The Ultimate Guide to DIY Photography Gear

Making your own photography equipment might seem like a somewhat silly idea. After all, cameras are precision instruments composed of hundreds of carefully made and assembled parts. But depending on your photographic goals, you may very well be able to make a lot of the equipment you need, possibly even the camera itself.

Unless you're a skilled craftsperson, your DIY photo equipment might not look as slick or high-tech as commercially available items, but when you just need the stuff to work, who cares what it looks like? Most photography equipment is based on simple principles: capturing light on a sensitive surface; directing, filtering and reflecting light; and so on. Many of those principles can be replicated with home-built devices, allowing you to try out all sorts of fun techniques without having to spend a lot of cash.

Cameras and Repair

At its most basic, a camera is simply a box that controls the capture of light on a photosensitive element. And while many cameras available for purchase are significantly more complex, it is possible to use that basic simplicity to build your own camera–even a digital camera. There's something deeply satisfying about creating images with a camera you built yourself, and there's also a definite thrill to being able to fix a problem with your camera with a simple adjustment or a bit of know-how.

Lighting, Light Diffusers and Reflectors

DIY Ring Flash

If you browse the lighting section in your local photography shop, you may see a dizzying variety of different lighting solutions for various types of photography and assorted situations. But at its heart, lighting is composed of sources of light, things with which to diffuse light (or change its color), and things with which to reflect light. Unless you're an electrician, you'll probably still have to buy your sources of light (tip: inexpensive halogen work lights can be surprisingly useful), but you can make nearly any diffuser or reflector you'll ever need for a fraction of the cost of a retail product.

Tripods and Equipment Supports

Really good tripods are expensive for a reason, but there are all sorts of other kinds of camera and equipment supports you can easily make yourself with the right supplies and a good how-to article. From a simple trick to eliminating all but the worst camera shake (a string tripod) to an inexpensive but effective car mount, you'll be able to take your photography further without spending much.

Lenses, Lens Adapters and Lens Mounts

A good selection of lenses is a useful addition to any photographer's camera bag, but when some lenses cost more than your camera, it can be difficult and expensive to get the items you need. Luckily, there are some types of lenses and adapters that can be made fairly inexpensively with the right materials.

Filters and Filter Mounts

Optical Filters

Although filters are usually much less expensive than lenses, putting together a collection of all the filters you're likely to need in your studio or camera bag can still add up to a significant financial outlay. But many filters are easily made from a variety of inexpensive and easy-to-find supplies.

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