Home Studio for Under $400

Want to document all of your hard work on cosplay at home? You can with a little practice in your living room and less than $400 of lighting!

My current set up involves 3 1000 Watt lights with soft boxes, a ring light, 2 led floor lights, a popup reversible backdrop, and a tripod. I started putting this set up together in 2013 and have added to it over time. All of it was bought on Amazon and cost me less than $400 total! The nice thing about this set up is that it fits in my very small living space here in LA and packs up small. Set up is relatively quick. I can change up the lighting easily and since the lighting is continual you don’t need a lot of experience to get results. Remote flashes and strobe lighting is a bit above my pay grade (trust me, I’ve tried…) but with these lights I’ve shot photos of friends, product shots for a company, and used it for my own cosplay with only a little experience with lighting setups. In the past I used a Sony NEX5 with these lights but have since switched to a Canon Rebel T5i. Even if you are using entry level equipment like I am, it’s possible to get satisfying results! Here’s some of the photos of me taken with variations of this set up:

Here’s a list of everything pictured: Lighting $140 Fancierstudio 3000 Watt Continuous Softbox Lighting Kit These lights are great! I brought them in to my work’s streaming studio so we could use them on the livestream for a while, so I can confirm they work well for video as well as still photography. If there is any part of this set up that is worth more that the rest, it is these lights. They are cheap for what they are- 3 units with 5 lights each, with soft boxes and stands included. You can turn on each light individually so it’s up to you how bright the lighting is for your shoot. The soft boxes diffuse the light nicely and it all packs up into a travel case that you can easily store under a bed or put in a car trunk for use at your friend’s house. Ring Light $82 ePhoto Studio Continuous Macro Ring Light This is the newest addition to my lighting setup and for a ring light $82 is a steal! It works great, but you will want to buy a cheap light-stand to go with it. I’m using a $10 one I've had around for years. The neck of the light is flexible so you can adjust the angle of it to work with your needs. There are a lot of good reviews for this light made by Youtubers, so if you take video this may also be a good investment.

Foot lights $20 LimoStudio 600 Lumen LED Light Set with Gel Filters I’m using these as accent lights or lights to illuminate legs during a shoot. They come with gels to color the light. They pack a punch for such a cheap and small purchase. The lights have built in retractable legs so there’s no need to worry about how to make them stand.

Backdrop $50 Fotodiox 5'x7' Collapsible 2-in-1 Background Panel (Black/White) A backdrop that can fold up easily and pop up quickly is about as great as it gets for apartment dwellers! It’s reversible so you can choose between a white or black backdrop. The stand and clip for this backdrop are listed below:

Backdrop Stand $26 CowboyStudio 7 Foot Heavy Duty Light Stand

Backdrop Clip $10 CowboyStudio Background and Reflector Clip Tripod $45 Dolica AX620B100 62-Inch Proline Tripod and Ball Head This tripod was actually a Christmas gift to me from friends from a few years ago. I was doing product shots for an old job back then and some of my friends were kind enough to get me this tripod, knowing it would help me out a lot. It’s been a valuable tool for me and the build quality on it is great! I've bought all these items from these listing, but you can find similar products at other stores if you are willing to hunt locally. In my experience Amazon is cheaper than many retailers so the prices could go up if buying elsewhere. The prices I'm quoting are the ones current on Amazon when writing this post. If this list helps you with your own set up, please consider using the links I’ve provided here to purchase the equipment. A small portion of the sales will become amazon credit for me to use on continually improving my set up!

Post Update:

This post has been relocated in its original form to my new website hosting in January 2021. Previous comments on the post were not migrated.