Marcus Hagen is a 24 year old journalism student from Columbia University.
Taking photos of products doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t even need a dedicated camera to get good results nowadays. Most flagship smartphones have a good enough camera quality for the internet. What matters the most for product photos is a white background and an even light.
In this review I’ll go over a smart turntable that not only adds light to your products but also an extra 360 degree dimension. I’m sure that you have seen online stores that let you drag a photo and view the product from every side. The Orangemonkie Foldio360 makes these type of photos possible. So let’s see how exactly this device works and what type of product photos you can use it for.
The Foldio360 reminds of a small plate where I used to cook pancakes on. It’s a disc shaped device that’s made out of matte white plastic. The back side has a long LED light that lights up the background. The smaller LED light on the front side works as an indicator for different modes. There is also a small black button underneath it that makes the top surface rotate slowly. Oh and all of this is powered with a standard AC adapter.
Setting It Up
Okay we have the base but what about the background and light? In theory you can just get a piece of white paper and set it as the background. It’s good if the paper if thicker so that it’s 100% flat.
The Foldio360 has already got an LED light built into the base. So you don’t need any extra light sources for the background. However, if you want to achieve a really professional look and create an actual mini studio, then you should still get one or two LED lamps. You can point these above it so that it shines the light from the top as well. This eliminates all of the shadows that the object would otherwise generate.
The other option is a mini light cube. Which I personally use as well. Any type of cheapish light cube will work, there are different ones available everywhere. Orangemonkie has a couple as well (Foldio 2), if you want to have everything from the same brand.
It doesn’t matter whether you are taking photos with a phone or an actual camera, you’ll still need a tripod to get the best photos. A tripod is especially important when you are trying to take 360 degree photos. You can set it up so that the product doesn’t shift at all. You can really choose any type of tripod. Even the small table ones are fine. But if you already have one of the bigger ones, then you can just place it on the floor.
The Foldio2 light cube creates a bright environment. It has white sides and a bunch of LED strips on the top. You can adjust the light intensity of both the Foldio360 and Foldio2. This lets you create an environment where there are no shadows at all. As in you don’t need to edit the photos as much later on. The Foldio360 app has 4 different photography modes.
- Smartphone – this the phone mode. As in you take a photo with the Foldio360 app. The 360 degree photo will be automatically generated in the app.
- DSLR – an independent camera mode. The camera has to have an infrared remote trigger function.
- Video – a phone mode, where the base does a smooth 360 degree rotation and at the same time the phone will save the video through the Foldio360 app.
- Turntable control – you can adjust how many degrees you want the base to rotate. This is the most useful mode for manual photography. For example with a camera that doesn’t support infrared remotes.
Both the Video and Turntable control modes are really easy to use and don’t require any more explanation. Below we will take a closer look at how you can take photos with Smartphone and DSLR modes.
We are almost ready to start taking photos. But first I’ll still need to download the Foldio360 app from either the Google Play store or Apple App Store. Depending on which type of operating system you use. The Foldio360 is incredibly smart and it instantly pairs up with your phone via Bluetooth. You can control everything from the app, which I have also mentioned a couple of times before as well.
As a test product, I decided to go with a red Fujifilm Instax camera. It’s the pretty much the largest product that you can use with this base. Any bigger and it will get in the way of the light cube LED lights. This obviously depends on the size of the light cube that you have. I have the Folio 2, which is great for smaller size products. Orangemonkie has also got bigger cubes as well.
Pairing up the base and the phone doesn’t take any effort. Just open up the app, choose the device you want to pair and that’s it. From the app you can adjust the brightness of the LED light. You can also adjust the overall brightness, color temperature and display lines for straightening. There is even an option for how many frames you want to have in the 360 degree view. 48 frames provides the smoothest result. 24 frames isn’t that smooth but it takes faster to process and the file size is much smaller.
The entire shooting process from pairing up the device to uploading the photos was as smooth as I could ever imagine. I didn’t run into any problems. Taking the photos was fast, simple and thanks to the LED lights, it didn’t require any editing. Still, there are some keynotes that you should pay attention to.
- If someone calls you during the photoshoot, then it stops taking the photos.
- The product has to be placed right at the center of the base. The smaller the product, the more you should pay attention to this. If the object isn’t right at the center, then it also won’t rotate properly around the axis. Unfortunately the middle point isn’t marked, which is why I recommend to use a piece of tape or something to mark it.
- If you are using the Foldio 2 light cube, then there will be two LED light strips at the top. These light down from the top. In many cases, especially when you are trying to take photos of bigger objects, they keep the front side too dark. In order to avoid this, it’s good to use your phones LED light to point at it while taking the photo. Unfortunately the app didn’t let me do it on my iPhone 7. Which is why you might need a separate device to light the front side.
360 Degree Photos
360 degree photos are awesome but how can you show them on Facebook, Instagram or your own blog? Let’s see what kind of options the Foldio360 app offers.
The first and most simple option is to upload the 360 degree photo to a website called Spinzam. From there you can share it on social media and embed it on your blog with a generated code. It has the same principle as showing a video from YouTube. Here’s an example of the result: https://spinzam.com/shot/embed/?idx=184
Uploading it is just as easy as well. You simply select the stitch icon, name the photo, add a description and select DONE. That’s it. After that you can share the photo straight from the app.
The same process also applies to photos taken a real camera. The difference is that with DSLR or mirrorless, you have more freedom to edit photos afterwards. As in you can take photos in RAW format, edit them and then upload them to Spinzam. The website will completely stitch them together and you can share them everywhere.
The internet is full of both bigger and smaller e-stores. And it doesn’t seem like the growth is stopping any time soon. Having 360 degree photos, of your products, isn’t exactly necessary, but it’s a great way to stand out from the competitors. Which in return can increase your sales as the customer gets a much better view of the product. The Foldio360 (combined with the Foldio 2 or 3 light cube) isn’t just for 360 degree photos. You can also use it to create normal environments as well, which allows you to get the photos ready much faster. As in you spend much less time on editing. Or you can just use a smartphone!