A Quick & Easy White Box (Light Box) for Product Photography

Posted by on Dec 17, 2007 in Photography | 96 Comments

I thought I’d post a little photography-based tip for those who are interested. It’s how I built an inexpensive but very effective white box (or light box) for white-background photography. After searching numerous websites for suggestions on white boxes, I was left pretty disappointed. The cardboard box suggestions were the worst. They resulted in sloppy contraptions that gave awful color integrity.

At long last, I found a short mention of using white foamboard from Office Depot (Staples, whatever). Desperate, I went with that suggestion and was very pleasantly surprised with the results. I bought several 2′ x 3′ sheets of white foamboard – five in total. The foamboard’s ultra-white surface has the wonderful ability to gently disperse light. The foamboard is also very rigid and makes it easy to construct a 5 sided box that doesn’t get wobbly or weak.

I used a full-sized sheet of foamboard for the bottom surface. I cut 2′ x 2.5′ squares from two foamboard sheets and used them for the left and right sides. A 2′ x 2′ square was used for the back of the box and a 2′ x 2.5′ sheet for the top. Standard masking tape was used to affix the boards together and create the standing box. I would have preferred to use white duct tape or white masking tape, but neither Home Depot nor Office Depot had any in stock.

The slightly-longer bottom extends out from the box for a little more white runway in angled photos. I then used a razor knife to carefully cut several flaps in the top of the box for properly angled lights. These flaps can be opened or closed, depending on what angle I want light to shine. Cutting holes (and not flaps) is discouraged, because it causes a permanent light drain, inhibits internal reflection and, if you’re shooting anything highly-reflective (like glass, bottles, etc.), the dark hole will show up as an annoying artifact on your object.

To reduce the inevitable horizon line from the bottom joint of foamboard sheets, I used a couple sheets of ultra-white paper taped to the backboard of the box, with a sloping angle, then taped to the bottom foamboard sheet.

As for lighting, I used three cheap articulating lamps from IKEA. They cost $8 each. They’re awesome because the insides of the lamps are coated in bright white paint. The key element in this setup is the actual light bulbs. Standard incandescent bulbs cast a terrible orange glow that can ruin shots. I opted for bulbs that had near-perfect light. They’re “daylight” CFL (compact florescent) bulbs that have a color temperature of about 4500 to 5500. (Incandescent bulbs have color temps around 2800-3400 – way, way too orange for any decent photos.)

With the white box built and the bright white bulbs installed, I set up a tripod for some test shots. Here are a few test results:

Not too shabby. Certainly better than white sheets, white felt, white linoleum or goofy cloth-style pop-up photo tents.

P.S. I found that placing a thin sheet of clear plexiglas on the bottom of the white box helps create a neat reflection under certain objects, similar to the drop reflection common to Apple’s product photos.

96 Comments

  1. marisa
    June 2, 2008

    hey, this was a great article, and very helpful! exactly what i was looking for, thanks for posting this!

  2. Jessica
    July 9, 2008

    Excellent article!! Exactly what we’ve been looking to do but didn’t know how! Thanks!

  3. Nikki
    July 23, 2008

    This was so helpful, can you tell me what wattage your CFL lights were?

  4. JasonTomczak
    July 23, 2008

    Hi Nikki – the CFL bulbs are roughly equivalent to standard 150 watt bulbs. The wattage isn’t as important as the color temperature. Obviously, get the highest wattage CFL bulb you can find, but make sure it’s in the 5000 or 5500 temp range, otherwise you’ll get a nasty yellow glow over everything.

  5. allison ybarra
    July 25, 2008

    hey jason. awesome article. thanks for posting! question: i am having a problem finding the light bulbs….where do you find them at???
    i have not seen any color temp on any packaging…..

  6. JasonTomczak
    July 25, 2008

    Alison,

    I’m glad you like the write-up. I found my CFL light bulbs at Home Depot but they’re available at dozens of stores. I have a set that’s a little brighter, but this link shows an example of a “100 watt” light that would work well.

    http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&langId=-1&catalogId=10053&productId=100527347

    Look for “Daylight” CFL. Somewhere on the package it’ll indicate the color temperature.

