Saturday, April 12, 2014

Foldio - An Orangemonkie product

Hey folks. So today I've got something a bit different to share.  Its only somewhat related to nail polish and beauty, so if you're uninterested in reading about light boxes...well, I understand. I also apologize in advance for all of the words.  I had fun writing about this one, and so I kind of went on and on.  So, I'm sorry y'all.

A few months ago, I decided I needed a lightbox.  I have for a long time loved doing shots outdoors, but I have to face the truth: I live in Florida and the weather is almost never gonna work out for me. Its either sweltering out or raining (or about to rain, you know...cloudy). I also tend to shoot at night; I'm not a night owl, but I like to just sit at my own couch after being at work all day and relax a little. By the time I've fed the pets, watch YouTube or TV, eat and play the bass, it's dark out. I have pretty good light conditions but I also have my issues with it and so, I felt like a light box might provide me with improved lighting.

So...I researched. I wanted something cheap and small, as my vanity area can only accommodate so much and I'm really only photographing small items. I found inexpensive and relatively small light boxes, but then I heard about the Foldio, a portable system designed to be used with cell phone cameras. To be honest, I don't really care about the portability factor (or the cell phone one, but more on that in a minute), but being that it folds to such a small footprint made it an ideal solution. Other light boxes come with big lamps and don't collapse to such a small size. I've also read people complain that the lights tend to get really hot with the more traditional set ups...that kind of scares me off.  Nothing like worrying about fire to make me think twice. The price of the Foldio was a little higher than the cheapest light boxes out there, but not by much and the system seemed really cool. There were issues still, though. The Foldio was a kick start project and had been funded but not produced. I missed the funding! I stalked their Facebook page ( like nobody's business and saw them kindly responding to people about preordering. The CS has been great and they let me pre order so that my product would be shipped with the backers. The only problem with preordering is the wait through production.  Eventually they shipped, and international customers started showing some results. This was both exciting and frustrating, because I saw how amazing it was and it just made the wait worse.

It finally arrived.

They shipped using USPS priority, so it made it from California (after getting from Korea, of course) to Florida in a relatively short time. They were also apologetic about the long wait.

There were really two versions to chose from. One with one strip of LED lights and another with two; I went with a second strip because the brighter the better, amirite?

The two light strips also came with 4 background sheets; green, gray, black and white. The whole unit also came with a little white carrying case, which is a bit lacking it quality, however fits the Foldio well. The background sheets are another story. If you are planning on using this outside the house, you might want to find a better way to port everything around.

The Foldio is made of a fairly sturdy white plastic; when you first get it, they advise you to bend all the wings back and forth so that it stands squarely. There are a series of magnets, and they all work well to both build up the Foldio and break it down. Assembly and disassembly are quick; less than minute. The background sheets appear to be made of foam. They stink badly. I think they were manufactured and then quickly packaged so that they weren't aired properly. They seemed better after just a day of airing out.

I'll tell you: I had a bit of concern with the choice of LED lights. I already have an LED lamp, which I do love as it really illuminates the subject, but tends to turn items bluer than they are.  Some of my photos even show a blue light shining right on bottles.  Annoying.  I didn't want this (obviously) but I felt it was a possibility here. Even still, I was willing to risk it, largely because I feel like the makers know better than I do and that they probably wouldn't put blue tinged lights in a light box. After seeing other pictures online, I realized the shots looked great so this concern dwindled quickly. After trying it out, I realized there is no blueness at all. Just bright light.

The strips attach via a double sided tape to adhere to the box and are powered by 9 volt batteries. Some complained about not going with AAs but it doesn't make much difference to me. I do wish they could plug into a wall socket, but then it wouldn't be the portable light box we all know and love. There are q couple of ways to attach the light strips if you have two; I decided to put both in the front to reduce shadow and that seems to work fine. Shadows are minimal.

So...what about this cell phone business?
I have nothing against cell phone pictures. I use my camera on my phone when I need it. That's what makes the Foldio great; just like your cell, its easy to port around. But, I never really desired to take it with me anywhere. I knew going in, that my plan was to try this with my standalone camera. This works well with my camera. I'm excited to really give it a try.

Where can you get a Foldio?
As far as I know, Foldios are produced in Korea and are shipped from there. All American backers received theirs after being shipped via cargo ship (which by the way, is not fast). To stay up to date on availability, I recommend going to their facebook page. You can also sign up for their newsletter to keep up to date on what they're planning for the Foldio next.

Update:  I added photos!  I forgot to include a quick sample shot but I will have my first post up where I'm using it soon.  And let me say...the shots are amazing.

carrying case

green background

white background




  1. I am considering this light box. I'm a manicurist so is need to be able to put my phone/camera somewhere to take the pictures. Since the client hands would be in the opening, I envisioned cutting a hole in the top for the camera. Would that work? Thank you in advance for your reply. Michele.

  2. Hello Michele. Thank. You for visiting!

    I don't really know if I can answer this very well, but I do beleive you could easily cut a hole into the material. I would be hesitant to do it because I'd hate to ruin it and I think they've had a cost increase since they've released it. I know this one is really appealing because it collapses to such a small footprint, but I think they're other light boxes out there that might suite what you need better.