Photography light box for ~$10

I've been wanting to build a light box for years to help me take better macro pictures. Since I'd also like to share good flashlight pictures like many of our reviewers here already do, I decided to finally build my light box. Here's how I built one on a budget.

I reused the following:

Large binder clips

White bed sheet

The PVC parts came from Home Depot. They're all 1/2 inch parts. I'm going to get the names wrong, so I'll include the SKU's too.



Part name




3-way adapter








male adapter




10-foot pipe


The pipe was cut into 8 2-foot lengths. I'll let the pictures show how the piping is assembled. The male adapters are not necessary if you can find a 3-way that allows 1/2-inch pipe to be pressed in, but the closest thing I could find had threads on one end, thus the need for the male adapters. Caps aren't necessary either.

The poster board is the backdrop and floor. It is hung from the top rear pipe. Be careful to keep it clean and free from creases.

In this picture I'm using an old dirty white vinyl sheet that's hung from the top rear pipe with binder clips. I also bought some white, black and blue poster board. I'm currently gluing velcro strips to it to attach it to the light box, but I may end up using binder clips with the poster board too.

An old white bed sheet is hung over the sides and top of the light box to diffuse light.

This was taken in full auto, super macro mode with a tripod and remote shutter release. Light is from a nearby window to the left, and an obstructed covered window much further away to the right. The focus is off and there's some noise, but I'm happy with the effect of the light box.


I can't find my old desk lamps, so I'm going to try reusing my bike lights and flashlights instead. Arms will be added to the side, and bike lights and flashlights can be added to them. This could be an excuse to build some nichia 219 flashlights.

The noise was bothering me, so I took the lightbox outside with a new arrival. It helped a lot. I still need to play with aperture. The texture in the background is because I'm still using the vinyl sheet. I think the background would disappear if I used the white poster board.

That’s even cheaper than the pre-fab ones from DX! Thanks for sharing!

Nice one!
I built mine from fiberglass rods in 2’x2’ square panels so I can tear it down for storage. The cloth is attached with adhesive. I have five squares (camera end has a hole), but usually only use four and leave the camera end open.
I think it cost around $25 or so to build.

I have an even cheaper version of this- well, more a quick & dirty way of taking “good” pictures. Unfortunately I could only show the setup and some… adult toys as photo examples.

I added links and a couple test shots with the light box outside. The outdoor images look pretty good to me. I may get some reflectors to help with the shadows.

I'd like to see that, but I'd prefer if you post them in a new thread so they don't risk getting my thread deleted.

The lightbox is going to get some changes to allow bike lights and flashlights to provide side illumination.

First post has been updated as well.

Now I need to make another run to the hardware store to buy some extra parts.

Using bike lights is a great idea! Will you be able to point them freely?

I think I'll be able to aim them well enough. It will slide and rotate along the y-axis. One light also twists side to side.

This was mine, it just has a hole in the top with A4 paper stuck over the hole then my PA40W sitting on top of that.


My nearest hardware store doesn't have the 4-way fittings I want, so I ordered 5-way fittings online. That will allow the side arm and an top arm so I can mount lights above and to the side of my light box. The 5-way fittings won't arrive for a while, so for now I'm using 3-way fittings to mount the side arms. The only problem with that is it prevents me from fully covering the top and sides of the box.

I may still use my bike lights, but I found some clip-on work lights at Walmart like this for less than $7 that I'm going to use for a while. It's rated for a 300 watt bulb. 150 watt bulbs put out 2600+ lumens and have great CRI and do not have PWM issues. Now that I'm looking on Amazon, I see a bigger version that's rated for 300 watts.