    Good luck!

    Jason

  7. Angela
    August 3, 2008

    Jason, you are a genuis!! WOW! I cannot wait to make one for myself so that I can take photos of my jewelry :0) I love learning about photography. Can you please tell me if you live in London? I would love to have some private lessons from you after Im back from holiday Aug 11-sept4. I have a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18 but dont know how to use the light settings to take macro shots of jewelry and the manual does not say.

  8. JasonTomczak
    August 3, 2008

    Thanks Angela! Once you get a decent light box set up, 70% of the tough work is taken out of the product photography process. After that, it takes a little skill and a little Photoshop to reduce inevitable shadowing.

    The Lumix DMC-FZ18 has a nice Leica lens and does decent macro work, so you should have some good results.

    Good luck!

  9. Charlie
    August 4, 2008

    Hi Jason, Firstly this is a brilliant article and I have been thinking about nothing else but this lightbox this past week so thank you for this.

    I have purchased 5x A1 sized sheets of foam board which i know isn’t exactly to your specification (I assumed the measurements you made were in feet’) but I dont see it as a major issue and I have also purchased the 3 work lamps from ikea. I am now however stuck on which bulbs to buy. Could you please advise me on which of the following two bulbs would be sufficient:

    BULB 1: http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=46286&C=Maplin&U=SearchTop&T=CFL%20E27%20Bulb&doy=4m8

    BULB 2:
    http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=46288&C=Maplin&U=SearchTop&T=CFL%20E27%20Bulb&doy=4m8

    Kind Regards

    Charlie

  10. JasonTomczak
    August 4, 2008

    Hey Charlie,

    Thanks for the nice comments. I think your A1 sheets of foamboard will work just fine. It doesn’t really matter the size of the light box, just the symmetry.

    As for lights, I checked both links. Those bulbs are not very bright at all. There’s no mention of color temperature, either. I found a link on that same website to a bulb that may be a bit closer to ideal.

    http://www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=220697&&source=14&doy=4m8

    Color temp is 4200K – pretty close to the 5000K range. The 20W version is equivalent to a 100W standard bulb. You really want it to be bright. (In my old studio, I had an array of 500W bulbs for photo and video shoots.)

    If I were you, I would be making a few phone calls to local hardware and lighting stores, asking if they have CFL or standard bulbs in the 5000K range.

    Frankly, you don’t need to have CFL bulbs. I like them because they draw little electricity. But any 5000K “daylight” bulb will do, and the brighter and whiter the better. If you find that your only bulb options are a little too yellow or too blue, Photoshop (or any similar program) will take care of the final color tweaks.

    I hope that helps.

    Jason

  11. Charlie
    August 4, 2008

    Thank you for the quick response. Thats great I will look into the light bulbs and get something of the 5000K temperature range. You mentioned symmetry in your reply, now the issue i am having with this is that the sheets of foam board that I purchased have a bit of a curve to them, all 5 of the sheets have this identical curve which means at the moment to align the corners of two sheets I am having to force it. My concern is that when I tape the sides together, this will not hold well through a forced method. Any advice here at all?

