Create a DIY Rainbow Lens Filter for Unique & Groovy Light Effects

Lens filter

A while back, a photographer friend of mine made a really neat DIY lens filter using diffraction glasses, and I wanted to give it a try myself so that I could show you how. Let me tell you, making this little filter and shooting with it have been so much fun, so I encourage you to try it if you are looking for something new!

Here's how to make your own...


First, you'll need a pair of diffraction glasses, and a lens filter that you don't mind putting a little bit of tape on the edges.

The diffraction glasses that I ordered are cheap and flimsy, which is exactly what you want! You want to be able to cut them apart to fit them onto your lens filter. The nicer ones with actual lenses and sturdy frames aren't as easily applied to your lens filter. Here is a link to the kind I used: 5 Pack GloFx Diffraction Glasses on Amazon

So, order the 5 pack so that you can use a pair for lens filter purposes, and give the rest to the kids - everyone wins!

Next, you'll need a lens filter that you don't mind applying tape to the edges - this is a great time to use one of those really cheap UV filters that came with your camera and/or lens package! In this case, I used a warming filter that I haven't used in ages.

When you wear the glasses, you'll see all kinds of neat rainbow starbursts when you look at a light source. Here, you can sort of see the rainbow effect:

I cut the glasses down to just the diffraction lens/paper:

Then, I gently taped the paper to the lens filter. The diffraction paper didn't cover my entire lens filter, but it still worked just fine:

When applying the tape, make sure that you keep the tape ABOVE the threading on the filter so that it does not transfer any tape or reside to the threading on your camera.

Here are a few examples for you to see how it works:

So, there you have it - one of the neatest experiments I have made lately! Here are a few tips:

  • Get the diffraction lens/paper as flat against the lens filter as you can. That way, you'll get the sharpest possible image.
  • Shoot in bright light! Not only do you need it since you are placing the diffraction lens on your filter, but the more light you have, the more rainbows you'll get. 
  • Move around, and look at your subject from different angles to see how the light bounces and how the effect changes depending on where you point your lens. 

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