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Comparing photo boxes

I recently purchased a product that is supposed to help me keep track
of my costs as I make and sell my jewelry. I did not buy the optional
photo box which is supposed to let me photograph my jewelry easily
and attach the photos to the program. I think it cost something like
$350. Then I discovered a place called Kassoy where these photo boxes
cost a lot more. One is even over $2700! I have a DVD and a couple of
books - about photographing jewelry and although I’m making progress
in understanding how to do this, I’m not there yet. I just want to
get this done well and quickly. I’ve tried photographing it, scanning
it etc, but I’m not very happy with the results yet… Is it worth
buying one of these photo boxes? What’s the difference between a
Kassoy model and some of the others. Is there a basic one that
wouldn’t cost me a fortune - until I work out the kinks in my system
here at home?

Many thanks!
Vanessa N Weber
Westbrook, CT

do you have an example of the result you want to get to? i recently
purchased a fabric light dome+lights for shooting pottery i
make…just haven’t had time to set it up…soon though. i’ve used
something as common as a milk glass light fixture as a light
scattering filtre for taking photos of small objects.

if you’re inclined google light domes and see what you come up with
and look at some inexpensive DIY stuff that gives expensive looking


Here’s a simple photo box which you combine with your own lights.

B & H Photo has very good prices and excellent customer service.

If you start with something like this and get a good book on
lighting for product photos, you can improve your skills to the point
where you will either not need a more expensive setup or be better
able to take advantage of one.

Also,, a tutorial website geared primarily towards
software developers and digital artists, has a couple of tutorials
that might be useful to you: Off-Camera Flash, and Product
Photography for E-Commerce.


i bought something similar from an ‘internet bookseller’. a 24"
“Cowboystudio Full Spectrum” for $26

I have been using the Cloud Dome system which works fine for me.
However, I understand that there is a less expensive set up which
consists of a fabric cube. The advantage of the cloud dome system is
that it has a bracket on top for my camera which eliminates the need
for a tripod. I use daylight balanced fluorescent lights for
illumination. Cloud Dome has an excellent tutorial which I found
very helpful.


Try eBay - lots of sellers of various light domes some very

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

I have this light tent:

You can read more about my set up on my blog. The free articles here
at ganoksin on photography by Charles L-B are extremely helpful.

It’s not that complicated – get some lights, diffuse the lights.

What I like about this particular light tent is that it has clips in
the back to hold seamless backdrops.


Photo box ~ I made my own photo box and set up at home actually
after using commercial ones that just did not work out. It cost me
zero dollars, all stuff I had at home and I love it.You can view my
photo set up at my blog and it’s down a couple posts. The picture is
" I am not a photographer" and shows my setup which I leave permanent
setup all the time. The description with the photo states all the
materials. I have found taking pictures of jewelry is another
profession in itself. It took me a long time to just get moderately
ok pictures. Any pictures I use to jury I have professionally done.
My blog is

and look for post from about a month ago.:slight_smile:

joy kruse

I own the MK Photo e Box Plus. I bought it back when gold was
"cheap" so I didn’t feel the pain of the cost like I would now.

Pros: It takes up very little space. I leave it set up in my closet
full time. And it has a light in the bottom so you can illuminate
translucent colored stones and see the colors well.

Cons: 1. When photographing reflective surfaces, like polished
silver, you get the corners of the inside of the box and the hole at
the top and the installed lights and the opening of the door, all
showing up in your piece. I have had to spend way too much time in
Photoshop getting rid of those.

  1. The top of the box is just plastic, and it warps over time with
    the weight of the camera set up on it. It also shakes the camera
    with the slightest movement in the area. Even with a remote control
    for my camera, the pictures were blurry because the camera was still
    vibrating from me setting up the jewelry. My husband solved the
    problem by attaching a 1x4 to the outside of the top, then attached
    the camera stand to that. Much more stable now.

  2. It’s not a magic wand, though you’d think it would be at that
    price. You still have to know all the technical aspects of your
    camera and jewelry photography, just like with less expensive
    options. In fact, if I didn’t already have so much money invested in
    this one, I would buy a simple fabric photo cube and Home Depot
    clamp lights on poles. I have friends who spent a fraction of this
    one’s cost and their pictures are professional quality.

My advice: Don’t fall for the hype of these all-in-one systems.

Hope this helps.

Another way to take pictures of jewelry other small items is to make
your own photo box.

It can be made from foam board available at craft stores &

To get an idea what they look like go to the & look at the last 2 items.
They’re made form an electronic camera, but scaling them up a bit
works if they’ll be used with a regular camera.


As to photo boxes, don’t forget that Ganoksin has available an ebook
on gem photography that includes directions on how to make a pretty
easy and cheap box…

John in Indiana

I find that its the manipulation afterwards that makes the biggest
difference - once you got an image as long as the focus is good then
the colours and light balance can be easily manipulated using

Nile has a set up that is very reasonable. I wish it were a little
smaller though.