  12. Tom Leonard
    August 17, 2008

    Hey guys, just a word of caution regarding the use of CFL’s. Just because a bulb is daylight balanced (6500K) or states a set 5000K temperature range does not mean that its CR (Chromatic Reproduction) is 100%. A crummy little 60 watt incandescent light bulb produces all wavelengths of visible light, reproducing 100% of the color spectrum that our eyes see. The CFL bulbs typically are around 65%-85% CR. I reproduce paintings for limited edition prints. Color accuracy and quality is paramount in my case. Most CFL bulbs do not reproduce enough color for my kind of work. The trouble with chromaticly challenged bulbs is that you can’t just drop it in photoshop and correct the color “shift” like you would if the whitebalance in your camera was a little off on a cloudy day outside. With the CFL bulbs you are actually MISSING those colors; the camera literally did not see those colors. If you were to compare the per-channel histogram of shots made under a cheapy 60 watt light bulb to those of a standard CFL you would quickly see the difference. Where the CFL’s histograms is full of jagged spikes, the standard bulb’s histogram has nice smooth mountains. The dropoff between the spikes is where color data is flat missing. If you are photographing something that is color critical (portraits, food, art, etc) make sure you invest in high CR CFL bulbs or stick with the tungsten lights. I have been experimenting with BlueMAX fluorescent bulbs and have had wonderful success with those. I’m using 2 6000 lumen banks of lights comprised of four 97%CR tubes. Using a custom grey card for whitebalance in-camera, I have had no issues with reproducing rich and vibrant colors. Purples can be a real booger to capture under those cheapy CFL’s.

    If all you are out to photograph is stuff for ebay and craigslist, the basic CFL will get it done good and cheap. For all else, do some homework before committing your money. If the bulb’s packaging does not PROUDLY BOAST the Chromatic Reproduction of the bulb, assume it is not good and the industry is hoping the masses will remain blind to this.

    God blesses us daily,

    Tom

  13. Callaway
    August 18, 2008

    Excellent article. My GF and I followed this along with another similar one and build a nice 20×20 box with top hatch. The only issue we are having is a “grey” color in the background of the shots. We are using 2 100w CFL (6000k). Not enough light? Bad white balance? Thanks for the great writeup.

  14. Bentoist
    August 31, 2008

    Thank you for this! I’ve been taking average looking pictures of my bentos and are looking for a way to make my lunches stand out more without going to great expense. And hopefully, this will improve the quality of my pictures.

  15. Leigh Ann
    October 12, 2008

    Thanks alot!! I haven’t been too excited about my photography. A friend had told me about the white box, but I am going to try this out. Thanks again for the help!!!

  16. Vivian
    April 12, 2009

    Hi Jason, Thank you so much for this article and tutorial. I just opened a web/storefront and don’t have any products yet because of the quality of the pictures. I’m so excited about your idea and can’t wait to start making my own. Again, thank you S..O much.

    God Bless, Vivian

  17. Joy Banks
    June 2, 2009

    Hi Jason — I very excitedly created a light box exactly like yours. I even ordered the lamps from Ikea. The whole project was quite expensive in my case, simply because I live on the Big Island of Hawaii and freight is overwhelmingly high for us and lamps and bulbs were not available on this Island. But, the reason I’m writing is that my pictures have definitely not improved. I consistently get a blue background (is this normal?) and lots of shadows, no matter what I do. Oh, I bought 5,000k CFL bulbs, just like you suggested. So my question to you is — what am I doing wrong? Can you think of anything to suggest so I can make this work? Right now I’m back to the old bed sheet background in the backyard using sunlight. I’m using a 10 pixel, pretty nice Panasonic point-and-shoot from Costco. I’m frustrated, because I really want/need to have professional looking photos of my art work. Can’t thank you enough in advance. Mahalo, Joy

  18. JasonTomczak
    June 6, 2009

    Hi Joy – based on the blue color overtaking your lightbox photos, it sounds like a simple case of incorrect white balance. I see that kind of stuff all the time and it’s easy to diagnose and fix.

    FYI, higher color temperatures of light can produce bluish hues in photos, unless the camera knows exactly how to compensate. If the camera buggers up the white balance compensation, you wind up with colors too blue, too red, too yellow, etc.

    Your Panasonic camera should be able to switch between automatic white balance and manual settings. You’d have to dive into the user manual to see how to switch white balance modes, but rest assured that it’s quite easy.

    Of course, you can always fix blue hues in Photoshop. If you don’t have Photoshop (many people don’t), there are plenty of free programs that work almost as well. One is paint.net and another is Gimp which works on Windows and Mac systems.

    Good luck!

