Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Foldio - The foldable photo studio

So, have you ever had difficulties taking pictures of your miniatures?
For starters, you need some basic equipment like a camera, lighting and a background. For me, especially the lighting part was difficult to get right. At the same time, I want a setup that is compact and easy to store.
I already have a professional photo flash with a softbox - practical when doing portraits, but 28mm miniatures?! Overkill!!! :-)

That is why I got really curious when I saw that a company called OrangeMonkie had a Kickstarter campaign last year, for a smart and foldable studio: Foldio.

Ready for some testing?


As always, the Kickstarter Campaign enabled supporters to customize their order.
I chose:
  1. Foldio studio in white plastic.
  2. 2 LED light strips
  3. 4 backgrounds: Black, White, Gray and Green.

How it works


I remember when I unpacked a photo tent I got off ebay. It popped up immediately when you pulled it out of its bag. At the same time it was impossible to fold back in the back again.
The Foldio is folded by the power of..... magnets! Basically, you just connect the 3 magnets in each side as you see fit - that's it!

1 LED light strip i normally included and is intended to be mounted in the top front part. The light strips are powered by an ordinary 9V battery - which is finally held by the magnets in one of the sides.
The LED strips will drain your battery pretty fast. I forgot to turn it off for an hour or two, the light output is weaker from that battery now. I will try to find an adaptor and use that instead of the batteries.

The backgrounds are matt and made of some kind of foam. The slide in really easy.


I placed 3 miniatures from Super Dungeon Explore and did some test shots. The shots were taken in a completely dark room with a Sony NEX 5T.

1 LED Strip - Default placement

1/25 sec - F10 - ISO800
Good picture. The dragon to the right is a bit dark on the stomach and you can clearly see from the shadows that the light comes from above.

2 LED Strips - Both at default placement

1/60 - F10 - ISO800
The advantage of using 2 lights placed at the same place will only be the posibility to use a shorter shutter time or a smaller aperture on your camera.
I used a shorter shutter time here - hence the same result as with 1 LED strip.

2 LED Strips - Default placement and at top back

1/60 - F10 - ISO800
The picture got too much light on the background and burned it out. The foreground became very dark on the miniatures.
There is surely some uses for this effect, but this is not what we are looking for here...

2 LED Strips - Default placement and in front below

1/60 - F10 - ISO800
The second LED strip was lying in front of the models here. We surely got rid of the darkness on the stomach area - but the whole picture just seem unnatural.
Still not what we are looking for...

2 LED Strips - Default placement and above camera lens

1/60 - F10 - ISO800
Best photo yet! It seems like we keep the natural feel from the default placement, but the second light from above the lens helps with the shadow areas.

Best combination

Personally, my favorite is the first and last test shot. But the last shot with the light above the camera lens - this is not really convenient. You could of cause mount it, but we are looking for an easy foldable (and portable) solution here.

So instead of relying on 2 light sources - I decided to make more tests with only 1 at the default placement.
I made a small reflector from aluminum foil and placed it in front. Depending on how you angle it, it is possible to reflect light towards the lower part of the miniatures.

My small test showed that the reflector indeed had an impact. This test showed that moving forward, I think a combination of 1 LED strip and a reflector will do the job.
I would also like to test out the effect from placing reflectors on the sidewalls of the box. You could easily make a solution and mount the reflectors inside the box with magnets.
Maybe I will blog about this some other time :-)


  • Easy to fold and unfold
  • The magnets are strong and genius
  • Good uniform lighting inside the box - also with external light source
  • Nice LED strong LED strips. They produce nice colors as well.
  • Nice size - not too big/small.
  • Out-of-the-box solution. You only need a camera.

  • On/Off switch is missing on the LED strips. I fear the connectors will break in time.
  • The LED strips will drain your battery pretty fast - I recommend an adapter.
  • The box is pretty static - a dust magnet.
  • The backgrounds smell REALLY bad. Prepare to let them sit outside for a few days.
  • There could be more documentation included. Beginners might not know so much about photography.

Foldio can be bought directly from OrangeMonkie or from Amazon.
Please note that OrangeMonkie has released a bigger version called Foldio2 as well.

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