I enjoy all forms of photography, though I don't claim to be any good at it.  Macro photography is especially a lot of fun  -  to look at a bug, or a seedpod, or a close-up of a leaf, is really entertaining. You get to feel like you're shrunk down to the size of your subject, and are looking at it close-up and life-size.

One of the problems with macrophotography though is lighting.  Furthermore, if you want to shoot real close-ups in the field, you don't want to be carrying heavy stuff around all day.

Of course, the fact that you want to shoot something small lends itself to being shot in a similarly small lightbox.  And hence, this instructable.

There are many way to make one of these little pieces of kit, but I will go through why I went this way, and why I chose the items I did.

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Step 1:

Pic 1 shows the items involved:  A tin, in this instance from a maker of small cigarillos, about 7.5  x  8.5  x  2  cms.  I used some foam to make a cutout to keep the parts from moving around. I used a LED ring which is intended to be an automobile side-light, which I've had for ages, and bought from China for a few dollars.  I use a 9v PP3 battery and clip, and finally a piece of paper to make the 'tent' of the lightbox.  Pic 2 shows some double-sided sticky pads which I used to put thing together.

There would be numerous different tins you could use for this exercise, but  chose a tin which was more or less rectangular so that the folded 'tent' of paper could be a reasonable size and squarish, without too many folds.

There are also numerous ways you could make a light source  -  I have this ring light, because it was hanging around. you could just as easily string a few LED's together to make numerous light sources - which would probably work even better.

I use a 9volt battery because they last a long time and are compact, and the LED ring is rated as 12v DC, so I din't have to mess about with any other components.  The thing is, this will be only lit up for short periods of time, every now & again, it's not a studio set-up.  Pic 3 shows how the whole lot fits into this little tin, nice & neat.

Step 2:

Pic 4 shows the way to cut out the piece of paper. I used regular printer paper at A4 size (UK standard)  and cut out a cross shape to make it easy to fold, and so it would take up less space when folded.

Pic 5 shows the piece of 5mm foam I used  -  with a cutout for the battery, and all the components sitting in the box, waiting to be put into action.

The foam is stuck to the inside of the body of the tin using 6 double-sided sticky pads.  The paper is stuck to the lid with a further sticky pad.  If / when the paper becomes ratty, you just rip it out and put a new one in.

Pic 6 shows the ring light slipped in behind the paper 'tent' to illuminate the lightbox tent as evenly as possible.  Having got this far, I think I concluded that I may make up a couple of light units so they could be pointed in from each side, for even better illumination.

Step 3:

So there it is, a little lightbox you can carry round in your pocket.

And so to testing the thing,

Pic 7 is a little button, about 1cm across, shot inside the lighbox.

Pic 8 is the same item shot outside, in ambient light in my office, with the camera on the same settings. You can see that the version from inside the lightbox has considerably less shadow, and is overall better illuminated.

Pics 9 and 10 show a chip, again the first is inside the lightbox, and the second is outside, with similar observations.

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    6 Discussions

    avan der veer1
    avan der veer1

    5 years ago

    Nice! But i should like to see a picture of the complete "tent" in use, is that possible?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I like the way this all folds into a tin. Nice idea, thanks for posting it :)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    That's why I bought my led ring too, but it ended up glued to the magnifying glass of my helping hand by my solder station :-)


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    They're really useful and cost effective, I use one as a ringflash, as it fits great over the lens of my 'proper' camera. They are quite versatile.

    thanks for looking into my 'ible,


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice! That looks pretty handy to have with you when you are out and about.