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Old 01-21-2013   #1
Vicuna
 
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Default Lightspher

What are your thoughts on the Gary Fong Lightshere, colapsable vs the box diffuser used on flash?

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Old 01-22-2013   #2
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I have nothing bad to say about Gary Fong, or his products. He is a fantastic promoter and his products in reality are no more hype than the beautiful hamburgers on the fast food menu board. If you understand that the illustrations are not necessarily reality. A stofen, or a plastic bowl, a plastic milk carton, or a Lightsphere all pretty much do the same thing, some just look a bit more polished while they do it.

The lightsphere replicates an old, old school portable lighting technique known as bare bulb flash. Don't confuse this name "bare bulb" with your hot shoe flash being used without a modifier, not the same thing at all. Your hot shoe flash isn't bare bulb it has a reflector and fires one direction. Bare bulb hales from the days when flash tubes were round and the reflectors were removable. Shooting bare bulb would cast a 360 degree of flash (very powerful flash at that). Doing this would fill a room with omni-directional light which in turn would bounce off every reflective surface. This made for really soft shadows (and very annoyed reception guests). The lightsphere turns your highly directional low power flash into a lower power omni-directional light. As does the stofen and a dozen other products both commercially made and homemade.

What makes light "diffused" or "soft" is it's relative size to the subject. This is why studio photographers use large umbrellas, large soft boxes and sometimes modifiers six or seven feet in diameter to illuminate a single human model. It would be a monumental feat to spread enough usable light over 4-7 feet with a six inch wide bowl shape modifier. The effective size of the surface area of the modifier is important. These things are not science that work like magic, they are magic... the magic of exaggerated claims and marketing a dream. If you use a Fong diffuser, keep it close to your subject and stick with nearer views rather than full length shots.
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Old 01-22-2013   #3
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Default Re: Lightspher

My light sphere is a translucent plastic milk bottle. It works just as well as a Gary Fong Light Sphere but cost me - NOTHING!

I have never used it for taking real photos, only for a few test shots.

The biggest problems with this pseudo bare bulb photography is the loss of power Steve mentioned and color tinting of the subject. The color tinting comes from the light bouncing off of any colored wall or ceiling near the subject and is virtually impossible to completely remove in post processing.

If you want simple soft light from your flash then bounce it off any nearby neutrally colored wall or ceiling - never bounce off any wall or ceiling with a strong color.

The next step up is to move the flash off-camera and use a diffuser. Even a 24" umbrella with a hot-shoe flash can be used at distances of about 2'-4' from the subject and give you nice portrait lighting.
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Old 01-22-2013   #4
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Default Re: Lightspher

Wow, that is a lot of great information, I appreciate it.

I think from the information you guys provided, I'll be looking into to a soft box. Do you guys have any suggestions for a soft box?

Thanks
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Old 01-22-2013   #5
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There are three types of hot-shoe softboxes.

One is like the Westcott Apollo where the hot-shoe flash is inside the softbox and aimed at the back of the box. The light from these is very evenly distributed across the face of the softbox and the deep recess of the diffuser face gives you a lot of control over where the light goes. The drawback to this type of softbox is that you have to open it up to adjust the flash power.

The second type is like the Lastolite Ezbox where the flash is mounted at the back of the box and aimed toward the front diffuser. The disadvantage of is type of softbox is that it requires an internal diffuser to give you even light from the face of the diffuser. The advantage of this type of softbox is that you can easily change the power of the flash since the flash is outside the softbox.

The last type is the umbrella softbox like the Photek Softlighter II. The flash and umbrella are mounted on an umbrella bracket just like any other umbrella but there is a diffuser that goes across the open face of the umbrella. There is a hole through the diffuser for the flash head. Since the back of the flash is outside the diffuser you can change the power easily.


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Canon 7D, Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II, Tamron SP AF28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di, Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM, Tamron SP 90MM F/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro
Nissin Di866, Electra CLASSIC Plus studio strobes & modifiers
Sekonic L-358 Flash Meter, Yongnuo RF-602 Transmitters & Receivers
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