DIY Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in Pop-up Flashes

Objects can appear too bright or blown out in images when a flash is used in an indoor setting. A flash diffuser can be used to soften the lighting and take more professional photos.

In this easy tutorial, I will show how to create a DSLR camera flash diffuser for your built-in pop-up flash. It’s easy and inexpensive because you probably already have the supplies at home and if not, they are very inexpensive!

DIY Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash cover

Oftentimes happens that accessories for external camera flashes have both options: for purchase and homemade but for the built-in flashes there aren’t so many.

You might also love these other Photography related ideas: DIY Flash Bouncer for Built-in DSLR Camera Flashes, How to Add Watermark to Multiple Photos at Once with Photoshop Automate Batch, and How to create Photoshop Actions to Resize and Optimize Images.

Making a Flash Diffuser for Built-in Pup-up Flashes at Home

I’ve also noticed that many people besides me have been looking for ways to solve the problem of direct flash light blowing up and damaging our photos. And let’s face it we can’t always use only natural light (which is my #1 option)

One great way to solve the problem of the flash burst of light on the subject is by using a DIY diffuser. But as much as I looked, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for specifically for my DSLR built-in flash. 

general view of Inexpensive Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash

That’s why I decided to go ahead and create my own. Using as inspiration the external flashes options I saw, I created this Homemade flash diffuser that helps A LOT when taking photos with little light.

What is a flash diffuser for photography?

A flash diffuser is a simple light modifier, a semi-opaque tool that is designed to fit the upper part of a specific flash unit (usually external). It’s used to soften or spread the harsh, concentrated light that bursts out of the flash, creating a more even and flattering light on the subject. It also helps remove heavy shadows created by the harshness of the strong lighting.

How to make a Flash Diffuser for DSLR Cameras.

Here I’ll show you how I made a DIY flash diffuser for DSLR Cameras with built-in flashes. On the web there are other ways to solve this but I wanted one like a lampshade so I could concentrate the light and of course, diffuse it.

Flash Diffuser Supplies

  • Grey cardboard with a thickness that fits into the flash slot
  • White and black cardstock (or pattern if you like)
  • White glue or mod podge
  • Hot glue gun.
  • Cutter
  • Embossing tool (or a pen that no longer works or the back edge of a scissor)
  • Tracing paper.
  • Adhesive tape (optionally)

Instructions:

First I made the pattern for the flash diffuser. You can snag it here to print and cut.

Before we begin, be sure to follow us on PinterestFacebookInstagram, and YouTube, and also sign up for our email list (at the end of this post), so you’ll never miss a post!

1. Place your pattern on the grey cardboard. This kind of cardboard is used by architects for the structure mockups BUT you can find it often on the back of paper blocks, cardstock blocks and some kind of boxes.

view of the pattern on the cardboard

2. Transfer the pattern to the cardboard with a pen including folding marks.

view drawing the pattern on the cardboard

I cut the pattern helping myself with a ruler.

view of I cutting the pattern with a ruler and cutter

3. With an embossing tool, I embossed the folding lines so the cardboard would fold more easily. You can see what I mean in the video.

view of the pattern cut in cardboard

4. Once the whole shape was done and verified that it was fitting perfectly, I glued the white cardstock to the “inside” side of the diffuser.

view applying glue on the cardboard pattern
view placing the cardboard pattern on white cardboard

I made sure every edge was well glued and with the help of a ruler I made pressure all over the cardstock to avoid wrinkles.

view of cutting the shape of the pattern in the white cardboard

5. Again, with the embossing tool, I marked the folding lines. I let it dry.

image of the embossing process

6. Then I cut all the remains of cardstock on the edges to make a fine finish.

view of the assembly of the internal part of the diffuser

7. Repeat the same process for the outside cardstock. Back when I made it the first time I used black cardstock, nowadays I like to add some color and patterns!

view of Placing diffuser pattern on black cardboard

I’ve made this flash diffuser quite a few times over the years so please understand why the photos in the tutorial don’t match the tutorial nor the video. LOL

8. Once done, I glued both ends with hot glue and I reinforced it with a piece of black cardstock glued on the outside.

view of diffuser shape in my hand

The next step is up to each person, to be honest.

