$0 Flash Diffuser for a DSLR




an index card flash diffuser for the built in flash on a DSLR

Step 1: Materials

you need an index card
you need tape (electrical tape is essayist)
and you need a dslr with a manual flash setting (nikon canon exc)

Step 2: Interfacing the Adhesive Strip With the Index-ular Card-ular Device

tape the card to the flash at an angle (so the card is not directly touching the flash)

(ignore my coffee table / hackers desk ;)

Step 3: Setting the Flash

menu > settings > Flash cntrl for built in flash > Manual > setting # ... set the number between 1/2 and full ... play around with this all camera's flashes are different

Step 4: Snap the Shot!

i took this picture at flash 1/1.7 note the softer more natural look and how it does not reflect back the flash blinding the camera (higher settings for brighter pictures)



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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Hi all and thanks to biozz for making the ible. I really need to get a couple of my own up. I realize this is an old ible, but just to toss some clarity out for you... Diffuse light and scattered light are not the same. One has to do with light emission/reflection and the other with the light falling on the subject. What this ible achieves is scattered light - in other words, you are taking the existing light and emitting it out at broader angles than without the card. ( or in the case of johnny3h's suggestion: rolling papers - genius idea btw.)

    Diffuse light occurs when light is falling on your subject from all angles.

    Both scattering ideas - the card and the rolling papers, achieve some diffusion as a result of scattering the light to surrounding surfaces which then bounce a bit back on your subject. And as johnny3h and the OP pointed out - at a pretty severe loss of efficiency. To soften the light with greater efficiency, your primary light source needs to be BIGGER. This results in the lower-contrast lighting you are trying to achieve.

    You have two choices, blast your strobe light through something larger and at reasonable distance ratio from the source and subject, or scatter your light off of a larger surface that will then reflect the light onto your subject. The simplest of these two is to bounce the light off of a ceiling or wall, which in-turn becomes a rather large light source and thus creates a soft and pleasing light. Using a pocket mirror or similar, reflect the strobes light up to the ceiling and like magic, soft light. So tipping your index card forward a bit so the light goes up, rather than through the card would yield a softer quality of light.

    The attached images show a bare camera strobe - yuck!, the strobe with 8.5x11" piece of white paper held 8" from strobe and at 45 degree angle (some light goes to ceiling for bounce, some light goes through paper as a light-source. and then the full ceiling bounce achieved by blocking the light and bouncing it to the ceiling using the inside of an Altoids lid - it's what I had at my desk at the time and something that might be at casual reach for the reader. ;-)

    The ceiling becomes the largest of the light sources and thus creates the softest light and starts to mimic the light from a studio soft-box. The sheet of paper slightly softens the light - check out how much softer the shadow cast by the subject becomes.

    The ceiling bounce is also a warmer light due to the off-white acoustic tiles here in this particular office at the studio. Everything about photography is the result of light. Learn to control you light and watch the quality of your images explode!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    please note, this site has a "be nice" comment policy so you wont see my full response
    but i must inform you, i had to spend upwards of THREE HUNDRED PENNIES for your hack and it made my already cheap broken down camera look even UGLIER
    heres some advice however, a piece of tissue paper over the flash works just as good, it cuts total light output minimally but it isnt AS ugly

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Chuckling @ Frogz....

    300 pennies....

    It sounds like you ordered one index card and three inches of tape on line +S&H.



    7 years ago on Introduction

    I believe it would have been more effective if the card wasn't directly touching the strobe but to think of the flash as a person and the index card as a parachute.. create that "U" shape surrounding the front and perhaps try another shot? I might try it just to check but a very simple and "duh, why didn't I think of that?!?" instructable.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Please do not be offended as no offense is intended. I only make these comments in the spirit of sharing knowledge.

    I'm not sure, but from my analysis of your third photo [with the card taped to your camera], it appears that this technique is only diffusing a small part of the strobe light, and IF the exposure setting were increased to get a decent overall exposure, there would still be excessive 'specular highlights.' There is STILL a great amount of light from the strobe going DIRECTLY to the subject, which is in no way diffused.

    The only reason the specular highlights in your example photo [lamp on the table] are not excessively overexposed is due to the overall underexposure of the entire photo. What you have created with the white card and the tape is a white, reflective 'Barn Door,' which in this case simply changes the direction from which a small portion of the source light comes.

    With a built-in, or clamp-on strobe or flash unit, a simpler way to diffuse the light is to use a "trick" we learned in photo school waaay back in about 1964.

    That trick is to keep a package of cigarette rolling papers [very thin and transmit diffused light] in your camera bag, or always with your strobe.

    When you desire diffusion, simply 'lick' your strobe lens, and stick a layer of the rolling paper on it. If more diffusion is wanted, simply wet a second or third paper and stick on top of the first. When the wetting agent [whatever it is] dries, the paper easily pulls off, and often it falls off on its own.

    Another, similar trick is to drape or wrap a single layer [or double if a lot of diffusion is wanted] of a clean, white handkerchief over the strobe and it will diffuse the light. And, IF you want to add a 'tinge' of color to your light source, a tinted handkerchief will add that color. Color changes can be accomplished with color filtration on the light source as well as on a camera lens.

    HOWEVER, with any of these tricks, remember that any diffusion cuts down on the amount of light getting to the subject, and exposure increase to compensate may, and usually will, be necessary.