Forums > Photography Talk > Weekend project: DIY $36 4'x6' diffusion panel.
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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Update: made modifications: http://www.modelmayhem.com/po.php?threa … st18101127


I've got some outdoor videos planned, and wanted a nice diffusion panel for soft, even light. I wanted something like this, but without the $600 pricetag.

So off to the youtubes I went. I decided to build my own out of ripstop nylon and PVC, and I love how it turned out.

Shopping list:

Ripstop Nylon (60x72) - $12
(11) 24" 3/4 sched40 PVC - $12
elbows, coupler, T, threaded elbow: - $3
(24) Large eyelets - $5
Small hairties - $4

I wanted about 4x6, so bought 2 yards of 60" ripstop nylon. Everyone recommends this stuff, it's nice and durable, with 1 stop of diffusion (f/11 metered f/5.6 + 9/10) and cheap. If I had a coupon I could have gotten it for like $7, but I didn't.

I simply stuck the pieces together, no glue for easy teardown and transport. Here's it set up:

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser1.jpg


I looped the hair ties through eyelets and back through themselves for a knot, and put the PVC through the other loop. This method, with the elastic bands helps keep it tight, and the gap makes it less of a sail than if it were one solid piece.:

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser2.jpg


I wanted it to be able to tilt and stay in place, so I used threaded T and elbows for the stand. The threads are very tight, and the friction keeps it in place:

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser3.jpg


To attach the stands, I took the eleventh 2' section of PVC and cut it in half to 2 one foot sections, stuck those tho the threaded elbow, then stuck the top portion of my lightstand through. This foot acts as a sleeve, and I tested out beforehand what size I would need. The sleeve is VERY snug, and the entire rig is quite steady:

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser4.jpg

I offset the T-joints so that I could have somewhat of a boom effect when needed, being able to project the panel off to one side will be of use during the middle of the day. It is 2' on one end, and 4' on the other:

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser5.jpg

All in all, a cheap, easy project, that I cannot wait to put to use. Perhaps tomorrow I will have some examples up.

Nov 24 12 04:29 pm Link

Photographer

What Fun Productions

Posts: 20192

Phoenix, Arizona, US

Thank you for sharing this.

Nov 24 12 04:31 pm Link

Photographer

Engage Photography

Posts: 30

Denver, Colorado, US

That's awesome! Thx for sharing it!

Nov 24 12 04:40 pm Link

Photographer

Paul AI

Posts: 1046

Shawnee, Oklahoma, US

Good stuff

Nov 24 12 04:51 pm Link

Photographer

DennisRoliffPhotography

Posts: 1928

Akron, Ohio, US

Fantastic! Thanks. http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-basic/smile.gif

Nov 24 12 05:07 pm Link

Photographer

Kev Lawson

Posts: 7829

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I think we need to start calling Jay Mr Gadget or MacGyver. smile

Good work Jay!

Nov 24 12 05:29 pm Link

Photographer

ChrisFischerPhotography

Posts: 852

Otsego, Minnesota, US

Kevin Kubota has a DIY video for something very similar to this, but I like how you used T-joints to attach the PVC sections that fit over the light stands.

Nov 24 12 05:48 pm Link

Photographer

ForeverFotos

Posts: 6644

Indianapolis, Indiana, US

I like the design, but I'm having trouble finding ripstop in widths wider than 44 inches. Where did you get yours, and how did you manage to get anything wider than the width of a standard bolt of material (36 to 44 in) ?

Nov 24 12 06:00 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

ForeverFotos wrote:
I like the design, but I'm having trouble finding ripstop in widths wider than 44 inches. Where did you get yours, and how did you manage to get anything wider than the width of a standard bolt of material (36 to 44 in) ?

Joann's had 60" $7.99/yard (was on sale $5.99)

http://www.joann.com/rip-stop-nylon-man … prd560961/ (says 59")

Nov 24 12 06:08 pm Link

Photographer

ForeverFotos

Posts: 6644

Indianapolis, Indiana, US

-JAY- wrote:

Joann's had 60" $7.99/yard (was on sale $5.99)

http://www.joann.com/rip-stop-nylon-man … prd560961/ (says 59")

Thanks a lot, I'll give that a try.

