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Tips & Tricks

DIY Diffusion Panels: How To Make A Good One For $30

By Kishore Sawh on August 19th 2014

To anyone who knows me, it’ll be no secret that I like shooting natural light. With the aid of reflectors and diffusers, I am generally able to achieve the type of results I tend to go in for. Sometimes, even the pavement, or boat deck, or a nice bright wall can act as reflector enough, and perhaps, if need be, I can pull out more detail from the shadows in post.

Dealing with harsh shadows and hotspots on the other hand, is much more difficult to deal with in post. I would never suggest it unless you are going for a very strong, contrasty look. This is where diffusion panels come in (like you didn’t know this). Anyway, whether using them in studio or out on location, a diffusion panel is one of those key pieces than can immediately take your shots from looking pre-pubescent to prime-of-your-life, and if you don’t have one, you should. The thing is, good ones, can be costly. But here’s some help.

[REWIND: DIY Ringlight (Cheap) & How to Win at 500px w/ Tony Northrup]

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Product photographer Tony Roslund has generously created a video showing anyone who cares to pay attention, how to make a good diffusion panel with little time, and little money. You can buy diffusion blades from many photo shops such as these on B&H, which come in at around $100 with fabric, or you can go with fully pre-made, high quality products like those from California Sunbounce, which can run you hundreds, but are pretty spectacular. What Roslund shows you should run you no more than about $30, and a trip to the hardware store.

Thoughts

This is the first time I’ve seen a DIY diffuser and considered actually making it. At that price, I can just make about 6 of them at different sizes for very little money. I will say this, though, that if you’re using a diffusion panel in the field, you need something hardy. You want something that has structural rigidity, won’t bend much, and you want that diffusion fabric to be totally fitted.

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Any breeze is magnified in severity when holding what is essentially a 4’ x 6’ kite, so you need it to be sound, and also it helps to have a handle to hold onto. This is just one area where Sunbounce succeeds, but I look at Roslund’s diffuser and see how just with a slight modification of a crossbar would make it easier to hold, and more sturdy.

Source: DIYPhotography, Images are screen captures from featured video

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

9 Comments

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  1. Michael Moe

    thats a great diy project!

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  2. Clare Havill

    Great video, thanks.

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  3. Christine Einarsson

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I really appreciate it.

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  4. Pete McWade

    Old wide window screens make for good frames for making these diffusers. Lowers the cost a bit if you can find a few on Craigs List. Light weight and strong once the screen is glued in place.

    Pete :)

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  5. Joseph Pesiri

    Enjoyed the Tip Thank you.

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  6. Austin Swenson

    I like the DIY aspect here… I actually made an ice light doing this same kind of thing with parts from a hardware store for like 17 bucks.

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  7. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing an alternative and cheaper way in achieving the same result.

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  8. Reynardt Badenhorst

    Aaah, diffusers, they’re like pancakes… who doesn’t love them!? Thanks for sharing, DIY coming this weekend.

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  9. Brandon Dewey

    Great video!

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