Stofen Omnibounce

Started Dec 25, 2002 | Discussions thread
Nabal Senior Member • Posts: 1,269
Re: Stofen Omnibounce

mike vanderstelt wrote:

Just wondering if anyone has used this product, and what they
thought of it.

I've owned one, and used it quite a lot over the years. I always carry one in my camera bag, and it is a very useful device - when used within its limitations.

As I've posted elsewhere "a good flash picture is one where you can't tell that flash illumination was being used." The Sto-fen Omnibounce provides a simple means of concealing the artifacts which normally accompany use of a single, on-camera flash unit - i.e. the "deer-caught-in-the-headlights" look.

The Omnibounce was designed primarily to solve certain problems associated with the ceiling bounce technique. When on-camera flash is bounced from the ceiling above, it usually results in objectionably dark shadows in the eye-sockets of the subject(s), and also under the nose and chin. With the Omnibounce mounted over the flash reflector, only about 50% of the light is directed upward toward the ceiling. About 25% of the light is cast directly forward, which "fills in" the shadows which are caused by the light descending from above. The remaining 25% of the flash brightness is cast out sideways, and scatters all around the room. The net effect is a very soft, shadowless lighting effect - which completely belies the fact that a single, on-camera flash was used to illuminate the scene.

However, all of this comes at a price. If you were to go outside at night, and use a flash meter to measure the brightness of your flash unit when fired straight-on both with and without the Omnibounce attached - you would discover that the Omnibounce reduces the brightness by about 3 f/stops. If you use the Omnibounce in situations where there are no nearby walls and ceiling to reflect the flash illumination back onto the subject - then you may find that the flash has insufficient brightness to illuminate the scene - at all.

With flash units in the power class of the Sunpak 383, Vivitar 283, Promaster 5750DX, etc., the Omnibounce can be used effectively in a typically sized living room in an 1800 square foot home. But if you are shooting in an aircraft hanger, or even an auditorium or a church - forget about it. The absense of a low ceiling and nearby reflective walls will cost you 3 f/stops of flash power, which is not worth the straight-on diffusion effect the device provides.

For general purposes, the Omnibounce should be mounted on the flash unit ONLY if you plan to bounce the flash off the ceiling above the subject. Otherwise, if the flash reflector is aimed directly at the subject, it is best to achieve diffusion by some other means. For example, you can cut a small rectangle out of the side of a plastic milk jug and attach it to your flash unit's reflector with rubber bands. This will provide the same amount of direct flash diffusion as the Omnibounce, but will reduce your maximum brightness potential by only 1 f/stop. Likewise, 1 thickness of a paper napkin which is held over the flash reflector with rubber bands (or chewing gum) will provide excellent diffusion, but still will cost you only 1 f/stop of maximum brightness.

Now, of course, the Omnibounce has other more creative uses. Let's say, for example, you want to take a photo of some small object you want to auction off on eBay. The first step is to make a trip to Wal-mart, and buy a sheet of white posterboard, and 2 sheets of white foam core board. Lay the white poster board on the kitchen table, and curve the rear section upward - supported in place by a stack of books. The upward-curved section forms the backdrop for the photo. Next, use masking tape to tape the ends of the 2 foam core boards together. These are used to build a "wall" beside and a "ceiling" above the object being photographed. Again, the "ceiling" part is supported by a stack of books. Now, position the object you want photographed inside the small "room" you've built, and fire the Omnibounce-equipped flash unit into it. It creates a very soft, shadowless lighting effect - just as it is supposed to.

So my advice is to go ahead and get one, as they only cost about $20. But don't expect it to do much for you - unless you're taking pictures within a fairly small room with a low, white ceiling.

Gene

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