Modifying an Old Filter
This is the most obvious solution or what? Just use an already-made filter:
Damaged filters can come in handy here—no use to anyone other than the DIYer, so ask around your friends if they have any broken ones laying around. Removing the filter from within the mount just requires a good cutting utensil and maybe a bit of sandpaper for a smooth inside rim. To attach any DIY filter within, just fasten it into the place of the old filter with a bit of glue, preferably a fast, non-expanding one like hot glue.
Otherwise, new UV and clear filters can be purchased quite cheaply online and even in bulk. For more DIY filter projects you can just place the new filter over the top of them, cutting down somewhat on the construction process. All you need to do is glue it into place.
Going along the same thread, you can also use a lens hood as a DIY filter mount. The idea is that you place the DIY filter between the lens hood and the lens, either attaching it with a strong, non-expanding glue such as hot glue or with simple black electrical tape
The advantages of doing this is that it these filters will function just like professional filters—can be stacked and easily stored, as well as being small and professional looking.
Can’t use the usual filters, or don’t have any old ones laying around? That’s OK—there are loads of solutions that are completely from scratch.
Cans are strong, cheap—and many mysteriously enough are perfect fits for sliding over the lens barrel. Think sizes anywhere between Pringle cans to Cambell’s Chicken Noodle Soup—whatever fits your particular lens barrel. This’ll require a strong cutting utensil that can safely cut through thin metal (and maybe some tape for those sharp edges), but once you have it cut to fit, this filter mount isn’t likely to break. If you’re using unlined metal, there’s a risk of scratching the lens barrel. If this displeases you, it’s pretty easy to line a tin can with paper.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a can either. Old toilet paper or paper towel rolls, empty tape rolls, just think about any circular cylindrical object you might have laying around that might fit your camera. If you’re using paper products, you’ll want to both waterproof and stiffen the product so that it can work under even extreme conditions. An easy way to do this is by wrapping the entire roll with electrical tape, which also adds a nice professional black finish to the filter.
If you don’t have anything laying immediately around the house, it’s just a trip to the supermarket away. Pringle cans, paper towel rolls, there are many cheap and useful products that may be reused for filters. Just take along your camera and see what fits!
With this method, it’s a good idea to color the inside of the filter mount black with a Sharpie or some other permanent black marker. This will ensure that the light colouring of the inside of the cylinder will not end up discoloring your photo in any way.
A disadvantage to these types of filters is that it is difficult to attach multiple filters in this manner. It can also be a bit unwieldy if the filter isn’t a perfect fit over your lens. It’s recommended that filters that will be getting a heavy workout use the previous methods—something that will physically screw onto your camera—be used if possible for, say, that polarized filter you use all the time.
Still stuck for a solution? If you can’t acquire anything that will fit the camera, then just make your own. Just take some cardboard that’s laying around, roll it up so that it fits snugly around your lens barrel, cut to shape with scissors and tape it together so that it can be taken comfortably on and off. Depending on the nature of the filter that you’re making, you can
If you want this getup to be a bit more weatherproof (or a bit more professional looking), then bring in the black electrical tape and wrap it around the outside of the cardboard until entirely covered. This will both make it water resistant and stiffen it, making it stronger. It also has the nice added bonus of making the filter not look like cardboard. Like with the filter can mount, colouring the inside of the filter black will ensure that your images will remain untainted by any reflected cardboard-colored light from the interior of the mount.
As with the above technique, you won’t be scoring too many fashion points, nor can you easily stack, store and adjust filters. However, it gets the job done in a pinch, and the material is easy to work with if your filter is an especially difficult one to attach, or if you’re just experimenting with different DIY filters.
DIY Filter Projects
From here, the possibilities are endless. DIY projects for virtually any filter you might want exist, all quick, cheap and easy alternatives to expensive storebought lenses. DIY filters are also infinitely customizable, which is a definite benefit to photographers who want to try something a little bit different from the norm. Here are some example guides: