Cheap Product Photography Tent

Many of us would like to take those shots we see in magazines. You know the ones.. the eye-poping watches and jewelry, the frosty cans of beer or soda, or just a toy car. Those pictures look so professional that it’s hard to think that we could do that without the expensive setup of a pro studio. However, that is not the case. With a cheap product photography tent, you too can take some awesome photos, even with your Canon Rebel T3i.

In this post, you will learn another photography trick – how to build a product photography tent with little or no investment. In addition, you can see how your Canon Rebel T3i can take those shots using Live View, aperture priority, and manual focus.

Sample Product Photography Photos

ProductShot-truck ProductShot-treasureChest
ProductShot-Jack ProductShot-egg
Click on the photos to see the large images on Flickr

Check out the video – “How to make a cheap product photography tent”

Here is your Cheap Product Photography Tent Materials List

(If you follow any of the links and make a purchase, it will result in a few cents revenue for this website)

Product Photography Tent Creation – follow these steps

  1. Cut out the sides and top of the cardboard box, leaving 2″ all around the cutout.
  2. Line the inside with white paper. You can cut 2″ strips and glue or tape them to each “leg.”
  3. Use a long piece of white paper (poster board works fine for this step) for the backdrop. Make sure it curves without creases from the back to the front.
  4. Use some the muslin (you can substitute an old sheet or T-shirt material) to cover the holes.
  5. Set up your lights. One light from the top is actually enough, but two additional lights on the sides works perfect. If you set your photography tent on a table, use the backs of kitchen chairs for support. In the video, the photography tent was on work horses, so the lights were attached to those, and the overhead light was on a stand.
Product Photography Tent - cardboard box
The cardboard box with sides and top cut out – ready for lining.
Product Photography Tent - backdrop
Side view – Lined in white, the backdrop is continuous from back to front with no creases.

Taking the product photos

This is the fun part. Place your camera (hopefully it is a Canon Rebel T3i) on a tripod or some solid surface. Use Aperture Priority and set the aperture to a fairly high number, such as f/8.0 or higher. Set the ISO to a low number, say 100 or 200. Also use a remote Shutter release or set the camera on the Timer (2 seconds is fine).

For those who have Live View (yes, that is the awesome feature on a Canon Rebel T3i), put your lens on Manual focus. When the set-up is complete, place your “product” in the tent and engage Live View. Focus the lens, then use the “zoom” button to magnify the image 5x or 10x to fine-tune your focus. If you need to move the focus area (that is the white box in Live View), use the arrow buttons around the Set button.

Press the shutter button and wait for the shutter to release.. Bingo! You have your product shot.

After you review your shots in the camera, you may have to adjust the position of the light or lights and retake the shot so that there are no shadows, but the more light you cast on the subject, the less shadows you will have. This is true due to the filtering effect of the muslin material. It makes a kind of softbox around your whole subject.