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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 01 Oct 2006 (Sunday) 17:15
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My DIY Diffusor Panel and Stand

 
TMR ­ Design
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Oct 01, 2006 17:15 |  #1

I just finished making this diffusor panel and stand so I can learn some lighting techniques.

The stand and frame for the panel are made of pvc tubing and fittings. I battled with the idea of making it collapsible and trying to make it break down. Which pieces to glue was going to be an issue and the problem with not gluing something like this it that is will twist, warp its shape and pieces can come loose. I did not like that at all and in the interest of strength and the fact that at this time I don't need anything that is portable I decided to glue all pieces except for 2 joints. The entire top section lifts off the base and can be taken with me or put into a closet, etc..
In total I spent under $20 for all the pvc tube and fittings. I didn't like making the cuts using a hacksaw so I got myself a small tube cutter and it produces smooth, clean cuts that are more precise than using a saw. The tube cutter was about $10 and the glue was $3.
The 'hinge' works very well and in making it I thought ahead and got some 'O' rings to slip inside to apply some pressure and it made it nice and snug. This way the panel can rotate but will not move unless I re-position it.
The diffusor itself is a nylon fabric I got at a local fabric store for $2 per yard and I got 3 yards, adding $6 to the cost. I tried the lights behind the fabric and found that a double layer softened the light very nicely. So based on that I decided to take the fabric and make what is essentially a large pillow case to slide down over the panel frame.

All in all it works great and from initial tests I can see that the light is bright, yet soft and really allows me stop down and/or use shorter shutter speeds.

I hope to be using this very soon to start doing some portrait photography.

If anyone is interested I can give you Home Depot SKU #'s for all parts and the breakdown of parts and dimensions.


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Robert
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cdifoto
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Oct 01, 2006 17:19 |  #2

Very creative! You could throw some reflective fabrics/panels to slip over the frame there and sell it as a kit for like 500 bucks through B&H. :)


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incendy
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Oct 01, 2006 17:57 |  #3

hehe, I made one of those too, but it doesn't look like that! I would be embarressed to show mine cause it looks thrown together=D Great job, it looks very nice and easy to use!


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JMHPhotography
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Oct 01, 2006 18:35 |  #4

now that's just awesome. I'm interested for sure. I would imagine you could even make the panel bigger like full length.


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TMR ­ Design
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Oct 01, 2006 18:59 |  #5

forkball wrote in post #2063271 (external link)
now that's just awesome. I'm interested for sure. I would imagine you could even make the panel bigger like full length.

Thanks man. I drove myself nuts for a while thinking about panel size, height, etc. The panel itself is 33" x 39". I played around with adding a smaller pivoting panel in the bottom section of the stand to have lighting at ground level that could also be directed upwards and will probably modify what I have to add that lower panel. At first I did not want to do it but now I can see its usefulness and it's a simple modification. I will be sure to post an updated picture.

I just did some more tests and since I do not have a subject here now I decided to have a go at it myself using the self timer and me as the subject.

I think that considering I am using an A620 with halogen lights and have never used any lights before this came out pretty good.

Please look at the lighting and not the subject..lololololol and let me know what you think and where I can improve. Right now there is just one light source behind the diffusor.


Robert
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pparker
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Oct 01, 2006 20:27 |  #6

I made mine from 1" schedule 40 PVC for weight and strength since I'm using a 42 X 73 inch panel. I like your design better for a smaller panel than mine.


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Lotto
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Oct 02, 2006 04:51 |  #7

Wow, that setup looks sweet. I tried diffusing hot light before, it was tough. But I bet you had lots of fun making it.


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Oct 02, 2006 08:01 |  #8

Lotto wrote in post #2065030 (external link)
Wow, that setup looks sweet. I tried diffusing hot light before, it was tough. But I bet you had lots of fun making it.

It really was fun to make and even more fun to use it the first time.

Oh yes.... I found that the diffusion was not that great with one layer of the fabric. Even though I lose a little light I chose to use a double layer and it really makes the difference, especially with halogen lights.


Robert
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Oct 09, 2006 21:02 as a reply to  @ TMR Design's post |  #9

Here are the dimensions and parts for the stand and panel.

Please keep in mind that working with PVC tubing can be tricky and you must adjust as you go, checking angles and correct positioning.

To use a very old but good cliche.. "Measure twice (or three times) and cut once".

The entire stand and diffuser are made of 1/2" PVC tubing and fittings, all of which can be found in the plumbing department of a Home Depot or similar store. For this type of structure it does not pay to use 3/4" PVC. It is wider but just as flexible or inflexible at these lengths.

Some of the pieces are joined together with male-to-male couplers, cut into 1.25" pieces of 1/2" PVC tubing. With the exception of these short couplers and the actual 1/2" tubing I have included pictures of the parts needed, including the optional rubber 'O' ring that is found in the plumbing department with parts for sink, tub and toilet repair. I used a #13 'O' ring and it's a perfect, snug fit. You can insert it into the Tee on either the stand or panel. It accomplishes the same thing either way.The PVC riser is 2" x 1/2" and is also found in the plumbing department.

