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How to build a home photography studio — here's everything you'll need

How to build a home photography studio
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Having access to a decent photography studio can be an expensive undertaking, but if your home is spacious enough, you can build your own from the ground up. Thanks to all the awesome visual and audio tech available today — not to mention some kickass home-office accessories we’ve found — you can start your own miniature production company in no time. Below, you’ll find some of our favorite picks for the best photography and videography tech, along with some practical gadgets to help you on your artistic journey.

The best laptops for your home photography studio

A laptop is arguably the most expensive part of any photography studio setup. No matter how you slice it, subpar audio and video equal a subpar product, and the equipment you use will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your work. If you’re going to cut corners, don’t do it with your tech. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020)

The gold standard for photo and video editing laptops

CPU: Apple M1 | GPU: Apple M1 GPU | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 1TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600-pixel | Battery: 16:32 | Size: 12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Let’s start with the big guns. Armed with top-of-the-line overall performance, outstanding battery life, lightning-fast SSD speeds, a solid webcam, and that signature Apple keyboard, the latest MacBook Pro is always at the top of our list when it comes to video, audio, and photo editing capabilities. Apple’s new M1 chip brings performance to the forefront, and when it comes to content creation, there’s not much this machine can’t handle. 

See our full Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, M1, 2020) review.

(Image credit: Future)

Dell XPS 13 (2020)

The best non-Apple laptop for media-centric work

CPU: 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7 | GPU: Intel Iris Xe | RAM: 16GB | Storage: 512GB | Display: 13.4-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel | Battery: 7:32 | Size: 11.6 x 7.8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

If you’re more of a Windows fan, you can’t go wrong with the Dell XPS 13, another longtime favorite of ours in the world of portable multimedia. The XPS 13’s lightweight, elegant design is just as eye-catching as anything Apple has to offer, and to top it all off, its internals are exceptional: the 3.0-GHz Intel Core i7-1185G7, 16GB of RAM, and gorgeous 4K display are perfect for most video- and audio-editing chores. 

See our full Dell XPS 13 review.

The best Chromebook for your home photography studio 

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Asus Chromebook Flip C434

The ideal home office Chromebook companion

CPU: Intel Core m3-8100Y | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB eMMC | Display: 14-inch, 1080p touch screen | Dimensions: 12.6 x 8 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

If you’ve already got your primary laptop covered, consider snagging a Chromebook for subsidiary productivity chores. The Asus Chromebook Flip C434 is perfect for reading scripts, taking notes, or keeping open web browsers handy as you flow from one project to the next. Trust me: having that extra screen real estate is worth the extra money, and if you’re an Android user, the additional compatibility with everything Google is an additional boon. 

Of course, you can’t use this machine for intensive photo or video editing sessions, but it’s a budget-friendly sidekick that’s useful during content-creation productivity. (Chromebooks are getting more and more powerful with every iteration. Some of the best Chromebooks are already capable of hi-res gaming.)

See our full Asus Chromebook Flip C434 review.

The best drawing tablets for your home photography studio

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Wacom Intuos Pro S

The ideal tool for content creators everywhere

Active Area: 6.3 x 3.9 inches | Battery Life: 12 hours | Size: 10.6 x 6.7 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1 pound

The Wacom Intuos Pro S is a fantastic companion for any digital artist, and its compact size is easy to migrate from studio to project site (and back again) in a pinch. The Intuos Pro S is also a great collaboration tool for on-the-spot photo editing, and thanks to its built-in Bluetooth, there aren’t any annoying cords to worry about. The bundled stylus (with 8,192 levels of pressure sensitivity) is fantastic for Photoshop and it feels extremely comfortable in the hand. In short, the Intuos Pro S is ideal for mobile artists across the board.  

See our full Wacom Intuos Pro S review.

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reMarkable 2

A super-simple tablet for on-the-fly notes and sketches

CPU: 1.2-GHz dual-core ARM | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 8GB | Display: 10.3-inch, 1872 x 1404 | Size: 9.7 x 7.4 x 0.2 inches | Weight: 14.2 ounces

Not every artist needs a cutting-edge drawing tablet, and the reMarkable 2 slab takes a different approach. Classified as the world’s thinnest tablet as of this writing, think of the reMarkable 2 as a blank 100,000-page notebook that organically eliminates other distractions. There are no downloadable apps to install nor any social media integration to speak of. It’s an extraneous note-taking tool that’s more useful than you might think and far more efficient than cluttering your office with errant moleskins. 

