Building a light table - DIY Project

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by jordanstarr, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm set on this idea as my 8x10 lightbox isn't cutting the cake and I miss the big 8 foot light table I used to use at the lab, so I'm gonna start building one very soon. I know it's simple and inexpensive to build, but I wanna go one step further and build something I can be proud of and use for many years. I find I need a better light table 2-3 times a week when looking over 3-10 rolls a week for myself, friends and students. So, I'm gonna build something that's about 5 feet long and 2 feet wide at least. I have attached a photo of something I'm looking to imulate, but I'm wondering if anyone else has done this and can make suggestions (kinda like an "if I had to do it all over again, this is what I would do). The key features I'm looking to have is having the table on a stand that tilts to whatever desired angle, but also has a ledge. If you have plans you wanna send, that would be great, but even suggestions on reflectors inside, the surface used, reliable tilting hardware, etc. that would be great. I'm sure I can figure most things out on my own and come up with something decent, but I'm looking to build something that kicks ass and my skills in this field are alright, but certainly not great.
     

    Attached Files:

  2. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I forgot to mention that I already have bought a 4 foot flourescent light fixture with 2 cold/white bulbs for it and a cord to run it. This table is also $1500, which I find mind-boggling as I can probably do it with less than $100 and 5-8 hours of labour.
     
  3. jeffreyg

    jeffreyg Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,377
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2008
    Location:
    florida
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I notice that you bought cold/white bulbs. If you can I would exchange them for 5000-5500K bulbs. They are also called full spectrum bulbs and will fit the same fixture. Since it might end up being heavy, consider wheels for mobility. Also perhaps a building supply has a mechanism for awning style windows that you could use to crank up to any angle.

    I never built one and just use a smaller view box that has 5000K bulbs.

    http://www.jeffreyglasser.com/
     
  4. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

    Messages:
    2,936
    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2006
    Location:
    Misissauaga
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I had one of these I built about 30 years ago for editing slides for a multi-projector slide shot that my high school camera club ran annually. It was about 12" deep, 20" wide,and 48" long.

    It was lit with a 2-T12 flourescent fixture, and at the time I did not have the $$ for other than stock lamps.

    The top was translucent plexiglass, about 3/16 thick.

    The inside of the chamber was painted white.

    It worked very well, but I grew tired of carting it around in moves at uni, and tossed it or sold it.

    It used to get sat on a pair of chairs, but a cart, like you are planning, to stand at would have been very nice.
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,807
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Consider wiring in a power outlet.

    If you have a table or counter that you are likely to work near, try to build it exactly the same hight, in order to permit putting them together to create a really long continuous work surface.

    A drawer for scissors or small cutters and various other accessories would be useful.

    A pull out shelf on the side or front could be useful too.
     
  6. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I definitely will be installing a small box on the side for supplies.

    I'm not sure if the bulbs I have are full spectrum or not. From my understanding full spectrum is a close to "natural light". I could have gotten warm or cold for my fixture, so I think I might have the ones you're talking about. They might just be advertised as "cold" because they aren't warm? I dunno, but I'll look into it.

    I have a friend that installs windows, so I'll see what he has for a hinges for adjusting the angle. I never thought of that.

    Thanks guys for your help. I'm taking everything into consideration. More ideas are certainly welcome.
     
  7. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,472
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    There's more to light quality than just colour temp. You don't want anything over 5600k or under 4500k; about 5000k is good, 3500k and 6000k are really bad. You also need to make sure it has a high CRI (preferably greater than 90), which will ensure that chromes don't look wrong, e.g. due to there being a hole in the light's spectrum at one of critical dye wavelengths.

    Might be useful to put an additional fluoro tube along the back, raised by about 300mm so that you can use the table to illuminate and view prints too.

    You want your room lighting (for inspecting prints) to match the light table or it's going to look very wrong.
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,377
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You may consider using a drafting table frame or simply install the lighting unit on top of the board.. They're sturdy and already have the tilt. They also tend to be pretty wide
     
  9. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,361
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    Alaska
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Excellent suggestion! I built a light table about 10 years ago and did NOT think of that, using fluorescent tubes in the table and halogen lights above. What a mistake! I changed the halogen over to fluorescent, and it is much better now.
     
  10. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,957
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2005
    Location:
    Minneapolis,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What I haven't heard discussed is what type of diffusion, other than the translucent top, might be required. Or is the translucent top enough?
     
  11. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,368
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    One of my commercial clients recently switched all of their warehouse lighting from sodium vapor lamps (which made the place look like the devil's den) to some new super bright daylight florescent tubes that are really incredible. We shoot rugs in their warehouse, and I could barely see the color of the rug under the old SVs. With the new lighting they match my monitor perfectly; it's amazing.

    I'll see if I can get the specs from the lighting guys. They did say the tubes were not something you can get at Lowe's Depot, only at a commercial lighting distributor.
     
  12. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I believe Home Depot has stores in Canada. Near me they carry a Phillips F40T12/C50 Colortone 4 ft fluorescent tube. The C50 is for color temperature of 5000, and their CRI is 92. They are about 10-15 points green when shot on Ektachrome. Not too bad. I think they're under $5 per lamp.

    CRI over 90 is considered good for industrial color matching of fabrics, paints, etc. You can search for and find online some fluorescents with CRI 98, but those are hard to find and much more expensive.

    Lee
     
  13. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

    Messages:
    779
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Location:
    Ontario
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ...looks like I have some homework to do on lights. Thanks guys.

    Actually, I shoot 99.9% black and white, so I'm not sure how much the colour matching is going to matter to me, but I do have some slides I'd probably like to go over at some point since I have the equipment to view lots of them at a time.
     
  14. polyglot

    polyglot Member

    Messages:
    3,472
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2009
    Location:
    South Austra
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    If you shoot B&W, a light table is IMHO not nearly as important. B&W is best previewed with a contact sheet or similar whereas for chromes, you gotta get an (accurate) light under them.

    (unless you're doing B&W reversal; I'll shut up)