How to create a DIY macro flash diffuser using a Pringles tube

Tips & Techniques

Macro is a challenging subject to photograph. Light, especially, can be a real struggle, so you often need to add extra light to overcome the bellows extension factor inherent in all true macro lenses. But dedicated macro flashes and ring flashes can be very expensive (at least if you want a good one). Are there other options?

Well, you can butcher a Pringles tube. We posted a tutorial on this way back in 2011 to be able to make use fo the popup flash for macro, but this video from photographer Micael Widell shows a similar method using an on-camera flash, allowing you to get much more power for those extreme close-ups.

It’s a fairly simple procedure. Just measure up your tube against the flash head and the front of the camera, and chop off the base to give you the length you need that puts the end of the tube right over your lens once it’s slotted over the head of your speedlight in the camera’s hotshoe. Add a rubber band to hold it onto your flash, pop some kind of diffusion over the other end and put the Pringle’s can lid on to hold it. Job done.

In the video, Micael uses a piece of paper towel as the diffuser, which isn’t typically neutral, so you’ll need to play around with your white balance to get the correct colours, but it works rather well if it’s your primary light source (which it likely will be if you’re using this kind of setup).

Aside from the obvious advantage of having a larger light source closer to your subject to produce a softer light, this method essentially moves the source of light to the front of your lens, too. This means that unlike simply just having the hotshoe bare on the camera and firing away, the lens itself isn’t creating a shadow on your subject.

A very quick and easy way to get better flash on your macro subjects.

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