Lord V PRO 9:41am, 4 October 2006
Having used the same diffuser for about 18 months (made from plastic milk bottle duct tape and kitchen towel) decided to try and make a new one with the aim of making it more light efficient so I didn't have to wait for the flash to recharge when taking fairly quick sequences of shots.
As I needed something with a fairly shiny surface decided to see what I could do with a couple of coke cans :)

Finished prototype (lot of duct tape involved :)

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #1

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #2

Just kitchen towel over the front at the moment

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #3

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #4

Note you need to be careful making this- very easy to cut yourself on the edges of the tin.
Ingredients- 2 empty drinks cans, duct tape, stapler, kitchen towel, scissors

Carefully cut the bottom and top off a the cans- I made a slit with a sharp knife and then just used scissors. Trim and sharp bits off the edge.

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #5

Then make cuts from one edge upto within about 2cms of the other edge with the strips about 1.5cms wide. (the strips in the pic are a bit too narrow)

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #6

Cut several strips of duct tape about 1cm wide and have them ready. You then overlap the strips on the bottom edge one over the other (think the technical term is gathering) overlapping each one about half the width and when you have done about 5 stick them in place with the strip of tape and then continue round the whole piece of tin. Do this for the second tin as well. Fold over the edge with the cuts in at about 60' with about 2cms length.

Coca-cola can flash diffuser #7

When you have done both tins stick the two halves together with a slight overlap and staple as well if necessary. At this stage it's a good idea to put duct tape over the sharp edges to stop any cuts. You should now find you can wrap the construction around the flash head- and temporarily stick the other edge with probably a large overlap together with duct tape. Take it off the flash and trim off most of the overlap and stick together with duct tape and staples if necessary. I covered the entire outside with duct tape and then just sellotape a piece of kitchen towel over the front.

Brian V.
ingenious!!!! now we need to see some shots taken with it, to make sure it's worth all the cuts ;)
Lord V PRO Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Lord V (admin) 12 years ago
All the shots I posted yesterday were using it including this one
Brian V.

Dewdrops on fly

and this one

Dewdrop flower refraction #4
Well it certainly looks like it works well :) these are awesome shots as usual :)
macorlin 12 years ago
Is the paper towel enough over the end for diffusion or would you add something else??
Lord V PRO Posted 12 years ago. Edited by Lord V (admin) 12 years ago
To be honest I'm not sure- I'm still testing but so far like the results. I might try putting a section of plastic milk bottle over the end and then the kitchen towel (similar to the one I originally used).
It certainly fulfills the original requirement of getting quite a few shots before the flash recharges itself.
Brian V.
Lord V PRO 12 years ago
Now been using this for the last 2 months for virtually all my MPE-65 macro shots and I'm very happy with the results.
Brian V.
Spookygonk 12 years ago
Mate, that's brilliant, but I'm getting flashbacks to when I sliced a finger nearly off from a corned beef tin years ago.

Lord V PRO 12 years ago
These cans are very thin and I found it hard to cut myself on them even when I actually tried but you never know.
Brian V.
Excellent idea, it looks good enough for taking macro pics..
greg.newman 11 years ago
Now that you've had time to really use this, is it still a viable solution Lord V? I wonder how it would work with a piece of white cotton stretched over it instead of paper towel.
Lord V PRO 11 years ago
Can only say I'm still using them. :)
Probably be fine with white cotton - I did try some very fine white nylon mesh curtain material but that did not diffuse enough.
Brian V.
heja1 11 years ago

Could you bring the light,over 1:4?

I am still looking for the sollution,this is marvelous....

Could you tellme,how are you fixed the flach?

