DIY 3 – 55mm filter ring sized Ring light diffuser for HVL-F20AM

This is another addition to the DIY project that I have done recently. It was in the middle of the night when I needed a “ring-light” type of lighting for a macro photograph that I was taking. I therefore looked around in the house and got some readily available stuff and made this little handy DIY that I think is really simple enough for everyone out there to make. Okay, lets not waste anymore time and here we go…

1. Getting the materials ready

The materials and tools for this DIY project –

1) 01 x Plastic disposable bowl with CLEAR COLOURLESS transparent lid (those used in food packaging in the supermarket for packing by-weight products)
2) 01 x Plastic disposable cup (rigid ones preferred – and diameter at its middle region is larger than 55mm)
3) 02 x 55mm filter rings with glass/filter removed – I basically have these lying around
4) Pen knife – to cut through the plastic materials
5) Double Sided Tape
6) Hot melt glue gun
7) Some aluminum foil for lining the interior of the ring light diffuser

NOTE: A marking tool like a marker or a sharp tipped scriber will also be needed to mark out on the plastic materials.

2. The steps in details into making the Ring-light diffuser

We’ll work on the plastic cup first.  The plastic cup will be the inner “tubing” for the ring-light diffuser.  It needs to be trimmed to size to sit in the plastic bowl with the lid closed. Follow the steps to cut the cup to size.

Once the cup has been trimmed, it is not the top lid’s turn to get its hole done.  Use the best of judgment to position the cup right on the centre of the lid as shown.  You could alternatively make measurements with a ruler to get exact position based on your bowl’s dimension.

Once the hole on the lid has been cut, we can now make the hole for the base of the bowl.  This hole is to be used for the filter rings – functioning as the coupling point to the 55mm filter ring sized lens (e.g the 100 f2.8 macro lens, 50mm f1.4 lens that have 50mm).  For best alignment of the hole at the bottom of the bowl, the cup can be secured temporarily onto the lid with a tape and have the” lid+cup” assembly on the bowl while the locating of the filter position is done.  Mark the outer diameter of the filter ring at its threaded region.  The hole to be made will be based on the threaded region of the filter rings and not the filter rings outer surface.

Once the marking of the filter ring hole is done, we are now ready to get everything assembled.  Prepare the hot melt glue and secure the parts as shown below.  You will get two Sub-Assemblies at this point.

Once you have the two sub-assemblies together ready, we can now fit the alumimun foil onto the inner surface of the ring-light diffuser.  This step is crucial to ensure that the internal surfaces are shiny enough to give optimal internal reflection that will diffuse the light by having the lights bounce inside the ring portion to give light and subtle lighting.  Apply the double sided tape around carefully and then stick the aluminum fild around.  Trim off access bist and pieces of the foil.

Now that the ring light is almost ready, we still need to complete one more extra step, which is to make the access hole for the HVL-F20AM to fit into the ring light diffuser.  This step requires some care as you do not want the hole to be too big which may result in loose fit.  I persoanally used a slightly smaller dimension as shown below, to give some “gripping” on the flash’s head.  NOTE – there may be a need to further do minor trimming to the size of the hole to make it less “straight” to fit the flash.

If you have been following the steps above carefully with some “DIY” experience and flexibility, you should be able get your DIY ring light diffuser to look like this.

a. Side View

b. Top Face View with the middle hole visible

c. The hole slot for the flash (Notice the flap)

d.  Slot Front View

Depending on your personal preference the flap can be used as a secondary securing solution where a velcro could be used to hold the flash in place. Here are a couple of photos to show how the HVL-F20AM is held in place on to right light as it is used with the 100mm f2.8mm macro lens.  The flash in this case is used with the off shoe cable and also the off-shoe adapter.

The setup looks really slick especially with the HVL-F20AM mounted.

3. Taking it a step further

I found that the ring flash has a potential for some service life and therefore decided to give it a nice black finish.  I’ve given the ring-light a flat black finish by spraying it with an enamel spray.   I prefer the enamel spray versus the acrylic type as the acrylic ones my not hold for long on plastic materials and could be scratched off easily.  I carefully masked off the front face of the lid to keep it clear and sprayed the rest of the ring light.

4. Improvements to make it more robus

Having used the ring light diffuser for a couple of days,  I found some possible ways to make the diffuser  more robust for more rugged handling. Building upon the existing base design, the approach I have taken is by using the flap and elastic band approach.  Follow these steps to construct the flaps.  You would need the following additional material:

– PVC flexi plastic sheets (used for book binding backs)

Putting both of the flap cut-outs will look like this.

To secure the flash in place, have the flaps wrap around the flash and secure the setup with an elastic band.

Next, I’ll share with you some shots taken with this setup.

5. Example of shots taken with the setup

Here is how the ring light diffuser looks like in use and the lighting profile.

Here are some examples of this diffuser as used in a macro photography shoot. Upon returning form a client’s place yesterday, I saw a butterfly perched against my glass door to the backyard. Fortunately the glass was “clean” enough for the shot on the other side.

I took the ring light diffuser setup with the HVL-F20AM and too these shots with the 100mm f2.8 macro. These examples shows the softness in the lighting.

Thanks for staying through til the end of this article.



  1. Michael Pisto
    May 10, 2010 at 6:27 pm


    This setup is great! I’m all about making things yourself. I have the small Alpha flash and I’ll be making one. Question, which cable did you use to make this? I know I need the off camera shoe but which cable the Alpha Off Camera Cable (FA-CC1AM) or the Off Camera Cable for Flash (FA-MC1AM)?

    Michael Pisto

    • alphastrobist
      May 12, 2010 at 12:57 am

      Hi Michael,

      The following accessories were used :
      – FA-CS1AM off camera shoe for flash
      – FA-CC1AM off camera Cable


      • Michael Pisto
        May 16, 2010 at 4:42 am

        Thanks Sulhan. Appreciate the info. I saw the two cables on Sony’s website so I just wanted to make sure. I’m going to adapt this to my Tamron 70-200 2.8 (77mm threads) with a Canon (gasp! haha) 500D Close Up Lens. I am thinking that I can use step down rings to get to my 55mm. I’m in the process of getting the filters (cheap uv filters on amazon). Thanks for thinking of doing this cheap BUT effective ring light. kudos!

      • alphastrobist
        May 17, 2010 at 1:38 am

        Hi Michael,

        Glad you find this useful and do share the results from your setup.

        Thank you.


  2. October 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    thats pretty amazing! i will have to give this a shot!.

  3. November 18, 2010 at 8:34 am

    thats fantastic.
    hope you dont mind if I link this on my blog
    (just linked one of you you tube videos, great stuff

    • alphastrobist
      December 8, 2010 at 7:18 pm

      No Worries Scott. Go ahead. Its about time that Alpha users come together and share their setup and experiences.


  1. April 26, 2010 at 12:50 am
  2. June 30, 2010 at 10:18 pm

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