Flash Diffuser
I'm an SLR(olympus e-510) user and I have been thinking about getting a flash unit(fl-36), how good are flash diffuser attachments? The more I think about it, I can't really think of any situation where I wouldn't want to use a diffuser. Thanks in advance..


Comments (6)

Pb8185 wrote:.

I'm an SLR(olympus e-510) user and I have been thinking about gettinga flash unit(fl-36), how good are flash diffuser attachments? Themore I think about it, I can't really think of any situation where Iwouldn't want to use a diffuser. Thanks in advance..

I have a Nikon D80 + SB-600 flash (I have no idea how that compares to your kit) with a diffuser attachment..

The diffuser is a great thing. The SB-600 by itself produces great results, but the diffuser softens the light and is particularly useful when you are relatively close to the subject (e.g. people/groups from 5-15 feet away). I would not be without it..

When you wouldn't want to use it? It does reduce the range of the flash (because it spreads the light) so if you're further away (I don't know - 20 feet plus? I've never really measured it) you risk underexposure - or having to open the aperture further than you'd like..

When I'm using the diffuser at an indoor event, for example, shooting groups of people and general scenes, I (a) keep a close eye on the "flash fired fully" indicator and (b) turn Image Preview on so I can quickly check each shot and protect myself from forgetting the diffuser is on..

But I thoroughly recommend it as an essential accessory..

I suppose your next question will be "which one?" and my answer would be - I'm sure you'll get lots of people praising one brand or another, and maybe they're right - but hey, it's just a piece of translucent plastic, not a precision optical device. Which is best? One that fits your flash ..

Comment #1

Moxi, AustraliaHi there,.

Firstly I would like to make you aware that while a diffuser spreads the light more as well as giving a softer light - they also limit your flash output distance which can mean underexposure..

They can be very helpful if you use super wide angle lenses (see what flash angle your flash will light)..

The softer and wider spread light is very great if you do a lot of portraits - but it might also be useful if you take macros. The best way is to experiment with a cut up white plastic bottle or tissue paper in front of you flash. A piece of white paper stuck infront the flash might also be worth a try. Don't rush out to by one unless you are sure you will use it a lot. That gadget is mostly an item used in the beginning and then ending up in some bottom draw. (In may case anyway)Hope I helped you somewhat.CheersMoxi..

Comment #2

There are lots of diffusers to choose from. Gary Fong has some pretty nice onces..

But that's not the only way to shoot. Here's an example of using multiple flashes at the same time...

And one of the best methods I've heard of uses the room as a diffuser instead of using a dome. You simply point the flash behind you. This practically removes shadowing there is so much diffusion. Of course you'll need to bump up the flashgun's power quite a bit, but it does work quite well..

An example of when not to use a diffuser method is when you're using fill-flash, which uses much less light from the flashgun..

Another example is retail stock photography when you're taking pictures of items for sale...

Comment #3

I have found a lot of contrary opinions on these forums about the use of diffusers (e.g. some people think that StoFens are useless) so I would be interested in feedback..

I have a StoFen diffuser. I would like a Gary Fong diffuser but they are ridiculously expensive in the UK. I am still looking for a suitable plastic bottle to cut up and use as a substitute..

For flash photography the bigger the size of the light source the better, hence the advantage of bouncing the flash off of the ceiling, walls or rear of the room. I haven't found any benefit when using the StoFen type when bouncing and it just reduces the output by 2.5 stops..

I find that the StoFen has a very small benefit when the flash is pointed directly forward - the light is marginally less harsh..

The StoFen instruction sheet says always use it angled upwards even if you cannot bounce because the size of the light source is increased (although still minute compared with bounced flash). This seems to be the way that photojournalists use them and I have found it to be somewhat successful when I cannot bounce or when using flash outdoors at night..

The Gary Fong diffusers seem to create a very much larger light source than the StoFen and are always used pointing upward(?). They are open at the top so they can be used for a combination of bounced light and direct..

How do other people use diffusers?Chris R..

Comment #4

The FL-36 has a built in flip down diffuser. I don't have much experience with other diffusers, but Oly's built in one seems to be effective.Joel Orlinsky..

Comment #5

The SB-600 has a flip-down "diffuser" as well, but it's not really a diffuser, it's purpose is to spread the light further when using with a wide angle lens. (The flash has a zoom head but it doesn't zoom out beyond 18mm.).

I have no idea how effective it is, because I don't use it..

The built-in would be useful for softening the light in direct use; but I doubt that it would be as effective as a "proper" diffuser, and certainly not as versatile...

Comment #6

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