My Macro Flash Setup **Explored 03/15/2011**

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    Nikon D5000 camera
    Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di SP A/M FEC LD (IF) 1:1 macro lens
    DIY flash diffuser for camera's built-in flash, made from a Pringles can and two layers of paper towels

    Thanks everybody for looking at my DIY project! If you are interested in macro photography, you should try this for yourselves. Using a flash to take handheld insect photos will do wonders for your ability to capture these little guys.

    Please add me as a contact if you would like to keep getting updates of my work!

    Instructions:
    1. The bottom of the Pringles can is made from very thin metal. Cut a hole in that bottom portion of the can so that the camera's built-in flash fits right in. Make the opening you create as similarly sized to the flash as possible. Remember: the larger the difference between your built-in flash's size and the opening you create, the more light will escape through that opening when you use the flash to take a photo.
    2. Attach the Pringles can to your built-in flash (so that the flash fits inside the opening you just created) and mark how long the can needs to be to reach the end of your lens. Then, remove the can from your camera and cut the can accordingly. My lens is pretty long, so I only had to take a few inches off the top of the can. If your lens is shorter (for example, a 60mm macro will most likely be physically shorter than my 180mm macro lens), you will take off much more. Your end goal should be to have the diffuser as close to the end of your lens as possible.
    3. Place a paper towel at the top of the can and fasten it to the can with a rubber-band. The number of paper-towel sheets really depends on your personal preference. Just remember that the more sheets you use, the more diffused the light from the flash will be. I use two sheets of paper towels, but am considering using three sheets for my next photoshoot. This is because some of my photos still have a bit of harsh light, and I think some extra diffusion may take care of it. Be careful not to diffuse too much though - built-in flashes are not very powerful, so at some point you will diffuse the light beyond usefulness.
    4. Fasten the diffuser to your camera and lens with a few more rubber bands, aligning the opening at the bottom of the can with the built-in flash. Where you place the rubber bands will depend entirely on the ergonomics of your particular camera and lens.

    Also, don't forget to check out my macro set!

    kaneohe247, © Rizwan Mithawala, and 66 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 14 more comments

    1. sk_husky 36 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the comments everyone! I'm glad to see that many of you also enjoyed my other photos - that's what photography is all about.

      As for instructions, this DIY project is one of the simplest you'll find. Here are the steps I took to make this diffuser in 10 minutes or less:
      1. The bottom of the Pringles can is made from very thin metal. Cut a hole in that bottom portion of the can so that the camera's built-in flash fits right in. Make the opening you create as similarly sized to the flash as possible. Remember: the larger the difference between your built-in flash's size and the opening you create, the more light will escape through that opening when you use the flash to take a photo.
      2. Attach the Pringles can to your built-in flash (so that the flash fits inside the opening you just created) and mark how long the can needs to be to reach the end of your lens. Then, remove the can from your camera and cut the can accordingly. My lens is pretty long, so I only had to take a few inches off the top of the can. If your lens is shorter (for example, a 60mm macro will most likely be physically shorter than my 180mm macro lens), you will take off much more. Your end goal should be to have the diffuser as close to the end of your lens as possible.
      3. Place a paper towel at the top of the can and fasten it to the can with a rubber-band. The number of paper-towel sheets really depends on your personal preference. Just remember that the more sheets you use, the more diffused the light from the flash will be. I use two sheets of paper towels, but am considering using three sheets for my next photoshoot. This is because some of my photos still have a bit of harsh light, and I think some extra diffusion may take care of it. Be careful not to diffuse too much though - built-in flashes are not very powerful, so at some point you will diffuse the light beyond usefulness.
      4. Fasten the diffuser to your camera and lens with a few more rubber bands, aligning the opening at the bottom of the can with the built-in flash. Where you place the rubber bands will depend entirely on the ergonomics of your particular camera and lens.

      And there you have it - a simple, 10 minute project for a great macro flash diffuser. Hopefully I will be buying an external flash unit soon, so I may be trying to come up with a whole new DIY project in a very short time. :)

      Steve

    2. Sharon k t 36 months ago | reply

      I'm going to have to try this, I'll let you know how it works for me.

    3. Dalantech 36 months ago | reply

      Considering that you're shooting with a 180mm lens I'm gonna guess that your working distance is 9". If you want the light to be more diffused don't add extra layers of anything (you're actually doing more to block the light than diffuse it). Instead look for a way to get the flash closer to your subject. You might even try a making a new diffuser from an un-cut Pringles can (so the end of it is closer to what you want to shoot).

      See this article at Strobist on Apparent Light Size.

      I also build my own diffuser for Canon's MT-24EX.

    4. serzhile 36 months ago | reply

      sa-weet!
      you just saved my 350 euros worth of macro flash :)) thnx! :))

    5. doo3 36 months ago | reply

      Congrats! I saw your great idea on GIZMODO JAPAN (http://www.gizmodo.jp/2011/05/diy_photo.html). So I'll try it next shot.

    6. SouthernSass 36 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the instructions!

    7. Dave*B 35 months ago | reply

      great job.

    8. Josh Beasley 34 months ago | reply

      I've been using this with quite a bit of success. Thanks a lot for the guide. :)

    9. CLCsPics 27 months ago | reply

      thank you so much for posting the details! now i have to get to work on that pringles can i've been saving : )

    10. trainmann1 27 months ago | reply

      Nice, I will be giving this a try for sure!

    11. pooja bokadia 26 months ago | reply

      can you please show some of your pictuers with this technique....

    12. tina negus 25 months ago | reply

      tried it - it's great!!

      Thankyou

      Tina

    13. david.debar 23 months ago | reply

      Wow! I learned something. Thank you.

      Dave

    14. Vividplus 23 months ago | reply

      Thanks for this idea. I am making this righaway. I use a Minolta 70-210 + DCR 250 for macros so I guess I won't have to cut the can short :) Hope it will provide enough lighting at f/32... if that's the case, it will be awesome! DOF at f/11 and all are very shallow after 100mm.

    15. Vividplus 23 months ago | reply

      Slight improvement to this idea (I realized only after cutting my one and only pringles can:( )

      On the other end (which will face the subject) you can cut the pringles can in an angle so that the part which touches the lens has shorter length and the top part has more. This can increase the surface area of the opening where you cover white paper and also make it more angled to the subject!

    16. AndyS2002 2 months ago | reply

      Thanks a lot sharing this great idea with us!

      Andreas

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