Gels for Nikon Speedlight SB-400?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rogersmj, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. rogersmj macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #1
    I know very, very little about flash, and don't use it all that often, but I do like my little SB-400 for those times when I find it necessary. I've learned how to bounce the flash when I can, but if that's not possible the direct flash of course makes for a very harsh, ugly picture. From what I've heard, the way to reduce this effect is with gels, is that correct? I know the SB-400 is a pretty low-end flash, and it doesn't have a slot or anything that it looks like the more expensive ones have to slide these things in, but is there another way to add a gel to diffuse the light from my flash? Any recommendations for gels to use with the SB-400? Thanks!
     
  2. drlunanerd macrumors 65816

    drlunanerd

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Location:
    UK
    #2
    Gels are for changing the colour output of the flash.
    What you need is a diffuser. Nikon don't do one for the SB-400, only the bigger flashes. However Sto-Fen do.
     
  3. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #3
    What you really want is a scrim or a diffuser, not a gel- however there are two other things to consider- build a "better bounce card" out of craft foam and always be able to bounce the flash, and change your flash compensation to turn down the flash power. You may simply be able to turn down the power and get the effect you want quickly and without additional work.
     
  4. rogersmj thread starter macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #4
    Oh OK. So a diffuser or a bounce card then... I found the Sto-Fen at Amazon, but from reading one of the knowledgeable reviews it sounds like maybe I should try a white index card and a rubber band/tape first.
     
  5. rogersmj thread starter macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #5
    OK I like the effect that the index card is giving me, but I'm not into the ghetto-tastic look of it or the lack of control (it kind of flops around). This purpose-built bounce card kit for the SB-400 looks interesting...would it be better to get that or the diffuser, do you think?
     
  6. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #6
    Find a thicker index card…*a small rectangle of posterboard would work nicely
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #7
    That thing is very minimal.

    Technically the "softness" of the light is determined solely by the apparent angular size of the light source as seen from the subject's location. Examples: On a bright sunny, cloudless day the light is very hard because the Sun is ony a 1/2 degree wide light sourec but under overcast sky the light is very sof because in fect the whole sky is the light source. Bouncing off the ceiling make the light soft because the light source is the entire iluminated area of the ceiling.

    That bounce card is not much bigger then the flash itself, yes bigger but not by much.

    You can experiment with a plastic milk jug. the translucent kind. Cut the top off a 1 gal. jug and put the flash inside. After experimenting then maybe buy something comercial if you like

    Also get a sync cord so you can use the SB400 off camera then you can aim it where ever you like.
     
  8. rogersmj thread starter macrumors 68020

    rogersmj

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Indianapolis, IN
    #8
    I got a thicker index card, cut it down, and now have it sticking vertically out of the flash right at the back of the rotating flash head. So the flash is pointing straight up, and the index card catches some of the light and throws it forward, eliminating most of the subject's dark areas when the ceiling is a little too high or I'm shooting at a weird angle. This seems to be working for right now, but I'm going to experiment with diffusion too -- the milk carton is a great idea, thanks Chris.
     

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