What Do Pringles Lids & Lingerie Have in Common? They're Both Dirt Cheap DIY Lens Filters

DIY filtersGood lens filters can empty your wallet pretty quickly, but the effects they produce are beautiful (and oftentimes needed). If your name isn't Rich Uncle Pennybags, or if you're a DIY enthusiast like most of us here, Film Riot has put a couple of ladies' unmentionables to the test: traditional black stockings and fishnet stockings to see which replicates the effects of a $100 black pro-mist filter best. And as an added bonus, we've shared a few extra DIY filter ideas, from plastic soda bottles to plastic Pringles lids.

If you're a veteran, chances are you've got a nice collection of filters already in your gear bag, but if you're just starting out, you might want to see if these DIY tricks will do the trick. Using stockings and pantyhose over your lens as a filter is no new practice -- you won't be thrown for much of a loop when Connolly slaps on those standard issue block stockings (on his lens, guys!). However, I honestly haven't even considered using fishnets for anything outside of Halloween costumes and Lady Gaga-themed dance parties, but you can tell the difference between the fishnets and the traditional stockings.

The traditional ones certainly bloom the highlights, but they also make you lose a lot of contrast, while the fishnets manage to mimic the desired effect of a black pro-mist filter (bloomed highlights without losing contrast). Also, the fishnets allow you a little bit more control over how much of the effect you want, thanks to its netting. By stretching or loosening them over the lens, the effect will become less/more intense.

Check out the Film Riot video below for more information on how to utilize stockings as filters. They also have a bit at the end about dirt cheap lights that you can use in your next project: those LED headlamps (which are usually $15 to $30) and the $25 folding Energizer LED lantern.

Stockings are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DIY filters, though. The possibilities are virtually endless! Different kinds of fabrics provide different diffusion effects: lace, silk, sports jerseys, mesh, lingerie (I don't know if you want to be walking around with a sheer black teddy on set, but -- do you, Boo Boo). Don't want to buy gels? (Why not? They're cheap!) Try coloring a clear, plastic sandwich bag with sharpies (a plastic Pringles can lid also works). Try shooting through plastic soda bottles -- even old film negatives. Mashable has shared a bunch of filter ideas that work for still photography. Give them a shot and see if they work just as well in motion.

What DIY filters have you used?

[via Film Riot]

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Your Comment


Been using stockings both in front of and behind the lens for years now. I actually prefer the look over traditional glass filters - gives it a more organic, unconventional feeling, in addition to being cheap! Downside is they're a bit harder to maintain, but a good AC will get the job done as well as ensure consistency :)

August 9, 2014 at 7:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Stockings, nets, and various fabrics in front of and behind the lens are great. If you are interested in a slightly more scientific comparison of net diffusions, this test I shot in preparation for a recent short film might strike your fancy: https://vimeo.com/98318571

August 9, 2014 at 8:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Dirt is the key word

August 9, 2014 at 9:35PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Please stop this, just use filters for god sakes! There cheap enough not to have!

August 9, 2014 at 11:48PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

John Wilton

This is a classic technique, though. Cinematographers have been doing this and still do this for its unique effects and the quality of the image, not just to save money.

August 12, 2014 at 8:45AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Taylor Russ

Just one example to prove you wrong: in "Atonement", which won an Oscar in 2007, the DP Seamus McGarvey used different types of Dior stocking behind the lens as a filter. He said in an ASC magazine interview that this type of classic filtering gave him exactly the dreamy, soft and old-timey look that he wanted for a lot of the scenes.

Being a professional film maker doesn't mean you always have to go for the most expensive solution with everything. Being a professional filmmaker means you try everything and then chose the solution that you like best.

August 15, 2014 at 3:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Decent filters are expensive and you have to remember that not every filter is equal and you lose clarity with every one that you stack up.

Sometimes the effect you're looking for can be produced better with a pair of fishnets than a £100 lens filter, and you have every inch of creative control over the image. With a filter, you get one effect and it may not even end up being the one that you want.

May 10, 2015 at 10:50AM

Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor

This site seems to promote buying a $4000 dollar gimble, then used in conjunction with stockings and ikea bins

August 10, 2014 at 3:25AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Fresno Bob

Dumb comments like this make me furious. They're not promoting anything, they're reporting.

August 10, 2014 at 9:58AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


You seem to have totally missed my point old chap

August 10, 2014 at 12:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM

Fresno Bob

The Pro-mist's were basically developed to imitate the stocking look. Cinematographers have been using them on major studio films even since the 40's.

August 10, 2014 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


For the benefit of the intellectually challenged, such as myself, what exactly is your point, old chap? Please enlighten us.

August 14, 2014 at 2:30PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


If I ever meet Haskell Wexler I'll make sure to remind him that he's a hack for pioneering the use of stockings in front of the lens.

August 11, 2014 at 9:00AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


If you don't have a clue, it is sometimes better if you just say nothing...

Filtering with stockings has been a classic technique in cinema for ages. It has probably been used in more Oscar winning movies than you or I have ever watched.

August 15, 2014 at 3:09PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


"This site seems to promote buying a $4000 dollar gimble, then used in conjunction with stockings and ikea bins"

In case you haven't noticed: that is exactly how the pros in Hollywood work! They use multi million dollar equipment, but if the Gaffer thinks that for one certain scene he'd like to have a special look, he will use some self-made wooden board with consumer tungsten lamps on it. Or an ikea lamp, or whatever gives him the special look that he wants.

A lot of expensive equipment is a a lot better than DIY stuff, but sometimes a cheap DIY solution can be the best. And then you need to be professional enough to not dismiss it just because it is not expensive.

August 15, 2014 at 3:17PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


For me, it's not about replicating what a filter does in a cheaper way. Colton's video (thanks for posting, btw! Awesome stuff) really illustrates for me the potential of this technique - it's just another form of diffusion, one that's been around longer than most of the modern glass filters that we use today. It has its own artistic impact on an image.

I myself have never had very pleasing results with fishnet stockings, but if the original video maker on Film Riot had spent a little more time with the pantyhose, he would have found that if you stretch them over the front of the lens instead of just placing them as is, you get a far more pleasing image that is not nearly as milky as the one he got, and actually does some really beautiful things with highlights, skin rendition, and light sources. Really cool stuff!

August 10, 2014 at 4:44AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


The great cinematographer Henri Alekan used his mothers silk stocking as a filter for black and white celluloid while shooting Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast in 1946, and then used the same silk stocking to shoot Wenders Wings of Desire 40 years later in 1987. Both among the most beautiful films I've ever seen.

August 10, 2014 at 5:48AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


Black Pro-Mist was Tiffen's attempt to duplicate a look. Optically, not the same effect, but an approximation. I sometimes like the color spread that netting offers, but it's easy to overdo. A little bit goes a long way.

August 10, 2014 at 10:09AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


hey cheers for posting this stuff man. I love the way RYAN shares his thoughts (not to mention the goofy due in the BG (i think his name is Josh)) . but seriously he has so many great ideas check out his youtube channel folks (FILM RIOT) keep these ideas coming folks good work! :)

August 11, 2014 at 1:38AM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM


For online news monitoring, you've got a wide selection of
services. I don't know if I'd even require a bunch of stuff displayed inside my glasses
while I'm trying to live my well being. You will learn all
sorts of things, like how you can inspect your motor vehicle before operation and the best
way to load your lift to ensure the machine stays balanced.

August 12, 2014 at 3:24PM, Edited September 4, 8:56AM