If you have used add-on flash much, you probably realized that the light directly from the flash can cast harsh light onto your subject. To get around that you can bounce the flash, or use something to soften the light. I have three light modifiers that attach to a standard add-on flash unit that are designed to soften the light. My test today will demonstrate just how much of a comparative difference each one makes.
- STO-FEN Omni-Bounce diffuser (designed to fit my Sigma flash)
- Impact Universal Bounce diffuser
- Fotodiox 3.5 x 3.5 mini soft box diffuser
A green camera bag was placed on a light stand around 4 feet from the camera to act as a subject. The camera had a 14mm lens to maximize the possibility of vignetting. Each diffuser was tested with it facing directly toward the camera bag (direct) and tilted upward toward the ceiling (up). The room was small, so there was probably some amount of unavoidable light reflection. Lights were turned off to minimize ambient light reflection, but a small amount of window light was allowed.
|The baseline photo was taken with the flash pointed directly at the subject. No bounce (up) photo was taken at the time of testing.|
|The three diffuser units (Left to right: STO-FEN, Impact, and Fotodiox).|
|STO-FEN (direct flash)||STO-FEN (bounce up)|
|Impact (direct flash)||Impact (bounce up)|
|Fotodiox (direct flash)||Fotodiox (bounce up)|
The results speak for themselves, but I’ll go over what I noticed. In a direct flash situation, all three diffusers do help soften the light. The order goes Impact, STO-FEN, and Fotodiox from the most diffuse to the least.
The mini softbox (Fotodiox) should be in its element here, but it shows the least amount of diffusion. I’ll admit that there is a chance I had the diffuser seated too far onto the flash, so less light could bounce around inside before exiting. The issue there is that it doesn’t have enough rigidity in the back to allow for being seated further out on the flash head (it droops downward). It’s something that I’ll have to play around with in the future to see if I can produce different results. I think it is due to the design, as it only has that one exit point. It’s just a given that a more directed beam of light is going to happen compared to the others. It isn’t bad, but a different tool in the photographer’s arsenal I think.
I’m surprised by the level of diffusion the Impact provided in a direct flash situation. I’ll have to keep that diffuser in mind when I want a compact yet bright full diffusion look to my images.
I think the STO-FEN had the most pleasing contrast to the image, but that’s up to personal preference. It’s also easiest to use and carry around.
Using the flash in bounce mode (up) was more of the same basically. This time the Impact over exposed the subject a bit too much, resulting in some washing out of the subject and the largest amount of over exposure throughout the image. All three produced a gradient effect to the image where the upper portion was considerably brighter than the lower portion.
To get uniform diffusion requires surface area. This idea is demonstrated with the three diffusers tested. The STO-FEN acted like a light bulb that threw the light all around. The impact has similar properties to the STO-FEN, but has more directionality, so more of the flash’s light goes toward the subject making it more efficient. The Fotodiox is in a class of its own with a design that mimics the extreme directionality of a flash without diffusion, but does provide some softening of the light. I think it has similarity to a device called a “snoot” instead of bounce diffuser.
So to the readers of this article, what diffusers do you like to use and why? Let me know in the comments.
Also, let me know if you would like to see more of my work on dpreview. Thanks!
Aug 20, 2014
Jun 12, 2014
Aug 25, 2014
Jun 17, 2014
|Patrick Finds Inner Peace by ecastellon|
from Your best photo of the week!
|Forks by Kukla|
from Arranged everyday objects
Calumet UK and Wex Photographic, two of the biggest photography retailers in the United Kingdom, are going to officially merge tomorrow.
macOS High Sierra came out today, but if you use a Wacom tablet you need to wait a few weeks before you upgrade. According to Wacom, they won't have a compatible driver ready for you until "late October."
Do you think a $3,000 Canon 80D video rig can compete with an $80,000+ Arri Alexa setup? Well it can't, but check out this video anyway to see how the rigs compare.
Seven simple rules to make sure you get the most out of your next photography outing.
Vitec, the company that owns popular accessory maker Manfrotto, has just acquired JOBY and Lowepro for a cool $10.3 million in cash. The acquisition adds JOBY and Lowepro to Vitec's already sizable collection of camera gear brands.
A master drone pilot has captured one of the most incredible (and highly illegal) drone videos we've ever seen by flying around, inside, onto, and under a moving train.
Intel just debuted their 8th generation desktop CPUs, and the lineup packs a performance boost for 'content creators' that photo and video editors might be intrigued by.
Canon is developing a 'Free Viewpoint Video System' that will turn real life sports games and events into immersive 3D interactive experiences. It's video game-like camera control IRL.
A veteran photojournalist, Rick Wilking secured a spot in the path of totality for the August solar eclipse. While things didn't quite pan out as predicted, an unexpected subject in the sky and a quick reaction made for a once-in-a-lifetime shot.
The new iZugar 3.25mm F2.5 super fisheye lens offers an insane 220-degree angle of view. That means it can basically see behind itself... good luck keeping your feet out of the shot.
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll remember that time you took a picture of the frozen pizza baking directions.
A Craigslist poster has discovered the worst possible way to photograph a car: taking pictures of pictures displayed on a cracked and scratched up smartphone screen.
With the iPhone X coming out soon, the title probably won't last, but the iPhone 8 Plus is officially the best smartphone camera DxOMark has ever tested, and the iPhone 8 is second.
Kodak's new Facebook Messenger chatbot is trying to bring back the 'Kodak Moment' by digging up your old social media photos and trying to sell you prints and custom coffee mugs.
Affinity Photo for iPad was touted as "the first full blown, truly professional photo editing tool to make its way onto the Apple tablet." This update makes it that much more convenient.
Yashica has released a new teaser video, and this one claims they'll be releasing an "unprecedented camera" in October on Kickstarter. Ready... set... speculate!
Storage solutions company Synology has just released its very first 6-bay NAS tower. Combined with the DX1215 expansion units, it can hold and control up to thirty drives.
We're always expanding our collection of product overview content, and we've just added videos for the Canon EOS 6D Mark II, the EOS Rebel SL2 and EOS M6.
The venerable Canon PowerShot G1 was announced seventeen years ago this week, marking the start of a line of enthusiast-focused compacts that's still alive and kicking.
Super macro photographer Can Tuncer captured these incredible close-ups of a single peacock feather using a special setup and three different microscope lenses.
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.