Wednesday, 17 January 2018

[Review] Foldio2 from Orangemonkie.

What better way to start a blog about miniature painting then with a brief review of a product that will get nearly as much use as the paints and brushes in my collection. One of my pet peeves in the world of miniature war-gaming on the internet is poor photography - people will spend countless hours and hefty sums of money on equipment to bring miniatures to life, only to ruin it all with substandard, out-of-focus, poorly-lit pictures. 

In an often overlooked aspect of the hobby, especially when sharing your works on a digital medium, miniature photography is a critical element when seeking help in developing your abilities through feedback or simply in showing off your skills to fellow enthusiasts. 

One of the most important pieces of equipment in a good miniature photography setup (aside from the camera) is a light box. I'll leave the exact science behind the light box to the legion of internet experts elsewhere, but for the layman like myself, it has three primary uses:

#1 - To cast a the right type of light colour onto the miniature.

#2 - To diffuse light in order to remove harsh localised reflections from the miniature.

#3 - To bathe the miniature in light in order to highlight detail and remove shadows.

Now, creating a DIY lightbox is not an altogether difficult or even expensive task. Household items like plastic milk cartons, desk lamps, baking paper and tape can be used to jury rig a perfectly acceptable and budget-friendly lightbox. If you consider yourself one of these lightbox Macgyver types, I salute you.

But there's nothing for you here.

If you're the type that likes to spend your hard earned cash on over-priced gadgets that come in fancy packaging, welcome to the Foldio2 from OrangeMonkie.  

With enough power adapters to allow you take pictures of your miniatures in all those countries you'll never travel to.

So what's in the box?

One foldable studio made of a heavy duty, semi-opaque, plastic sheeting material. The studio sides clip together with magnets in a rather spiffy design feature. When opened out it measures as 15" x 15" x 15" square and flattens out to 1" high when folded up.

Two LED strips, each with a diffuser cover and adjustable dimmer switch that attach to the studio with an adhesive backing strip and the relevant power adapters. (I picked up an extra two LED strips with mine.) 

Also included are four (White, Black, Grey and Green) pieces of art paper to act as backdrops - these are affixed to the inside of the studio with yet more magnets.

For those days when it's lovely and sunny outside but you don't want a bar of that nature crap.

So is it worth having?

The build quality is great, it's a polished product with no shortcuts or rough edges. In terms of functionality, it's near perfect. It takes two minutes to set up, two minutes to tear down and you can stash it anywhere given it's tiny footprint once it's back in the box - a definite plus for apartment dwellers or those unfortunate individuals who decided to breed children.

The quality of your photography will, of course, vary along with your camera, ability-level and photo editing knowledge but a light box like this will definitely give you leg up towards knocking out some fantastic pictures. 

To give you an idea, the following is a non-edited picture taken with a DSLR on Auto (macro) settings. No clever tricks or photographic knowledge used, just lots of light, point and click.

'Don't look at the camera guardsmen, just pretend to aim at something like you normally do.'

The Cons?

The price.

The basic Foldio2 package is $75 USD. Add a second set of LED's and it bumps up to $115 USD. Given that a DIY lightbox can be put together with pocket change and recyclable rubbish, a price tag that high can be a big turnoff for a lot of hobbyists. 

In short:

I like it. 

My wallet hates it. 

The girlfriend never saw the invoice.


Looking for a better sale pitch? You can find all the details on OrangeMonkie's website here.


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