Collapsible photo lightbox on the cheap

Photography & Video
Collapsible photo lightbox on the cheap


A simple and portable design for evenly lit object shots –

In a quest to build myself a lightbox for some product-type photography, I managed to throw together this little solution using $18 of surgical tubing, doweling, some zip ties, and a dollar store plastic table cover. So far so good! I foresee an update in the near future that will have a sewn fabric diffusion screen. The whole project took about half an hour to build, The box is 2ft / side and the best part about it is that it folds into a convenient 2′ x 4″ bundle, making this solution easy to take anywhere!

The surgical tubing/ziptie joints are a nice touch. – DIY collapsable lightbox for $18

10 thoughts on “Collapsible photo lightbox on the cheap

  1. onepilot says:

    To make it even less expensive for small items – use a letter tray and fold some white paper into it before placing your article in the middle of the white box. this info thanx to Tim on Business warriors forum

  2. The Oracle says:

    I’ve been meaning to build one of these out of a legal-sized hanging folder frame and dollar-store tissue paper. This looks like a good solution, but the size and $18 price don’t include the lights visible in the picture. I doubt my single speedlight will do the job and incandescent or fluorescent bulbs cause a colour cast, so you can’t avoid buying some form of special lighting.

  3. cyenobite2 says:

    That is really clever to use the surgical tubing with the dowels.

    Oracle, if you use bright incandescents (ie: 100 watt) and use a “bright white” cloth/diffuser, the color balance shouldn’t be too far off. If you have photoshop it’s an easy fix to color balance as well. You might even be able to balance the color using your camera’s “white balance” (if it has that feature).

  4. Collin Cunningham says:

    @cyenobite – yups, I’ve actually been using CFL daylight bulbs with good results. I just tweak the camera white balance, and usually adjust in PS as well.

  5. The Oracle says:

    100 watt bulbs will work, and a simple smart fix in photoshop will fix the colour balance *most of the time*, but I get a certain sense of satisfaction out of shooting correctly to start with (I used film for a very long time where you don’t get an “auto smart fix”). I also can’t see any self-respecting photographer using in-camera white balance correction. It means you lose a lot of information that could help you correct the image later.

    It should be shot in raw mode, which means your data is written to the card before any post-processing including a white balance correction. Then on your PC when you convert it to a TIFF or JPG, you can have auto white balance run there but you still have the raw data to tweak it as needed.

    @Collin – I haven’t tried daylight CFLs, but I find normal CFLs to be horrible for photographic work. Even the big 23 watt ones don’t give enough light and since it’s only got a few wavelengths of light it distorts the colours of my subject to the point where no matter what I do in photoshop it looks unnaturally cast. My understanding of daylight CFLs is they still just give off a few wavelengths though I could be wrong about that.

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