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Kaiser tabletop photo kit review

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Kaiser tabletop photo kit review

Fotospeed ‘Easy fit’ product photography kit



Keith looks at a basic product photography background and light kit that despite its simplicity is more than good enough to take excellent product photos for your web catalogue or store.

A basic shooting table and a couple of lights will give a lot of flexibility and get you started. You need to appreciate the basics of camera angle, lens choice and image processing before moving on to more advanced (and expensive) studio set-ups.

We've many reviews and articles related to Product Photography. See the Product Photography category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

basic product photography

Even if you’re just shooting photos for a small eBay business, the importance of good quality photography should not be underestimated.

A simple way of improving colour accuracy is also covered here, using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport.

At Northlight Images, Keith also teaches the basics of product photography to businesses of all sizes here in the UK.

We make a point of not selling cameras or equipment and offer advice to our training clients about just what might fit their business needs.

Keith’s own commercial work tends to be more location based and often of industrial equipment that needs photographing in situ.

Our unit was kindly lent to us by Fotospeed in the UK where it costs £217.99 (inc. VAT)

Shooting table and light kit at Amazon US

Basic setup

Whilst a single window for light and a reflector may suffice for some great looking ‘natural’ food photography, for most product shots you want a fairly neutral background and a couple of lights.

The background is often curved so that it not only serves as a base for the item(s), but rises up behind to fill the view.

Your camera needs to be on a tripod, since this not only helps get sharper photos, but makes it easier to reproduce consistent lighting and camera angle for multiple shots of objects.

One important thing to remember when you are arranging items is that it is -only- the view from the camera that counts. I know from many training sessions that the temptation is to arrange everything and then wonder why the view from the camera looks wrong. You need to look at lighting and item arrangement from where the camera is going to be.

What do you get

The kit has two continuous light sources – compact fluorescent tubes. You can’t control the brightness, so you have the most basic (and important) control of moving where you put the lights.

I’ll show some simple examples in due course.

For a compact kit, it comes in a big box (piano for scale). I’m going to set things up on the table

Shipping box

The component parts are a bit easier to store.

Note assembly instructions on the boxes.

shooting table and lights

The whole kit takes longer to unpack than it does to put the parts together – no tools are required.

Specifications from Fotospeed

Consists of easy-fit shooting table (5845) and the Desktop Lighting Kit 2 (5862).

Compact shooting table for small object photography without an interfering background. Comprised of a foldable tubular steel frame and a white translucent plastic sheet with preformed front edge. Easy setup and take-down without need of tools, space-saving storage. Base frame with nonskid feet and holding provisions for accessories on both sides.

Level work space on table: approx. 59 x 37 cm (23.2 x 14.6 in.).
Height of backdrop: approx. 35 cm (13.8 in.).
19 cm (7.5 in.) free space underneath the table for a transmitted light source (light box).

Total dimensions: (WxHxD): 70 x 54 x 68 cm (27.6 x 21.3 x 26.8 in.).
Weight: approx. 3.4 kg (7½ lbs.).

Desktop Lighting Kit 2, consisting of two reflector lights with ceramic socket E27* for photofloods up to 250 watts, detachable reflector (ø 27 cm), swivel joint, umbrella mount, on/off switch and cord 3.8 m (12.5 ft.). Each incl. energy saving lamp 25 W (3110), diffusing cover for soft light and light stand setting height 35-70 cm (13.8-27.6 in.).

Assembly

The frame simply unfolds (and has rubber coverings so the dining table isn’t in danger.

frame for product shooting table

The plastic section of the table is well protected (be careful with scratches).

surface of shooting table

The top of the plastic fits under the metal clips.

top retaining clip

The sheet is attached to the front of the frame with two wing nuts.

I noted the two side attachments which could be used for clamping lights to the frame.

clamp for plastic sheet

The two reflectors are a tight fit to the lamp holder. I found it best to do this -before- fitting the bulb.

reflector and light bulb

The lamp holders fit to the tops of the light stands (you will need to slacken them off quite a bit to fit in place).

I’ve also fitted the two cloth diffusers to the fronts of the reflectors.

diffuser sheets fitted to lights

Having the diffusers in place makes for a much smoother lighting.

Note too how I’ve moved the reflector so that the ventilation hole is at the top.

Two light setup

The two lights are both forward of the subject and lighting it from slightly above.

simple two lamp product lighting setup

The diffusers make for soft shadows. The device is an i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer, something I use for my printing and precisely measuring light.

i1pro 2 spectrophotometer

A more reflective item (Canon 100D camera) shows how care with reflections can give depth to objects and emphasise textures.

