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.
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
Impact 8′ Air-cushioned Light Stands
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
Impact VA902 Three Lamp Cool Light
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
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.
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.
4) What’s In The Box?
- 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
- 2 x Air-cushioned Light Stand (Black, 8′)
- 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
SP Studio Systems – Desktop Shooting Table
- Plexiglass sheet
- Metal frame
The table, lights, and stands are very well-designed and solidly constructed.
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.
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.