All dimensions shown are the actual lengths of the cut pieces of PVC, not the assembled dimensions. When assembling it is crucial that you measure and insert the pieces equally to ensure proper fitting. Be very careful when using the PVC cement. It dries ridiculously fast and becomes unmovable within about 20 seconds at most. I made pencil marks so I knew how far to insert each piece and marked all angles during 'mockup'. Then when I disassembled and reassumbled using the glue I had marks to follow and then could make fine adjustments as it came together. I advise you to NOT break the whole thing down before gluing. It is better to disassemble and reassemble a section at a time and readjusting pieces as others are glued in position.

PVC Part (Quantity)
Tee Connector ( 20 )
End Caps ( 4 )
45° Elbows ( 8 )
90° Elbows ( 6 )
4 Way Coupler ( 2 )
Riser ( 2 )
#13 'O' Rings ( 2 ) optional

PVC Tube Cut Length (Quantity)

4" ( 4 )
35.5" ( 6 )
5" ( 4 )
10" ( 4 )
10.25" ( 4 )
18" ( 2 )
6.5" ( 4 )
21" ( 4 )
30" ( 2 )
17.5" ( 4 )
1.25" ( 10 ) couplers

You can cut the PVC with a hacksaw but I prefer the pipe cutter. You can cut exactly on your mark with more precision and less effort. There are many brands and types of PVC cement but since I was not concerned with the quality of the seal as I would if I were doing plumbing then you can use any PVC cement and I chose the cheapest I could find that had a brush in the cap. I also got some Goof Off, which if you have never used it before, it will remove all the gum and glue left behind from parts that have a sticker or label on them. Some parts at Home Depot have the barcode stamped right on them and some have it on a sticker. Goof Off is great to get any residue off of anything (but don't use it on your camera or anything with a finish).

Once you have the frame for the panel assembled then you can measure and make the diffuser. I used a white nylon fabric I got from a local fabric store and essentially created a large pillow case to slide over the panel frame and left an opening on each side to allow for the Tee connector to slip through. Using a double layer of fabric allows lots of light to pass thought it but also softens the light nicely.

I hope my pictures are clear. If anyone needs more detail I can help you out.

Enjoy!


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cataclysmcow
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Oct 09, 2006 21:07 as a reply to  @ TMR Design's post |  #10

Wow, all the work you put into the schematic and parts list is really appreciated.

After building and using it do you feel that the three lower cross braces are needed? Could we knock that down to two or one?




  
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cgratti
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Oct 09, 2006 21:10 |  #11

WOW, thanks for taking the time to post all this... you be da man!



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Oct 09, 2006 21:17 |  #12

cataclysmcow wrote in post #2099186 (external link)
Wow, all the work you put into the schematic and parts list is really appreciated.

After building and using it do you feel that the three lower cross braces are needed? Could we knock that down to two or one?

Here's this thing. There is a certain flexibility in PVC tubing and once you have long vertical pieces there is some movement. I added those braces for 2 reasons after modifying the design a bit. One, they gave me height that I honestly did not figure into the original design, and Two.. with the added height came a bit of instability. For the cheap cheap price of the tube and fittings I added the braces to raise it up and not add to the length of the vertical tube. The other thing I should mention that I did not in the post was that I left 2 key joints unglued just where the top section under the second brace meets the third brace which keeps the base stable. This lets me lift it off the base in one piece and the top holds its shape. If it were just one brace it would be ok but not as strong. I was going for function and strength.


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pparker
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Oct 09, 2006 21:59 |  #13

Excellent illustration Robert. I used a Lastolite diffusion panel on mine that cuts your light by 1.25 stops.


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mjordan
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Oct 09, 2006 22:55 |  #14

You did a pretty good job. I like the pillow case idea. When I made a light panel, I went with a much simpler design made from two panels hinged together that allowed it to free stand. I didn't glue my pieces together since they were fit together pretty tight and that way I could break it down for storage or hauling around. Here is a picture of the light panel I made:

IMAGE: http://www.sitnprettyphoto.com/display/panel5a.jpg

I used Sport Nylong rather than Ripstop because it was a bit thicker and had a smooth texture like a softbox nylong rather than the zig-zag lines that Ripstop has.

On the example images you posted, it looks like the color balance is off a bit. But that's an easy fix.

Mike

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TMR ­ Design
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Oct 09, 2006 23:01 |  #15

mjordan wrote in post #2099597 (external link)
You did a pretty good job. I like the pillow case idea. When I made a light panel, I went with a much simpler design made from two panels hinged together that allowed it to free stand. I didn't glue my pieces together since they were fit together pretty tight and that way I could break it down for storage or hauling around. Here is a picture of the light panel I made:

QUOTED IMAGE

I used Sport Nylong rather than Ripstop because it was a bit thicker and had a smooth texture like a softbox nylong rather than the zig-zag lines that Ripstop has.

On the example images you posted, it looks like the color balance is off a bit. But that's an easy fix.

Mike

Yeah Mike,

The color balance is not right. I used the Tungsten setting and probably should have set white balance myself. It was also my very first picture taken using lights and my introducitons to lighting.

I am a sponge for information and if there are any tips you can offer for lighting and color balance I would appreciate it. I would like to achieve the best lighting and color before I go in to post-process.


Robert
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My DIY Diffusor Panel and Stand
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