Instructables
Picture of Create a Macro Lighting Rig For Compact Cameras
In this ‘How To’ guide I’ll show you how easy it is to make a ‘Macro Lighting Rig’ for your compact camera. Costing less than £15 to make, this ‘Macro Lighting Rig’ is an extremely useful bit of kit to add to your wildlife photography kit bag!

Time Needed: 2 Hours (+24 hours for sugru to set).

Why Do It?: This rig is ideal for photographing all sorts of wildlife at very close range. I designed it with photographing moths in mind as I’ve missed many good shots due to low light levels but it could be used for all sorts of other macro photography too. This rig also eliminates the shadow problem caused by the lens on many compact cameras when trying to photograph at very close range.

What You Need: (x2) USB LED laptop lights, a short length of aluminum strip (the length and width will depend on the dimensions of your compact camera), a pack of Sugru self setting rubber, (x2) cable ties, a spare USB lead and a 5v power source.

Tools Required: Hacksaw, wire cutters, Stanley knife, soldering iron.
 
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Step 1: Find Some Suitable LED Lighting

Picture of Find Some Suitable LED Lighting
There are numerous places to find suitable lighting for this project. Plug in USB laptop lights come in all shapes and sizes. I plan to experiment with a few different designs but for this project I chose a pair of USB plug in lights from Poundland, and you guessed it, they cost £1 each!

Step 2: Remove The USB Outer Casing

Picture of Remove The USB Outer Casing
Using a sharp Stanley knife carefully remove the outer plastic casing of the USB connector. Do not press too hard as you don’t want to damage the wires inside.

Step 3: Unsolder Wires And Remove Connector.

Picture of Unsolder Wires And Remove Connector.
Note that the Red and Black wires are connected to the two outer pins of the USB connector.

Step 4: Trim Back The Metal Gooseneck.

Picture of Trim Back The Metal Gooseneck.
Using a hacksaw or mini grinder carefully remove approx. 25mm of the metal gooseneck spring. Be careful not to melt the wires inside!

Step 5: Finished LED Light Ready For Next Step.

Picture of Finished LED Light Ready For Next Step.
You should now have approx. 25-30mm of the red and black wires exposed.
kurt.devlin10 months ago
I have a friend that is a tattoo artist and has awful problems taking pictures of new tattoos (and old ones) without getting a lot of glare on the skin. Do you know anyone with tattoos that would be willing to be a subject for this lighting rig?
Wildlife Gadgetman (author)  kurt.devlin10 months ago
Hi Kurt,

I'm afraid not. I'll ask around and see if I can find a willing tattoo model!
If he made a filter for his flash,it would likely solve that problem.
Phil B11 months ago
The color balance in your photos looks pretty good. I would have expected it to be skewed to a harsh blue from the LEDs. Did you manipulate the color balance in a photo editing program, or are the photos as they came out of the camera? Also, did you buy the USB LED light sets in a local store or did you order them on-line? Thank you for a helpful Instructable.
Wildlife Gadgetman (author)  Phil B10 months ago
Hi Phil,
The images are as they came out of the camera. There is a slight blue hue but this can easily be manipulated in photo editing software.

The LEDs were purchased from a local Poundland store. I've also seen similar on ebay.

Glad you enjoyed the guide!
Light_Lab10 months ago
I have been doing a very similar thing for a couple of years using a rechargeable power pack a bit like these ones:
http://www.banggood.com/30000mAh-Portable-USB-External-Battery-Charger-For-Mobile-Phone-p-72619.html
They have two sockets and I just plug in the lights as is. My battery pack has a belt clip that I can clip onto a metal strip attached to the 1/4" camera tripod mount screw. The USB sockets are not all that stable supporting the lights and they wobble a bit, but so far they have not fallen out and have never been a problem in use. If it becomes a worry I can always tighten up the plugs with a rubber band.
I have a couple of USB strip lights identical to yours, and I have a couple of cute USB miniature spotlights, complete with barn doors I picked up somewhere. I also have a USB ring light on a flexible neck. There is a big range available as you say.
Having all the lights still on USB plugs means I can pair them up all sorts of ways very easily.
Pieces of cloudy plastic cut from a milk bottle can be rolled and taped into cylinders to slide over the strip lights to soften them if required.
badmoonryzn10 months ago
Very Clever. Nice work!
Oops, our little camera have such a useless flash. This really helps outside where a fill flash is needed to take photos of flowers, people and other things that are always too dark. Thanks
biggy boy10 months ago
Good job on the lights!
Those are nice close-ups. Can you post some Macro shots too, using your lights?
I would like to see what the images look like of an actual macro photo.

Really smart!