Photo: DIY Lightbox

As I get more and more into photography, I went from the kit lens to the more high-end lenses (f 2.8 100mm USM macro and f2.8 24-70L), then I went to get the flashes (first a 430ex, then a 580exii). Now that I have the “essential” hardware, I wanted some light modifiers. It started with a single light stand, which grew to two, and a reflector disc. I even got a lightsphere and on-flash diffusers.

So now, all I’m missing is a lightbox, right?

The problem I have with some of the lightboxes available on the market is they tend to be a bit pricey. Some of them don’t have as much adaptability or portability either. The limitations on size and usefulness led me to look at some DIY light box sites, and I came up with this:

20′ white 3/4 in. PVC pipe (~$4 worth)
4 white 3/4 in. PVC “T” fittings (~$1.50)
4 white 3/4 in. PVC 90 deg elbow fittings (~$1.50)
4 rubber chair covers (1 in. size fits over the 3/4 pvc) ($2.99)
12 circular magnets (to hold the fabric in place) ($4.99)
1 massive poly/cloth painters drop cloth ($8.99)

sandpaper (to clean up the edges after cutting)
rubber hammer (optional)


1. Measure out what size box you want to make. keep in mind you can cut more PVC to change the dimensions of the box at anytime.

2. cut all the long pieces of pvc pipe and the 4 “connector” pieces to attach the elbow fittings to the “t” fittings.

3. assemble all the pieces together.

4. cut the poly/cloth dropcloth to the dimensions of the box. Lay the top part of the cloth over the pvc bar so it overlaps and put a magnet on either side to secure it.

The biggest reasons I liked this project was:

1. it was cheap
2. it was easy to assemble
3. it is portable
4. it is expandable (just cut some more pvc to make longer sides) and customizable

Below are some sample photos I took using the lightbox setup pictured above.

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  1. Posted March 5, 2010 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Nice idea. I need to get on making myself a lightbox so I can get good product shots of my jewelry and whatnot. Unfortunately I am still lacking flashes/light stands and whatnot.

  2. Posted March 9, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    you could also use 5 or 6 light bulbs and correct the color in post – kind of offers the advantage of that constant light source as opposed to firing “test shots” all the time.

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