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Your opinion on bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets
Old 01-11-2004, 09:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Greetings All,

I have spent the last four hours researching bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets for an on-camera (or off-camera shoe cord) flash. The objective is to reduce harsh shadows and red-eye for portrait and candids in situations with and without reachable white ceilings or walls using a swivel/bounce flash. And, I have narrowed down my prospective purchase to three options.

1) Stroboframe Bracket - Quick Flip 350 for 35mm Cameras
2) Sto-fen Omni-Bounce and Sto-fen Two-Way Bounce
3) Lumiqust ProMax system and Lumiquest softbox

I am wondering if anyone has an opinion that they would be willing to offer me based on their experience using these (or similar) products. Experiences, comments, preferences and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Donnell
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Re: Your opinion on bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets
Old 01-11-2004, 10:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Donnell,

I'm not sure of the exact models you are looking at, but the small (3" x 6") attachments that go on a flash only soften things a bit.

I use the smallest softbox by Photoflex (about 6" x 9"). It does create a softer light, especially if you can get it close to subject. However, shadows do still exist. It is a bit large for on-camera, and an assistant is helpful.

In my opinion, there is no substitute for size.

Steve
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Re: Your opinion on bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets
Old 01-11-2004, 10:43 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I've used Stroboframe brackets before and they are very good but don't really allow you to engineer your own solutions too much.

The bracket I use is made by Custom Brackets (www.custombrackets.com). It's a little bulky, heavy and pricey but it has a lot of places to mount other things and allows you to control the height of your flash unit. It also lets you rotate the camera rather than the flash, which is a personal preference thing. Sometimes I use it with my Nikon flash and other times with a Lumedyne classic head with a diffuser that looks like the old coffee can lids.

The Nikon SB-80 flash came with an Omni-Bounce type of diffuser that works very well. To deal with high ceilings I taped a small strip of thick white paper inside the top of the diffuser. That way when the head is angled up your not wasting light by throwing it behind you and it helps add a catch light to the subjects eyes.

Hope this is helpful..


Israel
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Re: This works very well.
Old 01-11-2004, 11:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This is what I use. T&L web site tom@tandlphoto.com
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Re: Your opinion on bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets
Old 01-11-2004, 11:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Donnell,

I use the stroboframe quick flip with with the stofen omni bounce and the westcott micro apollo softbox, this is a much better modifier than that piece of crap that Lumiquest sells.

The stroboframe is a must for using a flash in a group, the added distance from lens kills red eye very well. But watch out, that added hight can get a flash hotshoe or TTL shoe broken fairly easily...and yes I've done this.

The Stofen Omnibounce does a good job of softening the flash but it doesn't do much at all for the strobes contrast and shadow edges aren't softened very much at all.

The Westcott Micro Apollo does a great job diffusing the light, softening shadows and lowering the strobes contrast. Micro Apollo on B&H

Cheers,
Ernie
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Re: Your opinion on bounce flashes, diffusers, and brackets
Old 01-12-2004, 09:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Stroboframe Quickflip is great. I generally prefer a two light direct system, over bounce, when ceilings aren't suitable. That entails radio transmitter/receivers, and a stand mountable light, preferably on a Bogen compact stand, with a Bogen umbrella adapter used to connect the flash to. Then you can have full swivel and tilt control, over the stand light.

After trying the Lumiquest product, I wasn't satisfied with it. I think you can get just as good a result with a bounce card, for pennies.

Have not tried the Stofen products.

For diffusion, I find a wide-angle diffusion on the lights, is sufficient, most of the time. If I want more, I use a Softar #1 on the lens (Hassie), (or with 35mm, a Nikon #1).

Hope that helps.
 
 
One important item you missed ....
Old 01-12-2004, 09:46 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You and your location to the model.

I have used different diffusion methods both ON and OFF camera. One of the issues that you have to look at is the distance the flash is to the model and the distance the model is to the background.

The farther away you are from the Model the the more contrast you will get on their face and the harsher the shadow will be on a close background. This light fall off need to be managed. So the close you get the less fall off and the softer the light. Also the closer you get the the model the greater the ratio relationship is between you models meter reading and the background. Say you want a darker background, well don't move back move forward.

But, no matter what diffusion you are using you will still get harsh shadows depending on how far the flash is from the model. Its the distance the light is from the model not the camera from the model that is important here.

Now Say you are shooting a model and you don't want harsh shadows on the model then move closer. This will create softer shadows on the model and on the background behind the model. If you have off camera flash then move the flash closer if you are worried about perspective control.

You can diffuse with anything translucent, its the amount of light passing through it and the distance from the model that will make the difference.

So, I would before spending more money on equipment, look at some basic photographic lighting principles first and test, test, test.

Good luck,
Mark
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Re: One important item you missed ....
Old 01-12-2004, 06:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Excellent Advice!
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Re: One important item you missed ....
Old 01-12-2004, 09:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Mark,

Can't thank you enough for the tip/advice, which probably served as a great reminder to others who read my post and your response. As a beginner, I still have a lot to learn about mastering the light. And, I think your words have really sunk in.

First thing I am going to do is some research on lighting principles. Then, I will begin to experiment with my flash at different distances from the model and the background. Once I examine the results from my tests and have the basics down, then I should be in a better position to make an even more educated decision regarding precisely when and under what conditions I need to use additional equipment.

I feel like I should have known this already. But, sometimes I plough full speed ahead into things, and it requires a little wisdom to force me to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Thanks again,
Donnell
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Re: One important item you missed ....
Old 01-12-2004, 09:52 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Donnell,

I am always learning and always forgetting. I am just glad that there are other out there to remind me of both.

Good luck.
Mark
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