Jean Menden

check out - light boxes,
tutorials, lamps. Very instructional, and reasonable prices for the
products (the tutorials are free). If you have a decent DSLR camera,
buying a light box, or rigging one up to diffuse the light properly,
will make a huge difference in picture quality. If you have only a
point-and-shoot camera, a light box will still improve your photos,
but only to a point (good for web sites, on-line marketing, but you
should have jury shots taken by a professional). I found the above
tutorial on lighting especially, wait for it… enlightening - just
to test their theory I took a bunch of shots using different light
bulbs - daylight balanced flourescents did work best - more time
editting and adjusting with other types of lighting, just like the
tutorial said. Bottom line, in answer to your question, a light box
or even sheets of frosted plastic are the cheapest thing you can do
to improve your jewelry photos. (Either will diffuse the light,
turning distracting round headlight reflections into strong even
illumination. ) In my opinion, a macro photography class and a
decent DSLR camera are the next steps for truly professional shots -
after that a great editting program (I like Adobe Lightroom).

Sam Kaffine (all pictures taken with a point-and-shoot -
upgraded DSLR photos coming soon, as I master my new camera)

I find that its the manipulation afterwards that makes the biggest
difference - once you got an image as long as the focus is good
then the colours and light balance can be easily manipulated using

Wondering what others think about manipulation in Photoshop (or any
other editor for that matter).

My ideal is to get perfect photos of your work, and this is what I
aim to do myself.

Sure I manipulate photos to clarify things that I’ve made, but I
don’t manipulate images of things I’m going to sell.

What do other think?

Regards Charles A.

As a 25 years+ photographer turned jeweler, I must say that all
those light boxes, IMHO, produce endlessly boring pictures of what
might be considered as stunning work. Lighting, and all its
variations, textures in backgrounds, colors of lighting, viewing
angles, interesting and intriguing reflections, and point of view all
need to be varied to make interesting photos. Do this, unless you are
taking shots for jewelry ads for a Sears catalogs or the like, in
which case they can be boring.

Digital cameras with their instant feedback make creative
photography easy. Get some tiles of different colors and surfaces,
interesting paper, wood, and other textures, and a sheet of glass,
and try variations in your lighting and photographing schemes. Change
your setup and try again. Until it sings.

Are you not visual artists? Do you not work long hours to produce
beautiful works? Why not spend a few minutes more to communicate this
uniquely. Express yourselves! Junk the light boxes!

Joris Van Daele

I just use diffusion gels over my lights, but I have had very good
success using a plastic milk jug as a diffusion box, just cut it to
fit. Friends have used vases, paper tubes or boxes, well you name
it, if it diffuses light well without blocking to much, it’s a
potential light box. I’d put up a plastic milk jug against a “cloud
dome” any day.

Ben Brauchler

I agree Charles. I purchased a photo box set up from Ebay, used it
for about 3 months, and now just use the lights which came with it.
I found that for many items it was just not big enough, or too small,
and I could not spare a dedicated space to have it up all the time.
I was a studio photographer and developed and printed work from a
studio setting to weddings, events, landscapes, sports etc. There
was no ‘photoshop’ or manipulation of anything save what you could do
with your enlarger when you developed.

Now I use artists board, black, white, grey, my two ott lights,
natural light and my digital camera. I want people to see exactly
what they are getting. I also provide all angle photos, and
measurements in the description because people cannot hold it in
their hands to determine if they like what they are seeing. Some days
the lighting is just perfect, and some days it just isn’t.

Develop skills to take good photos without the manipulation. I
sometimes take 6 or 7 photos, and choose only 1 or 2 for my shop.
It’s a learning curve, and as with anything else, practice, practice,


Digital cameras with their instant feedback make creative
photography easy. Get some tiles of different colors and surfaces,
interesting paper, wood, and other textures, and a sheet of glass,
and try variations in your lighting and photographing schemes.
Change your setup and try again. Until it sings. 

I was in the neurologist yesterday, and they were filming a training
video or something like that.

What struck me as interesting is that the camera person was using a
high def Canon SLR in movie mode.

Digital cameras are amazing these days. Picked up a pocket snap
camera for my Missus, 12MP, high def movies, face recognition, smile
recognition, pet recognition and an on-board editing suite that
isn’t too shabby. With an 8GB my wife can take over 3000 high
definition images, check them for quality, and either keep them of
delete them.

What’s really cool is that they are affordable to us and produce
instant results. In effect we can take thousands of shots, and
chances are you can get the photo you’re looking for.

Regards Charles A.
P.S. Also doesn’t hurt to know a little about composition :wink:

A basic photo box, definitely under $100, is sufficient, or a Cloud
Dome. Save the remainder of your money for a decent camera (no need
to go overboard on price here either. It will help if it has manual
settings available like aperture and macro). A small tripod is
invaluable if the camera doesn’t have a remote. But the MOST
IMPORTANT factor is to know how to take a photo. If you’re not a
photography whiz now, it would be better to spend some of your money
on learning how to get the most out of your camera. PS: you can make
your own photo box by buying a few sheets of diffuser paper from a
camera supply store and propping them up on 4 sides of your object.

I invested money in camera, lighting, photo box, cloud dome,
classes, etc. to no avail. My photos were still extremely poor. What
really improved my photography was when a photographer friend spent
an hour at MY house in MY environment, with MY equipment determining
the best camera settings for ME. That was worth more money than
everything else combined. My classes were taught by professional
jewelry photographers and aimed at jewelers who were novice
photographers, but their advice was mostly too complex for me, or
seemed to involve expensive purchases. The personal touch was what
helped me.

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs