Homemade Lightbox

About a month ago one of my clients asked me to photograph some of his products for his online store, now I had the right camera at my disposal, however I did not have a lightbox I could use. So I went online and Googled around only to find out that a professional lightbox costs around $200! So I searched for a homemade lightbox and to my amazement, there are tons of ways to create your own lightbox.

One that caught my attention was a post by Bill Huber at www.pbase.com. I actually printed the image he posted and took it with me to the hardware store so it’ll help me find what I’m looking for. On his post he mentioned that you needed to get a 1/2 pvc pipe and 1/2 tees ,street elbows, and caps. When I got to the hardware store I found out that there was a discrepancy on one of his measurements.

I learned that a 1/2 pvc pipe will not insert into a 1/2 tee, street elbow, or cap, simply because they are the same size. You would need to have one size bigger than the other. So I tried the 3/4 tee and low and behold the pvc pipe slid right in! Here is a list of what I bought:

2 – 1/2 @ 23 inches. PVC pipe
2 – 1/2 @ 16 inches. PVC pipe
2 – 1/2 @ 14 inches. PVC pipe
4 – 3/4 PVC Tees
4 – 3/4 PVC Street Elbows
4 – 3/4 PVC Caps
2 – workshop lights
2 – 20 watt fluorescent bulbs

[ click on the images for a larger view ]
PVC Pipes

Shop Lights


I believe my total came out to about $15.00. After the hardware store I passed by a local hobby store and picked up a poster board that will serve as a backdrop for my lightbox. I bought this glossy-type poster board called Write-on/Wipe-off Poster Board.
Poster Board

I found this white blanket somewhere in my closet, basically it’s purpose is to diffuse the light glare coming from the fluorescent bulbs.

And here is a complete shot of everything you need to build your own lightbox:
Homemade Lightbox

And now the homemade lightbox assembly, this is actually fairly easy, it’s like putting Legos together! I started off with the 23 inches & 16 inches pvc pipes and connected the 3/4 tees like so:
Step 1

Next I connected the 3/4 street elbows to the tees:
Step 2

Then I took the 14 inches pvc pipe (4 pieces) and put the caps on the end, this would serve as the feet for our lightbox:
Step 3

And lastly, we insert our 4 pvc pipes into the street elbows and here is the final result:
Step 4

And again…

On Bill Huber’s post he also mentioned gluing the pvc pipes together, I decided not to glue mine together because I knew I would need to transport the lightbox to my client’s location.

Here is my set up, I just taped the poster board onto the pvc pipe as oppose to screwing it down, again so it’ll be easier for me to transport the lightbox anywhere I want.
Sample 1

Lights out !!!
Sample 2
Homemade Lightbox Sample

And lastly here are some sample shots I made using the lightbox. Please note that in order to achieve a true white background effect, you will need to change your camera’s apperture / shutter speed / ISO settings. These pictures have a slight blue tint because I didn’t take the time to adjust the settings, but with the right combination you should be able to achieve a white background effect. Or you can be lazy and just edit the images in Photoshop and adjust the levels!
Lightbox Sample

Lightbox Sample

Lightbox Sample

Lightbox Sample

Well I hope you found this post helpful, there are many other ways to make your own lightbox but I found this one fairly simple.

24 Responses to “Homemade Lightbox”

  1. David A. Desrosiers

    The reason isn’t the brightness or contrast, it’s that you need to lose 1 to 1.3 stops on your exposure when you take the photo.

    Most people forget to adjust the camera’s white balance settings, and end up with a grey background instead of the white they intended.

    If you’re taking a photo of something that is “light” on a white background, your camera is going to try to adjust the white balance to compensate and draw out the image from the background. If you don’t set your exposure to 1 to 1.3 stops ahead, you’ll get the milky result like in JB’s photos above.

    You’ll see a DRAMATIC improvement in your photos once you get this technique down right. The same goes for photographing something dark on a dark background, you need to adjust your exposure the opposite way.

    I have a PVC light box that I built with two backdrops, depending on what I’m taking photos of; “polar white” and “coal black”, using matte board from the local craft store.

    Good luck!

  2. bath salts

    Great pvc work with that lightbox, i found a better material to cover with that flows light PERFECT – Click Here to find out!

  3. Mephedrone

    good job on the guide/pictures, i want to make a lightbox now!!!

  4. TMT Bars

    can any one send me process to make lightbox.

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