Household Items That Make Great (And Cheap) DIY Light Diffusers

You don't need expensive modifiers to diffuse light.

If you need to soften and even out some harsh light but want to do so without emptying out your wallet, there are plenty of alternatives to expensive professional-grade diffusers. In this video, The Film Look lists a few household items that are not only dirt cheap, but are incredibly effective at diffusing light and even withstanding the high heat of your lighting unit. Check it out below:

Here are the cheap diffusion alternatives the video mentions:

  • Wax paper: Wax paper is the cheapest item on the list in terms of square footage, and it's great because you can clamp it right onto your light without worrying about burning your set down. However, it doesn't really provide much coverage for large areas.
  • Shower curtains: You can usually pick a frosted shower curtain or liner from a dollar store somewhere. The good thing about them is they are large enough to cover a large area.
  • IKEA blinds: IKEA's Schottis blinds are $3 per panel and measure about 35"x74". What I like about this solution is that they fold up nicely for when you need to hit the road.
  • 5-in-1 reflectors: Technically these could be considered "pro" gear, but they're too inexpensive not to mention. You can pick one up for as low as $15 on B&H and they always come in handy since they serve many different purposes.

But those are not the only solutions to inexpensive DIY diffusion. T-shirts, sheets, garbage bags, and even printer paper can make great diffusers, but you just have to keep all flammable materials a safe distance away from any lighting unit that produced heat. If you're working with LEDs, they produce almost no heat, so you can feel free to slap pretty much anything right on them. Furthermore, paper lanterns, or china balls, are essentially lights with diffusion built right in, so you might want to consider keeping a few handy.

What are some other cheap DIY diffusers that you can find around your house? Let us know in the comments below!     

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I would use parchment paper instead of wax paper, much safer and more resistant to heat.

November 10, 2016 at 5:24AM

Dylan Sunshine Saliba

I use red tops but avoid the electronic dimmers as they alter the colour temperature. A combination of diffusers, gobos, and distance works better for me. I've used the greaseproof paper trick for years, it gives a good neutral diffusion.

Gels are a problem. There is no good substitute for the expensive stuff unless you are prepared to reduce the light with large coloured diffusers some distance from the light.

I have invested in a CO² extinguisher for the unlikely event of something catching fire. If you are the only one tackling a sudden smoulder moment you will be squirting with live electricity around, so you don't want a water extinguisher. Just be aware, that if it is a paper fire a direct squirt of the CO² might make smouldering flakes spread out. CO² is heavier than air, let it drop onto the flames.

November 11, 2016 at 1:32AM

Tim Pickford-Jones