Filter holder: welding glass as neutral density Filter (ND) for photography (for Nikon 18-105/18-135)

by sdraxler, published

Filter holder: welding glass as neutral density Filter (ND) for photography (for Nikon 18-105/18-135) by sdraxler Dec 15, 2012
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This is a filter holder for some Nikon lenses. It let's you attach a welding glass to your lens to act as a neutral density filter, in order to get longer shutter speeds. (see this Flickr group for examples: http://www.flickr.com/groups/weldingmaskglassfilter/)

Welding glass is used in all kinds of metal welding techniques, to protect your eyes from the light. The glass is very cheap and can make an inexpensive neutral density filter for photography (means you can use very long shutter speeds during daylight to e.g. make water very silky or do amazing stuff with the clouds).
For this we need a rectangular shape of glass as used for electrical welding. The glass has to be 110mm wide to fit the holder. I guess there are different sizes but hopefully they are a bit standardized. I bought my glass at a local store for 3€. You can also buy ND filters in photography stores, but they can get very expensive, 100€ and more. You will get much better quality for your money, but the aim here was to get it done cheap.

Note: One of the pictures is an example photo, taken with the filter.


Now, how do we attach this welding glass to the camera? Many people are using rubber bands and while I am a big fan of improvised photo gear, I also felt that this was not a good solution. Why? Because I want to frame my picture and set focus without the filter. Then I'll mount the filter and the viewfinder of my camera gets pitch black – good for taking the picture, bad for framing and focusing.

Thats how you do it – It reads long, but it is dead simple:
0) Use ABS if possible. I printed two on a Makerbot Replicator and ABS turned out ok. I did not test PLA, but I guess ABS is better because it is more flexible. (I typically print this one with these settings: Infill 35%, ABS at 226°C extruder and 110°C heated plate.
1) Print the mount raftless. Make sure that the first layer will be very flat on the bed. Otherwise the mount will probably sit too firm on the lens and you'll have to sand it a bit.
2) Print the filter holding plate raftless*
3) You might need to carve out the filter holding plate a bit with a knife to make the filter fit. If the glass sits too lose, glue a piece of clothing in there.
4) Snap both pieces together (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiquqivFiRk). They are designed to press fit. The backside is a bit rounded so, thats the side that has to do in first. Make sure the small pockets of the mount are exactly Top/Bottom. If unsure, connect the mount to your lens and see how the holder plate has to go on there. If the mount sits to firmly at the lens, use sandpaper and sand off a bit from the part that goes to the camera (make the mount thinner).
5) Done. Slide your glass into the holder. Point your camera to something, focus, snap the Filter holder to your lens and give it a go.

This works probably for all lenses, that use the Nikon HB-32 mount for lens shades – yes, it snaps into the lens shade bajonett, it is not screwed into the filter thread. It should work for the following lenses:
Nikon 18-105 (I tested mine with this one)
Nikon 18-135 (Not tested. But a friend owns one of these, so I'll ask him to try it)
Nikon 18-70 (Not tested yet)

== OPTIONAL =========================

  • Maybe there is a chance to print this raftless but with support. It might work like this, but this is not yet tested:
    a) Edit your slicing profiles
    b) Duplicate your default slicing profile (Name it something like "Support without raft")
    c) Edit the created duplicate
    d) Seleft the "craft" and then "raft" radio buttons
    e) Search for "Base Layers" and "Interface Layers" and set both to "0"
    f) Save the profile.
    g) Generate GCode, using this profile, select Use Raft and Use Support. Select "use full support". Just exterior will give you basically the same result as raftless.

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is it possable for you to be able to make one for a gopro to go around a whole case

I need to convert this to tamron 28-75 hood bayonet (67mm filter)... Does the glass stay in place, or any concerns with it dropping down/out?


Sorry, can't tell. I never tried to fit this to a Tamron lense. The photos look somewhat similar to the Nikon mount. Do you have a Nikon lensehood from e.g. a 18-105, 16-85 or 18-135, or someone who can borrow one? If that fits the Tamron lense, the Filter holder will also.


I will check when I'm home. Does your adapter lock into the hood bayonet, or just snap over the ridges?

Yep, thatswhy I mentioned the lensehood in the first place. The Mount on the filter holder is basically a replica of the hood bayonet. So, if a Nikon lensehood fits your Tamron halfway decent, the filter holder should fit as well.

Btw. The filter holder consists of two parts. If you have easy access to a printer, just print the mount part and do a quick test. Also someone did a remix using just a tube that goes over the lens. Would fall off, if the camera is pointed downwards, but might work as well.

I've tested an existing Nikon hood on my Tamron 28-75 AF XR Di f/2.8 (A09) - the hood bayonet system doesn't line up perfectly, but does fit "good enough". I've printed out the mount section, and confirmed it does fit good enough on my Tamron as is. Printing a modified filter holder to fit my larger filter glass piece that I had. :-)

Could you maybe make a version of this for the Cannon 15-55mm EFS lens ??? i would really appreciate it :) Im very interested in trying out this welded glass. Cheers


Sorry, I have no Canon gear to get the measurements and even worse at the moment no printer for testing :(

Feel free to play around with source CAD file. It was designed in FreeCAD, which you can grab for free.

All the best,

Which size is the holder? I have some 62mm lenses that I would like this to use for, so I want to be sure this thing fits my lenses.


I know that this holder does fit on the 16-85mm, 18-105mm and 18-135mm (the old one). It does snap into a special bayonet at the front end of those lenses, instead of the lens hood. These lenses are about 67mm wide at the front.

The filter holder is NOT screwed into the mount, as some filters and aftermarket lens hoods are.

I guess, it won't work for your lenses, unless the back part is redesigned.


Does also fit Nikkor 16-85mm. Looking forward to do some long term exposures with this setup. Thanks for printing one for me! :)

Did my first field test today.The holder worked quite well, but I left VR enabled by accident. So the 30sec exposure turned our somewhat blurry. These kind of mistakes suck....