9. I used a piece of tracing paper a bit bigger than the wider opening of the diffuser. That way I could hold it to the sides of the diffuser.

view of piece of tracing paper

10. Secure the tracing paper in place with glue or adhesive tape.

I preferred holding it on the outside with adhesive tape because that way is not so permanent and I can play with different thickness of paper or even colors to bring effects to the photos.

view of flash diffuser for DSLR camera in my hands

In this case, it’s not so pretty but it is functional which is what I want for this particular project.

 view of Flash Diffuser for DSLR camera ready

If you want you can just cut on the edge and glue it so it looks pretty!

That’s it!!!

There you go!

11. To use it, just insert flash through the small opening of the diffuser and insert the long piece in the external flash slot to hold it, and adjust as needed.

rear view of Flash Diffuser on DSLR camera
general view of Flash Diffuser on DSLR camera

As you can see it’s not hard to make. Maybe it might take a few more minutes than other options out there but in my experience, the time I invested in this project was worth it a thousand times!

closer angled view of Flash Diffuser on DSLR camera

Here you can see a test I did with and without the flash diffuser. You can see what a huge difference that makes.

Photo Samples WITHOUT Diffuser:

view of a photo without diffuser

Photo Sample WITH Diffuser:

view of a photo with diffuser

What do you think?

Doesn’t it make a huge difference?

I hate those super white boosts of light on faces or objects.

closer view of Flash Diffuser on DSLR camera

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a flash diffuser for photography?

A flash diffuser is a simple light modifier, a semi-opaque tool that is designed to fit the upper part of a specific flash unit (usually external). It’s used to soften or spread the harsh, concentrated light that bursts out of the flash, creating a more even and flattering light on the subject. It also helps remove heavy shadows created by the harshness of the strong lighting.

How Does A Flash Diffuser Work?

The main purpose of a spread out the light that comes from a camera flash. Light diffusers make bright or harsh light softer, spreading it across a wider area and eliminating some of the unwanted glare caused by fluorescent flashlights. It kind of works as a softbox you could say.

This type of tool is especially useful for portraits. Photographers use it to minimize harsh shadows and bursts of light on the subject’s face.

There Are Simpler Options Out There, So Why Making One?

I know there are super easy options you can find on Pinterest and on Google. BUT I didn’t want just something easy, I wanted something durable, functional and as professional as homemade can be.

This project took me about 30 to 40 min (considering I was filming and taking photos) so IMO it’s not a big deal and it lasts a couple of years depending on how much I use it. I’ve made about 3 or 4 in the last 2 years.
So, I’m not saying this is the perfect Flash diffuser but it has worked like a charm all these years and I haven’t spent much money or time on it, so in my book that’s a win-win.

More easy crafts for Photography to try

If you liked this easy DIY Flash Diffuser tutorial, you might love these other photography related projects:

DIY Inexpensive Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash

DIY Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in Pop-up Flashes Tutorial

Camila Rojas
In this easy tutorial, I will show how to create a DSLR camera flash diffuser for your built-in pop-up flash. It's easy and inexpensive because you probably already have the supplies at home and if not, they are very inexpensive!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Servings 1

Equipment

  • Embosing tool (or a pen that no longer works or the back edge of a scissor)
  • cutter
  • scissors
  • Hot glue gun

Ingredients
  

  • Grey cardboard with a thickness that fits into the flash slot Like architect carboard
  • White and black cardstock or pattern if you like
  • White glue or mod podge
  • Hot Glue stick
  • Tracing paper.
  • Adhesive tape optionally