Nov 24 12 06:14 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I built it for video... but I'm seeing so many applications for photo as well. Controlling the spill (see background) will be the main concern, but it is BIG and SOFT. I can see having one on either end of a model (45deg) for a full body coverage gigantic softbox with a speedlite pointed sideways at it.

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser_test.jpg

Nov 24 12 06:18 pm Link

Photographer

NothingIsRealButTheGirl

Posts: 33543

Los Angeles, California, US

Would be a good thing to put on

http://www.instructables.com/

Nov 24 12 06:20 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

NothingIsRealButTheGirl wrote:
Would be a good thing to put on

http://www.instructables.com/

Got a dozen projects I have been meaning to put on there, and DIYphotography.net

Nov 24 12 06:21 pm Link

Photographer

Stanley L Moore

Posts: 1679

Houston, Texas, US

Many years ago I built something similar with ripstop And PVC pipe. I learned about it from a Dean Collins lighting seminar. But mine does not have the Elbows on the side to fit the light stands. So someone has to hold it. Your design s a bit more practical for those with out assistants.

Nov 24 12 06:47 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Stanley L Moore wrote:
Many years ago I built something similar with ripstop And PVC pipe. I learned about it from a Dean Collins lighting seminar. But mine does not have the Elbows on the side to fit the light stands. So someone has to hold it. Your design s a bit more practical for those with out assistants.

I never have assistants, but I have far too many lightstands... tongue

Nov 24 12 06:52 pm Link

Photographer

S W I N S K E Y

Posts: 24315

Saint Petersburg, Florida, US

now if you were really thinking..you could have  drilled some holes in the pvc and added a 3/4 threaded female couple, then hooked the garden hose so you could sprinkle the lawn while you were shooting.

http://i.imgur.com/m8TQi.png

Nov 24 12 06:55 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

I may be in luck. I may have booked a model/actress for tomorrow. Should be making a youtube instructional about how to make this, why one should make it, and give a dozen example images on what something like this can do for a photographer just starting out. Stop relying on shade to shoot in... bring the shade with you.

Nov 24 12 07:51 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

S W I N S K E Y wrote:
now if you were really thinking..you could have  drilled some holes in the pvc and added a 3/4 threaded female couple, then hooked the garden hose so you could sprinkle the lawn while you were shooting.

http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/wp-content/uploads/pvc_sprinkler.jpg

Nov 24 12 07:54 pm Link

Photographer

Kev Lawson

Posts: 7829

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

combine the diffuser and sprinkler into a water filled wonderland of beautiful images...

Nov 24 12 08:15 pm Link

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Photographer

Giacomo Cirrincioni

Posts: 21383

New York, New York, US

-JAY- wrote:
http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net/wp-content/uploads/pvc_sprinkler.jpg

Make that much bigger (say 4'x6') with more tubes spaced closer together with holes drilled all along the length of the tubes (and no center sprinkler) and hang it overhead (or put it on c-stands) and you have a rain machine.

Have you seen the tinkertubes booklet?  I think you'd like it.

http://www.software-cinema.com/page/13/tinkertubes

Nov 24 12 08:45 pm Link

Photographer

joeyk

Posts: 14734

Seminole, Florida, US

Nice.

Looks almost identical to the 3rd one I built back in the Dean Collins days.

The first two were out of 2 by 2s and fitted JCP white twin sheets. 1 sheet, one side or 1 sheet on each side, used them as shoot through too.

Hung one off of the ceiling with swingset chain for a super large hairlight ( big enough for families ).

Nov 24 12 09:06 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

joeyk wrote:
The first two were out of 2 by 2s and fitted JCP white twin sheets. 1 sheet, one side or 1 sheet on each side, used them as shoot through too.