Thanks a lot.
Lee251073 11 years ago
Very good idea, I need something like this now i have my new macro lens and extension tubes.
Thanks for posting! ;-)
Lord V PRO 11 years ago
Sorry missed these questions. My flash brackets are std L shaped brackets with a ball head on the top - a bit like the Hakuba LH-1 ballhead but with perhaps a better ballhead. yes this works fine with an MPE-65 at 5:1.
Wontolla65 PRO 11 years ago
This is really an amazing piece of handicraft. The results are extreme any time. On what do you put your camera when you use this and how is the effect on the aperture and timing of the photo's.
I never understood your 1:4 0r 5:1 notings. How do I have to see those settings? Is that an official terminology that I am not familiar with?
no1chrism PRO 11 years ago
I have been using the bottom half of a heinz tomato ketchup bottle. It's transluscent and is fairly easy to cut to slide over the flash. I have found it works fine except for in highly reflective situations (like a cats eye) where you get a highlight that looks like...well a tomato ketchup bottle end....
I used it for this: away home....a monster comes....
Mundo Poco Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Mundo Poco (member) 11 years ago
A big THANK YOU to you Brian for sharing your diffuser design. I've tried other materials- various cloudy/frosted plastics, drafting film etc., but none have worked as well as a plain paper towel. I've been using it now for over two months and have been getting great results.
Lord V PRO 11 years ago
Wontolla I just size it so it slips over the flash head but if necessary I might add some velcro tape just to the inside of the diffuser to make a snugger fit.
The 1:1, 4:1 terminology refers to the magnification being used.
1:1 is normally the max mag of most macro lens and means icm of subject gives 1 cm of image on the sensor. So at 4:1 1cm of subject would give 4cms of image on the sensor (if it was that big).
Normally when I'm using flash the camera is set to Manual mode- with something like ISO200,F11,1/200th and the flash is in TTL mode and supplies the necessary light for the settings.

Brian V.
Lord V PRO Posted 11 years ago. Edited by Lord V (admin) 11 years ago
N01chrism - yes that will work well as a diffuser but it is extremely light inefficient. The only reason for this design was to give good diffusion but also good light efficiency so the flash did not have top recycle between shots (I often need to take a series of rapid shots)
brian V.
DQE 11 years ago
I recently came across a web article that may be of interest to macro enthusiasts.

It provides a basic explanations for (1) how electronic flashguns work, (2) the beneficial effects of waiting after the "flash charged" light is illuminated, (3) how short flash exposure times are achieved, and more.

This information may be helpful as we strive for short effective flash exposure times, shorter recharge times, etc. I found the data and graphs in the article were also helpful.

Below is the URL:

I hope this information is useful to others.

Thank you very much for providing such useful and cost-saving solutions to working in macrophotography. And thanks for the many beautiful and informative macro photos.
gazraa 11 years ago
I've just built my first can diffuser, except i use beer cans (more fun getting the materials). It's getting a bit cold up here in Oldham, so all he bugs are hiding but hopefully I can give it a bit of a test soon!
Lord V PRO 11 years ago
Just to add still using this design 15 months later with just a single sheet (as it comes from the roll) of kitchen towel over the front.

Brian V.
Jules Oliver PRO 11 years ago
Thanks Brian. I have just made this and as I had no Kitchen roll, I have initially used a single piece of Kleenex tissue. I managed to avoid cutting myself too which was a bonus.
Thanks for sharing this with us. Julian
Matt Cole1 PRO 11 years ago
I've also made one of these diffusers, it works very well. You should patent this design Brian :-)

M.ALKHAMIS PRO 11 years ago
amazing brian, really appreciate these valuable tips :) cheers
Lord V PRO 11 years ago
Thanks for the feedback :)
I'm still using mine and still using kitchen towel over the front- haven't found anything better yet
Brian V.
chris10eyck 10 years ago
I made on of these about 10 months ago and when I saw the results I started getting really excited about macro photography. I am really happy with this diffuser and have been using it ever since. Thanks Brian.
spooky front [deleted] 10 years ago
I have got a question for you Brian, as always.
If you are using the Canon speedlite 580Ex or any other flash that has around the same output, what is the setting on the flash that you are using to have it so you can fire a few shots and before the flash has to recharge but with enough power for you to get a good bright and sharp shot ?
Lord V PRO 10 years ago
Hi Robert- I use a 430 Ex but use it in ETTL mode. depending on the shot, the amount of background etc I can 5 or 6 shots off with flash bwfore the flash does a significant recycle. Having said that I don't shoot in burst mode- just fairly fast (about 1 a second)
pedroprata 10 years ago
I there!

Just made 2 "Experimental diffuser for macro made from coca-cola cans" for me and a friend, and I have to say:

We here amazed with the results!

