Make a DIY Filter Adapter for Your Lens Using a Large Sponge


A few years ago, photographer Samuel Chapman of The Rocket Factory found himself with an annoying problem on his hands. After purchasing a number of neutral density filters for his DSLR, he found that Nikon’s $2,000 14-24mm lens didn’t have any good way of being used with a filter.

He had already paid hundreds of dollars each for his fancy filters, so he decided to make a makeshift adapter for the 14-24mm lens… using a sponge. The result is a product Chapman calls the “FX Sponge Filter Holder 5000.”

Basically, Chapman purchased a $1.50 all purpose sponge from his local hardware store and cut out a hole in the back for the lens and a square chunk in the front for the filters.


He cut the lens hole a little smaller than the actual size of the lens in order to ensure a snug fit.


On the filter side of the holder, he sliced into the walls in order to create grooves for the filters to rest in.


After doing some initial tests outdoors, he found that the yellow color of the sponge caused reflections in his photographs. To fix this, he coated the inside of the filter holder with black. A total of three coats were used: a permanent marker, acrylic black paint, and then black spray paint.



Here’s a before and after comparison showing how the coated interior cancels out any stray reflections you might have:


So there you have it: a DIY filter holder that you can make for most camera lenses that will only cost you a few dollars and some time.

Image credits: Photographs by Samuel Chapman and used with permission

  • Chris Popely

    A clever idea, but there’s something that doesn’t quite sit right with me about fitting a sponge to a lovely D3S!

  • brob

    really? There’s no filter holder that will work?

  • alan sailer


    There are filter holders available but they are darn expensive. And the cheapest (~200$) by Lee, still has the back reflection problem that Samuel solved with black paint.

    I’ve been trying to solve the same problem and will have to try this out. I think his 5$ sponge solution is very elegant.

    In this case beauty is a function of performance. It’s the picture that’s important, not what tools you used to get it.


  • Frank McKenna

    freakin brilliant. This is the best wide angle lens ever made for that price and there are adapters but they are super complicated and expensive. This is a great workaround.

  • Erik Stensland

    Thank you!!! This is just what I’ve been looking for.

  • 11

    I want something that I can like a door (that is filter with a hinge + lock). It is hard to focus/compose when the filter is on.. and it is hard to slide it or unscrew in order to focus.

  • ScottnLaguna

    Great idea! As far as coloring the sponge, I would try soaking it in black RIT dye. Maybe twice or three times after it dries. Seems better than marker or paint.

  • Teun

    …sais someone using a $2000-lens. Tools do matter. I’ve always found it strange that people who claim the opposite, usually have worth at least $2000 worth of gear. It just doesn’t make any sense. Yes my photography would be better if I owned a 5D III. I do my photography often in dim conditions and I’m running into the limits of what an aging small sensor can do.

  • Joey Duncan

    Were you paid to write that? lol

    First, the foam isn’t for the lens, it’s for the filter, so “wide angle” has nothing to do with it. Secondly, I have the filter he uses in the example…. NOT complicated, nor did it cost all that much.

  • Joey Duncan

    Neat little trick, the only downside I see if this edition you have no way of adjusting the filter, which is a MUST for this type of filter. Maybe instead of it squeezing inbetween cut a slat on both sides and slide the filter in, then you have to worry less about it falling out. (just cut the slat like 90% the width of the filter so it puts pressure on it.)

  • Joey Duncan


    I use this same filter, two sometimes… with a holder…. the whole thing cost me about $50… look on Amazon. if you can afford the nice lens, and a LEE filter you can afford the adapter. If you are using a cheaper filter, sure I can understand… but the filter holders aren’t that bad….

  • Mike

    If he was paid to write about a piece of foam, I want to know where I can apply for that job.

  • Wing Wong

    Very cool idea. Going to have to give this a go. Would be nice if the filter can still be slid up/down to change the point of the gradient transition.

  • Mansgame

    wonder if it would work with a CP filter too if you rotate the sponge. Lee filters are insanely expensive so I usually just stick to the 24-70 when I need a CP filter.

  • Stephen Schafer

    Just keep in mind that if the filter is not 100% aligned with the axis of the film, any point light source in the image will probably create an off axis hotspot and other odd reflections and double images could abound. I use a Lee holder in my 16mm and while that is good 95% of the time, sometimes the slightest tweek of the filter will bring out an array of colored dots and halos. And moving the grad around the frame is a needed feature. But kudos to you for McGuyvering this.

  • FastGlass

    I’m going to see if this will help cut down on reflections when setting up a backboard remote, or maybe shooting through the ‘glass at hockey games.

  • Enriqueta Brasini

    If you think Cynthia`s story is unimaginable…, last pay check my cousins friend who’s a single mom basically also recieved a check for $9352 workin a 20 hour week from there apartment and they’re classmate’s step-aunt`s neighbour was doing this for 5 months and actually earned over $9352 in their spare time from their pc. applie the information from this address…….. BIT40.ℂom

  • Gregor_Albrecht

    Wow! I was just given this “internet” for my birthday and I already found a way to make easy money!
    I’ll check out the website right away, I love this internet already!

  • Ralph Hightower

    Why doesn’t he buy a Cokin system?

  • Tammy

    What immediately jumped out at me was the difference in the time of day, i.e. – the tree shadows. I would’ve much rather seen a comparison at the same time. It’s obvious the sun was setting much more in the latter than high noon in the first.*
    *Disclaimer: Not saying it’s not a clever idea. When I see comparisons I want to see comparisons!

  • apollo

    He has got money for 14-24 and D3s and still, not a single money to buy a cheap Cokin filter holder, brilliant logic! I bet he bought D3s when he had 18-55…

  • Mansgame

    I bought this lens knowing full well that Nikon didn’t make a holder for it and I’m ok with it. Truthfully I don’t need a filter with the t ypes of shots I use this filter for. I just refuse to pay an arm and a leg to an aftermarket product.

  • Dozey Meda

    Yeah awesome… Next lessons: Build your own flash with a used car battery and 100w light bulb.

  • Bart Aldrich

    Original article was in 2009 and now there is high quality filter holder for this lens….NEXT!

  • Jon

    The idea is clever, but not the material (except for a one-time situation when a photographer is stranded far away). The sponge and the paint WILL flake off, and the flakes WILL get in the lens barrel. It’s better to cut a holder out of plastic and to stick the parts with black duct tape. With a bit of imagination, one can also use plastic PVC rods under the camera, with two solid plastic blocks, in order to emulate a small matte box – that could also hold grade filters in different positions.

  • Baaxee

    Since the article is from 2009 probably the guys at Nikon have noticed by now and will soon release a Nikon branded version for just $400. I love Nikon products but thy are really slow to catch up with the needs of their users and also they overcharge items insanely like the D800 battery grip and the (Not included with the lens!!) 70-200 F4 tripod collar