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Maxvoltar - Cheap Studio Photography

Maxvoltar is the personal weblog of Tim Van Damme, a freelance interface designer at Made by Elephant.

50° 54' 47" N, 4° 25' 50" E

Cheap Studio Photography

As I’m shopping around for a new lens for my DSLR, I figured I had to sell my “old” ones. I already own 3, and 4 would be a bit too much. So I went to (the Belgian Craigslist). While entering the details for the 2 lenses I want to sell, I realized that if I go shopping on a second hand site, I love seeing real pictures instead of product shots of the products I’m about to buy. So I decided to create my own little “studio”.

The setup

What you need:

  • Objects you want to photograph
  • A camera to take the actual pictures
  • 2 sheets of white/slightly yellow printing paper

I used my laptop to balance the papers. You should get something like this:


Notice that I didn’t do anything to tweak the light, nor did I care about the backlit of my laptop.

Taking pictures

I used my 50mm lens to take the pictures. Shutterspeed at 1/10, aperture at f/1,8 and the ISO at 100. Nothing fancy, just some basic picture framing. (remember that I had little light, so you might want to tweak those values a bit for your setup)


Because I was too lazy to add a third paper to my setup, I had some off-paper areas in my pictures. 2 minutes of Photoshop fixed that. Just brushed some background color on there, and that’s it!



So next time you need to take a quick picture of a small object, and you want it to be half decent, there’s no excuse to make it look like crap.


  • Drew McLellan

    4972 days ago

    Hurrah for DIY photography techniques.

    I guess my comment would be that for a product sales shot, the aim is to represent the product accurately rather than make it look nice. For that I’d use a narrower aperture (perhaps something like f/4) to get more depth of field and keep the entire item in focus.

    For example, in the 55-250mm lens photo, a potential buyer wouldn’t be able to assess if the IS switch had been snapped off (or something) because it’s not sharply in focus.

    Unfortunately, that may mean that the item doesn’t look so good (in an artistic sense), which is a shame.

  • Tanner Christensen

    4972 days ago

    Great tutorial, I never thought about using my laptops monitor as a backlight for quick photos.

    For a low price, you could put together a DIY light tent and have that around too. Here’s my tutorial on the subject:

  • Tim Van Damme

    4972 days ago

    @Drew: A friend of me told me the exact same thing :-)
    Maybe I should’ve titled this post “Cheap Amateur Studio Photography”…

    @Tanner: Thanks, will check it out. Remember that this is just a (very) quick and (very) dirty tutorial!

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