I am taking photos with macro lens of tiny objects (let's say earrings for the sake of this post) in all angles to stitch together into a 3D model. We place the objects on a black platform and then have lighting attached directly to the platform so that as we shift the platform, the lighting shifts with it. This allows the lighting to stay consistent relative to the object so the software doesn't get confused.

My question is, how do we stand up the tiny objects at unusual angles to capture everything, without the object tipping over, or without us having to use bulky pins/clamps that will confuse the software? Consistency is important for object recognition. How do I stand up an earring to take the necessary photos on the platform?

  • Hang it on fishing line?
    – OnBreak.
    May 26 '19 at 6:50
  • Judicious use of a mini hot glue-gun?
    – Stan
    May 26 '19 at 20:13
  • Move the camera instead of the platform? May 26 '19 at 21:21

For something that can be held from the bottom, use a clip underneath cloth. For something that needs to be held from the top, you would need to build a structure so the clip is on the top. For a full 360, it will be tricky to keep the supports out of the picture. I used a "helping hands" sold to hold parts while soldering etc, but there are many other options. The ring picture is taken with my phone, not the greatest, sorry.

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To succinctly answer your question...

Wimberly makes a product line called the "Plamp", which is primarily designed to hold more delicate things than jewelry (flowers that one would not like to damage, etc), but would also work well for jewelry, or any small objects.

Wimberly Plamp

However, there are some other options you may want to look at:

A 360 Product Turntable

...with any kind of small alligator/macro clip should work nicely. You could also, as some suggested, hot glue the item to a small card, a tiny foamcore square, or anything like that.

If that sounds like your solution, check out Orangemonkie's Foldio product line It is designed for 360 product shots, is motorized, has its own lighting, and is controllable with a smartphone. Specifically, take a look at the Foldio 360 turntable and the Foldio Studio (a diffusion "tent" used to even out your lighting). Foldio Studio 360

Regardless of your solution, I would honestly advise you to get some sort of surround diffusion for your lighting, since evening out the light will eliminate a lot of the hurdles you are currently jumping to get your models.

There are dedicated turntables for 3D, but they can be quite expensive ($2000-3000+).

Another option, using a different strategy...

If you're not completely attached to your current workflow for some reason, another option is the Intel® RealSense™ Depth Camera D415, which can scan small objects in just a few passes (using infrared grid projections, stereo cameras, and other fancy tricks). It could certainly accomplish your task in much less time.

Intel® RealSense™ Depth Camera D415

Disclaimer: I haven't used one of these.

One other gadget that may help you,

should you decide the DSLR is the way you want to go is a focusing rail for your camera support (it's easier to move the camera sometimes). I have used the Oben MFR4-5 Macro Focusing Rail to take some excellent flower shots, and it's one of the few dual axis rails you can get for less than $100. MFR4-5 Macro Focusing Rail

  • Hi AVLien, Welcome to Photography.StackExchange. We hope you enjoy sharing your knowledge and experience. The OP specifically wanted to support tiny objects, "without us having to use bulky pins/clamps that will confuse the software" which was a key issue that you have ignored. You have not answered the question asked.
    – Stan
    May 27 '19 at 14:33

This is a bit out of the scope of the forum because a 3D scanning algorithm is not part of photography.

Some people actually recommend that you should not put a black, seamless, flat, untextured background. You need the software to clearly scan the background so it has a reference to differentiate the object.

Probably a good option is to use a table mini dolly https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=table+mini+dolly

To hold the object, probably a good option is to hang it: How to hold a watch for product photography?

But, again, this setup is meant to move the camera around, not to rotate the object.

For your specific setup, I would use... PlayDoh.

  • Disagree. This question is about positioning an object for photography, however, which is entirely on topic and within the scope of this forum.
    – Stan
    May 27 '19 at 15:11
  • By "Out of the scope" I mean my answer, that part of the explanation.
    – Rafael
    May 28 '19 at 6:59

Remember that you are trying to create an image of an object that does not depend on the actual position of the object during the image capture phase. When you're finished you'll have an assembly of composite images to give the illusion (key word) of 3D.

Because of this crucial detail, you can use techniques for positioning that do not need to show the object (earring) in its "normal" position.

Example: If you photograph something flat from above, you could display the image so that the earring looked as if it were hung.

You could place the part on a sheet of glass. You could put the part into a glass tube and turn the tube. You could sandwich the part between two sheets of glass vertically (thin glass microscope slides). You could stand the earring on a tiny cardboard pedestal with a drop of hot glue (which peels off easily when cool). You could place the tiny object on a black (painted) toothpick or fine black (painted) wire. You may wish to select a colour which can be "shopped" out of the image(s) where it shows in the image in post production.

Your toolbox for supports can found in a fishing tackle supply store where there are tiny fasteners and nearly invisible plastic threads.

Be creative with the camera position too. Inverting the camera for upside-down views of the inverted subject will look normal from the camera position.

Good luck.

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