Create a DIY Optical Fiber Attachment to Guide and Shape Your Flash’s Light


Photographer Váncsa Domokos created a neat do-it-yourself camera accessory that uses optical fibers to control the direction and intensity of a flash unit’s light. Instead of having light come directly out of the flash unit, the accessory redirects it through a thick bundle of optical fibers, allowing you to point the light in any direction — and in different directions if you’d like.

The first step is to create a mount for your flash using some plywood. You need to trace the shape of your flash unit’s head, cut the shape out multiple times from a thin piece of plywood, and then combine the cutouts to create your mount:




Next, you cut your optical fibers to size. Using a straw can help you make the lengths uniform, since it’s easier to measure and trim a smaller number of the fibers at one time. Once they’re cut to size, you need to bundle them together, and then glue the fibers into the bundles using epoxy resin.



Once the bundle is prepared, the optical fibers, wood mount, and camera flash are joined together using strips of velcro:



Voila! The accessory is done! What you use it for is up to you. Possible applications include attaching different colored filters to the ends of different groups of bundles and using your hands to direct different portions of the light in different directions:



If you’d like to create one of these accessories yourself, you can find a more detailed step-by-step tutorial on the build process over on Instructables.

Image credits: Photographs by Váncsa Domokos/Instructables

  • harumph

    He looks like he’s using it to shine light back into his own eye.

  • RoCrossfire

    for me is not very clear where did he buy the fiber optics and what length was is necessary for the indicated flash.

  • Mike

    Oh, that’s why my photos were bad all along!

  • Ernie

    In the last photo where he’s gripping the fibers, why are the fibers so bright? Isn’t the point of optical fibers that there is no transverse light loss?

  • Ope Oladipo

    Still dont see Real uses, half the light is lost in transmission

  • Michael

    Light leakage is dependent upon the quality of fiber used and when bent any fiber will have increased leakage.

  • J

    But if you do not tightly bundle and polish the ends of the fibers, perfectly square and highly polished (then release the bundle) you will experience a great loss of transmission and a totally unpredictable direction of projection. In other words, a non reproducible condition, you will never be able to reproduce the same condition again.

  • Domi

    These are bad quality optical fibers, the good ones are expensive (I will buy for the next prototype) also I have to put a short black comb between optical fibers and flashlight, because if the the light don’t go into pipe in a desired angle, than it will go out on the side.

  • Domi

    I bought it in Smyths Toys in Ireland, but I saw in 2 euro shops or Ebay as well. I had cut the wires 24 cm / 9.4 in to be able to handle well, but at this size is kind of heavy, so in my next prototype I will use much more less optical fiber and choose better quality materials and read more about optics to prevent light loss.

  • Domi

    It was some loss because of quality of fibers and the plastic on the Canon flashlight already have a textured surface, so the light doesn’t enter vertically into the fibers.

  • alwaysthink

    I was taught that rule number 1 when working with fiber cable was to never, ever look directly into the end of the fibers. It might just be instant eye surgery. I know there are some very low transmission fibers that are used in those “fireworks” novelty lamps. I just doesn’t seem a good idea to play with if you don’t have some good knowledge of safe light levels from the fiber.