My Toy Photography Set Up

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2008 by Shaun in Labels:

I told Joshua that I'd post some information and pix about my toy photography set up by the weekend, and I'm ahead of schedule.

The above is my current set up. Many months back, IIRC Nov - Dec last year, I was previously using a light tent...

...which 'softened' the light from the lamp. However, I found it rather restrictive for 1/6 figures.

For example, a close up shot like this with a slightly low angle...

...was quite a challenge to snap, and would result in the ceiling of the light tent appearing in the shot.

Even with the light tent, I still needed to adjust the whites, lighting and sharpness in iPhoto, which was quite tedious.

I only use the light tent now when I want black backgrounds, like in this shot (which is too noisy, btw)...

...otherwise, I just shoot it with this set up.

The best thing about this set up is that the only photo editing that I do is cropping the pictures. I don't adjust the levels at all.

The breakdown of the items I use is as follows:


I'm using a pretty outdated camera model, the Olympus IR300, and take my photos at auto mode, with macro turned on. The good thing going for it that it's image stabiliser is rather good, which takes away the need for a mini-tripod. You might want to use a mini tripod for really sharp images, but I find it cumbersome at times.

I purchased the lamps and bulbs based on Pro Bro's advice. Do check out his excellent tutorial.


I got this lamp from Ikea. It's plastic base is pretty flimsy, and it comes with a clamp to attach to the edge of the table. If you prefer, you can buy separate cast iron bases, also available at Ikea, for the lamps to improve the stability, but these add considerably to the cost as they come to as much as the lamp itself.


I'm using Philips Cool Daylight Bulbs, which gives out white light. These should be available at your usual hardware stores. Please note the Cool Daylight bit, and avoid picked up some warm light which cast yellow light on your figures. EDIT: As requested by TED, the actual discription of the lightbulb I'm using is: 23W 220 - 240V-50-60hz I=165mA Cool Daylight 1450lm 66Lm/W

I don't claim to be a good photographer, the experts are people like Ken Moo, Hock, KG and of course, Pro Bro, but I'm sharing the above in the hope that some of you will find it useful.

How do you take photos of your toys? What's your set up like? Do share tips or pix via a comment section of this post.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Shaun! I think your tips for photo taking is very very useful to me..Will link your post to my blog for future reference..

  1. Shaun says:

    glad to know it helps, Des. :)

  1. kenmoo says:

    nice post bro, you've inspired me to added my setup in my blog...Cheers~!!

  1. Joshua says:

    excellent tips shaun! i do believe its time for me to invest in a proper setup for pictures too...

    thanks for the link too!

  1. Shaun says:

    ken, look forward to your post, drop a comment here when you post please.

    joshua, you're welcome.

  1. Shaun says:

    ah ken, saw your post, very cool.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Shaun, thanks for sharing. I normally do my photoshoot in the morning or late afternooon when the sun shine's into my house. I dun have much place for set up. Just somewhite paper and plenty of sunlight..thus some of my pics got lots of shadows. :P
    Will invest more in my next photo shooting session..

  1. Shaun says:

    you're welcome, hope the information helps you in your next shoot.

  1. neoconvoy says:

    12bro, can you check your light bulb, is it 11W or 25W ? Cos your light looks quite bright...

  1. Shaun says:

    exact description on bulb.
    23W 220 - 240V-50-60hz I=165mA
    Cool Daylight 1450lm 66Lm/W

  1. neoconvoy says:

    ok, now i have to look for another light wonder mine looks quite dim...

  1. sket says:

    very detail explanation of your setup, and very friendly for toy collectors. good one shuan!

  1. Shaun says:

    good to know you find it useful Simon, hope it comes in handy.

  1. PowerPee says:

    Hey Shaun thanks for the invite! You have a very cool blogspot... =D I hope to be able to do something like this someday =D

    God bless! =D

  1. ryan says:

    hi shaun! you're a contact of mine in flickr, and i've always wondered what your set-up looks like. save for the camera, i'm surprised to learn that we both have the same set-up--i also use just plain paper and those exact ikea lamps. i do agree that the bases are indeed flimsy; i aready broke one of them, which i temporarily remedied with lots clear tape. XDD

    i also use some styrofoam boards to bounce light. i'm no expert myself, but@ 12inchtoys, these would help in eliminating the shadows that harsh light, like a strong lightbulb or midday to afternoon sunlight casts; it also works well if you only have a singular light source. =)

  1. Shaun says:

    Hi Ryan, thanks for dropping by, appreciate the tips. :) Would be cool to see pix of how you use the styrofoam boards.

  1. i found this VERY useful... this is all knda ne to me :)

  1. P-Dub says:

    sir, i just want to ask if you only use one lamp as i noticed that you have two. thanks, sir.

  1. Shaun says:

    hi I use two lamps, thanks for visiting

  1. Wonderful post! You're passion for toy collecting and photography could be express in toy photography. Nice hobby.

  1. tyranid says:

    Wow! I hope I could see more of your works. I like toy photography.

  1. In my own opinion, your hobby is cool. I want to learn it sometime. I hope someone could teach me.

  1. plumbing says:

    Flash can be an important light source when shooting in low-light areas or unevenly lit situations. However, even if you only shoot photos at family gatherings with an inexpensive point-and-shoot camera, you've probably already come to realize the limitations of the flash as a primary light source. Countless photos with the foreground subjects "blown out" by excessive flash and overexposure litter hard drives everywhere, leading many photographers to try and work with as much ambient light as possible. All that said,your camera's flash doesn't have to be your enemy.

  1. Another bonus of plastic toys over some materials, such as wood, are that plastic toys are washable. If the little darlings come in from the garden covered in mud or other delights, you can simply wipe their toys clean while you dunk them in the bath to clean up.