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Jan 21, 2015

DIY Accessories For Photographers

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If you’ve ever looked at the price of most gear that photographers need, you know that it’s pretty bank-breaking stuff. That doesn’t mean there aren’t cheaper, cost-effective, and efficient alternatives out there though. We’ve assembled a list of a few extremely affordable alternatives to the big-brand pro-level gear that’ll get you creating big-budget looking productions, at super low cost!

13W Fluorescent Light Strips

Price: $16
Consumer Rating: 4.5/5
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These lights were featured in our DIY lighting episode recently! They are pretty incredible for the price; 13Watts, they can be daisy-chained to save on “outlet” space and, given the price, can take a pretty good beating.  The light they produce is surprisingly amazing! They’re also light weight, we only needed a couple pieces of gaffer’s tape to keep them in place!

Adjustable Garment Rack

Price: $19
Consumer Rating: 3.5/5
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We got asked a lot about how can you hold up the lights mentioned above without using the pricier C-Stands like we did in the video. A solution we also tested and works great is using a portable/adjustable Garment Rack! You can place your chair in the middle, adjust the height as needed, and tape up your lights on all 3 sides for the low-low price of 19$!!!

Egg Timer Timelapse!

Price: $12
Consumer Rating: 4/5
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I am a hard-core advocate of having proper gear for your time-lapses! Filters, Robotic motion controllers, weather shields, stable tripods etc etc. That being said, sometimes the simple tools can do an even better job! For those of you with GoPros or similar cameras with time-lapse functions built in, you can stick your camera right on top of this rotating egg timer to get some pretty interesting motion shots! Think of how fun it could be to stick this combo on a gorillapod and stick it onto a lamp post or bridge railing!?!

Welding Glass for ND Filters

Price: $5
Consumer Rating: 4.5/5
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ND Filters, (especially great ones), can be very expensive! Using the Protective Glass that Welders have in their goggles is a super cheap alternative! It’ll require some fiddling with your color / white balance afterwards, but at these savings, it’s worth the extra work in post! It’ll also require you to do some custom mounting with elastic bands and tape to hold the glass…but again, still worth it for the incredible long exposures you can get!!

Tripod Castor/Rollers

Price: $25
Consumer Rating: 4/5
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If you’ve ever wanted to record professional level video sweeping shots but don’t have thousands, or HUNDREDS of thousands, to spend on rails and dolly systems, than this is the device for you! All you need is a tripod which you probably already have! Clamp it in and you’re now ready for action! Just remember to lock it down and not let it slide down hill.

“Underwater” Housings

Price: $35
Consumer Rating: 3.5/5
View on Amazon »

Here’s one trick that we used on our Fstoppers Bahamas Workshop in 2014! If you need to get some underwater shots, but don’t have the amazing big waterproof housings to make it work, you can, (with some help and practice), use a small fish tank and a timer/cable release to get some great shots just under the surface with your big camera rigs! Just be sure the water is calm and you’ve got some extra hands around to help you balance and keep your gear safe! 😀

10 Comments


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    Ryan

    Ha, that fish thank photo makes me so nervous! hahahah. I think that is probably one instance where I would rent the right gear for the job hahaha.

    The tripod dolly is awesome though! I think I may get one just for convenience in studio for moving stuff around! I never realized they were so cheap!

    Also for those who don’t want to pay shipping on the big garment rack IKEA sells them for about the same price.

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    Jeff Kingston

    Good suggestions, thanks, i like the garment rack and the fish tank idea!

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      Douglas St. John

      It is vey easy to colour correct for forflorencent lights. The use of a gray card will clean up the colour cast perfectly. The most common drawback from florecent lighting is a low hiss they give off but It has never bothered me.

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    Tungsten

    The fish tank idea is actually not that bad, though it might be a bit difficult to get it on location on the other side of the globe… But I would probably put the camera into a plastic bag with just the lens sticking out. This way salt water drops won’t inadvertently hit the camera. Using a tablet with qDslrDashboard for monitoring might be helpful, too.

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    John Grady

    Some PVC pipe and “T” fittings works great for holding lights. That stuff is cheap and flexible. But the garment rack is a good idea….

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    Zathura

    This is awesome! I am definitely buying those fluorescent lights ASAP. Just one question, does anyone known of a portable battery pack that one could use with this so you could take it outside? It would be great for some twilight (time of day not book thanks so much) portraits that have been bouncing around in my head.

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    Sue

    I don’t have the setup (yet) for taking my flash off-camera for macro shots so to ensure the light from the flash is directed onto the subject rather than overshooting it I uses some tin foil and an elastic band to hold it in place and basically use it as a deflector for the flash unit attached to my camera. It gets the odd look from passers by when I’m out and about but it works.

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    Emma

    I have a very small space for my portraits. To hold up backgrounds I use a closet rod/permanent garment rack I got at Ikea. I am able to have different backgrounds without taking up space with stands. I can also by different fabrics to cloths-pin to the one green screen background I bought. It works great.

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    damianoneill1979

    Being a very amateur photographer and having a tiny budget these ideas are great to help me get better and understand more. Thanks for sharing!!