  19. Joy Banks
    June 9, 2009

    Hi Jason — Thanks so much for your reply. I will do as you suggested, and I have no doubt my problem will be fixed.
    —Mahalo, Joy

  20. Karine Himbeault
    June 23, 2009

    Hey Jason, I came upon your great article and already made my foamcore box. Now, I was looking over the Ikea website and was wondering if the lights that you bought are still available…They don’t seem so! If not, would you have another suggestion?

    Thanks so much!
    Karine

  21. Kim
    July 16, 2009

    Thanks for the post!!! I’d also be curious about what lights you’d suggest 1 1/2 years later.

  22. Casey
    July 29, 2009

    Hey Jason,
    This forum feels like a Godsend to me!!! I am launching a jewelry line and my website has been ready except for photos! We are on as shoestring a budget as you can imagine! We bought a white box and lights set up through Ebay and we’re having a hard time figuring out where best to place the lights. There are two halogen lights with mini tripods on the bottom and the tent is a pop up (like a laundry hamper). It came with no directions and no details. The lights are really bright and it smells like something is burning, but it isn’t. The picture of it showed the lights on either side of the tent, but the pics are still showing up gray. These photos are the only thing keeping me from launching my site, so I am DESPERATE.
    Thanks for your help!!!!

  23. WillieMae
    August 25, 2009

    Thank you, thank you, thank you Jason. I have been fighting with this picture taking business for what seems like forever. I will be making my lightbox. It will be just right for my smaller objects but, I have a fashion designing & Embroidery business and as soon as I can get those great pictures of my designs on my web site, I’ll be up and running. I do have a question or two, because I design clothes I will need to have the foarmboard taller than I am and I’m 4′,11″. Do they come that tall? And also, my logo is a gold castle, I have always had trouble taking a picture of the logo because of the gold. Will it work with the lightbox? My last question, I use a digital camera D-540 zoom. 3.2 Megapixel. Will a digital work well with this set up?

    Keep well.
    God’s blessings.
    WillieMae

  24. Myra
    September 1, 2009

    Hi Jason!

    I just have to say, You Rock! I was on the hunt today for some photographic equipment. I am in desperate need of a white box and priced them out today, they are going for about $85USD and up. Absolutely crazy. I also tried the silly cardboard box and ended up more frustrated than ever. I have a few pieces of white foam board hanging around and now have a new project. Thank you so much!

    Myra

  25. Tiffany
    September 17, 2009

    Jason,
    I really enjoyed reading about how you put this together. I do have one question. How are the lights attached to the table? I personally do not have room to set up a photography studio and keep it up so I’m looking for things that are “collapsable” and easy to put away. I found the lamps on the Ikea website but the image there does not show the base of the lamp nor does the description speak of it.

    Tiffany

  26. JasonTomczak
    September 18, 2009

    Hi Tiffany,

    For a while, I was using the IKEA lamp bases – they’re solid lead or steel, very heavy, and prevent the lamps from moving around. But dang, they’re heavy.

    I then switched to the IKEA table clamps which work really well. They grip onto the sides of tables, counters, etc., and remain very stable. best of all, they’re incredibly light weight.

    I hope that helps. =)

  27. Tiel Holdstock
    September 19, 2009

    Thanks for the post!!! I’d also be curious about what lights you’d suggest 1 1/2 years later.

  28. eBay Consignment Sales Make You Money Fast | A Crash Course In Entrepreneurship
    October 28, 2009

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  29. Tom @ Leica Camera Source
    December 8, 2009

    Great stuff, man. Always nice to see the work of a peer. You should add buttons to the bottom of your posts to digg, stumble, etc your content.-Tom

  30. Richard
    February 2, 2010

    Nice… Im working on mine right now!

  31. James
    March 4, 2010

    Hi,Thanks for the post, i was looking for something like this to biuld for product white isolated shots. ‘Just one more question’ as Colombo would say; would Canon ex430ii speedlight work in place of ikea type lamps? Cheers :).

