The $10 No Mod Barn Door For Your Flash

Oh, barn doors. How people love you. If you leave the front door open to your aunt’s house she may utter the timeless classic: “Were you born in a barn?” That’s always a knee slapper. But barn doors are no joking matter when it comes to photography.

If you want to learn about lighting for photography get the book Light, Science, & Magic. If you want to control light get yourself some barn doors.

In photography we use a barn door to shape the light and/or control light spill. Feature films just wouldn’t look the way they do without the use of barn doors.

Usually barn doors are used on movie sets or on large studio strobes, but a few weeks ago I came across a small barn door that although it’s not made for them, it fits perfectly on the flashes I already own. Oh, lucky day!

This thing is small enough that you should be able to fit it into your photo lighting bag with little to no effort. It folds up to a Hollywood thin 1 ¼ inches by 4 ¾ tall and wide. The mount opening is 3 inches and slips right onto a 580ex II flash as well as the Sigma DG 530 Super . I don’t have access to the Nikon flashes, so I can’t say, but my guess is they are close to the same size as the Canons. UPDATE: I have been informed that the SB-800 and the SB-600 should indeed fit as they are both under 3 inches wide.

Just slip the opening over your flash head and tighten the screw. The screw pushes against a rubber strip that presses against your flash head. This will hold it on there, but you may want to add a rubber strip or peel and stick weather stripping around the inside of the barn door mount to make it more snug. This is a decision you and your flash will have to decide on your own.

The barn door flaps are made of metal with metal hinges holding it to the firm plastic mount. It seems like it would hold up to a fair amount of abuse, though I have only just started messing around with it. These flaps move very easily, but stay where you put them. That’s important because you’ll be using the door to make sure parts of your image stay out of the light.

The price just can’t be beat. $9.95 at Adorama or

More Killer Photo Deals hand picked by Nice Photo Mag!

Unfortunately, cheep doesn’t come free. These barn doors, although they seem well made, they are made in China. I try very hard to stay away from products made in China for social, political, and quality reasons. I won’t get into the specifics as you can easily Google why not to buy products from China and then you can make up your own mind. That said, whether you buy these or make your own, if you haven’t used barn doors with your photography, you might want to give it a try. They are like a snoot that you can manipulate. Now if you aren’t using snoots… that’s another story.

If there is an interest from the readership, I’ll post an in depth article on how and why you might want to use barn doors to enhance your lighting set up. Just let us know in the comment section below.

These images were taken using a
Canon 5D with a Canon 24-105 L
and a pair of
580ex II flashes.

UPDATE: Read about availability of these very popular doodads in the post Barn Door Conundrum.

UPDATE UPDATE: Back in stock again at B&H

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33 Comments

  1. Thanks for a fantastic tip! Can’t wait to try it out.

  2. That has to be one of the sweetest things yet. I’ll be putting that on my list of things to buy.

  3. definitely a great tip. will be looking for me a set of these. should work on my sb-600. not sure about the sb-24 though as it is a bit larger.

  4. wow! noce gadget. i’m interested in when this will be in poland available…

  5. You’ll wanna stay away from the giottos rocket blower, your 5d and your flash too ;) Most of the parts in there are made in China.

  6. Thanks for this – very interested in the how and why article…

  7. I have been looking for something like this for a long time. Now, if I could only find barn doors or a gridspot that would fit on thos Home Depot halogen lights that I sometimes use to supplement my video lighting…

  8. Here’s to hoping that they work on 285HV’s…

  9. great tip, they are on my list, just wondering will they fit with the 430ex? I would imagine ya but thought i’d ask

  10. Yes, would love to read your article on how and why for the barn door. Thank you.

  11. Can anybody list the diameter of the opening please, this determines which flashlight it will accept.

  12. Will not work with Vivitar 285HV — If indeed the mount opening is 3″ dia., the 285HV flash-head is 3.75″ diagonal.

  13. I WOULD LOVE TO READ AN ARTICLE THAT IS IN DEPTH ABOUT USING BARN DOORS IN PHOTOGRAPHY. PLEASE DO.

  14. Excellent post! Thank you so much. I have only ever seen barn doors in studios an never thought that these could be useful for on-location type shooting with the usual strobes.

    I will certainly try this the moment I can find a way of getting one of these shipped to France!

    Thanks for the great post!

  15. Great Post! I would be very interested in the how and why article on barndoors!

  16. Please, please, please post more about using barn doors. I have no idea what I’d do with a set if I got one. Thanks!

  17. Thanks for thsi post–I’ll definitely try it.

  18. I agree with you about feeling bad about buying ANYTHING made in China. You forgot to add that the Chinese are the biggest culprits out there destroying our land and water. But, Isn’t it almost impossible to make any purchases without buying something made in China these days?

  19. Hi,

    Any UK readers should check out the Portaflash barn doors from Jessops (urgh! hate the shop but the barn doors work).

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  20. Yes, let’s hear more about barndoors. About the Vivitars, it’s possible. A reviewer on Adorama says, “Didn’t mount securely to flash unit (Vivitar 283). Needed small pieces of Velcro on flash and inside of barndoor mounting ring. Allows for very precise direction of light.”

  21. Would love to get this but $30 for shipping to Canada is ridiculous.

  22. David: If they’re the standard clamp light, have you tried cutting them and using the metal reflector itself as a barn door? Or, for that matter, just squashing a side to adjust the pattern? (Take the bulb out before you try that, obviously) It wouldn’t stand up to a lot of adjusting, but they’re cheap anough that you could have several pre-set for different angles.

  23. These seem to be out of stock at both Adorama and B&H… any other sources?

  24. Great info, Mr. K: thanks for the heads-up – and savings – on the barn doors… ordering a set for my SB800(s) today! Have experience with them for stage and video lighting, but less-so for photography. Would greatly appreciate an article with your insights on photo applications. Best always – S

  25. Well, 10 days later and Adorama is still sold out. I wonder if you let open the floodgates of shoppers and overwhelmed them, or if they never had that many units to start with.

    And I have such plans.. oooohhhh..

  26. Yes, I would be interested in the how and why article! Go for it ASAP please :-)

  27. Nice barn doors.

    “I agree with you about feeling bad about buying ANYTHING made in China. You forgot to add that the Chinese are the biggest culprits out there destroying our land and water…”

    Its funny how people are upset with Chinese made products, and with good reason. But come on folks, who are the consumers that use more electricity than anyone else in the world? Who produces more waste than anyone else? Who contributes to the world food shortage by having some of the most obese and hungry people in the world? Who pays farmers NOT to grow food? Who has more cars that produce more exhaust and pollutants than anyone else.
    Fine, you don’t feel “comfortable” buying Chinese made products, but according to those standards, whose products do you feel comfortable buying?

    I wish Norway made those barn doors, then I might feel comfortable buying them. haha.

  28. The Portaflash Series 3 Barn Doors do indeed work, though they are larger than these. I have found that a strip of thick box cardboard wrapped around the head of an SB-28 is enough to secure the flash, but I’m looking at ways to mount the barndoors instead of the flash, because they are relatively weighty, which would put stress on the flash shoe.

    Incidentally there are snap in gels and a grid for the Series 3 barn doors; very nice too.

  29. Love the tips! Yes, could you please post some more on barndoors??

  30. I WANT THEM!!! I live in Ny where can i get them other then adorama??

  31. I made some rubber straps with velco strips for my sb600s to attach gels. This gives the flash enough width to attach the barn doors firmly. Plus the rubber gives it a slip free grip.

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