Canon 100D camera

If you’re photographing items with straps and handles, consider removing them if it makes the shot clearer?

The plastic is translucent, so what about lighting from behind or below?

light moved behind product shooting table

The plastic will cause the transmitted light to be a bit warmer, so you may need to allow for this when processing the images later.

Moving the lights

I’ll show some examples with a reflective object, where I’m moving the position of the lights.

lights moved nearer to the sides of the subject

Notice the way the lights are reflected.

gin bottle with two lights

Moving the lights nearer the camera subtly changes the reflections

It can take a while to work out the best position of the lights and object, but is worth taking time over if you are photographing a lot of objects.

Once you find a lighting setup that works, don’t forget to write it down – or a few photos of the setup with your phone will suffice.

Moving one light backwards gives a very different look to the photo.

One light moved behind the object being photographed.

The right light now picks out the edge, and gives a different feeling of depth to the object.

Gin bottle lit partly from behind

I then turned off the right light, so you can see just the effect of the lamp to the left.

single light source

If you’re unsure of what’s working well, it often helps to try just one light.

Gin bottle lit with just one light

If you then add a second light, you can start with it further away and much reduce its influence, then bring it in and move it around. Don’t forget to change its height as well.

This time spent experimenting is not wasted – spend a bit longer on your first shot and the improvement will help all the rest.

Better Colour

Energy saving lamps are not my ideal solution for accurate colour rendition, but it turns out that a simple tool and the free software that you can get for it can make an appreciable difference.

The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport contains charts of coloured patches in a solid plastic case. It’s a vital part of my camera kit bag when working on location.

photograph of colourchecker passport

I’ve a detailed review covering its use if you’re curious, but essentially you photograph it under the lighting you are using and use the software to build a profile to correct colour, if you are processing RAW files in Photoshop or Lightroom.

passport software identifying coloured patches in photo

Buying a Card

We make a specific point of not selling hardware, but if you found the review of help, please consider buying your card, or any other items at all, via our links with Amazon or B&H
Amazon UK link / Amazon Fr / Amazon De
Amazon USA link / Amazon Canada link

It won’t cost any more (nor less we’re afraid) but will contribute towards the running costs of our site.

 

ColorChecker Passport at B&H | Adorama

By the way, when I’m shooting product work, I -only- use the camera’s RAW image files.

The JPEG files out of the camera may look OK for some uses, but to get the most from the camera and offer the greatest flexibility in processing your photos, you should be looking at RAW files.

It’s much easier to make adjustments to the warmth or coolness of the image (colour temperture) or variations in shadow detail and handling of highlights/reflections at the RAW processing stage.

The example below shows the changes between ‘out of the camera’ and applying a profile, using the ACR (Adobe camera RAW) converter for opening RAW files in Photoshop.

The profiles created with the ColourChecker Passport are specific to the lighting and camera type they were created with.

If colours are this important to your work, then you should also make sure that your monitor is accurately set up to. A simple to use solution to this would be the ColorMunki Smile. I’ve reviewed many such devices here along with more about why you should consider them for serious work.

The image below shows the basic colours as-is and, if you move your mouse over the image, the slight adjustments that the profile gives.

Note the slight changes in the coloured patches – this can make quite a difference if you have a range of brightly coloured products.

In this instance, the profile reduces contrast a bit, but that’s a simple adjustment elsewhere in the processing.

There is another example of using the card in the ‘simple product photography setup‘ article I wrote a while ago.

Conclusions

The basic product photography table and lamps are more than good enough for producing competent photos of objects for catalogues and brochures.

You’ll need to pay attention to the photography side of things (camera and lens choices) and the post production side (Photoshop or the like) but I was pleased to see such effective results from lamps that I might have initially dismissed as too simple.

This table and lamps are much more flexible than many of the product photography ‘cubes’ you may see for product work, which I’ve never been entirely comfortable with.

We've many reviews and articles related to Product Photography. See the Product Photography category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

If you’re in the UK and want to know more about the bespoke on-site product photography training I offer, please have a look at the training information on this site or give me a call?

Summary

A kit with a tabletop product shooting table and two continuous lamps with diffusers.

Our unit was kindly lent to us by Fotospeed in the UK where it costs £217.99 (inc. VAT)

In the USA? See  Shooting table and light kit at Amazon US | Shooting tables at B&H | Adorama tables

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