See our full reMarkable 2 review

The best monitor for your home photography studio

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Razer Raptor 27

On-the-clock productivity and off-the-clock gaming fun

Display: 27-inch (2560 x 1440) | Aspect Ratio: 16:9 | Refresh Rate: 144 Hz | Response Time: 1ms | Panel Type: IPS | Adaptive Sync: Nvidia G-Sync, AMD FreeSync | Inputs: DisplayPort, HDMI

If your medium is a visual one, you’ll want to edit (and appreciate) the finished product on a high-resolution display that leaves no pixel unturned. The Razer Raptor 27 is such a monitor, and though it’s aimed at the gaming sector, those fast response times and high-refresh rates are fantastic for resource-heavy video editing. Quite frankly, this isn’t just one of the best gaming monitors around, it’s one of the best monitors — period. 

See our full Razer Raptor 27 Monitor review.

The best docking station for your home photography studio

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Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock

High-speed data transfers when you need them most

Compatibility: Chrome OS, Windocs, Mac | Power: up to 60W | Ports: USB 3.0 (4), USB-C (1), Gigabit Ethernet (1), 3.5mm Headphone Jack (1), 3.5mm Microphone Jack (1), HDMI 1.4 (1), HDMI 1.3 (1), DVI (1)

The more dynamic your production studio setup, the more of a rat’s nest your cord situation can become on the back end. If your laptop station (i.e. home office desk) is starting to look like a garter snake den, perhaps a new docking station is in order. The Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock fills the bill and its 4K output is powerful enough for lag-free multitasking on multiple monitors at once. This is a great way to futureproof your older laptop without replacing the whole damn thing. (Plus, if you follow any of the advice from this article, you’re gonna need more ports, my friend.) 

See our full Plugable USB-C Triple Display Dock review.

The best camera for your home photography studio 

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Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

A cinema camera that takes content creation to the dark side

Sensor: Super 35 | Dynamic range: 13 stops | Resolution (Blackmagic RAW): (60fps) 6144 x 3456 (6K), 6144 x 2560 (6K 2.4:1), 5744 x 3024 (5.7K 17:9) (120fps) 2.8k, 1080p HD | Resolution (ProRes): 3840 x 2160 (Ultra HD), 2868 x 1512 (2.8K 17:9), 1920 x 1080 (HD) | Lens Mount: Canon EF | Display: 5-inch, 1920 x 1080 LCD touchscreen | Storage: Dual SD/CFast cards | Construction: Polycarbonate/carbon fiber composite | Battery: LP‑E6 Battery with USB-C charging | Power: Lockable DC port, Weipu 2-pin connector | Size: 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches | Weight: 1.98 pounds

If you’ve got aspirations in the entertainment industry, the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 6K is a cinema camera that boasts fantastic 6K footage and 120 frames per second in 2.6K. (It has myriad ports and storage options, too.) You can use the Pocket Cinema 6K like a regular DSLR camera, but documentarians, students, indie filmmakers and creators of all types will find something to like with this game-changing camera. If 6K is more resolution than you know what to do with (*ahem* raises hand), the 4K version of this camera is slightly less expensive. 

See our full Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K review.

See our full Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K review.

The best webcam for your home photography studio

(Image credit: Logitech)

Logitech StreamCam

A high-resolution webcam that’s ideal for streaming

Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Size: 2.6 x 2.3 x 2 | FPS: 60

If you do a lot of live-streaming from your home studio, the built-in webcam on your laptop isn’t going to cut the mustard. The Logitech StreamCam, one of the best webcams, has a premium price tag to match its premium features, and this 1080p webcam is designed to work right out of the box with OBS, Twitch and XSplit. You can adjust the StreamCam for portrait or landscape mode and tweak the frame rates between 24 and 60 frames per second. (Just make sure you’ve got a USB-C port to spare.) For budding musicians and web personalities, the StreamCam will let ‘em see the whites of your eyes as you share your stories with the world. 

See our full Logitech StreamCam review.