I tried bedsheets, but for outdoor stuff, but they ate too much light, the background was far too blown out. With one stop, it works nicely. I've used sheets previously for indoor stuff, easy way to make a blown-out white background.

Nov 24 12 09:20 pm Link

Photographer

Light and Lens Studio

Posts: 1434

Sisters, Oregon, US

Great practical idea for video and stills.  If the sun ever comes out again here in the NW, I will have one ready to go.

Thanks for sharing.

Nov 24 12 09:31 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Light and Lens Studio wrote:
Great practical idea for video and stills.  If the sun ever comes out again here in the NW, I will have one ready to go.

Thanks for sharing.

Vegas is never overcast.... ever.

Nov 24 12 09:36 pm Link

Photographer

AG_Boston

Posts: 351

Boston, Massachusetts, US

This is pretty damn cool.

Do you plan on painting the PVC black, or leaving it white?

Nov 24 12 10:19 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

AG_Boston wrote:
This is pretty damn cool.

Do you plan on painting the PVC black, or leaving it white?

pshhhhh... painting it would give it legitimacy... let ghetto gear show its pride.

Nov 24 12 10:25 pm Link

Photographer

John M Hoyt

Posts: 347

Greenville, South Carolina, US

-JAY- wrote:

pshhhhh... painting it would give it legitimacy... let ghetto gear show its pride.

Haha so true smile

I love this project...

Nov 24 12 11:48 pm Link

Photographer

AG_Boston

Posts: 351

Boston, Massachusetts, US

-JAY- wrote:

pshhhhh... painting it would give it legitimacy... let ghetto gear show its pride.

Uh...gold trim then? big_smile

Nov 25 12 06:00 am Link

Photographer

Steve Alkok

Posts: 399

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Don't forget the 4-6 sandbags wink

Nov 25 12 08:33 am Link

Photographer

SKITA Studios

Posts: 1566

Boston, Massachusetts, US

Nicely done...love the lightstand connection too smile

Nov 25 12 08:51 am Link

Photographer

M Pandolfo Photography

Posts: 12116

Tampa, Florida, US

Very nice! Go even bigger. Great work.

Nov 25 12 08:59 am Link

Photographer

M Pandolfo Photography

Posts: 12116

Tampa, Florida, US

I'd love to see a close-up shot of where it attaches to the lightstands.

Nov 25 12 09:04 am Link

Photographer

Mortonovich II

Posts: 716

San Diego, California, US

Bravo!!

Love the DIY projects.

Nov 25 12 09:07 am Link

Photographer

ElevatedImages

Posts: 283

Denver, Colorado, US

I built almost the same thing except without the ability to have it mount to a light stand. I leave the folded up rip stop in my camera bag and find that I've used it far more without the PVC just being held by two assistants at the corners than with.

Nov 25 12 09:11 am Link

Photographer

Kung-Fu-Flavor

Posts: 584

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

That is a really nice build and the hair ties are very smart.

Nov 25 12 09:12 am Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Brooks Avenue Studio wrote:
That is a really nice build and the hair ties are very smart.

I spent so much time trying to figure out how to mount it. Fold over with snaps? Velcro? I think this way won cause it was the easiest of all the options tongue

Nov 25 12 09:29 am Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

Surprised even myself...


Noon.

In the middle of a field in a park.

Not a cloud in the sky.

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser_7.jpg

http://www.jayleavitt.com/links/diffuser_6.jpg

Nov 25 12 03:57 pm Link

Photographer

solostudio

Posts: 419

Atlanta, Georgia, US

Nice job.

Nov 25 12 04:02 pm Link

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Photographer

-JAY-

Posts: 6694

Las Vegas, Nevada, US

solostudio wrote:
Nice job.

Thanks! It is now a permanent piece of my family portraits kit... gives me so much more flexibility.

Nov 25 12 04:14 pm Link

Photographer

M Pandolfo Photography

Posts: 12116

Tampa, Florida, US

Gorgeous. I think you just validated the "expense" and sent a lot of photographers to their nearest Home Depot. Great job.

Nov 25 12 04:22 pm Link