How to create a diy diffusion filter on a budget

  • diffusion
  • filter
  • dyi
  • cinematic

In this blog post I want to show you how to build your own diffusion filter. Not only can you create your own unique effects, but you can also save a lot of money.

Some time ago, the term Tiffen filter was synonymous with a diffusion filter. We are of course talking about the legendary "black mist pro" filter. In the meantime, however, there are other manufacturers who have at least equally good filters on the market, such as Urth with the Ethereal filter. What has not changed much, however, are the sometimes very high prices. They are very expensive, especially for large lenses. But let's digg into it.

The hairspray / black spray paint filter

The hairspray filter is pretty much the classic and comes closest to the diffusion effect of the large filters. It is very easy to create, all you need is a can of hairspray and a clear glass or UV filter. Instead of hairspray, you can also use black spray paint. This has the disadvantage that the filter becomes permanent, but otherwise has a more beautiful effect.

Step 1

Cover the back of the clear glass filter, for example with tape or paper.

Step 2

Spray hairspray or spray paint in the air and then go through the spray mist as quickly as possible with the filter and the side that is not covered.

Step 3

Check the effect and repeat step 2 until the desired effect is achieved.

As already mentioned, the great thing about having your own filter is that you can modify it. For example, I always mask off a small area on the clear glass filter so that I have the diffusion effect at the edges but not in the middle of the lens. You can also spray a gradient so that the effect is weaker on one side.

The Vaseline filter

The Vaseline filter works in a similar way to the hairspray filter, but we don't need to mask it off, as Vaseline can be applied in a very controlled way. This filter gives a kind of smearing diffusion effect. It's clear that you should use Vaseline sparingly and carefully, as it is easy to apply too much.


It is super fun to build these filters and also to experiment with them. The money saved is no less important to me than a unique result. Of course, the manufacturers of the finished filters use a better technique that makes the pictures even better. But if you don't need that and are willing to experiment, you are definitely happier with diy filters.

Otherwise, however, if you want to buy an effect filter or also the UV filters to refine, I would like to recommend Urth to you. Urth, then known as Gobe, is a B certified company and is very concerned about protecting the environment. They also support photography artists through their website and magazine.