The best USB microphone for your home photography studio

(Image credit: Shure)

Shure MV7

Recording modes: Cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, stereo | Compatibility: Windows 10, macOS | Size: 4.3 x 12.3 x 5 inches | Weight: 1.32 pounds

Having a quality USB mic is paramount for quality audio, and nobody is going to take your next podcast seriously if it sounds like it was recorded underwater. The Shure MV7 is a professional studio mic that’s ideal for all your podcast and streaming needs, and the user-friendly design makes it one of our top picks. Rest assured, we’re positive the Shure MV7 is a surefire win when it comes to the best USB mics.

See our full Shure MV7 Review.

The best audio interface for your home photography studio

(Image credit: Focusrite)

Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 (3rd Gen)

Connectivity: USB Type-C | Simultaneous I/O: 4 x 4 | Resolution: 24-bit/192kHz | Preamps: 2 | Line Inputs: 4 | Analog Outputs: 4 | Size: 7.3 x 4.7 x 1.9 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds

The Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 is a frequent recommendation among podcasters and solo artists of all genres; it has everything you need in a USB audio interface. Thanks to two high-performing preamps, two high-headroom instrument inputs (for guitar or bass), and two balanced line inputs, it’s also a top choice for musicians. Bonus: it comes bundled with ProTools First and Ableton Live Lite, so your DAW is already covered if you don’t have one already.  

Interested in building your own voiceover studio? It’s less expensive than you might think.

The best photo and video editing software for your home studio

The photo and video editing software you use makes a difference, too. Sure, there’s plenty of video and audio-editing freeware out there for snatching, but some software is simply worth the subscription in the long run. (It’s not easy to future-proof yourself as a creator, after all.) 

Adobe Lightroom CC/Classic

Best photo-editing software

Type: Subscription | OS: Windows and Mac | Mobile App: Yes | HDR: Yes | Photo stitching: Yes | Cloud Storage: up to 1TB depending on plan | Builtin Content management system: Yes

With the ability to edit RAW files alongside traditional Adobe Photoshop formats, Lightroom CC/Classic can become an all-encompassing workflow from import to print, allowing you to load print templates and customize them with your images. The streamlined feature set has an easy learning curve and it makes image correction a snap.  

See more of the best photo editing software here.

(Image credit: Adobe)

Adobe Premiere Pro

Best video-editing software

Type: Subscription | OS: Windows and Mac | Mobile App: Yes | HDR: Yes | Cloud Storage: up to 1TB depending on plan | Built-in Content management system: Yes

Adobe Premiere Pro has long been the top pick amongst industry professionals for TV shows, Hollywood movies, advertisements and other SAG-sponsored content. Available for both Windows and Mac, the software lets you edit in high definition, 4K, 8K and even virtual reality. Trimming footage, adding graphics and importing videos from multiple formats has never been easier. 

See more of the best video editing software here.

The best headphones and speakers for your home photography studio

You could lay down the best melodies on the planet, but that still means diddly squat for everyone’s earholes with the wrong speaker setup. Recording and editing with subpar headphones will inevitably affect your audio project since some frequencies will literally be lost on you. You can’t edit what you can’t hear, amiright?

(Image credit: Future)

Apple Airpods Pro

The best noise-cancelling buds all the cool kids are using

Size and Weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 4.5 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special Features: Active noise cancellation, "Hey Siri" voice activation, spatial audio

Yes, these noise-cancelling buds aren’t meant for audio editing, but they’ve become the go-to Bluetooth headphones for folks in the entertainment business. If you're already an Apple user who does a lot of live streaming, these buds are tough to beat when it comes to active noise cancellation, audio quality and overall comfort. They’re great to have around your studio for hands-free productivity

See our full Apple AirPods Pro review.

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Bose 700

Quality cans for serious audio oomph

Size and Weight: 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches, 8.8 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on);40 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Special Features: Adjustable active noise cancellation and transparency modes, customizable EQ, charging case (optional)

If you prefer dedicated over-the-ear headphones, the Bose 700 cans are our top choice. (Plus, you can use a 2.5mm-to-3.5mm AUX cable to plug these into your computer or audio interface.) They’re beautiful, functional and comfortable: three of our favorite things for any quality cans. If you’ll be spending most of your audiophile time indoors, these are the headphones to get.

See our full Bose 700 review.

