Introduction: DIY Portable Macro Studio for Under $25 (Probably Much Less)

Picture of DIY Portable Macro Studio for Under $25 (Probably Much Less)

This is my first Instructable and it came about based out of need for a simple and portable way to photograph small products. I had seen various instructables like this that were made from a cardboard box which are great but not very professional or durable. I had all the materials sitting around left over from a prior project so I thought I'd make use of them.

Materials:

-Grey Plastic Electrical Conduit (Available at Home Depot)
*I think the sticks are 8ft lengths, two of them should be plenty
-8 PVC Pluming 90 degree Elbows 1" Diameter (Available at Home Depot)
-2 sq meters of white cotton, should be thick enough not to be transparent but light enough to let light through.

Tools
-Hand Saw (Band Saw is easier though)
-Scissors
-Sewing Machine
-Measuring Tape
-Pencil

Step 1: Cut the Pipe to Length

Picture of Cut the Pipe to Length

You will need to cut the pipes to the proper length now.

You'll need 6 pieces cut to 12" and 2 cut to 16"

Step 2: Fit the Pipes Together Using the 90° Elbows

Picture of Fit the Pipes Together Using the 90° Elbows

Using the image as a guide assemble the pieces together to make sure that they fit. The frame should measure roughly 1' tall, 1' deep, and 16" wide. If the pipe fit is too loose you can shim it up by wrapping tape around the end of the pipe.

Step 3: Preparing & Applying the Cloth

Picture of Preparing & Applying the Cloth

There are two pieces of cloth, one will form the backdrop and the other will wrap around from one side across the top and down to the other side which we'll call the "wrap".

Backdrop - 16" wide 39" long*
The length of this one can be changed to suit your taste but the width should stay 16" to fit the frame. One end needs to be folder over and sewn to allow the 1" pipe to slip through.

The "Wrap" - 10 1/2" wide by approx 54" long*
The width of this needs to be about 10 1/2" to fit the frame but the length is a little more tricky. Start by folding over one side and sewing it to form a loop for the pipe to slip through. The same will need to be done to the other side but you'll need to do a "test fit" to see where the loop needs to be sewn.
Hopefully the images will show you how this all fits together.

As you can see you'll have to partially disassemble your frame to slip the backdrop and the wrap on.

*You may need to allow extra if you want to hem the pieces to prevent fraying, the dimensions shown are finished dimensions.


Step 4: Full Assembly

Picture of Full Assembly

Your project should now look something like the images below.

In the one I made I didn't have enough 90 degree elbows so I used "T"s that I had laying around. You may wish to do this too so that you can add extra bars to hang lights from.

You also probably have some material left over at this point, it should be enough to craft a little carrying case. I haven't done this myself yet but I plan too.

Comments

westfw (author)2008-07-18

Made one! Used "3/4 inch" sched 40 irrigation pipe rather than electrical conduit, and all I had to buy was the elbows... It seems to have alternate uses as well!

Sariko (author)westfw2010-03-01

I would never get all of the cat hair off that.

jphphotography (author)westfw2008-09-04

Good job westfw, I'd pull your fabric tighter when you're actually going to use it though (provided it you're cat doesn't claim it as a new bed). I hadn't thought of irrigation pipe although I'm sure it can be constructed from a bunch of different materials. I just used what I had laying around. I plan to add in DIY slave strobes made from disposable cameras as well but haven't had time, winter is coming though and that's the best time for projects. Thanks for sharing your efforts and I'm sorry for not replying sooner.

westfw (author)jphphotography2008-09-04

Since the top and sides are pretty much light diffuser/reflectors, why should they need to be tight? (genuinely curious, here...) As far as I can tell, PVC electrical conduit and PVC irrigation pipe are identical except for color; even the sizes are the same (unlike copper pipe, for instance.)

jphphotography (author)westfw2008-09-04

You're right the sides and the top don't just the backdrop to get rid of the wrinkles. I was saying it more as a joke than anything else. I think you're right about the pipe being pretty much the same, they're both PVC. I think the irrigation piping might be a little better for tolerance though, I've found that with the electrical conduit sometimes the PVC plumbing connectors are too tight or way too loose depending on the stick. Anywho thanks again for trying it out, if you get any good shots using it you'll have to share them somehow.

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-06-29

Great job! BTW, you should click the reply button on the comment, otherwise the person who wrote it doesn't know you responded

jphphotography (author)2008-06-29

One more thing, the "CAD" drawings were made using Google Sketchup a great little 3d modeling program that is FREE!

jphphotography (author)2008-06-29

Thanks for the feedback, you're right about the dimensions it should be 16 inches on the one drawing, because the pieces didn't actually fit together in the drawing I was a little oversize. As for the 1" pipe I'm not sure if that is outside diameter or inside, I'll have to check and then update the instructable but I think it is outside diameter if I'm not mistaken. As far as scaling it you're completely correct, I might make a larger one in the future if I have need for it.

westfw (author)2008-06-29

Nice. Good use of combined CAD output and "real life", although I'm not sure all the dimensions add up right (The initial CAD drawing says the long pipe pieces are 1foot 6inches, but the assembly drawings say 16inches. It could be shortening for the part in the couplings, but the short pieces aren't similarly shortened...) Is this "1 inch PVC pipe", or "1 inch diameter" pipe (probably "3/4inch pipe")? I particularly like the way the "draping" fabrics don't really have any critical dimensions. And of course the way the whole thing breaks down for storage, and that it can probably scale to pretty much any convenient dimensions...

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Bio: Those who know me know that I've always got some project on the go at all times. My interests are varied enough that I ... More »
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