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I’ve written about a few different soft boxes in the past. One is the Westcott uLite and the other is the LimoStudio 700W Photography Softbox kit. I’ve been recommending the Westcott uLite, and a reader asked me about the LimoStudio light, so I fully compared the two.
If you watched the video above, it might seem I’m a little angry in it. You can imagine with the shenanigans going on with the LimoStudio light, it took a bit of my time. I’m quite surprised at all the good reviews of the LimoStudio light. If you saw the video, you noticed I brought up the fact that the manufacturer has clearly had so many issues with the light heads not working that they had to make a “fix-it” video on youtube.
This fix-it video showed taking a flat head screwdriver to the light socket and bending two metal tabs in it. The two metal tabs bent like aluminum foil. At least they said to make sure the light was turned off! I would have said to unplug the dang thing. Well, I did this to the non-working light. I put the bulb back in, plugged it in and turned it on only to hear all kinds of cracking and snapping – you know, those really bad electrical sounds that you NEVER want anything electric to sound like. Yeah, those. So I immediately yanked the cord from the power.
This light has a ton of good reviews on Amazon. It’s just my opinion, but I think a lot of those reviews were bought. If they had to make a youtube video explaining how to dangerously “fix” the light, there is no way that many people were happy with it.
The LimoStudio customer service is actually really good. They followed up with me and they sent me all kinds of extra stuff I didn’t need. They went above and beyond.
Anyway, that being said, the Westcott light had only four reviews. The one review that said the bulb popped on him, left me suspicious. You are not supposed to touch these high wattage bulbs. The oil from his skin can actually be what made that bulb pop if he touched it. I personally have never had a 500W bulb pop on me – in 25 years. So please don’t let those reviews put you off of this light.
The major difference between these two lights are the bulbs. The LimoStudio kit uses CFL bulbs, compact fluorescents. These things are HUGE! They are supposed to last a very long time too, which would be ok, if they were only as bright as they are rated to be.
This light is supposed to put out light that equals 350W. Well, when compared to the 500W bulb, (which is obviously brighter to start with), when reading both bulbs in the same position from the set, with a light meter, the CFL bulb really equalled 125W.
Above is my set. This is with the Wescott light. See the black light meter on the surface? I didn’t move that at all, and I switched the tungsten Wescott light for the CFL light.
It’s a little hard to see, the light meter reading on the left says F4 at 1/8th of a second. The meter on the right says F8 at 1/8th of a second. This is a difference of two stops of light. That’s a big difference. It should only be different by less than half a stop of light. Which means it should have read a little over F5.6.
The other test I did was for color temperature. I wanted to know how our cameras would handle each light set to Auto White Balance and then set to the white balance that the camera has for each light source.
Notice how different the images are above with color. My Canon cameras tend to make very warm images with Tungsten light when the camera is set to AWB. I prefer the image on the left. There’s no right or wrong here UNLESS I am selling that bowl. Then color accuracy is a big deal. Especially if you are photographing something for a sponsored post.
With the images above, you can see the different white balance settings used. This bulb has a color temperature rating of 5000K. That is equivalent to daylight white balance. However, this is a fluorescent bulb and we all know that fluorescent lights have an ugly green tint to them so my WB setting of daylight, made the image look very green.
Then with the camera set to fluorescent WB, the image got too blue. So the only way to use this light source and have your images with a neutral color balance is to set your cameras to Auto WB.
There’s one problem with shooting with auto white balance – the camera will change the white balance with EVERY photo you take. That means your color will shift around on you from image to image. I’m not OK with that, but I think it’s your only option with these CFL bulbs, unless you are an advanced user.
For those advanced users, if you are shooting RAW file format, you can always easily tweak your color temperature after you shoot. If you are shooting jpgs, you can tweak your color temperature, but depending on how far off your color temperature is in your shot, you might struggle to get it back to a neutral color, especially with fluorescent light.
So below is showing my favorite color temperature from each light:
There are very subtle difference between the two, which is normal when you switch lights like this.
Now, judging from the color, I’d say the CFL light worked great.
Remember when I said that the CFL light was much less bright than the manufacturer claimed? Well for the CFL light, I had to make my shutter speed slower to let in more light because I wanted to keep my F-Stop at 5.6 and I always set my ISO at 100 for the best quality.
Please note: You might be wondering if you could put the 500W Tungsten bulb in the LimoStudio soft box. DO NOT EVEN THINK OF DOING THIS. That light socket is only rated for 85W. I’m not even sure what would happen, but I do know it won’t be good.
Ok so here are the lights again:
Westcott Photo Basics 411 uLite and 20-Inch Soft Box. On Amazon it is $99. Ignore the bad review on this one. This does NOT come with the light stand that it shows. You have to get that separately along with the bulb. Now, if Amazon is sold out, Adorama has this as well for the same price, and free shipping I believe. You can also get the bulb and stand there as well.
This is another light I like. It’s a bit larger, so it will cover a larger table area when shooting. It’s the Westcott uLite with 26″ Octabox. It’s $120, then you have to get the stand and the same bulb mentioned below.
Sylvania 11560 ECT 500W bulb. On Amazon it is about $5. I would get a few of these. Your local photo store might have these as well. That being said, I called Samy’s camera here in Los Angeles and was asking the guy on the phone about the CFL bulbs and he tried to tell me that Tungsten bulbs only last two hours!!! Which is complete horse hockey. Get’s me so angry when they lie like that. They don’t last as long as the CFL’s at all but they last way more than two hours! I totally called him out on that and actually told him he should be ashamed and that’s why my students hate going into camera stores.
Westcott 750 6.5 foot light stand. On Amazon this is $30. What’s important about a light stand is how wide the legs go out at the bottom. This stand was made for these lights mentioned. Adorama also has this stand.
And here is the LimoStudio 700W Kit. A lot of people have bought this kit. So you be the judge. If you didn’t watch my video, do not leave this light plugged in when you are not next to it. The stands are not heavy duty enough to hold the light if it just gets slightly tapped by an eager doggie tale, or possibly an affectionate, large kitty cat, it will fall over.
One last thing – you could use a daylight CFL light bulb in the Westcott softbox instead of the tungsten light bulb if you think the heat from the bulb will be an issue. Just remember they will be much darker than the tungsten light bulb. I’ve noticed these bulbs wildly vary in price. So for right now I do not have a recommendation for one, but I will soon.
So! There you have it. I hope this answers some questions for you about these two lights and why I recommend the one that’s more money.
Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. The Adorma links are not affiliate links. Should you choose to buy from Amazon, you will not pay more, Amazon will pay me a small commission. After after all this post took over three full days to put together for you!
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