  32. Jason
    March 4, 2010

    Hey James,

    Columbo! Awesome!

    The EX430 II is what I use, and yes, it should provide a little light in lieu of the lamps. The only thing it doesn’t do is surround the lightbox and the target object with light. It’s more direct and can wash a subject out with too much focused light. If you have something like the Gary Fong flash doodad, light will be dispersed evenly throughout the box, but it’s not quite the same. It’s worth a shot, though. Good luck!

    Jason

  33. Paul
    April 7, 2010

    jason,

    I am trying to find the light bulbs.. what exact brand and make do you use.. everywhere I look, I cannot find the color temp listed anywhere??

    thanks

  34. April
    October 27, 2010

    thank you so very much for sharing this valuable information. I started my search after being disappointed in the orange hue appearing in photos I took of my card projects in my craft room. Off to Staples…….

    Thank you again!

  35. InviBrace
    November 18, 2010

    I was looking for a light box solution for my products photo and found this blog. It’s really helpful information. Thank you so much.

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  37. Keir
    March 6, 2011

    The closest I can find bulb-wise is 26w compact flourescent with a color temp of 4000k, would this provide decent results or is the temp too low?

  38. arun
    April 3, 2011

    Thank you so much.I was looking for a light box solution for my products photo and found this blog. It’s really helpful information. Thank you so much

  39. Kathleen
    May 14, 2011

    Excellent! Thank you very much for this information.

  40. Juli
    May 24, 2011

    Hello Jason! I built a lightbox as per your instructions. But my pictures turned out really bad. I can’t get the effect I want. They either turned out TOO BLUE or TOO DARK or TOO SHADOWY or TOO DULL. SAD!!! I could only get the color I want after tweaking the photo with PS. For those pictures you posted here, did you use a PS to do post-editing? Or are your pictures perfect right out of the oven?

    I thought by having all that setup I could reduce the amount of time taken with PS. Apparently not! It’s so hard to get the right white background shade! UGH!

    cld u please take a look?

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v112/forgetmynamejuli/Testing11_original.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v112/forgetmynamejuli/Testing11_post_editing.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v112/forgetmynamejuli/Testing21_original.jpg

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v112/forgetmynamejuli/Testing2_post_editing.jpg

    See, I could only get that white background with PS editing.

    I need your help! Please reply. Thank you!!

  41. Juli
    May 24, 2011

    Oh and for some images, I just COULD NOT get the white background even with PS. ugh.

  42. Mika
    May 27, 2011

    Nice!
    Just wondering, when you use the plexiglass for the reflection on the bottom, do you get a line in the back between the glass and the paper? Is there a way to avoid that? Thanks!

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  44. Jeff
    August 16, 2011

    Juli..

    The problem lies with your camera’s exposure program.

    I’m not a photography expert, but I do have some experience with this issue, so bear with me..

    Camera’s automatic exposure programs generally try to balance the lighting. When shooting something like this, with a lot of bright white, the camera decreases the exposure to get to a “middle” exposure. Hence the gray.

    Search for “gray card” on the web. If you put a gray card in front of your subject, then lock exposure (usually hold the shutter release button halfway), then remove the gray card, and shoot, you’ll get much better results.

    If your subjects are all similar in size and color, you may want to set your shutter speed, aperture, and ISO manually to avoid having to force/lock the exposure for every single shot.

    You may also try manually overriding the exposure on your camera. Mine have settings for increasing/decreasing the automatic exposure in increments of .5.

  45. Matt
    September 3, 2011

    Quick question. Do you still use the flash on your camera when taking images in the light-box?

  46. Albert
    October 10, 2011

    Most excellent. I’m thinking of lazy suzan for rotating objects to photograph different sides. Job well done.

  47. thinsmek
    October 16, 2011

    Matt, yes, use the flash too, the more light the better. Direct the flash upwards to the ceiling of the box so that it can bounce.

  48. jeleoz
    October 27, 2011

    Just made a version of this….a bit smaller but I think it’s going to work out great!!! Thanks so much for this!!

