The $100 Banggood Photography Challenge! 

If you’re following our site and have been reading our reviews, you’d notice that our product photography has been shot mostly outdoors. We’ve been doing this for years now and it’s just time to up the ante. Outdoor product photography is also not as easy as taking a snapshot and call it a day. For an instance, we have to take the lighting into factor, together with the weather as well. This ultimately brings us to the main reasons why I need to go indoors – the rain. 

Ever since I came back from COMPUTEX 2017, I’ve been looking out for studio equipment to sate my requirements. I’ve checked local online stores, brick and mortars and while I saw what I need, the budget wont allow it. The fact that I shelled out $300 for a display calibration device also kept the remaining budget rather low. #priorities

Banggood to The Rescue:

I’m already desperate, but a week later Banggood contacted yours truly to strike a deal. Basically, they want me to to check out their electronic products amounting to a total of $100. While I like to check out their BM800 microphone, the minty 104 Key PBT caps and the External Graphics Adapter, I wished for something that will directly impact my work flow. Hence, the following photography items were selected instead:

  • Studio Lighting @ 27.99 USD – LINK
  • 60cm Dolly Slider Rail @ 47.29 USD – LINK
  • 5 Colors Screen/Chromakey Backdrop 6×9 Muslin Video Background @ 18.87 USD – LINK
  • 10Pcs Background Clamps @ 3.99 USD – LINK
  • 3/8 Inch Female to 1/4 Inch Male Tripod Adapter – LINK (Update)

With a little discussion here and there, Banggood approved the purchase. Yup, I specifically asked to get the items purchased. This allows me to a small extent, check out how smooth Bangood’s delivery and processing is. I still got them for free though.

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Payment Methods and Shipping Rates:

I got the items within a week courtesy of DPEX which is the service for Banggood’s expedite shipping for the Philippines. They may use DHL according to my source, but DPEX is the default. DPEX is actually better than DHL for most part, since you don’t have to pay for taxes and other fees with their service. Banggood’s shipping methods and rates are laid out below:

Registered Airmail Area Time
United States, Canada, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom 7-20 business days
Australia,New Zealand,Singapore 7-25 business days
Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland 7-25 business days
Brazil, Russia, Mexico 15-35 business days
Other countries 7-25 business days
Priority Direct Mail Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden 7-12 business days
United States, United Kingdom 7-12 business days
Australia 6-9 business days
Japan Direct Mail Japan 5-8 business days
Middle East Direct Mail Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman 10-15  business days
ARAMEX Direct Mail United Arab Emirates, India, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey 5-10 business days
EMS 7-15 business days to worldwide
Expedited Shipping* 5-8 business days to worldwide.

EMS is also available for $5, while regular airmail is the free service. EMS and airmail parcels are required to be picked up on your local post office and are subjected to tax, plus handling fees. As for payment methods, credit cards, Paypal and wire transfer are accepted. Cash on Delivery is accepted, but it is exclusive to Saudi Arabia. Banggood does not ship to China, South Sudan, Yemen, and Syria.

Photo Studio Lighting 4 Socket Lamp Holder + Softbox:

Since I can’t find a compatible flash from Banggood for my camera, the 4 Socket Lamp Holder + Softbox is my bet. This one’s for the basics, seeing that one of our requirements is to get a versatile indoor lighting equipment to go with my camera. There are multiple softbox solutions at Banggood, but this particular model piqued our interest.

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The item obviously comes disassembled and in 4 pieces. That’s the lamp holder, softbox, the softcloth, a travel bag and guide poles for the box. Assembly is fast and easy, requiring little to zero technical knowledge. You are however required to buy your own lamps and stand.

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The lamp holder made this one special out of the bunch, It has a 3A fuse, supports four E27 lamps and has switches to enable or disable the left and right areas. This enables the photographer to mix and match power and temperature requirements.

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For an instance, you can use lamps with varying color temperatures. Whenever you need a different color temperature, you don’t have to swap lamps – just use the switches. The same goes for lamps with varying intensities.

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The softbox is well, a proper 50cm x 70cm softbox featuring a good reflector while the diffuser appears to be well made too. At $28 or approximately 1400 Pesos, this glorious sucker beats most of the local softboxes I’ve seen around when it comes to quality and performance. The E27 socket is made out of ceramic too, which is a plus.

Dolly Slider Rail Track Stabilizer:

The bulk of the budget goes to this slider at $48. I really have to get this one not for panning alone but to also replace my current rail setup for future monitor reviews. We have been using a ghetto slider rig (dual rods with a normal head) and it’s just hard to use; let alone assemble when needed to. So, in order to provide a more accurate motion persistence result for our readers, a proper slider is a must.

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The Dolly Slider Rail we got comes in a box. I was surprised to see it though, since it’s no way near the slider model on the product link. For an instance, the slider head has a default 3/8 thread connection which is larger compared to the standard 1/4 thread found on most setups. The slider also features side winding stabilizers as opposed to the screw-on footing.

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I contacted Banggood’s support about this one and they are willing to ship in a new stabilizer. I turned down the offer and told them to ship in a 3/8 to 1/4 adapter instead.

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Update: I already got the 3/8 Inch Female to 1/4 Inch Male Tripod Adapter. Item has been delivered within 2 weeks time via China Post. If you want to make sure that you’re going to receive a 1/4 thread stabilizer, contact Banggood’s support for assistance.

Clamps and Muslin Backdrop:

Now we get to see the clamps and the muslin backdrop. We could say they are the foundations of our mini indoor photography kit. Basically, we got the 6 x 9 feet muslin instead of vinyl, paper and other fabrics due to its ability to diffuse light from our sources; such as my damn window. A softer material apt for our requirements I must say.

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We got the clamps in tens for cheap. They are padded for grip and to ultimately keep the backdrop from taking damage. The muslin backdrop we got is gray, since it doesn’t stain as much compared to white.

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Putting them into practice:

First off the slider. While it is a majestic piece of equipment for videography, it is more of a heaven sent for the site’s monitor reviews. With a proper slider, we are now able to accurately take results without spending extra for refinements.

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For example, capturing the actual motion blur of a 60Hz display with the slider enabled us to get our results in due time; while a lot of adjustments had to be done to get results from our ghetto slider rig. Capturing motion persistence is not as easy as taking a picture and calling it a usable figure. Learn more from our recent monitor reviews.

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Now as for the indoor photography, I still suck at lighting setups but I am still impressed nonetheless. With this setup, I don’t have to shell out for a light speed (damn you Fuji, your flashes are expensive!). This is also a far more suitable setup for just about anything I need to take pictures of. From small stuffs such as USB drives to larger ones like cases, there should be no problem with this budget oriented rig.

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While the setup costs around less than a $100, you should note that we actually sacrificed a light stand and a proper holder for the backdrop; just because of the slider that took half of our budget. So if you actually have $50, you could pretty much get the same level of quality. That’s minus the camera and the dual 15W bulbs of course.

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In closing, I’m very much happy with these stuffs. Banggood’s expedite shipping is also nothing to laugh at; It is just right on time. Bundle that with a rather great support and we’ve got an excellent e-tailer that ships quality stuffs world wide.