Cool Photography Equipment & DIY Alternatives

in General Photo & Camera Tips

Cool Photography Toys and DIY Solutions

There’s nothing better than new toys for your camera. Here’s a list of new toys I’d love to get for my camera, great toys I already have, as well as any cost-less DIY alternatives.

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Lensbaby 3G
LensBaby – Amazing lens that gives you a different kind of control over your photograph the likes of which you’ve never seen pre-Photoshop! It’s all about compressing the lens or expanding it to get your focal point and it produces the effect of an ultra large aperture and allows you to tilt and shift the lens at it’s “sweet spot” compression to shift the focus to another spot on that plane. A back to basics and “fun” kind of lens.

DIY Lensbaby Style Tilt and Shift Lens

I’m having trouble finding sites that are still active and not 404 errors for DIY tilt/shift lenses. Here’s a post on Make anyways. And another article about a homemade t/s f2.8 but unfortunately neither provide instructions.


Gary Fong’s Lightsphere IIGary Fong’s Lightsphere II – Renowned diffuser for your speedlight flash. The site shows great samples of a face on flash vs a bounced flash vs a studio setup vs the lightsphere and at less than $50 the Lightsphere seems to triumph in the samples.

DIY Dome Diffusers for your Flashes

  • $2 Gordosphere – $2 version looks GREAT! Doesn’t look cheap and kind-of looks like fun to make, the demo shows how to make a great “clouded” diffuser!
  • Light Cylinder – Uses an inverted dome to distribute the light, doesn’t look so great but is a great idea to tinker with.
  • Jason Lightsphere V.2 – This one looks pretty cheap but has easy to access materials to give it a try. A demo I’ve used before and had decent results, but nothing like a good diffuser.

Lumiquest Soft ScreenLumiquest Soft Screen – A great little diffuser that attaches to the hot shoe of your camera and diffuses the on-camera pop-up flash. I picked up one of these on a whim one day at the camera store and have been so glad I did, it provides a basic diffusion on your pop-up flash while still looking professional. Great for situations where you won’t be able to use your speedlight and diffuser.

DIY Soft Screen Pop-up Flash Diffuser

Suck it up and spend $15 okay? :)

Lastolite TriGrip ReflectorLastolite TriGrip Reflector – Great reflectors and diffusers. I personally own one of the diffusers and love it. I find it’s even a bright enough white to be a reflector. The grip is easy to use, and the compact design is great for storage and moving it around on location. The packaging didn’t come with instructions on how to fold the product back up, but the online demo did the trick. It took me well over a dozen tries before I successfully folded it up but after practice it’s very easy to fold up, pack up and be on our way!


GorillapodGorillapod – Wrapable legs on a tripod to hold onto anything. Seems like a great tripod solution for your Digi Point and Shoot but as far as an SLR, it makes me a little nervous!

DIY Bottle Cap Tripod

Bottle Cap Tripod – I’ve never tried this, and although the bottle can’t wrap around a pole like the Gorillapod it is a very portable solution since I know I almost always have a bottle of water or soda on me.

The PodThe Pod – Bean bag tripod, I’ve seen and heard a lot about bean bags via the Tips from the Top Floor podcast (Chris loves his bean bag) but This one has the screw to mount the camera and also a strap to hold your lens safely in place while the bean bag conforms to the surface below.

DIY Beanbag

DIYBeanbag – Make your own beanbag! I like the size and shape in this DIY tutorial, very unique.

Get it Right In Camera

warmcardsWarm CardsWarm white balance cards, instead of using the 18% gray cards these are tinted blue to provide a warmer temperature when you set your white balance balance.

DIY White Balance Cards

See also: Post processing, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom or piece of white paper. Maybe just print a card of 18% gray that you’ve tinted ever so slightly blue, Printing on 4×6 index cards has always served me well for recopies, I suppose a white balance card would work too..

Climate Protection

Storm JacketStorm Jacket – Weather gear for your SLR. It’s not water proofing, just water protection. I can imagine this would be great not just for rainy days, but also snowy days, or days when the snow might fall from the trees. On a boat where the surf is of concern? Maybe even sand protection if in a desert climate or on a windy beach.

DIY Camera Protection

See also: Plastic bag, clear shower cap, ziploc bag.
Make your own underwater enclosure – This would make me nervous. VERY nervous…but those MIT kids are wicked smart. I think if I was to do underwater work I’d go buy an underwater camera case.

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