Low Cost Product Photography Strip Lights

If your studio is small, you don’t need and don’t have room for big expensive lights and light modifiers.  My space is so small I don’t think a 53″ octobox and I would fit in my office/studio at the same time.

For lights I have what I think are two of the least expensive monolights you can buy. They are 150ws Westcott Strobelite Monolights that I bought in a kit with an umbrella and a 2×2 foot soft box.

I’ve done quite a lot of shooting with these lights and they have plenty of power for what I have been doing. That plus at $149.00 they are cheaper than most flash guns and have three times the power.

I can do quite a lot with the umbella and square soft box but there are sometimes where an more defined light is needed.  In the past I’ve flagged the soft box with some black cloth to make a strip box (about 9″x24″) that does work for really directing the light as in like in this mixer shot.


But it is a bit awkward attaching the cloth and because the panel is flush mounted it is hard to get it to lay flat.  My kingdom for a inexpensive strip box.

When you spend $150 on a monolight it doesn’t make much sense to spend $200 on a modifier, the necessary Bowens style mount, and ideally a grid for some directional control.

The other day I discovered a rather inexpensive strip box that met all my needs (or so I hoped) at a very reasonably $50 per unit which included the mounting hardware and a grid. I ordered two. For that price I wasn’t sure if there any quantity to the materials but I figured I could always return it.

Two days later and I was a real photographer! I am very happy with the quality of the LA Softbox 8″x36″ soft boxes that I received. The units come  unassembled (of course) in a nice travel bag that included all the promised parts.

Assembly was a lot easier on the second box once I figured out the correct way as the instructions were written in some language other than English and somewhat translated. The materials in the box are sturdy and the ribs are quite strong. The Bowen adapters were a bit rough and challenge to fit into the lights especially if you try turning them the wrong way.  I’m not sure how many times I want to assemble and dis-assemble these lights but you can if you need too.

The units are advertised as hair lights, to be put behind a portrait subject to kick some light on the hair, but work just as well in product photography as a main light and or fill light.

Fujinon XF 50-140 F2.i R LM OIS WR

Here is the setup I used  although not the final position of the lights on the lens above. I moved them in and more at an angle.  You will also see that I need to get rid of the card table for something more of a pedestal for holding my subjects.

LA Softbox 8" c 36" with bowen moungIf you are doing product photography you can get by in a small space and you don’t need a lot of expensive lights and modifiers.

Doing small product photography of things like lenses and bottles or most thing cylindrical really requires a long narrow light source.  The LA Softbox is a good inexpensive choice.


Photography, like most things in life is better when you are confident. I’ve processed several images lately that gave me confidence that I can create the image I see before I press the shutter button.  The confidence comes not only from the ability to get the composition correct in camera. It also comes from the camera being able to capture the detail I want. And to present the tonal range the I saw with my eyes.

Flimflam's Lanterns
Flimflam’s Lanterns

These images were taken at maybe 4:30 in the afternoon so the light was rather contrasty.  I apply the Provia/Standard camera profile to all my imported raw files and add a bit of sharpening as needed.  I bracketed the shots to plus 2 stops and minus 2 stops and processed them with Lightroom’s Photo Merge HDR. I also passed them through Photoshop where I applied some Nik Software By Google Color Effects 4 Tonal and Pro Contrast filters.

Gringot’s Dragon

The images were shot with the Fujifilm X-T2 and XF 16-55mm F2.8 R LM WR lens. I could only have one camera and lens this would be the  combination I would chose.   The images are only 1600 pixel jpegs but if you click on them you can see the texture in the wings and the texture of the window frames, it’s just spot on.

It is nice to know that you can put the camera to your eye and get the images you see. Gives you confidence.