  49. Therese Donnelly
    November 16, 2011

    Hey Jason,

    thank you for this tutoriel, even if it is a couple of years ago. i only stumbled across it now.
    I have one question though. here in the UK the IKEA lamps you are talking about can only take 75w. I was told by an electrician that I cannot put the kind of bulbs you mention into them as (what I have found) they would be 50w with an equivalent of 200w. Can you give me more details on the bulbs please.

    Thank you.

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  51. K Manny
    December 4, 2011

    This is great but I’d have to use diffusers as well because of those hard shadows.
    But this is a great for such a simple set up.

  52. Jean L
    January 11, 2012

    2′ x 3′ sheets of white foamboard – 5 (or larger, if desired, for bigger light box)
    white or regular masking tape
    bright white paper
    articulating lamps – 3
    light bulbs — “daylight” CFL (compact florescent) bulbs that have a color temperature of about 5000 or 5500, equivalent to 150 watt incandescent bulbs
    box cutter

  53. Jean L
    January 15, 2012

    I didn’t like the prices on the CFL bulbs, so I got 100 watt Reveal bulbs. I made my box bigger because my products are bigger and I might want to photograph sets instead of single items.

    Foamboard: I got my foam board pieces at JoAnn Fabrics. They cut them for me, and I paid 1/3 of what I would have spent for smaller pieces at the office store.

    Light Bulbs: I got mine at Walmart for 1/4 the price I would have paid at the office store.

    White Duct Tape: I got it at Walmart and paid 1/2 what I would have spent at the office store.

    Nothing against the office store, they have the best prices on some items, just not these.

    I’ll post again after I’ve finished taking some pictures and report on the bulbs I used.

    Thanks so much for this article! :)

  54. Jean L
    January 17, 2012

    Some of my shots turned out great, a little dark or bluish but easily fixed with my computer software. Some are terribly blue, green, or orange and cannot be fixed in my photo program, even if they looked fine in the camera viewfinder. Color is really important in what I’m doing. My next step is to figure out how to set the white balance on the camera, and look for a gray card. Grateful for the help on this thread! Thanks, all!!!

  55. DH
    January 17, 2012

    It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one searching the internet for how to do this! When I originally checked, “Jean L” from above just posted 5 mins. prior! I’m glad I read this article.

    I took a mixture of advice from above for materials and construction and put together something that I really like. I have some daylight CFL bulbs and I went to town. I’m not really a photographer, but after messing around with the white balance settings (and others), I got nearly the exact effect I was going for! The only thing I need to adjust is a light source from above like in the pictures shown above.

    Thanks Jason, a great idea that works really well for the at home blogger!

    DH

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  58. pim
    March 25, 2012

    Excellent! Thank you very much for this information.this was a great article,very helpful! exactly what i was looking for.Thanks

  59. Ginger
    April 20, 2012

    Thank you so much for sharing.
    How many watts should the light bulb be?
    I’m building one this weekend.
    Thank you.

  60. Jason
    April 20, 2012

    Ginger – I’ve used 40W, 60W, 75W and all the way up to 300W. It depends on what you’re shooting, but 60W should be fine. It’s really a matter of the color spectrum, not necessarily brightness. I hope that helps.

  61. Vivian
    April 22, 2012

    Thank you Thank you Thank you I have been searching for just this they cost a fortune to buy. I am so very excited I will most definateley be off to find the products and make my own I am so happy Jason that you put this out there for us.
    Cheers
    I will get back to you soon as I have made my own.
    Cheers
    Vivian Middle Park

  62. Meelkoppie
    May 21, 2012

    Hi Jason

    Thank you very much for your article. It helped me alot! I appreciate it very much. Keep up the good work and please send us some more of your brilliant articles.

    Regards
    Meelkoppie

  63. Johnny
    May 30, 2012

    Hi Jason

    I liked your article, this is just what I’m looking for, thank you so much for posting on the web, I’ll build my own box.

