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