Picking a diffuser

sjl

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 15, 2004
441
0
Melbourne, Australia
The toys just don't stop coming, do they? :rolleyes: The latest thing I'm eying off is a diffuser for the flash - the rather blatant shadows when I'm shooting with direct flash annoy me, and bouncing off the ceiling isn't always an option (although I've managed some very nice shots with ceiling bounce.)

The two options that I'm looking at at the moment are the Omnibounce and the Lightsphere. Are there any other options I should be looking at? Tissue paper taped over the front of the flash, for example? :p (hey, it may be cheap, but I can see how it would work ...) Anybody have any particular preferences?

Thanks.
 

mcarnes

macrumors 68000
Mar 14, 2004
1,929
1
USA! USA!
Omnibounce and the Fong (as I call it) is about as good as it gets. The first for portability, the second when not as issue.
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,753
142
mcarnes said:
Omnibounce and the Fong (as I call it) is about as good as it gets. The first for portability, the second when not as issue.
I agree. As for Flip-It! It looks like a homemade POS. ;) Make one yourself before you buy that.
 

sjl

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 15, 2004
441
0
Melbourne, Australia
Thanks all. I've ordered the lightglobe; with a little bit of luck, it'll arrive before the first event I want it for. (If not, the guy who's selling them relatively locally is pretty sure it'll be in time for the second event I want it for.)

Here's hoping for some good shots out of it.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,612
424
Redondo Beach, California
sjl said:
,,,,The two options that I'm looking at at the moment are the Omnibounce and the Lightsphere. Are there any other options I should be looking at? Thanks.
Here is a way to think about it and figure it out yourself

First the prime law of shadow softness: "The softness of the shadows is directly proportional to the __angular__ size of the light source as seen from the subject's location."

Example: The sun on a clear day appears to be about 1/2 degree wide. It makes very hard shadows while a standard 2x4 foot office florescent light fixture appears to be about 15 degrees wide and casts softer shadows. The Sun is larger than 4 feet but in this case it is the angular size that matters.

Next. When light bounces off a reflector with a matt surface or passes through a diffuser the illuminated potion of the reflector/defuser re-radiates the light acts as if it were the light source.

So,... if you want real soft light buy a "soft box" from photoflex buy th largest one you are willing to mont to a camera. You will need something like a stroboframe flash bracket and a sync cord but the results are outstanding almost like a studio light. Note the studio photographers will place very large softboxes very close to the subject for very, very soft lighting, (good for portraits of women) I have used a photoflex size "XS" box mounted on-camera. At the other extreme are those little diffusers. they at best double the size of the light.

When you select a light modifier look at it's size in degrees as seen be the subject. The bigger the softer. A large "soft box" will simulate window light and a bare speedlight will simulate bright sunlight on a cloudless day.

All that said. One very cheap but effective modifier is a one gallon plastic milk jug. Cut it up and zip tie it to a strobe. The material is free so you can experiment.

There are some apparent exceptions to the "prime rule". One is the "bare bulb". You would think it would be a harsh light being so small. (a bare bulb is just that, a flash tube with no reflector.) but only a little of the light goes directly from the bulb to the subject. Most of it goes into lighting up the walls, floor and ceiling

Some small defusers have the effect of a bare bulb in that they send light out very wide so it lights up the ceiling and walls. These do not work in very a large space or outdoors. Bare bulbs and small defusers work because they turn an entire room into a reflector.
 

ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,612
424
Redondo Beach, California
This unit is very effective....

http://www.photoflex.com/Photoflex_Products/LiteDome_xs/index.html

Throws a very soft light and completely eliminates shadows.

The "flip it" and things like it depend on cieiling bounce for the main light and use the light reflected off the white card to fill in the under-eye shadows cast by the ceiling light. This works well but the question posted here in this thread specifically asked for something that would work without a ceiling. Maybe he is shooting in a conventin hall with a 50 foot tall black ceailing???

Without a ceiling you are going to have to aim the flash at the subject and interpose a large defuser. A little 4x4 card will not do much
 

Mike Teezie

macrumors 68020
Nov 20, 2002
2,205
1
Direct flash is tough in portable situations, any way you look at it.

I have the Omnibounce and like it, but I've been wanting to get a "Fong" for a few weeks now.
 

sjl

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 15, 2004
441
0
Melbourne, Australia
ChrisA said:
Maybe he is shooting in a conventin hall with a 50 foot tall black ceailing???

Without a ceiling you are going to have to aim the flash at the subject and interpose a large defuser. A little 4x4 card will not do much
The situation in question is a little uncertain. I've two events coming up where I'll be lugging the camera around and taking group shots: one at BMW Edge, and one in a large dining hall.

The dining hall has a usable ceiling, but the shots I take will, in some cases, be far enough away that a bounce flash might not do as much as I'd like (I'm still new to flash photography, so I don't know that for certain; the ambient light in itself will certainly not be adequate.) BMW Edge, on the other hand, looks like it won't have a usable ceiling (I'd love to be proven wrong). The other thing is that in the dining room case in particular, I won't be the one behind the camera for a lot of the shots (long story, but basically, I'll have other things to do as well, and won't be able to shoot at the same time.)

Just about anything, though, will help to soften the shadows; it's the harsh edge to them that annoys me (especially when the camera's in portrait mode), and a bracket is more money than I can justify for the time being.

Of course, all this is me being critical of my shooting. The people who will take the shots and print them out (or mail them to mum and dad, or whatever) probably won't know any different unless I point it out to them. :p I'm learning as I go, and even if the Fong turns out to not be a great help in these situations, I'm sure it'll help in others.