    Greetings

    Johnny :grin:

  64. Rose
    July 12, 2012

    Thank you for the helpful DIY light box. What did you do differently to acheive the perfect white background in the first example photo of the Black and Decker tool as opposed to the last two?

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  66. Steph
    September 2, 2012

    Masking tape solution: White hockey tape!

  67. jasontomczak
    September 2, 2012

    Steph – that’s brilliant! Great addition!

  68. Dab
    November 10, 2012

    A lot of people have asked about exposure settings on the camera. I tried this website:

    http://www.sigma-2.com/camerajim/cjgcameras.htm

  69. Svetoslav
    December 5, 2012

    The result is fantastic!!!!Just one question.What is the camera that you used?

  70. Mohamed
    December 7, 2012

    what’s the kind of this light lamp ?

  71. jasontomczak
    December 10, 2012

    Simple articulating lamps from IKEA. About $6 each.

  72. jasontomczak
    December 10, 2012

    Svetoslav – I think I was using a Canon XTi back then. Any Digital SLR will give excellent results, so long as you can manually adjust settings. These days, I would suggest the T3i, T4i, 7D, 5D MkII or even the new 6D for top-of-the line product photos.

  73. Daniel
    January 8, 2013

    Jason,

    Just FYI, incandescent bulbs are not 8000-9000K. They are closer to 3000K. “Warm” orange light is actually generated by cooler materials. “Cool” blue light is generated by extremely hot materials. Counter intuitive, I know…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_temperature

    Cheers!

  74. Anne
    January 11, 2013

    Jason, this is a brilliant post and just what I was looking for! Thanks so much for taking the time to post it AND to answer everyone’s questions and comments. I can easily locate all the supplies you used but wonder where you got your ‘bright white paper’? Is it special photography backdrop paper & if so, what’s a cheap source for it? I’ve looked into getting that paper and it’s so expensive (and you have to get so much) — I was hoping for an inexpensive alternative.
    Thanks again!

  75. jasontomczak
    January 11, 2013

    Hi Anne. At the time, I got my bright white paper from Office Depot. They had pretty big sheets of ultra-bright paper not far from the section where they had the foam board, dry-erase boards, etc. Hopefully you’ll be able to find something like that at your local Office Depot or Staples. Paper made specifically for photography is great, but it’s hard to find and is often way more expensive. The whole idea of this mod/trick is to save money while still getting good results. =)

  76. jasontomczak
    January 11, 2013

    Hey Daniel,

    You’re absolutely right about the color ranges. It must have been a low-caffeine morning when I wrote that. I’ve updated the numbers.

  77. anton
    January 22, 2013

    Hello,

    you may link to the webshop of the ultra white. thanks

  78. Carl Uemura
    January 23, 2013

    Hi Jason, Is your light box setup suitable for taking photographs of antique glass bottles? I need to take high quality photos where details and words embossed on the bottles will show clearly.

  79. jasontomczak
    January 23, 2013

    Hi Carl,

    Yes, this should work for glass as well. You should probably use a layer of drafting vellum about 6-12 inches in front of your lights to soften and diffuse the light. Otherwise, you may get some pretty harsh light on the reflective glass. The drafting vellum helps a lot. I use velum that measures 36″ wide. Sold at dickblick.com or similar art supply stores.

  80. Carl Uemura
    January 25, 2013

    Aloha Jason, thank you for the advice. I will try that and see how it turns out. Carl

  81. Gary
    January 31, 2013

    Great article! How would you photograph an object from an overhead position (bird’s eye view as opposed to front view) using a light box? Seems that a special kind of tripod would be needed. Any suggestions?

  82. Silvia
    February 4, 2013

    Excellnt shanks, I have never heard of one and I have some baby scorpions to photograph and was wondering how to go about it…This has been a great help…Shanks so much so kind for sharing :razz:

  83. HORNE
    February 10, 2013

    :grin: thanks for this tutorial, it makes a lot more sense than all those cardboard options that everyone else seems to suggest and you’re one of the first people to mention the actual light bulbs and which ones to use!! many thanks for sharing your ideas…

  84. Nautalady
    February 17, 2013

    Excellent article and better way to do this. Thanks so much for sharing your tips.

