DIY: Use a Little Plastic and an Old Filter to Create Cinematic Lens Flares


As 3D printing becomes more easily accessible and cheaper to work with, more and more people are experimenting to see just how the technology can be used to improve and tweak their photography. One such tweak has been created and shared by Instructables user Jan_Henrik.

By putting together an unused filter casing and a 3D printed piece of plastic, he’s able to get some extra ‘pop’ in his photos and videos in the form of cinematic JJ Abrams-like lens flares.

The obvious downside is that you must have access to a 3D printer and accompanying CAD software, but beyond this, the DIY is a cinch. All you need is a screwdriver, an old filter and some patience.


Basically, you sandwich a 3D printed piece of colored plastic inside an old filter casing and screw it onto the front of your lens. That piece, which is now sitting right in front of your lens, will pick up the light given off by a source and produce a cinema-esque flair.

Jan_Henrik went through some trial and error throughout the project, but offers up three different sizes, each creating a more prominent flare than the last as the diameter of the piece of plastic in front of the lens goes up. The files for a 58mm filter size are available for download on GitHub; if you need another size, you’re going to need to make up your own rendering.

Here’s a video of the resulting effect given by the final product.

While this is certainly one way to go about getting this effect, I can’t help but feel there are other methods to go about this, such as using a piece of high-test fishing line and sandwiching that between the filter case, but right now that’s merely a theory and no one else seems to have tried it as similarly seen in this YouTube tutorial.

Regardless, if you’re looking to add some experimental lens flare effects to your photography, check out this full step-by-step tutorial by clicking on the link below.

Lens Flare Filter [Instructables]

Image credits: Photographs by Jan_Henrik

  • Andrew Taran

    DPs use “string trick” for decades if they have no access to real anamorphic lenses. Actually, this one is a very bad example of a lens flare. Use regular fishing line and you will get that “JJ Abrams streaks”. Or if you have some spare money, go buy Cinemorph filter, which in addition to lens flares will give you cinematic bokeh for $100

  • Felipe_Paredes

    Or you can get an old sigma 18-50 2.8 ex, plenty of flare.

  • Burnin Biomass

    I have heard in a movie commentary that the camera operator put the fishing line in front of the film gate (which from my understanding is behind the lens). Can anyone verify that? I had been thinking of putting fishing line on the back of a cheap kit lens I was given to test it out, but didn’t know if that was close enough (from where I thought it was suppose to be).

  • JUSTUS99

    why not doing it in post.. it´s a click of a button.
    and if you take some time you can make whatever effect you wnat.. way more flexible then this.

  • JUSTUS99

    or most nikkors…..

  • Skot Lindstedt

    with that mindset you what’s the point of shooting live footage at all, you can create everything in the computer.