Make your own DIY diffusion filter for $15 or less

Dec 3, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Make your own DIY diffusion filter for $15 or less

Dec 3, 2020

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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If you like the soft, dreamy look of a diffusion filter, Josh Zaring has come up with a great idea of how to make your own. It’s one of those ideas that make you think “why didn’t I think of that?” He made his DIY diffusion filter from the stuff that he already had. You can do the same, but even if you don’t have the ingredients, you’ll only need around $15.

Josh wanted to create something that would give him a look of his Tiffen Black Pro Mist ¼ filter. However, he wanted to achieve a more “organic” look, with heavier and completely random particles. He wanted to get the look that resembles a dirty, vintage lens.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Two of the cheapest, most generic UV filters you can find (and probably already have)
  • Hairspray
  • Fine glitter, sawdust, sand, dirt… Go crazy!

Josh had two cheap UV filters that came with some photo kits he bought before. You can get a 58mm filter for $7.5, something like this one. He started by spraying hairspray into the air and put one of the filters (outside up) into the falling mist. This way, he didn’t get too much of the hairspray on the filter. “The end result was pretty uniform and most importantly, random,” he tells DIYP.

“Before the hairspray dried, I sprinkled a very tiny pinch of fine silver glitter onto the filter,” Josh explains further. “This was in hopes of random light flares when pointed directly at a light source, but doubles as simulating particles trapped between lens elements.”

Of course, you wouldn’t want glitter, sand, or dirt anywhere near your gear bag, right? This is why you need two UV filters.  When you’re done with the hairspray and particles, simply trap them with another UV filter. And your DIY diffusion filter is ready to rock.

One of the beauties of this DIY filter is that you can remake it over and over again. And each time you’ll get a one of a kind filter, with different effects that can go from moderate to heavy. “The end result is a definite vintage look with soft focus, blooming/halation, and completely random specs of beauty. The first filter like this I made, I went a little heavy on the hairspray and it looked like a fogger was everywhere I took photos/video. Nice and hazy,” josh tells us. “Unlike your other filters, fingerprints and more dirt are welcome,” he concludes.

Take a look at more photos below to see how it turned out for Josh. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube.

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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9 responses to “Make your own DIY diffusion filter for $15 or less”

  1. Josh Zaring Avatar
    Josh Zaring

    Thanks Dunja! This is working nicely for video too. To do what this does in post takes a lot of time, why not do it right in camera? ?

  2. James Thomas Avatar
    James Thomas

    Or just take a Canon kit lens and shoot it wide open. Only works with Canon though

    1. Josh Zaring Avatar
      Josh Zaring

      Trust me, it works with the nikon 18-55 too haha

      1. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
        Dunja Djudjic

        @JZaring:disqus totally, Nikon user confirms! :D

  3. Paul Ford Avatar
    Paul Ford

    Or you could just breath on front element, Cost? nothing.

    1. Josh Zaring Avatar
      Josh Zaring

      That would be a lot of takes while shooting video. ?

      1. Dunja Djudjic Avatar
        Dunja Djudjic

        @JZaring:disqus I’m picturing the scene in my head hahaha

  4. zeb grim Avatar
    zeb grim

    well it is good and acceptable but making it from scratch is a lengthy process so i think simple photoshop actions can also help out a lot. you can buy bunch of actions from many websites e.g https://www.inventactions.com/

  5. Martin Jones Avatar
    Martin Jones

    Another old-school method for diffusion is to stretch cling film or pantyhose fabric over the lens and shoot through it. Hold it on to the lens with a rubber band.

    To achieve a centre-spot filter effect, (image is clear in the centre and diffused towards the edges), simply burn a hole in the filter with a lit cigarette. Have to find a smoker first though…