Add a human touch to your photos with a DIY diffusion filter

Add a human touch to your photos with a DIY diffusion filter

Are you tired of the cold, clinical look of digital photography? Do you want to add a little warmth and personality to your shots? Look no further than diffusion filters. Here's how to make your own.


Diffusion filters are a popular tool in photography for softening images and adding a subtle, dreamy effect. They're especially useful for portraits, as they can help hide blemishes and give skin a soft, flattering glow. I have written about those in my blog several times already.

However, the different options available on the market can be quite expensive. Luckily, you don't have to break the bank to achieve the same effect. With a little bit of creativity and a few simple materials, you can easily make your own DIY diffusion filter.

I would like to point out that the idea of making a diffusion filter by myself came from Damon Loble. He told me exactly how to do it and I would like to share it with you.

Here's how to do it:

  1. Start with a cheap UV filter. You can find these for just a few euros online or at your local camera store.
  2. Spray the filter with a light coat of gold spray paint. Be sure to do this in a well-ventilated area and let the filter dry completely before handling it.
  3. VoilĂ ! You now have your very own DIY diffusion filter. Simply attach it to your lens like you would any other filter and start shooting.

Of course, you can experiment with different colors and spray techniques to achieve different effects. Just be sure not to spray too much paint on the glass, to let some light through. I just washed off a bit in the middle of the filter with a Q-tip dipped in white spirit.

DIY filter

DIY diffusion filters allow you to achieve a unique, human look that's hard to replicate in post production.

Enough theory, let's take a look at it in practice. I compared my self-made filter with the Tiffen Glimmer Glass on my 55mm lens. See for yourself.

No filter
DIY filter @ f/4
Glimmer glass @ f/4

That looks pretty good already. The homemade filter adds a golden touch. I like it.

DIY filter @ f/1.8
Glimmer glass @ f/1.8

Both filters perform very well, don't they? I would even claim you cannot see which filter is the professional and which the DIY one. The do-it-yourself filter works great.

Let's zoom in a little.

DIY filter @ f/2.8
Glimmer glass @ f/2.8
No filter
DIY filter @ f/1.8
Glimmer glass @ f/1.8

I really can't see any weaknesses in the filter I made myself.

A big thanks for beautiful Christiane for doing these test shots with me!

And even though, I am sure, fashion icon Vivien Westwood did not think about diffusion filters when she said this, I guess, her quote fits quite well in the world of us photographers (some equipped with the gear acquistion syndrome), too. So, I'll end this article with wise words:

Buy less, choose well and do it yourself!

Vivien Westwood