DIY Negative Lightbox


It’s been a while since I posted here… I’ve been more than a little busy with my day job and haven’t had as much time as I’d like to have fun with lasers. Fortunately, I got to take a Glowforge home this weekend to try some projects out!

I was working in my newly constructed darkroom on Sunday lamenting the fact that holding negatives up to the light isn’t a great way to see detail. I got a new 6x7 camera and it is absolutely amazing but there’s a strange light leak that I’ve been trying to debug for a while.

So I did what any reasonable person would do and looked on Amazon for lightboxes. There weren’t any that I really liked and I wasn’t about to spend a ton of money on a glorified light bulb and diffuser. Lasers to the rescue!

Here’s what I started out with:

Trusty calipers to measure small things, a ruler to measure big things, some test negatives, and a cheap de-clamped lightbulb socket with LED bulb from Home Depot.

The star of this show is 1/4" diffused acrylic. We don’t have any Proofgrade samples of this yet, so I got a few sheets from TAP Plastics - I believe this was Sign Lighting White 40%.

Here it is doing what diffused acrylic does best.

And here’s my workstation for the day.

The actual design was incredibly straightforward - 7 layers of 1/4" plywood (3 to sandwich the bulb holder and 4 as spacers), 1 layer of 1/4" diffused acrylic, two film holders, and some legs to hold everything together.

I don’t have a ton of in-process shots. Everything worked the first time and it was a wonderfully boring process. It’s pretty cool having used this software on day 1 and comparing that to what it’s like now, a complete world of difference. Even materials that weren’t in the Proofgrade catalog were straightforward to get up and running consistently with not much fussing.

Here’s the final result! I’d estimate this took me about 3 hours from starting the design to a finished working product. It’s not the most beautiful thing in the world, but it’s perfect for my needs.

Bonus Glowforge in 6x7 negative glory! Still working on my film processing so please forgive the smudges :grimacing:


Nice work! I love it!


Lightboxes are one of the items on my wife’s wish list for when the Glowforge arrives! Thanks for posting!


I like it! :slight_smile:


That is awesome! Solving everyday issues is something that I am greatly looking forward to doing!


Very nice example showing how the GF is a 3D laser printer! Would be nice to show another thread that never seems to end…but that’s another story. Great work @aeva. - Rich


Love this! As a photographer, I REALLY love this!!! Wow! What camera are you shooting with?


This is definitely bringing back my desire to have a darkroom at home. Very clean project.


Totally cool! :relaxed:


This is great. I love having custom made stuff. Especially when it’s made well.


Way cool! I hope you figured out your light leaking camera problem now that you have this awesome tool.


Never thought I would call a lightbox cute… but that is one cute lightbox!


Just got a Mamiya RZ67! I have a Nikon D750 as well for when I don’t feel like messing with chemicals.


Loved seeing your project and the process to completion. Thanks so much for posting it!


Very nice project!!


I have been eyeing that camera for years… one day… one day. I’m a bit of a camera nerd…

About half my collection

My pride and joy. Hope to start using it in the next year.


“a bit” :grin:

That’s an amazing collection!


Yeah, I tend to downplay my… Hobby. It sometimes scares people off. :wink:


I still miss my Cannon AE-1 Best camera i ever had… It could drop 1 story, bounce and still be in good calibration… well maybe not that good, but it was a GREAT little camera.


I’ve my tin type taken twice. It’s interesting. All about the camera operator’s assessment of the environment.