Dead Center Camera Lighting for Macro Photography




About: Hello

I was taking pictures of small defective parts at work (again) and I was having a hard time, as usual, getting light down inside some of the parts. The closer I needed to get the camera to the object being photographed the more the camera blocked out the light. So I made this dead center light source. It is as if you have a little light right in front of the lens shining on the object.

As you can see from the first picture, There is light going all the way down the center of the RCA audio connector.


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Step 1: Making the Framed Glass

The dead center camera light works by reflecting a light source off a piece of glass that is positioned in front of the camera lens at the oblect to be photographed. So I need a piece of glass and it will be framed in brass U channel.

Step 2: Final Assembly

I soldered the framed glass to a circuit board at a 45 degree angle. Next, I connected standoffs with cable clamps to the circuit board. Then I installed the light source. The pen light worked but it was not bright enough and the beam was too narrow.

Step 3: Testing

Notice that most of the light goes straight through the glass but some of it is reflected off at 90 degrees from the main beam. This is the light that will illuminate the object in the same axis as the camera’s line of sight. The picture will be taken through the glass that reflected the light onto the object.

Step 4: Rebuilt for Higher Power

So I replaced the pen light with a 10mm multi-chip LED. This works well but I will be testing 1 watt LEDS soon.

Step 5: Pictures

Pictures 3 and 4 show the drastic difference between side and dead center illumination.

Step 6: More Pictures

Notice the picture of the ball point pen, the pencil and the edge of the dime.


I will add more pictures some other time as well as pictures from the 1 watt upgraded version.



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    10 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I used 45° glass like this to illuminate coins when I was photographing someone's collection. This was before cheap white LED's were available, I used a slide projector with a tungsten halogen lamp as a light source.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if you put a mirror on the far side will that help capture lost light? I guess it would probably fire too much light back into the lens...

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yep, Bouncing the light back would be like putting the light source on the wrong side of the glass. I think a 1 watt LED on the upgrade version will work fine


    6 years ago on Step 6

    Man, you've just made my day :D


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Duh! Of course! What an elegantly simple solution! I routinely photograph security features of documents for work, so an adaptation of this may be a useful addition to our tools.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Clever idea - I'll be trying that.
    I'd have thought you'd get flare and distortion from the angled glass but your images appear pretty sharp and clear.  What sort of glass are you using?  Optical quality or something else?

    1 reply