 kg)
Attachment Size: 5/8 in stud with 1/4″-20 in threaded tip
Accepts Wheels: Yes
Air Cushioned: Yes
Matte black

Impact Air Cushioned Stand

Impact VA902 Three Lamp Cool Light
Number: 2
Input Voltage: 120VAC
Lamps: 3- 30 Watts, E26 Base, included
Ballast: In each bulb
Mounting: 5/8″ Baby Mount
Weight: 7 lbs (3.2 kg)
Dimensions: Not Specified by Manufacturer

Impact Light Head
Impact Light Head with Diffuser
Impact - Back of Light Head

2) Features And Construction

The shooting table is very easy to set-up. The formed plexiglass sheet’s grommets simply slide over the posts of the folding table and the top of the sheet slides under two brackets. Two knobs then lock the plexiglass sheet in place. Set up time: 1 minute. When not being used, the table can easily be dissembled and folded to be relatively compact. The plexiglass doesn’t fold completely flat, however, as the bottom and top portions have flexible, but rather stiff bend points.

The two 3-way cool florescent lights provide 4500 lumens of 5500°K light. I like my white balance a bit more to toward the blue end of the spectrum, so I adjusted the temperature to 4900°K in Lightroom 4. The heads are made out of sturdy aluminum and they easily lock into place with a quick turn of the adjustment knob. Impact provides a plexiglass diffuser which takes a bit of the edge off the light bulbs and softens the light. I had the lights on for the better part of an hour, and they remained cool to the touch. These lights can be assembled in approximately 5 minutes. The Impact light stands included in this kit are highly rated. They are air-cushioned, which is a nice touch for stands in this price range.

3)Operations

This desktop studio shooting table kit is very easy to use. Simply arrange your shooting table on the end of a desk or table (floor if you don’t have pets), put your product on the plexiglass, and arrange your lights. You may have to experiment with the light proximity, angles, and your cameras settings a bit to get the right combination for desired exposure. Depending on your preference, you may wish to have a solid white exposure as the background or a bit of a fall-off resulting in a grayish background. You can also move one of the lights behind light table so you have one in front and one in back. This is a purely a matter of taste and the look you attempting to achieve.

Here are some photos which demonstrate the light and effects of this kit. I varied the exposure and light fall-off a bit to demonstrate the various effects of changing the position of the lights.

Figurine 2

Figurine 5

Lens

Watch

Jewelry Box

4) What’s In The Box?

Lamps
- 2 x VA902 Three Lamp Fluorescent Cool Light (120VAC)
- 3 x Spiral Fluorescent Lamp – 27/30 Watts/120 Volts
- Diffusion Panel
- One Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

Light Stands
- 2 x Air-cushioned Light Stand (Black, 8′)
- 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty

SP Studio Systems – Desktop Shooting Table
- Plexiglass sheet
- Metal frame

5) Quality

The table, lights, and stands are very well-designed and solidly constructed.

6) Value

At $375, this kit is priced toward the lower end of the studio table lighting kit spectrum. Prices for some of the competitors products, such as Manfrotto and Elinchrom range from $300 to nearly $1,900 for the shooting table alone, to which you need to add the cost of lights and stands. As such, this kit provides a good value if you are looking for a good entry point for product photography and appreciate the convenience and time savings a kit can provide.

7) Suggested Improvements

On the next iteration, Impact should consider making the back a bit taller. This would enable you to capture larger objects without having to raise your camera a bit.

8) Conclusion

If you are getting into product photography and want to do so without busting your photography budget, this Impact kit is an excellent choice.

9) Compared To

While I haven’t directly tested the other alternatives from Manfrotto, Delta, Elinchrom or others, this Impact kit doesn’t seem to be lacking on the quality front when compared to other lighting equipment I own or have used. You are getting quite a bit for your $375. The competitors’ configurations mentioned will cost you a between $600 and $2,400 once you add the costs of the table and similar lights and stands. The others also offer similar plexiglass surfaces and metal frames.
Some of the competitors offer the opportunity to position a light below the shooting table. Such a feature may be important to you, depending on how sophisticated your needs are. The legs on the Impact shooting table are a bit low, so it you would not be able to fit one of the Impact light heads below the table.
As always, you should weigh the various kit options and associated prices in light of your specific needs. In the case of someone that only occasionally needs to take product photos, some of the low-end light tents or even configurations of poster board material found at Staples, combined with utility lamps/reflectors found at Home Depot, may suffice. If you suspect that product photography will become a serious part of your portfolio, you may indeed be able to justify one of the higher end lighting kits.

