You know I’m a sucker for a good DIY film gear project. I’ve got several in various stages of completion that I hope to show off soon. But then along came the $40 DIY Cake Pan light. And one filmmaker says it’s nearly as a good as a $1,000 light from Aperture. Could that really be true?
When you’re just starting out, lights can be very expensive. Sure, you can head over to Home Depot and get a few clamp lights, or pick up that cheap photo light kit off Amazon, but those options are unprofessional looking at are more hassle than they are worth.
But a recently YouTuber Daniel Schiffer has created a flat LED light based on a 14″ aluminum cake pan, that not only looks the part, but it can deliver similar results to the Apurture 120D, costing $1,000 or more. And he only spent $40. Here’s a brief look at his parts list:
- 14 inch Cake Pan on Amazon: https://geni.us/CG3AxA0
- Daylight LED Strip on Amazon: https://geni.us/yJ3NhlY
- Diffusion Sheet on Amazon: https://geni.us/coAggi8
- 12V AC to DC Adapter on Amazon (always double check voltage before buying): https://geni.us/aKUCDJH
- Smallrig Clamp Mount on Amazon https://geni.us/qxp2uI3
The key thing about this build is to make sure you get the right strip of LED lights. You want the daylight LED strip. Not the multicolored RGB lights. This will give you the brightest throw, that can then bounce around the silver aluminum interior of the cake pan. You’ll also want to be sure that you get an AC adapter that has the same voltage as the LED accepts. This will prevent a burn out.
Speaking of the cake pan, while Schiffer got his at Amazon for about $20, I was able to find a similar pan at restaurantsupply.com for under $8! It pays to look around your town for a restaurant supply store, where you can get this stuff for cheap, plus you won’t pay for shipping. That means you can probably build a pair of them for just a tad more than what Schiffer paid for one.
Once you collect all your pieces, you affix the LED light strip on the interior walls of the cake pan, not the back This will enable the light to bounce around and off the silver coated back, providing a bit of diffusion, and even some additional brightness. The only thing left to do is diffuse it, which Schiffer did with a sheet Nylon diffusion fabric. You can save more money here by using either a bed sheet, pillow case, or do as I do and pick up a plastic frosted white shower curtain from the $1 store. Now you’re really saving some cash.
From there, it’s a matter of cutting a circle in the fabric the size of the cake plan, plus an inch or two for overlap, attach it to the light. I think if you know how to sew, you can sew in some elastic to not only keep the fabric in place, but make it look cleaner and professional.
I would also recommend drilling a hole in the back of the light for the LED power cord to slip through unimpeded. Or, you could mount it with some hot glue. Either way, then it’s time to add your clamp and mount it to a C stand.
Voila, a DIY LED light for under $40, that gives you the bang of a $1,000 Apurture!