Instructions
 

  • Place your pattern on the grey cardboard. This kind of cardboard is used by architects for the structure mockups BUT you can find it often on the back of paper blocks, cardstock blocks and some kind of boxes.
  • Transfer the pattern to the cardboard with a pen including folding marks.
  • I cut the pattern helping myself with a ruler.
  • With an embossing tool, I embossed the folding lines so the cardboard would fold more easily. You can see what I mean in the video
  • Once the whole shape was done and verified that it was fitting perfectly I glued the white cardstock to the “inside” side of the diffuser.
  • I made sure every edge was well glued and with the help of a ruler I made pressure all over the cardstock to avoid wrinkles.
  • Again with the embossing tool, I marked the folding lines. I let it dry.
  • Then I cut all the remains of cardstock on the edges to make a fine finish.
  • Repeat the same process for the outside cardstock. Back when I made it the first time I used black cardstock, nowadays I like to add some color and patterns!
  • I’ve made this flash diffuser quite a few times over the years so please understand why the photos in the tutorial don’t match the tutorial nor the video. LOL
  • Once done, I glued both ends with hot glue and I reinforced it with a piece of black cardstock glued on the outside.
  • The next step is up to each person, to be honest.
  • I used a piece of tracing paper a bit bigger than the wider opening of the diffuser. That way I could hold it to the sides of the diffuser.
  • I preferred holding it on the outside with adhesive tape because that way is not so permanent and I can play with different thickness of paper or even colors to bring effects to the photos.
  • In this case, it’s not so pretty but it is functional which is what I want for this particular project.
  • If you want you can just cut on the edge and glue it so it looks pretty!
  • That's it!!!
  • There you go!
  • To use it, just insert flash through the small opening of the diffuser and insert the long piece in the external flash slot to hold it, and adjust as needed.
    Easy Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash
  • As you can see it’s not hard to make. Maybe it might take a few more minutes than other options out there but in my experience, the time I invested in this project was worth it a thousand times!
Keyword diy flash diffuser, diy photography accessories, flash diffuser, photography tips

Have you used or made any flash diffusers yourself? If so, share it with us in the comments!

A few photography tips I love from my favorite bloggers:

If you found this post useful, please don’t forget to share with friends and PIN for later!

DIY Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash on a budget pinterest image one
DIY Flash Diffuser for DSLR Built-in flash on a budget pinterest image two

Til' next time...

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55 Comments

  1. Love the tutorial. Made one in Plastic and in card board. Worked out well with both. Now to try them out.

    1. Hey Danielle, I am SOOOO glad to hear that. I’m curious about how you made it in plastic, any way you could share that with me? I was thinking of a few ways but didn’t feel like it would work.
      Let me know how yours worked!
      Sending hugs!
      Cami

      1. Hi Cami, I loved the idea that some people suggested using old opaque film canisters but I didn’t have any so I printed out your pattern and cut it out. Then I traced it on the side of a plastic kitty litter container. (They are flat on the sides and rigid.) Scored the fold lines for nice, neat sides. I added a tab to you pattern on both conecting sides in order to hot glue them together. Now for the front I had seen a tutorial using a piece of white thin removable foam like material found in childrens learning to swim vest as a diffuser. So I cut a piece out that I just happened to have in the house and glued it into place. I’ll have to practice using my flash since I rarely ever use it. I’ll have to show you comparison shots once I take them. I hope this helped you.

    1. That’s wonderful News Abdul! I’m really glad it worked for you and that you find it helpful!!!
      Happy photographing!!!

    1. Hey Tatiana,
      You are most welcome!!! So glad you like this. If you make one let me know or tag me if you don’t mind, I love seeing things readers make inspired by my posts!
      Hugs!
      P.S. I’m from Brazil too. I was born in Sao Paulo but moved to Venezuela at the age of 6 and now I live in Spain. LOL XOXO

      1. Just made one of these and it is a whole new world for me. Great effect. I will try to tag you if I use photos on Instagram using it. I will also let me subscribers know about this on your blog!

  2. What a wonderful and creative idea! Thank you for providing the download to print!

    I love the paragraph in Spanish, I am learning the language!

  3. This looks like a great pop up flash diffuser project, Cami. Got to be better than the …..cut an old 35 mm film canister up to fit over the flash. I will have to check this out – thanks!.

  4. hi there! i printed the layout for your light diffusor and its very small…did i print it wrong? what are the actual dimensions? i love love your idea but I’m not sure if i did something wrong

    1. Hi Alicia,

      The Printable file is set to print on a Letter or A4 size without fit to page setting. It is small since it’s for your built-in flash on a DSLR camera. If you see my photos you can see more or less the proportions of the diffusor when I have it on my hands.
      Hope this helps!

