Make your own a DIY diffusion filter for $15 or less

Tips & Techniques

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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