Lighting is very important in photography. It can make or break your photo. Around two months ago I was contacted by Joyce of Slickforce Studio, I was gifted a 2 piece set of their Slickforce Softlights! She said that they had a new product that they’d like me to test, and who am I to say no to her generous offer? Needless to say, I was so ecstatic! I’m very thankful that they let me (and a bunch of other toy photographers) try out this miniature softlights. I waited for a month and a week for it to arrive and tested it for around a month more. I’ve been testing and using it for that span of time and I’ve gotten quite used to them. I’m very thankful that they sent me this product but I aim to make this review as unbiased as possible. Onwards to the review!
The specifications and detailed photos for these softlights can be found on the Slickforce Studio site here. I am not really gonna delve too deep into it’s aesthetics; it looks like a miniature studio softlight, down to the tiny knob details. However, the only switch that works there is the on/off switch for the lights. The umbrella angle also is not adjustable; I wish it was. It comes with 2 poles to adjust it’s height according to what you want. Although in my experience, attaching 2 poles and getting its maximum height led to multiple incidents of it being toppled over, attaching just one pole is more stable. However, the best height I’ve found was just connecting the umbrella directly to the base, disregarding the poles. It didn’t topple over at this height and is just the right height for nendoroids so I was happy at that height. I can imagine it being frustrating for figure photographers with larger figures though.
They’re aesthetically pleasing and have found home on my table top, right next to my monitor and nendoroids. It’s very light and portable, being made entirely of plastic. It’s very handy, a great improvement from lugging around my 2 bulky table lamps. However, since it’s entirely made of plastic, it’s not very durable. It’s survived a great deal of falling over in the last month I’ve been testing it though, so it’s durable enough for table top photography. I don’t recommend bringing this outside though.
Each light is powered by 4 AA batteries. I’ve tried using both rechargeable eneloop batteries and normal AA batteries and, depending on the battery, the softlight is sometimes less bright. In my experience, I got the best light output from 4 1.2V Li-ion non-rechargeable batteries. My caveat is that with the diffuser on, this lights are not bright enough for my liking, as I’m spoiled by my large light sources. However, it’s diffused light is very soft and flattering for toys and it’s a great filler light; with two of these they were powerful enough to light nendoroids and dioramas sufficiently. Without the diffuser, it provided a small, harsh light that I didn’t like but can be handy if you’re into those kind of lighting.
Here are RAW photos I took using only these softlights. I opted for raw photos, straight from the camera. These photos are only cropped. I want to showcase the softlights by themselves, and how well they fill and provided light. As I’ve said, with the diffuser on they are not bright enough for my liking but that is easily adjustable with your camera settings. I tried to expose it as near as I can to how they perform in real life. The shots used spot metering, f4.0 at aperture priority mode with 0 exposure compensation. Almost auto! These are raw shots so no special in camera color adjustment whatsoever was applied. I only cropped and sharpened these a bit in lightroom.
You can really see from the above photo how just adjusting your light can affect a photo. The Slickforce Softlights added a subtle, soft lighting that gave the photo contrast.
This is quickly turning into a basic lighting guide. It’s very easy to see how changing your lighting can change the look and feel of your photo. Also, I really want you to judge for yourself how the lights performed.
It’s actually harder for me to pose the gunpla than to adjust the lights for this setup. +1 for the Softlights for being so light and handy.
Next are the ‘the-nendo-on-my-table-is-so-adorable-and-im-too-lazy-to-try-decent-lighting’ shot! A comparison photo of with the softlight on the left as opposed to just straight up auto camera shot. Below is the one with just ambient light and the one next to it is the one with one softlight on the left.
The soft light makes a great filler light in this photos.
Lastly, I’d like to show the potential in all these shots. I guess seeing only raw shots is underwhelming, right? Well, here’s a sample of adjusted photos with the Slickforce Softlights used as lighting.
Photos above, the softlight is on the left. My usual editing routine; adjusted contrast, white balance, highlights and shadows.
Overall, the lights performed well. They are good filler lights, or main lights to some extent. If coupled with basic photography skills, you can make use of these lights extensively for miniature and toy photography. If you’re the type of toy photographer that demand a big, bright light source, then this isn’t for you. It’s light is soft and subtle and is excellent as fill light. However, you can certainly make it work for big dioramas and figures. It’s all about where you place them! The only down sides I can think of is that it’s not very durable, and it’s so light weight that it’s easy to topple over. You can easily mend that by being careful and putting some putty underneath its base.
These Slickforce Softlights have found a home in my desk, and will replace my bulky lamps for a lot of my future shoots, for sure! I’m quite happy with the product. It’s not perfect, but it’s great for toy photography. The adjustable height is very useful for figure photography, it can light larger figures! Up to 1/7, I believe. Check out other toy photographer reviews if you wanna see how they perform with 1/8 scale figures. The thing I love most, I guess, is that since they look so nice and at home in my desk, it’s easier for me to setup shoots and I get motivated to take a few nendoroid shots every now and then since I get reminded to take photos every time I glance at them. It’s a very sentimental pro but it’s really helped me in that account.
Thanks again to Slickforce Studio for this product! I recommend it to toy photographers looking for a handy, table top lighting solution for toy photography.
If you’re interested in buying this, it’s already for sale at the Slickforce Store on this link here. They’re based in the US so shipping and custom fees may differ.
Until next post!~