Finally, You Can Buy Foldable V-Flats for Your Photo Studio

You've probably read how you can make your own foldable v-flats, but finding high-quality foam can be difficult and you're lazy, so you're never going to get around to it anyway. Luckily, you can buy them prebuilt and have them shipped right to your door

V-FLAT WORLD recently sent us two of their foldable v-flats, and I was excited to test them out. The v-flats we have been using were made from ultra-cheap foam purchased from Lowe's for about $40 a piece. We had to paint them ourselves with black and white paint, and they are constantly shedding foam all over our studio. 

I was impressed with foam quality from V-FLAT WORLD. It's not officially "Gatorfoam," which is the highest quality of foam core, but it is a similar build. The foam is one inch thick and is coated with a matte black and white shell on opposite sides, which is perfect for photo and video. The hinges are made with standard gaffers tape and the seam is connected with velcro. Even though it's built with DIY materials, it's much nicer than I would have been able to do on my own. The Velcro portion of the v-flat does have a small opening that may or may not pose a problem with light spill depending on how you use them. The v-flat also comes with a carrying bag so that you can easily bring it on location. 

The one downside I can see with this v-flat is that it is only 80 inches tall rather than the standard 96 inches of most v-flats. I'm 6 feet tall, and it was still plenty tall for me, but for some scenarios, you may prefer the extra height. 

V-FLAT WORLD sells one of these for $195 and two for $379. I was honestly pretty shocked at these prices until I started looking into the cost of building these myself. If you buy cheap foam core at Lowe's or Michael's, you're certainly going to save a ton of money, but they will fall apart quickly. If you want to build a similar quality v-flat, you may actually spend more than $200. 

1/2 inch Gatorfoam costs over $100 per 96-inch piece and you'll have to buy in bulk. You may have trouble finding Gatorfoam that is black on one side and white on the other. If you can find the perfect piece of foam, you have a studio, and you don't need to travel with your v-flats, I would probably suggest building them yourself, because you will be able to build a bigger v-flat with the highest quality foam without any light leak in the middle. But, if you want something that you can fold up and put away or take on location with you, V-FLAT WORLD is a great option (actually, it's your only option) if you don't want to deal with making them yourself. 

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19 Comments

Leon Kolenda's picture

Mr. Morris! I'm not $195.00 worth of Lazy! That's crazy! I would not pay more than $35.00 for those, Even that's on the high side! Even if I had a wide open budget.

Jim Bolen's picture

Bingo! Ain't no way I'm paying for that when I can make one for way less.

But as I said in the video and in the article, I don't think you can make these on your own with this level of foam and save that much money. If you don't care about the quality, you can definitely save some money.

Johnny Rico's picture

When I asked them on IG a few month back, it's just standard Foam Core

EDIT: Also my local plastic supplier is 4'x'8 half inch for $35 single sheet. Cases of 25 even cheaper. Ask a local sign shop who their supplier is. I make V-Flats with 3/16" and it was $350 for the last 25 pack (Free delivery)

I laid out the exact item you need and where to buy it to make these same flats in the comment below, and save significant money, lol. #SoundsLikePaidSponsorshipDefense

Hah everyone keeps saying this. It’s not paid! they just sent me two sets. I admit they are crazy expensive but I also admit gatorfoam is crazy expensive.

This has to be one of my most controversial posts and that’s crazy. It’s just foam!

hahaha, it is what it is I guess! Just comes down to how much someone decides their time is actually worth to buy instead of build.

We used to build v-flats all the time in a studio I worked at in Florida, you can order cases of the foam core best used for v-flats from U-Line or a company we used to deal with called Laird Plastics (or many other suppliers). It's not gatorboard, like you mentioned too, but is more than strong enough for the task of v-flats. The only time you need something as strong as gatorboard, realistically, is on location specific boards BUT in those situations the boards snap MUCH more easily, regular foam core will not snap under stress, bend and crease perhaps but not snap.

The 48x96 sheets of foam core are typically only available in 12 packs for delivery, so enough to make 6 v-flats, for the price of $410.40 per case (part # S-13722 through U-Line), or $34.20 a piece ($68.4 in total plus the cost of gaff tape and some velcro bits), well under the insane $200 price on these boards. I'd go as far as to say if someone is too lazy to the point of taping two pieces of foam core together, you're probably in the wrong profession with as much DIY as we do everywhere else.

Just here to help out with some info!

Johnny Rico's picture

Real question tho, did you spray your gaff tape w/ spray adhesive?

The whole point of gaff tape is because it sticks so well, and doesn't leave residue, why would you do that? haha

Johnny Rico's picture

I was just making sure I wasn't crazy. Every damn V-Flat video I've seen posted on this site talks about spray adhesive on gaffers tape. It boggles my mind.

Finally, You Can Avoid Buying $200 Foldable V-Flats for Your Photo Studio

Ben Deckert's picture

If you already have light stands and clamps, two of these will cost you $100. Might not be as good if you are using as a background...but in terms of bouncing, blocking and scriming light they work good: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GNUX3O6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s...

These clamps are $13: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016XQZZR2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s...

Motti Bembaron's picture

Yeah, I agree with some comments here, this is not worth almost $200 USD (which is like $260 CDN). And you do not have to use gator-board (whatever that is) if you want to make one yourself.

Rifki Syahputra's picture

the title is just brilliant man!

Ryan Cooper's picture

I've used the Neewer Flat Panel reflector for this, for years. Way more transportable but smaller: https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Reflector-Rotating-Holding-Carrying/dp/B00...

Lee Stirling's picture

Given that FStoppers wants to focus on professional photographers, they should know that professionals who are making a living at photography are anything but lazy. If they can't "get around" to making their own folding v-flats, it's probably because they're out hustling, promoting, shooting, editing, or communicating with clients. Then again, I've never known FStoppers to avoid pushing the most expensive option either.

I disagree with some of the comments here. I have the V-Flat, and it works as advertised. I could've built one myself, but would've saved almost 1/2 the price. True, that's the cost of another flash. HOWEVER, this commercial version folds up and rides just fine in the car to the next job. I assume I could tape together my own, but I'm not confident I could rig one up that folded and unfolded consistently. This one does.

Another comment said that you could do your own if you had a couple lightstands. Sure, but the last thing I need is more stuff to carry around and set up. This is up in a minute, and if I don't have quite enough space (you need some space to avoid lighting up the creases and tape, which are a PITA in post), I throw a $13 black tablecloth right over it.

Yes, this should be at least $50 cheaper. But it was worth it to me to have someone else (mostly) solve all these problems for me.

Nick Viton's picture

You can literally just tape foam boards together. I made these and it took virtually no effort;
https://fstoppers.com/diy/how-create-portable-v-flats-will-fit-your-car-...