Flash Diffuser - Which one should I get

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by keith204, Oct 18, 2007.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Can anyone recommend a good flash diffuser to hook up to my 430EX?

    I like the do-it-yourself ideas, but I am also trying to look professional, and a lot of the do-it-yourself ones look cheesy.

    I've seen that Gary Fong thing... is it any good?

    Any diffuser recommendations??
     
  2. Sideburns

    Sideburns TPF Noob!

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    piece of paper and an elastic band?
    I don't think it looks cheesy...
    If that's not what you meant, though...then I'm sorry.
     
  3. Lars Leber

    Lars Leber TPF Noob!

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  4. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    My goals:

    1) to soften the light when using on-camera flash
    2) both pointing directly at subject, and bouncing off ceilings/walls
     
  5. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I should explain my thoughts here...as I don't even know if I need a diffuser!

    I got through Strobist.blogspot and now know the importance of using umbrellas, bouncing light, etc to make the light softer in many scenarios. So, since I dont want to drag an umbrella and lightstand along with me wherever I go, I figure a Diffuser for the 430EX hotshoe flash will serve the same type of purpose (softer, less harsh, light). Is this true? Is a diffuser of some type what I actually need?
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yep your reasoning is right. But the DIY idea is only limited to your ability to make it good. WHen it all comes down to it the Gary Fong is nothing more than a ludicrously overpriced tupperware container.

    Now take this example people gave me funny looks back when I had a triangular piece of paper rubber banded to my flash, yet no one has given me a second look after I rounded the edges and attached it with velcro instead. Oh and I've done 3 weddings with this diffuser setup. Believe me people stop caring about what your camera looks like when they see the results, providing they are good that is...
     
  7. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    You also need to know about proportions. The paper isn't going to do much but reduce how much light you can crank out and increase recycle times if your subject is beyond 10-15 feet away. Now if your subject is 3 feet away, than it will look great. At three feet away, the paper in relation to the subject could be about the size of their head, but 15 feet away, it's a point source again.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Making the light 'softer / less harsh' is accomplished by making the source of the light bigger, in comparisons to the size/position of the subject. So with that in mind, most of the flash accesories don't really soften the light on their own. I find it kind of funny actually...because I see a fair number of people who put a Stofen Omnibounce onto their flashes and fire the flash directly at the subjects. The Omnibounce is practically the same size as the flash head, so it's not increasing the light source at all....it's basically just blocking some of the light, making the flash work harder.

    The Omnibounce, the 'Fong Dong' and most other flash accesories...are made to help when you are already bouncing the light. By bouncing the light, off of the ceiling for example, you are making the ceiling the light source, which is much bigger than the flash head...so you get softer light. The problem with that, is that all or most of the light is coming down onto the subject, which can make for bad shadows. What the accesories do, is separate the light...letting most of it pass through for bounce...but also throwing some of it forward to fill in the shadows. The Fong sphere throws light in all directions...and if there is something to bounce off of, then the light comes back very soft...but if there is nothing to bounce off of...the light is wasted.

    A simple bounce card can do the same job as most of these. You point the flash at the ceiling (or wall etc) and bounce the light. The card directs some of the light forward to fill the shadows.

    Of course, there are some accesories that actually do increase the size of the light source, which softens the light. But of course, the bigger they are, the less convenient they are to use.

    As with anything, you can't rely on any particular accessory to automatically make your shots better. The best accessory is a solid understanding of lighting...then you can figure out when and how to best use your flash and any accessory that you might want.
     
  9. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    http://super.nova.org/DPR/DIY01/

    If you use glue and take some care (and round the edges as Sw1tchFX says) this works very well and is under $5.

    I find that if I use umbrellas then I loose too much power with a flashgun due to the light having already traveled 3-4 feet by the time it gets back to where the flash is on it's way to the subject.

    The product Lars suggested looks good if you don't want to be bothered building your own. I would not get the ones with the shoot through plastic though because if you want really soft light then you're going to have to bounce off a ceiling or wall anyway.
     
  10. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ok well, since art was my favorite sport in school, I decided to make a trip to walmart for some foam, glue, and a few other things I'm not quite sure how to use.

    Now, I am waiting for glue to dry...
     
  11. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    I'm greatly in favour of DIY things - you can adapt and modify them to your desires. EVA foam and Rosco 3830 Spun Silver are my favourite things.

    Here, using EVA foam, is the Better Bounce Card.


    Another Tupperware-like gizmo:

    www.harbordigitaldesign.com

    Good luck,
    Helen
     

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