  85. Louise Gorrie
    April 18, 2013

    Amazing….thank you for the info!

  86. Molly
    July 27, 2013

    I am looking to create a white box to take photos of gift baskets. Some of them can be rather large. Is there a ratio of how big the box should be in comparison to the product.

  87. jasontomczak
    July 28, 2013

    Hi Molly,

    There’s no set ratio of whitebox-to-product size, but the main thing you want to ensure is that there’s enough room in the box for the product without the fill light getting too close to the product’s surfaces. If you are shooting a widget that is an 8″ cube, then you’d want your lightbox to be no less than 24″, or 28″ would be even better. Again, it all depends on what you’re shooting and whether you want to prevent harsh, unflattering lighting. More room is good, less room is bad. (Of course I said no set ratio above, but you could go with a 3:1 ratio to be safe. A 12″ product would do well in a 36″ lightbox.)

  88. Ashok Panwalkar
    November 13, 2013

    Your tips came handy at the time when I would soon be opening my e-store and lots of product photography will be required.Thanks a lot for sharing valuable information.

  89. malcolm
    January 13, 2014

    I just wanted to say that this information is still extremely relevant and useful even in early 2014. Great thread

  90. Jessie
    February 19, 2014

    Hi Jason,

    I’m just curious if you think this set up would work decently for black backgrounds? Our website scheme is gold/black/gray and we usually use a dark gray or black background for our product photos. I’ve been thinking of building an actual wooden structure, but this seems like a cheaper perhaps simpler option. Do you think it’d work similarly? I’ve seen some DIY ideas using squares cut in the sides that are then sealed over with cotton fabric, so light can still get in but is dampened.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts :) We’ve got a big update coming and I’ve been trying to think of inexpensive ways to step up our current photography game.

    Thanks!
    Jessie

  91. Jason Tomczak
    February 20, 2014

    Hi Jessie – absolutely, this would work well with a dark grey or black background. Just make sure you use non-reflective (i.e. not slick or gloss) black material for the inside of the light box. With light shining in, anything glossy will give you unwanted light spots behind the subject. Some bokeh would help (as would Photoshop) but it’s best to let the natural environment of the light box be as close to ideal as possible so you don’t need to take everything into heavy post production edits. You could use black foam board or even dark grey/black construction paper. Fiddle around with it and I’m sure you’ll wind up happy with the results.

    As for a wooden structure, I’d recommend against it – at least at first. I tried wooden boxes, plexiglass, PVC, cardboard, etc., and the foam board option was the best by far. It’s also the cheapest, lightest and easiest to re-do if/when you need to.

  92. Pierwsze miejsce
    March 11, 2014

    Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it
    was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but
    I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for
    rookie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  93. Behtash
    May 16, 2014

    hi jason
    i just read your guide and i am starting the process. i will tell about it. thank you very much.

  94. Barbara
    May 17, 2014

    Hi Jason
    I am getting ready to buy 100W bulb at home depot, and 5000 or 5500K daylight bulb, what I’m confused about is the lumens, they have them at 2600 lumens, to 4500 lumens. Which one is should I buy for white box. My box is 2 X 2 feet.
    I am setting my box exactly like you showed. You are super helpful. Thank you.

  95. art of manliness podcast
    August 3, 2014

    Very goold article! We are linking to this great post oon our site.
    Keep up the good writing.

  96. Latessa Diante
    August 17, 2014

    I dont know where Ive gone wrong…? I purchased the CFL bulbs, ecosmart daylight r40 flood, the 120watt to be exact. I couldnt find them any brighter in the stores like Lowes or Home Depot… But they just arent bright enough at all…
    Im not giving up but I thought I should ask for help before I purchased anything else…

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