Build a DIY Sound Blimp to Silence Your Camera for Less Than $100

_DTP2634 copy

Phoenix-based photographer Dan Tabár sometimes shoots on sound stages, sets, and quiet studios — locations where a loud camera would either cause problems or cause angry glares and murderous thoughts. Needing a way to surpress the shutter sound of his Nikon D800 — he says the “quiet mode is a joke” — Tabár decided to create his own DIY sound blimp.

Why make one rather than buy one? Well, the most popular sound blimps used in the photo industry can cost upwards of $1,000, and Tabár didn’t want to shell out that kind of money.

After poking around, he came across tutorials on how to build a sound blimp using a Pelican camera case. The DIY sound blimp includes removable extension tubes so that you can use lenses of various lengths.

Want to build your own? Tabár has create a helpful step-by-step tutorial on how you can do so. The first step is to buy yourself a hard camera case and some other components from your local hardware store:

Preassembly copy

The basic things you’ll need are: PVC tubes for the lens housing, silicone sealant, and epoxy.

First, you’ll want to cut a hole in the foam to have your camera and wireless transmitter rest snugly inside the blimp. A printout of the camera you use can help with this:

_DTP2608 copy

_DTP2606 copy

Find out exactly where the center of your lens tube should go, cut a hole in the camera case, and attach the lens tube housing to the outside of the case. Fix it in place with epoxy and then seal it with silicone:

_DTP2610 copy

_DTP2613 copy

_DTP2619 copy

_DTP2620 copy

Next, you’ll want to punch holes on the other side of the case of your viewfinder and LCD screen:

_DTP2617 copy

_DTP2623 copy

_DTP2628 copy

Use a transparent sheet to make the holes soundproof. Tabár used a Lexan polycarbonate sheet and silicone sealant.

_DTP2632 copy

Make sure that the lens is nicely centered in the main lens housing:

_DTP2626 copy

Build your own lens housing extensions using PVC pipe pieces. Be sure to use silicone sealant between pieces if you’d like to make them soundproof:

_DTP2635 copy

Here’s what the camera looks like when an extension tube is used for a 70-200mm telephoto lens:

_DTP2634 copy

Create a foam ring to pad the inside of the lens housing tube, which blocks sound and prevents any part of the camera from touching the blimp:

_DTP2638 copy

_DTP2636 copy

Voila! You’re done! Here’s a video showing the blimp in action and demonstrating how much it can reduce the sound of your camera:

You can find step-by-step instructions with higher-resolution photographs over on Tabár’s blog and on photographer Blair Bunting’s blog.

Image credits: Photographs by Dan Tabár and used with permission