      Hugs

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I have been searching the net for ideas on how to make a simple pop up flash diffuser. I found all sorts of plans made up by individuals who made it so complicated, I gave. (mostly men, lol) Their instructions usually started with: “get a screw driver, a saw and 5 ft of PVC piping”. Ok, so I am exaggerating, but when I read your notes that said, get a piece of plain white cardboard, I almost cried! Brilliant! You are my hero! I made the diffuser and it works perfectly.

    1. LOL You are so funny! THANK YOU!!! You just made my day with your sweet and fun comment. I’m so glad my crazy idea of a flash diffuser worked for you as it did for me. I rarely use flash but when I do I always use my diffuser. I actually should make a new one, mine is a bit aged to say the least LOL. I’m super glad, seriously. Knowing that you made it and it worked makes me so happy. You know sometimes we make something that works on our electronics or home and not always works for everyone else. In this case I have a Nikon and I have no idea if it would work for other cameras or other people! You made my day and put a smile on my face!

      THANK YOU!!!!
      HUGS!

  6. Nive tutorial! The only problem is that i can’t print the pattern… So could anyone give me the sizes please?

    1. Hi lucas. I checked the link and fixed it. Please could you try again? It should be working now. and I also realized that i need to update it since this pattern is from when I was blogging in Spanish. So where you read cortar. it means cut and where it says doblar, it means fold. Thank you for stopping by and letting me know there was a problem with the link! Let me know if it still doesn’t download and I’ll figure out how to fix it!
      Hugs

  7. What a great, really easy to follow tutorial! A diffuser is so handy for those non-setup lighting situations – thanks for sharing :)

    Thanks too for contributing this post to The Sunday Brunch Magazine.

    All the best,

    Eliza & Bel x

  8. I just started trying to really get good at picture taking, but sometimes rooms are just too dark, but I don’t like the flash either. I am definitely going to give this a try. Thanks!
    ps. I found you on the Be. YOU. Tiful link party.

  9. I just got a new camera, and the pop-up flash is so annoying! This is just what I need, so thanks SO much for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday! I’ll have to pop in more often. :)

  10. I’ve been struggling with the light in our apartment. It’s lovely when the sun is out, but when it’s hiding…it can be pretty dark photo-wise. I’ll give this a try before sinking $$$ into a professional lamp.

    1. Hi Lydia, How great to have you here. This diffuser is a really help but it’s not like the main solution a good photo of a product should have an even light without too much highlights and shadows, So even if you try this diffuser I would suggest you consider the pro lamp, even if it’s not the most pro because that is a great help too. For example if you have to shoot and there’s no sun you can place lamp on a side a bouncer {can be a white or silver cardboard} on the other side and use the diffuser you will have an even light on the product you are photographing. Do I make any sense?… Just the light must not be hard or direct. Lamps with those diffuser are the best. You can even make your own lamp with the diffuser using this diffuser main idea. Glad you found this helpful, Thanks so much for your sweet visit!

  11. Hi! This how to is awesome. It is perfect to me. But I need the pattern for cut on the cardboard. If you can upload in some place, I would be gratefully. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Genesis, The pattern is on the post… You will see that right after the supplies you need it says that I created the pattern and you can download it “here”. I checked and the link works but if you have any trouble downloading just let me know!

      XOXO and I’m happy that you liked this post!

  12. This is really neat! My kids love photography so we will give this a try!
    Thanks,
    Gloria 2 resourcefulgals.blogspot.com

    1. Yayyyy so cool! it is very good, I use it almost all the time. If you have any doubt building it just let me know I’d be happy to help :D

      Thank you for stopping by (happy dance)

      Hugs
      Cami

  13. Hi! You were the link before me at the new Weekend Creative link party! Just wanted to stop by to say hi! Great job on the DIY Flash Diffuser! Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers,
    Julia
    It’s Always Ruetten

    1. Hello Julia, loved your blog, really! and your kitchen art are great! Thank you so much for stopping by and leave your kind words!

      Yayyy love to make new blogging friends!!!

      Hugs
      Cami

    1. Hi Jessica Thank you so much for stopping by!. It is really easy actually. Hope it works for you as much as it works for me :D I would love to see it when you make it.

      Thank you for pinning! Hope to have you around soon!

      Hugs
      Cami

    1. Gracias Dulce! Me alegra que te gustara y que te sea útil :D

      Espero verte pronto por aca!

      XOXO