Thanks for the tip Brian!
Excellent design, I'll have to give it a try!
Lord V PRO 10 years ago
Thanks pedroprata and abO. Seems to work well- I'm still using them
brian v.
HopeSpringsEternal2008 Posted 10 years ago. Edited by HopeSpringsEternal2008 (member) 10 years ago
Lord V,

I just tried extreme macro with the Minolta Beercan (70-210mm f/4 lens) and reversed 28mm Pentax screw mount lens.

The magnification was more than I expected and I would have used a 50mm reversed lens but the 28mm was the only lens I had on me that would match with my macro coupler.

Anyway, at 150-210mm on zoom lens, I was only about two to three inches away from my subject and I could not get my flashes (on light stand or even on the table) to get a non-oblique shot at the subject because my lens was eclipsing almost all the light around it.

How do I get the flash light to hit the subject with a more frontal angle so that it illuminates most of the object instead of just glancing off the edge?

Will your flash diffuser above work for such a configuration as I was using where there is only about two inches of working distance?

Here is a sample picture from my reversed lens experiment. The flash was fired wirelessly off the left and a very shallow angle. I also placed a bit of white paper on the right.

Lord V PRO Posted 10 years ago. Edited by Lord V (admin) 10 years ago
Hi can only say I use it with my MPE-65 at 5:1 where the focus distance is 1.5" in front of the lens. The main point is you need the flash bracket mounted so you can keep the diffuser head near to the end of the lens.
Brian v.
Kolvorok 10 years ago
Thanx lord_v!

For those of you that do not have an external flash... use your built-in one!

I use a rebel XSi with a canon 100mm macro and built-in flash with a DIY extender and diffuser.

DIY flash Macro rig, built-in flash extender and diffuser made with plastic bottle by Kolvorok

If I were to get a proper flash what would you suggest, one of those fancy twin or ring ones or a lord_v design with a useful all round classic flashes? I need a result-wise opinion... we'll factor in the money problem later... I am not forgetting abt it!

Does anyone use the angle finder C? Is it a useful tool for handheld macro? What about the parfocal problem? Any way to solve it?

SixFootTwo 9 years ago
Have been playing with the flash on shots (all just practice at the moment) and took a few of a spider in it's web and in some aspects it came out well as the background blacked out with the web and spider highlighted but the light was a little ugly so going to have a go at putting one of these together today.......first aid kit at the ready.

In terms of a bracket for the flash I'm thinking of knocking one up with some aluminium but wondered what the thread is at the base of the camera to attach it to?? Is it a standard thread whereby I can pick up a nut from the local DIY and avoid stripping the thread out?
Lord V PRO 9 years ago
Six foot two - the threads are old std 1/4 inch - you can still get them but you can also get the required bit with a knurled knob at most camera stores.
Brian v.
Lord V PRO Posted 9 years ago. Edited by Lord V (admin) 9 years ago
Kolvorok - A few people seem to find an angle finder useful for low level shots but most macro-shooters seem to get by without one.
Re the std flash on a bracket vs the macro flash - both have their pros and cons. Main con with macro dual flashes is difficulty diffusing them and the obvious twin reflections on some subjects. I still have not felt the need to get one. Many people do use them and seem pleased with them though

Brian v.
SixFootTwo 9 years ago
So Lord V, great idea and design, sat outside in the sun this evening making the diffuser and this is the end result (no visits to A&E)

and here's the shots with it
MJI Photos (Mary J. I.) PRO Posted 9 years ago. Edited by MJI Photos (Mary J. I.) (member) 9 years ago
Edit: I made a point and shoot version. Will see how that goes.
wingardium leviosa. 9 years ago
Good Idea! I like the way they turned out :)
Carlsphotography PRO 9 years ago
Well, I've spent a very pleasant couple of hours building my diffuser - problem was, when I got to Tesco, I couldn't bring myself to by Coke, so had to settle with Pils - stuffed up one can, so 3 cans later, I have a diffuser - hic!

Now to give it a go .......

Excellent stuff my Lord.
Lord V PRO 9 years ago
plant- sounds like an interesting experience !
Brian V.
Carlsphotography PRO 9 years ago
Haven't had much chance to use it - as you know, the weather is not great around here at the moment.

