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 adds an extra 360-degree dimension. I’m sure that you have seen online stores that let you drag a photo in order to rotate the product pictured so you can view it from every side. The Orangemonkie Foldio360 makes this type of photo possible. So, let’s take a look at exactly how this device works and what type of product photos you can use it for.
The Foldio360 reminds of a small hotplate 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, so 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. Ideally, the paper should be thick 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 is what I use personally. Any type of cheapish light cube will work, and there are different models available everywhere. Orangemonkie has a couple as well (like the Foldio 2) if you happen to 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 (meaning you won’t need to edit the photos as much later on). The Foldio360 app has four different photography modes:
- Smartphone: This is the phone mode that allows you to take a photo with the Foldio360 app. The 360 degree photo will be automatically generated in the app.
- DSLR: This is an independent camera mode. The camera has to have an infrared remote trigger function.
- Video: This is another phone mode where the base does a smooth 360 degree rotation while the phone takes a video and saves it using the Foldio360 app.
- Turntable control: This allows you to adjust how many degrees you want the base to rotate. This is the most useful mode for manual photography (e.g., with a camera that doesn’t support infrared remotes).
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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.
Using It With a Smartphone
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 I use). The Foldio360 is incredibly smart, and it instantly pairs up with your phone via Bluetooth. You can control everything from the app.
As a test product, I decided to go with a red Fujifilm Instax camera. It’s 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 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, and temperature and display lines for straightening. There is even an option for how many frames you want to have in the 360-degree view. Selecting 48 frames provides the smoothest result. 24 frames isn’t that smooth, but it processing the photo will be easier, and the file size will be 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 using 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 phone's LED light to point at it while taking the photo. Unfortunately, the app didn’t let me do this on my iPhone 7, which is why you might need a separate device to light the front side.
Taking 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. For an example of the result, check out this photo of a watch.
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 with a real camera. The difference is that with DSLR or mirrorless, you have more freedom to edit photos afterward. This means 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 large and small 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 your competitors, which, in return, can increase your sales.
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 your photos ready much faster and spend much less time on editing. You can also just use a smartphone!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.