Bluetooth Speaker

(Image credit: Klipsch)

Klipsch The Fives

Fill your studio with a robust audio soundscape

Type of system: 2.1 | Drivers: 4.5-inch woofer, one-inch tweeter | Inputs: Bluetooth, HDMI-ARC, OPT, RCA, USB, 3.5 mm auxiliary | Size: 18.5 x 17.5 x 13.5 inches | Watts: 80 (per speaker)

There’s no doubt about it: any production studio, no matter the medium, requires some quality speakers. Whether you need them to actually get work done or just kick back and relax, the Klipsch The Fives speakers have a sweet retro look that pumps out powerful, immersive sound. There’s even an output to connect one of the best turntables to, if analog is your thing. The outstanding craftsmanship will put some extra panache in your mustache. 

See more of the best computer speakers here.

The best accessories for your home photography studio

Here is a well-curated, carefully researched compilation of home office accessories that will harmonize and streamline your workflow as you dive into your content-creation grind. We even threw in an exercise desk bike to help keep a sedentary lifestyle at bay. The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra, as they say, and these are the home office extras that tie everything together. 

Canon Pixma TR8620

A smart(er) inkjet printer for any home office

Printer Type: Inkjet | Features: Print, copy, scan, fax | Display: 4.3-inch color touchscreen | Ink/Toner: 5 cartridges (black, pigment-black, cyan, magenta, yellow) | Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, USB 2.0

If you're a photo editor in any capacity, having a quality inkjet printer is paramount. In fact, everyone's home office could use one and the Canon Pixma TR860 is one of the best. From scanning and faxing to printing and mailing, this printer has all the main features you’d expect from a solid all-in-one, and then some. Add in smart home support (via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant) and you’ve got yourself a digital taskmaster for the home office. 

See the full Canon Pixma TR8620 review from Tom’s Guide, our sister site.

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Flexispot EG8

A standing desk that doubles as a power station

Weight Capacity: 110 pounds | Height Range: 28.3 to 47.6 inches | Height Presets: 4 | Desktop Size: 48.0 x 24.0 x 1.7 inch | Ports: 3x Type-A USB, 1x Type-C USB

If you’ve never tried out a standing desk before, it’s high time you did. It’s an expensive piece of office furniture, but you get what you pay for. The Flexispot EG8’s gorgeous tempered glass tabletop will look sharp in any production studio and the built-in ports (three Type-A USB and oneType-C USB) turn the desk into a 54-watt charging station. The stabilization bar keeps the whole thing in place with each adjustment, and the anti-collision function works like a charm. As an additional perk, standing desks are ideal for projects that involve intermittent sitting and standing; your back, knees and hips will thank you later.

See our full Flexispot Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk (EG8B).

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Flexispot Deskcise V9

A mobile workstation that helps you burn calories on the side

Bike Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Desktop Weight Capacity: 110 pounds | Seat Height Range: 29.6 to 37.2 inches | Desktop Height Range: 34.5 to 47.2 inches | Desktop Size: 22.8 x 20 inches | Bike Size: 48.4 x 37.6 x 22.8 inches | Weight: 76 pounds

Hold on to your butt, folks. This portable standing desk is also a stationary bike, which means you can always squeeze a little cardio into even your busiest shooting day. What makes the Flexispot Deskcise Pro V9 extra useful, however, is the fact that if you forget about the bicycle seat part, it’s essentially an adjustable table on wheels. It’s an excellent home office addition as you build, break down, and rebuild your surrounding environment (i.e. the common life cycle for any production studio).

See our full Flexispot Deskcise Pro V9 review.

Neewer Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit

An all-in-one lighting kit for best-in-class photography projects

Lighting Type: Box (2), Umbrella (2) | Light Bulbs Included: Yes | Backdrops Included: Black, Green, White

Even if you’re not a bonafide photographer, most smartphones are capable of fantastic pictures these days (heck, my new Galaxy S20 Note Ultra shoots video in 5K, for goodness sakes). Every single shot can be enhanced if you know a thing or three about lighting. But if you’re looking to take this new hobby more seriously, the super-portable Neewer Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit has your back. (And front. Every angle, really.) It comes with two box lights, two umbrella lights and three backdrop colors: black, green, and white. The light bulbs are included, too, so it’s ready to use right out of the box. This is a great investment for aspiring podcasters and YouTubers because it allows you to create a miniature photography studio at the drop of a hat.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Philips Hue White A19 60W Equivalent LED Smart Bulb Starter Kit