Looking forward to trying to emulate some of your fantastic shots - I'll be comparing mine with yours and realising I have soooo much to learn!

Thanks Brian.

Nicholas Benson 9 years ago
Thanks LordV, I just made one from 2 Sprite cans and some black tape (to match my camera gear).

It works a treat :)
robertnzana 9 years ago
Can you make a youtube video of this? That would be awesome!
mickyj_photos PRO Posted 9 years ago. Edited by mickyj_photos (member) 9 years ago
Lord V ... Excellent. Finally something to play with other than Pringles tins turned into Bokeh hoods .... that cost $0 and is essentially recycling !
There needs to be more experimentation with $0 solutions in photography. I have made my coke can diffuser from 375 ml coke cans and now just need some practice !
I did find two additional items handy. When overlapping the strips on the bottom edge one over the other overlapping each one about half the width, I found it handy to mark the half way point with a permanent marker. That way you can glance quickly before applying the tape and know the overlap is still there (The aluminium moves about a bit). Also a rubber band around the neck of the device, to hold the kitchen towel corners down, in place of tape. Makes it easier to wip the towel off and try other square shape material.

Excellent idea Lord V
photosmart42 9 years ago
I love this idea, especially since it allows you to get better efficiency out of your flash so you can shoot faster without waiting for the flash to fully recharge. I've been playing around with building a diffuser similar to this for my Vivitar 285. Some thoughts I was considering:

1. I was thinking of lining the inside of the diffuser (plan was to build it out of matte black thick construction paper) with aluminum foil to get the reflective effect. Could that work as well as the inside of the aluminum can you're using?

2. In terms of mounting the diffuser to the flash, I don't see you removing it very often based on the way you attached it. Is it fair to assume this is more or less your dedicated macro flash unit? I'm just not sure if I should make allowances in my design to have the diffuser easily removable so I can continue to use the flash for non-macro applications, or if I should just turn it into a dedicated unit.

Lord V PRO 9 years ago
Thanks for the comments :)

photosmart - not sure how weatherproof/wearproof a construction card version would be but should actually function fine.

I do actually change them sometimes on the flash but have put some velcro fixing on the flash and the inside edge of the coke cans.

Brian V.
photosmart42 9 years ago
Thanks for the feedback! I didn't think about the weather proofing aspect of my construction idea, although I suppose I don't get much 'weather' in Southern California to worry about when I go out for nature macro shots. I'll go back to your coke can idea (and maybe still play around with lining it with foil to see if it helps a bit).

Thanks, Brian!
_SACRE_ 9 years ago
Lord V, I am so amazed by the flower refracted in the water. That's a very good demonstration of basic physics (being a student of physics).

Your diffuser give certainly the best results for closeup shots. I have never seen such quality and clarity, prior to your shots.

I have my Samsung M8800 (Pixon) camera phone with me everywhere I go, because it is extremely compact for an 8 megapixel camera. I use its macro very often, which works very well. I almost never use the flash, because it spoil the macro picture. Now I want to build a tiny diffuser for it! hahaha thanks Lord V!!

I can actually buy a 8x optical clip-on zoom lens for it also.
BugsNelson 9 years ago
I understand everyone wanting to save money on macro, as it can get ridiculous pretty fast. I am doing this for serious hobby project (see www.Stonefly.US), so I am less price sensitive, more results and convience/reproducible oriented. I may have access to a specific bug only once in a year or less, and I can't afford to miss the opportunity. I am looking at the ring flash, which has been criticized as being a bit flat and uninteresting. Can you just add some reflectors off one side and block some of the light from the other side, to get light that is less uniform and gives more dimension to the scene? I am anticipating getting the MPE 65mmf/2.8 lens. I have a Canon D30 body, have been making do with the 55mm macro lens, but now I have to get down to details on insect bodies that are on the order of 1/8 inch.
Lord V PRO 9 years ago
Bugs Nelson,
Not really the person to answer this as I don't have a macro flash.

The better macro flashes do have power ratio control enabling you to vary the power going to the twin heads thus avoiding the flat look (eg MR-14) . The even more expensive ones have moveable heads as well allowing you to aim the heads slightly (eg MT-24). Both types can suffer from not enough diffusion but people have come up with various solutions to this.

