Should you buy a macro photography light box or make a macro photo studio yourself? These mini lighting studios are great for you if you want a simple way to have success with macro lighting and don't want to go through a newcomplex setup each time you shoot macro.
You set up a macro lighting tent like this to be able to diffuse the light and make your subject look great. The designs that fold up or collapse are easy to set up, take down and store out of the way when you're not using them.
The first thing to do is to figure the best size for your photography lighting box. Imagine the largest subject you'll ever use it for and go from there. You can always photograph the smallest macro subjects, but you're out of luck if the object you're photographing is too large to use in your light box.
A product light box is really versatile because you can change the look of the lighting on your subject by adjusting the position of the one or two lights that you are using.
Should you use flash or continuous lighting? It's so much easier to see how the lighting is affecting your subject if you can see it in real time, as opposed to using flash photography where you may have to check your LCD screen after each and every exposure.
The decision you face is whether to use the power of electronic flash or a continuous light source like LED lighting or traditional photo studio lights. You cannot use the built-in flash on your camera. It's simply too small, it comes from a bad direction and will give you distracting shadows. If you use remote flash units of some kind you must trigger them at the time of exposure. You also can not see how they light your subject adequately because their duration is so brief.
You will have to try and evaluate by looking at the LCD screen after capture. With continuous lights, you can adjust the lights and get a good idea of your finished photo.
There are a million ways to make these on your own. It depends on how handy you are in making things, having the tools you may need, and how much time you have on your hands.
Here are two simplified methods of making your own macro light box. Both of them require you to spend some time making them. If you're somewhat crafty then you'll get the satisfaction of building something on your own.
Here's the first two-step method on how to make your own light box for shooting your macro photography subjects. This project is a lot simpler than the second one mentioned next. It does require you to start with the right size box.
This is a real cheap way to go. make sure that you build it so that you can light your macro subject form above and from the sides.
This set-up is not fold-able or collapsible but it is pretty easy to construct. Just don't cut yourself with a sharp blade. Here is a one minute video on method 1.
It's not a big item, but you'll still want to think about a place to store your macro photography light box when you're not using it. If you only need it for a one time use, you'll be able to disassemble it and recycle the materials.
This requires a bit more precision with your cuts and folds but it is collapsible. Here is a five minute video on this idea.
You can also use a flexible, heat resistant diffusion paper called Cinegel which is used in the cinema world quite a bit. You can attached it to any cubical frame you can make:Cinegel Tough White Sheet of Light Diffusing Material
The most popular users of small light boxes are ebay sellers. Light boxes are the easiest way to photography a whole bunch of small products in an attractive way without spending a lot of time doing it. There are also a bazillion other ways to get light onto your macro photography subjects.
One of the best features of buying a macro lighting kit is that they come with the lights included. Below are some links on amazon showing you different lighting setups to consider:
Setting up a macro photography studio really isn't very hard. You don't need a lot of room to work. Just about any tabletop or floor is suitable. With macro and small product photography, you really want to use a decent tripod to help with composition and most importantly to get tack sharp photos.
Shoot more macro photos. Shoot better macro photos.