Make your lighting scenario smarter (without working harder)

Light Bulbs Included: 4 (A19 60W) | Hub Size: 4.3 x 2.4 x 2.4 inches | Weight: 7.2 ounces

As long as we’re fine-tuning the lighting in your studio, let’s go full holistic. The Philips Hue line has a whole slew of white and color ambiance bulbs, which are all connected to the Hue Hub. This starter kit comes with four 60W soft white bulbs, but once you’ve got that Hue Hub, there are some pretty sweet smart lamps (and other light bulbs) you can add to the mix. In addition to whatever photography lighting you use, it can never hurt to have extra light resources — especially when they’re 100 percent dimmable and available on command. Whether you’re an Apple, Alexa, Google Assistant, or even a Microsoft Cortana user, these smart lights are the bee's knees.

See the full Philips Hue White Starter Kit review from our friends at Tom’s Guide.

Wemo Smart Plug

Turn any light into a smart light with this simple gadget

Size: 1.3 x 2.0 x 1.8 inches | Weight: 1.9 ounces | Electrical rating: 120V~/15A/60Hz | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 2.4Ghz | Works with: Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri

Even if you don’t want a bonafide smart light setup, the Wemo WiFi Smart Plug lets you control lights and appliances from anywhere, making it one of the best smart plugs around. And with its accompanying app, you can pair Wemo with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Nest and IFTTT to create a variety of useful smart home routines.

See the full Wemo Smart Plug review from our friends at Tom’s Guide.

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Samsung Galaxy SmartTag

Stay ahead of the clutter with the smartest key finder around

Size: 1.5 x 1.5 x 0.4 inches | Weight: 0.4 ounces

I’m not pulling any punches with this one. Sometimes your studio gets so cluttered, you start to lose important possessions. Enter the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. This is the smartest, most foolproof way to keep track of easy-to-lose valuables (bags, wallets, earbud cases) around your home and the extensive range is superior to competing brands like the Tile Pro.

See our full Samsung Galaxy SmartTag review.

The best decor for soundproofing your home photography studio

Some of the best soundproofing materials are stylish as hell, and you can simultaneously decorate your apartment while also dampening noise and softening up those acoustics. This won’t come into play for every creator, but it’s a damn cool way to liven up your studio whilst also keeping your neighbors from hating you. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

ZHERMAO 6 Pack Acoustic Panels Sound Proof Padding

Enhance your audio recordings with some stylish sound-proofing

Absorption Coefficient: 0.8 | Noise Reduction Coefficient: 0.92 | Panel Size (Each): 14 x 13 x 0.4 inches | Panel Weight (Each): 5 ounces

These hexagon-shaped panels make for excellent decoration and each 0.4-inch thick panel has a noise reduction coefficient of 0.92. There are 11 colors to choose from and the beveled design is great for absorbing unnecessary echoes. The polyester fiber is flame-retardant and the panels are easy to install. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

UA-Acoustics Sound Absorption-Diffuse Acoustic Panels

Tweak your studio’s acoustics with these super-sleek sound-absorbing panels

Panels Included: 4 | Scattering Range: 200Hz to 5,000Hz | Noise Reduction Coefficient: 0.64 | Panel Size (Each): 19.7 x 19.7 x 2.1 inches | Panel Weight (Each): 2.2 pounds

If you have more money to spend, the UA-Acoustics Sound Absorption-Diffuse Acoustic Panels are as attractive as they are functional. Similar to the thinner panels above, these larger acoustic panels come in 10 different colors. Meant to be mounted on the wall or ceiling, these panels are used for absorbing mid-to-high frequencies, eliminating echoes and controlling reverb. Musicians will find a friend in these panels. 

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

BalanceFrom Puzzle Exercise Mat

Gives your joints a breather with some extra padding underfoot

Tiles Included: 6 | Tile Materials: High-density EVA foam | Area Coverage: 24 square feet | Tile Size (Each): 24 x 24 x 1 inches | Tile Weight (Each): 5.2 pounds

If your new studio requires the constant movement of furniture (or humans), give your downstairs neighbors a break with some extra floor mats. The extra padding under your feet won’t do much for your space’s acoustics, but it’ll sure make a difference as you walk around throughout the day. Bonus: these are technically exercise mats, so having them around should give you an excuse to get some burpees in when you’re not shooting the next big indie film.