Brian v.
Choice Kurniawan 8 years ago
Thank LordV, i've tried to make your diffuser coca cola cans... It was great... :-)
Alexander Asedach 8 years ago
Отличное приспособление.
Спасибо Lord V!!!
Lord V PRO 8 years ago
вы радушны
mikegreen78 8 years ago
Great stuff Brian! I shall be making one of these this weekend!
comandornorington 8 years ago
Nikon D3100 says:

wow.. so interesting and useful advices.. love it
Joe Hannouch 8 years ago
Hello all!
Brian i tried doing the Coke Diffuser and it works great! Always nice to do 0$ solutions that really work :D
I was testing the diffuser on and off camera, also found an old flash L shape bracket. I really like the flash off camera (on the backed), so now i have to get a flash cord! (thank you Lord V), is there a way to do a DIY flash cord? i have a lot of old flash strobes laying around, so maybe i can do one myself?
I also am thinking of creating a ball head flash mount on the bracket, i have a cheap-o table top tripod that i received with my Zoom Q3 video camera. Some maybe i have a lot to play with?
Any advice concerning the DIY flash cord is appreciated! :D
My Can diffuser is made out of 3 energy drink cans! (although i didn't drink them....)
Lord V PRO 8 years ago
Thanks Joe - not heard of anyone trying a DIY flash cord with full ettl capability. You can get third party ones fairly cheaply (mine is).
Brian V.
sk_husky PRO Posted 8 years ago. Edited by sk_husky (member) 8 years ago

Thanks to your post I finally understood the importance of a good flash setup for macro photography. I'm in the process of acquiring a flash unit, but in the meantime I created a diffuser for my camera's built-in flash using a Pringles can and a paper towel:

Macro Flash Setup

I have only done one day of shooting with this setup, but so far I am very impressed. It is a big improvement over photographs I took with natural light and a tripod. Here's one example:

In Profile

So thanks for sharing your DIY project! I can't wait to try and replicate your setup as soon as I get my hands on a proper flash unit and a flash bracket.
Lord V PRO 8 years ago
sk-husky- Like it and seems to work well. Basically anything that gets the light nearer the subject and diffuses it a bit will help.
hedgehead2010 7 years ago
probably the worst make shift diffuser but i had been meaning to make one for a while, i used 3 monster energy cans and staples and whatever tape i could find (as i didnt have any grey tape) it seems to be working really well just need to get it mounted to the side now

Unidentified Fly



hope it isnt a let down :P Posted 7 years ago. Edited by (member) 7 years ago
Is it ok to have small gaps between the can and flash head? The gaps are small but due to the fact the flash has square edges and the cans are more rounded.

Also, can tape (black) be placed on the front inside of the can? This will be to overlap the edge where the paper towel will mount. Not sure if the reflective surface of the cans play a part or not.

Thanks for the DIY, can't wait to try it out :-)
Lord V PRO 7 years ago
JJD - shouldn't be a problem with either . AFAIK the reflective surface does play a part making the diffuser more light efficient than it would otherwise be.
Louise CatCrazy 4 years ago
At the risk of being shot to bits for resurrecting the dead..

There was mention above of a cardboard version with aluminium foil lining to improve efficiency so I would like to offer an alternative possibility..

You can get sheets of polypropylene plastic very cheap, I have some 1mm thick which would be very strong, you can get 0.5mm or even those plastic document folders you get in translucent colours will probably do..

And as an alternative to ali foil it may be worth trying the emergency blankets they use at the end of marathons etc to keep the runners warm.. You can get them in gold as well as silver which should give a warming effect..
Lord V PRO 4 years ago
Glad to see someone posting to the discussions !
Thanks for the input/info
davholla2002 3 years ago
What external flash would work with a diffuser like this? Is there something cheap I could try?
davholla2002 3 years ago
Oops I now saw that you use a Canon Speedlite 430EX II flash
Lord V PRO 3 years ago
davholla - I just puirchased this flash -
and it works fine in my setups
davholla2002 3 years ago
Thanks a lot,saw I didn't see this before.
Phi Lư 2 years ago
Awesome job, and very creative Brian. I would love to make one for myself. Do you mind?
Lord V PRO 2 years ago
Phi Lu - please do make one
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