So for Christmas I got a light tent that I asked for. Every once in awhile, I do something akin to product photography. In my case, it's more like fetish photography – I acquire some kind of small thing that I think is really neat, beautiful, or well-designed and I want to photograph it. So I figured a light tent would be just the thing to have. Well, I took a lot of photos messing around with it and now I see why so many photographers consider product photography boring.
You see, a light tent is designed to produce even, unobtrusive, minimal shadow, low-drama lighting and background. So if you use a light tent as intended, it results in sort of the muzak of lighting – totally inoffensive and totally unencumbered by nuance, charm, and character. Also, if the object is highly reflective, good luck dealing with specular highlights. Things got a lot more interesting when I abandoned the seamless background aspect of the light tent and focused on exploiting the lighting for some macro shots. This photo is one of the better ones.
I can envision the tent being really useful for certain kinds of shots that I want to do occasionally, but I can't see it becoming an indispensable necessity. (Unless I think of something really interesting and unusual to do with it, which I suppose is always possible.) But it was not expensive and for those occasions when I need what it does, I can see that it will save me a ton of time versus setting up that sort of lighting and background with the usual tools.