DIY on-camera-flash diffusor for macro

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Leslie Reid, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. I got inspired by Karim Ghantous’s thread describing Thomas Shahan’s approach to shooting macro using an on-camera flash [here]. I put together four different versions of his diffusor for the on-camera flash using various combinations of paper, plastic, muslin, baling wire, floral wire, clear tape, and electrical tape. All worked well from the flash-diffusing standpoint, but some were more convenient to use than others. Experience with those four versions resulted in definition of some design criteria:
    1. big enough to throw light over the subject area, but…
    2. …easily packable in a knapsack (=foldable, bendable, non-destructible, or small)
    3. able to stand up to sub-optimal conditions (=water resistant, robust)
    4. able to stay on the camera without a helping hand (=tight fit or with some kind of tensioner, clamp, or frame)
    5. able to fit multiple lenses (=flexible fit)
    6. easily correctible white-balance (anything basically white turned out to work)
    7. good quality of diffusion (=enough light, well-distributed light, no hot-spots, produces soft shadows)
    8. no harsh light leaks (=tight fit on top and sides of lens)
    9. no shadow of the lens on a subject (=sits close to front of lens)
    10. doesn’t interfere with focus or zoom mechanism (=sits really close to front of lens)
    These criteria resulted in the fifth design, which was the easiest of all, and the one I'm now using: I cut the side off a 1-gallon milk jug, cut a hole toward the bottom that is slightly smaller than the body-side-diameter of the lens hood, cut 1-cm “spokes” out from the hole to give a flexible fit, and left a “spring” flap at the base of the circle to help hold the diffusor in place. To use the diffusor, take the lens hood off the camera, pull the diffusor onto the lens, put the hood back on, then pull the diffusor onto the hood until it’s near the front. It’s ugly, but it works.

    The thing itself:

    What it looks like on a camera:

    What the bug sees:

    What I see:

    Any suggestions for improvements, modifications, or other designs?
    tholte likes this.
  2. Thank you. Looks good. Have you used it with camera popup flash, or only with off camera? The 'what the bug sees' doesn't make it clear, and the 'fly on the flower' looks like it could have been with the camera flash.
    One thing I did one time was held my hand out as a reflector just out of view, and used the camera flash.
    It gave some direction and size to the light,
    got light on the subject as opposed to being in the lens shadow,
    and was available.
    Subject to ridicule (had to hold camera in 1 hand, but short flash duration froze movement, trusted autofocus, etc.) compared to proper technique, but I'm an opportunistic snapper, not a prepared craftsman.
    Do you think affixing (tape?) some sort of reflector to the side of it would be feasible?
  3. Actually, I made it specifically to use with the built-in flash, so I haven't tried it with a speedlite. And yes to the reflector--I'm experimenting with gaff tape and aluminum foil to see if I can fake some directional lighting; it may be as simple as blocking half the diffusor.
  4. If I were a bug I would be very happy with your diffuser. But shoot. Gaffers tape, aluminum foil, cut up plastic milk bottles....all you need now is some duct tape, baling wire, clothes pins and coat hangers and you have enough material to build something really, really cool! Maybe a car, or a Leica, or something. For sure a small Linux computer.

    Don't worry about the ridicule thing. I think the bug could care less. They laughed at velcro and the pet rock too, and I wish I had 1/10000th of the money those things brought in.
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    The Red Green Show? Actually, Leslie a very decent MacGyver!

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