Build & Shoot: Toilet Roll Macro Lens


DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects


Lesson Info

Build & Shoot: Toilet Roll Macro Lens

Okay, so now let's get into extension tubes. We've got a couple of different extension tube ideas that I want to show you. One of them is a toilet paper roll and then the other is actually PVC pipe. Traditional extension tubes are just like this, okay? So an extension tube is designed to go between the lens...oops, this way, to go between the lens and the camera body. And the whole reason, again, is just to move it away, move it away, move it away, so you get more magnification, okay? So that's a traditional extension tube, and you can buy these extension tubes for your camera, and they cost anywhere from $50 for an inexpensive set up to a couple of hundred dollars for a dedicated set. This brand that I have here... You know what? I don't even actually know the brand. It doesn't matter. They're all very similar. I know I paid about $75 for this set of extension tubes, and I actually use this in the real world when I travel because it makes basically any lens that I have, it makes it in...

to a macro lens. Okay, but that's not what today is about. Today's about making your own. So what are simple ways you can use to get your lens away from the camera body? Well, I know, toilet paper rolls like this. Basically, you just have to figure out a way to get your lens to mount on a toilet paper roll and then to get that toilet paper roll to hang out on the camera body, same exact thing, no different. Okay, remember that bee photograph that I showed you earlier on? This? For eels. Yeah, no joke. So to do this, you're going to need a toilet paper roll. You're going to need black tape, maybe like gaff tape, and a lens and a camera. That's it. So to start this out let me... I'm just going to set this here, and I'll try to remain stable right here so the cameras can follow me. I'm just going to basically chop out the edges here so that it actually fits. I'll do it this way. So it actually fits around the perimeter of my lens. So I'm just chopping out a little bit so that it flares. You don't have to be too precise. I mean, after all, we're dealing with toilet paper rolls. All right, cool. There we go. And now you're going to want to take your lens, in this case, I've got my 50-millimeter lens. I'm just going to want to kind of mash it on there so that those flare out around it. Okay, close enough. So, what I've got here is I've got basically the same thing. And then I added gaff tape around that to give me some extra stability and then that also I can tape it onto the backside of my lens just like that. Now, on this side, I add gaff tape and the only purpose of that gaff tape is to prevent light from coming into the camera body. And now it's time to go take another flower photo. Cool. Good? Okay. And we'll do live view again on this one. I don't think I'll have to actually take a photo. I think you guys will all get the concept. Okay, we'll go back to our rose photograph. I'll get everything kind of lined up here. Now, don't let go of this because it will all fall on the floor and you'll break your lens, so this is this requires all of your hands all the time. It's not a real safe method. All right, so here we go. I'm just going to put that on there. I use the tape to kind of seal the deal. Good enough. And then here I just put it against the camera. There we go. Back to that aperture and focus thing that you asked about. I'm going to focus at infinity, and my aperture, I'm actually going to set my aperture to about F/4. Why? I don't know. It's just a starting point. We'll see how that works. All righty, so we're getting some light leak there. Where is that light leal coming from? Oh, it's coming from the top. Okay, so that's close. I mean that's close. So see this kind of haze, this light haze? That light haze that we're seeing is not light leak. What that is is light is bouncing around on the inside of the cardboard tube causing internal reflections. And so if you really want to do this well, you're actually going to tape up the inside and make it all black with black tape. In fact, I'm going to show you how we do that on the next one, the PVC pipe. All right, so that's pretty cool. I mean that is close. That is really close. And that's how I got that photo of the bee.

Class Description

You don’t need to buy every lens or filter for your camera in order to create impactful images. Mike Hagen is back with his DIY series to explore the hacks you can take to play with different looks when shooting. He’ll explore ways to create tilt shifts, bokeh backgrounds, lightboxes for macro field work, and star filters. 

  • You’ll learn how to make: 
  • Soft filters for photographing portraits or flowers 
  • Neutral density filters for long exposures 
  • Different fine art backgrounds like bokeh, haze and tilt-shift 
  • An inexpensive macro lens and macro diffuser 
Capture different looks by using items you can find around your house or at the local hardware store. Mike Hagen will have you expanding your camera bag and your portfolio so you can spend more time being creative and less time spending money. 



Love it!! Very creative and full of inspiration. Mike Hagen explains the different effects in a great way, he is precise yet easy-going so he makes learning fun. I recommend this class to all who wants to take their creative photography to the next level without spending money on expensive accessories.


Mike has an easy-going, pleasant & fun personality. He explains things clearly. Rolls with whatever happens. And, he's very good about answering audience questions in an understandable, positively reinforcing and non-judgemental way (which can be rare for some established pro photographers...).

Kelly Youngblood

I am so glad that I stumbled upon this website. It has me excited to keep going further in my photography abilities. I can't wait to be able to watch more classes. Thank you so much for this, I am going to stay up all night checking out how to do this way of shooting different ways. DYI I love this lesson.