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Tutorial: We Build Our Own $10 Macro Lightbox

This has been around for a while now, but I am always going back to find it for readers who ask. So, here it is again, a Do-It-Yourself lightbox for product shots using a cardboard box and some tracing paper. No need to get PVC tubes and what not.

We finally build our own:

Macro Lightbox

Macro Lightbox

A few pointers:

  • Box should be at least 12″ x 12″ x 12″. If it’s smaller, don’t bother because it’s just too small to accomodate the item to be photographed — and the seamless background. You’ll just end up redoing it. [Speaking from experience here 🙁 .]
  • Mine is 24″W X 13″H x 15″D and, as you can see from the picture above, the width is perfectly sized to accept a sheet of 28″L x 22″W posterboard I got from Staples (for about $1 CAD).
  • Use a xacto knife with a sure handle. The last thing you want is for the knife to slip and cut fingers. [No, all my fingers are still intact.]
  • Use a metal ruler. I have one with a cork back so it does not slip (too much). If you use a wood ruler, the sharp knife may just slice through it (and limbs).
  • You don’t have to measure. On the small sides, I just place the ruler against each edge in turn and draw a line with a dark pencil first as a visual guide and to know where the lines intersect (so where to stop cutting). For the top, I use the sheet of tracing paper (14″ x 17″) as a guide and mark the edges to ensure I am not cutting the window too large for the tracing paper.
  • When you make the actual cut, make a number of light straight cuts instead of one deep cut. This lessens the risk of the knife suddenly slipping and cutting fingers.
  • Just be careful how you position yourself vis-a-vis the knife. Again you don’t want the knife to slip and stab you.
  • The box tends to cave in when you are cutting at the open edge. This makes it easy for the knife to slip or for you to place your fingers too close to the edge and in the knife’s path. Close the lids (you know, one inside the other) so you have sturdier edges to cut through.
  • Cut the lids last (so you can do the above). In fact, I left all four lids intact for now.
(Green) Cell Phone

(Green) Cell Phone

And here’s the first product shot of my (Green, as in made from recycled parts) Cell Phone I took just using the daylight streaming through a window on the right. [I still have to get the lamps.] Not too shabby for a quick first shot, eh?

[ Read the tutorial at: Strobist ]