The $5 DIY Light Box for Product Photography

Whether you’re using a professional DSLR, a point and shoot, or a smartphone, photographing smaller products with a soft light source and decent background can make all the difference in the quality of your photos. This may not matter if you’re just documenting, but if you’re trying to land a sale on eBay or Etsy, photo quality can make or break the sale. But light boxes can be pretty pricey ($50–$450 easily). So if you’re into product photography and want to save some money, this simple DIY fix from the folks at DIY Tryin might just be for you:

What You Need

With the exception of the white tape, the materials for building this light box run about $5 if purchased from a dollar store.

  • 3 pieces of non-reflective foam core board
  • 1 piece of poster board (large enough to cover the back of the box and drape down the bottom as shown in the photo below)
  • some type of diffusion material (toilet paper, paper towels, milk carton plastic, etc.)
  • white “gaff” tape or duct tape
  • a couple of clip lights or other light sources

DIY Light Box

DIY Light Box Tips

  • To make the foam core cuts, put a 1/4 inch of newspapers under the foam to give your blade something to cut into.
  • Leave a little space in between your poster board edges so that a natural hinge will form between the windows.
  • Although LEDs may work, the best bulbs for most product photography are those that mimic natural light most closely; full spectrum bulbs work great.

five dollar light box

Of course, this project does take most folks more than 20 minutes, but even so, you can’t beat it for the price and simplicity. And if it helps you make sales, it’s well worth the investment!

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3 Comments

  1. David Easter says:

    If you are going to take pictures of products for online use, a light box is essential. I was thinking of paying about $100 but $5 sounds a lot better to me. I really need a collapsible light box as it will transport much better. However, if you’re working in one location these DIY boxes are ideal.

  2. Very useful!

  3. Nick Lucey says:

    I’ve got a very similar set up for taking photos of jewellery etc, I find that adding an extra white card for the front allows for some extra fill light from the front which has given me some nice results!

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