10) Where To Buy

You can find the Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit at B&H Photo. You can also find the Impact Beauty Dish Adapter for Elinchrom, Impact EX, Calumet Genesis, Interfit EX Flash Heads at B&H as well.

Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit Review3.875Bob Vishneski2013-03-07 10:50:15The Impact Desktop Studio Shooting Table Two Light Kit provides product photographers with a value-based entry level lighting kit.
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Size and Weight
Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating

Comments

  1. 1
    ) David
    March 8, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hi

    As always great reading material on this site..

    Being a complete n00b in this area, yet eager to learn, I have one q. Have I understood thing right that these lights are “on” all the time, or do they work as flashes and thus needing some kind of “pocket wizard” thingy to shoot?

    Best regards..

    • 3
      ) Mark
      March 8, 2013 at 4:54 am

      Look at the bulbs, they can’t be used as flashes.

      • March 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm

        David,
        Indeed, these are continuous lights, so no flash triggers required.
        Bob

  2. 2
    ) Mark
    March 8, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Look at the bulbs, they can’t be used as flashes.

  3. 4
    ) David
    March 8, 2013 at 4:57 am

    Thanks Mark..

    Didn’t think about that.. ‘em bulbs are just bulbs to me :)

  4. 5
    ) Chris Zeller
    March 8, 2013 at 8:58 am

    How do you compare continious lighting to strobes for this application? For about the same price you could get budget studio strobes. Why did you choose continious lights?

    My experience is that strobes provide more lighting which is useful if you want smaller aperturres/greater DOF for macro at lower ISOs but are more complicated to trigger from the camera.

    • March 8, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Chris,
      Off camera flashes such as the SB-900 and SB-700 do indeed offer some advantages, although it comes at a cost, and may be overkill for some people’s needs.
      I have used my 500W Gemini heads with beauty dishes and softboxes on them for similar shots. As long as you get the white balance and exposure settings right, you probably wouldn’t be able to discern the product shots taken with this kit from those taken with the Gemini heads.
      Bob

    • March 9, 2013 at 5:39 am

      The nice part about continuous lights it that you can see exactly where your light is going to fall on the subject without breaking the bank on strobes with modelling lights.

  5. 6
    ) Neil
    March 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I like the idea of this but they would be wise to sell the desktop part separately from the lights. I’ve got lights and I use Elmer 3 fold posterboard for white backgrounds. Works very well. This looks simpler and easier but I wouldn’t want to buy their lights, too.

  6. 11
    ) Jim D
    March 12, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    What lens(es) did you use to take those shots? Any recommendations for a lens for product photography?

    • March 13, 2013 at 4:19 am

      Jim,
      The minimum focusing distance is something to keep an eye on, since it varies quite a bit from lens to lens. I often find that I reach for my 24-70mm f/2.8, but will sometimes use my 70-200mm VRII, 28-105mm, 28-300m VR, and yes – my excellent 28-80mm (a whopping $50 on ebay!).
      Anything that will allow you to get close enough given the size of the objects you are photographing should be fine. Since I normally shoot at f/8-f/11, it would be hard to spot a difference between these lenses. The D800 also gives me quite a bit of leeway to crop images.
      Bob

  7. March 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    This is some very useful kit ,I was taking shots of my Dad’s old movie camera and had to improvise by putting white cardboard on table but even then the background was black in flash as I wanted everything white :)

    I think any close focus lens or macro lens is good enough as far as the lenses go.

    Great looking samples and info Bob ,thanks! :)

    Cheers!

    • March 19, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      Adnan,
      Thanks for the feedback. I have toyed around with various posterboard setups, but inevitably they get dented, break, etc. and I waste time in Photoshop. Kits such as this really help streamline your workflow and allow you to spend your time in better pursuits!
      Bob

  8. 15
    ) Spy Black
    March 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    A side-note question, what did you shoot those lenses with? The CA is painful!

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