Diffusors on SB800: try before you buy....

Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
311
Location
The Netherlands
Hello Folks;

it is generally known that direct flash renders harsh shadows and unpleasant skin tones. There are solutions for that available in the shops. But, which one? I was looking at the Lumiquest SoftBox, and the Fong LightSphere for my SB800. Both available het in the shops. But, I did not yet know which one I would prefer.

So, I decided to get some stuff together and build some samples myself.. Here are some of the results, no PP except for some usm and resizing. D300 + 85/1.8. Some put close to the wall to check for shadows. I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by both option: they do work! Eventually I would like both, but I will test some more with my shoestring samples before buying...

I used a plastic box (for take-away Chinese food) for the softbox, with some cardboard, cellotape, plastic from a shopping bag, and some aluminium foil at the bottom of the box and a small piece against the front plastic, facing the flash.

The tube I made from a plastic bottle, a sheet of white copier paper rolled-up inside the bottle, and some aluminium foil inside/against that paper to direct the flash forward. I put a small round piece of paper inside/against the bottle bottom.

The pictures posted are just for judging lighting/shadows only. Comments welcome....


Thymen

Box and Tube, Front:
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Box and Tube, Rear
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SoftBox on D300/SB800
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SoftTube on D300/SB800
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Some results:

SOFTBOX Straight Flash:
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My eldest son, just woke up and checking his email, just before his patience ran out (takes only 10 seconds...)
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SoftBox Bounced Flash

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SOFTTUBE

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My wife, in the kitchen.
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Joined
Jan 26, 2005
Messages
1,011
Location
San Jose, CA
I've learned 3 things from your presentation, Thymen.

1. You are a very skilled do-it-yourselfer.
2. Both modifiers work admirably in a small, white room.
3. You have a beautiful wife and a very handsome son, both of whom are tired of you poking a camera in their faces :biggrin:

Nice work.
 
Joined
Jun 18, 2007
Messages
311
Location
The Netherlands
After playing around with it for a while....

I find that both diffusors are most usefull indoors, when there is some ambient light available and plenty of walls and ceiling to reflect from. Then, at shorter distances, both the tube and box work fine. I find the box, in bounce-mode (full upright position), to eleminate almost all shadows on the background.

Using straight flash, there is a difference in Portrait and Landscape mode. In Landscape, the box gives a little harsher shadows compared to the tube. In Portrait orientation, the box is a little bit too far offset to the side and produces larger shadow lines, here the tube (swivelled 90°) works a little better. But.... then it flashes in the potographers eyes as well, I do not like that.

At larger distances, the tube requires too much light for my taste. Unless shooting at large apertures, the SB800 guide number is not enough. The box, even in bounce mode, requires a little less.

Outdoors, when there is enough, or nearly enough ambient light, the box works fine as a fill-in flash, even at larger distances. The tube, when upright, scatters light to all directions and often the flash is not strong enough. When pointed towards the subject, due to it's smaller projected surface, produces harsher shadows then the box.

Indoors, with NO ambient light at all, things are the same as with ambient light, only enhanced.

Outdoors, with NO ambient light, the tube simply does not work. The box does, but obviously produces a more noticable "flash effect".

If I were to pick only one, I would take the box. The box is more versatile, covers more situations.

Below some "test" results.... Set up is just below a roof window, grey sky with diffuse light. I used a black sliding shade to block the ambient light for the test without ambient light. See the notes on the piece of paper. 85/1.8 at F4, distance about 1.8 meters (3 feet), subject to wall about 10 cm (4 inches). No PP, straight Raw to JPG conversion.

Notice the shadows on both the wall and the table..... I will try to get one of my kids to pose for another test, in order to check for shadows below the chin.


1 - No flash, just ambient light
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2- Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, straight flash
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3- Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, bounced 45°
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4- Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, bounced 90°
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5- Ambient Light, SoftBox, Straight Flash
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6- Ambient Light, SoftBox, bounced 45°
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7- Ambient Light, SoftBox, bounced 90°
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8- Ambient Light, Tube
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9- NO Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, Straight Flash
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10- NO Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, Bounced 45°
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11- NO Ambient Light, Nikon Diffusor, Bounced 90°
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12- NO Ambient Light, SoftBox, Straight Flash
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14- NO Ambient Light, SoftBox, Bounced 45°
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14- NO Ambient Light, SoftBox, Bounced 90°
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15- NO Ambient Light, Tube
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Last edited by a moderator:
Joined
Aug 5, 2007
Messages
679
Location
Chicago, IL
I've learned 3 things from your presentation, Thymen.

1. You are a very skilled do-it-yourselfer.
2. Both modifiers work admirably in a small, white room.
3. You have a beautiful wife and a very handsome son, both of whom are tired of you poking a camera in their faces :biggrin:

Nice work.
Hahahahaha!:biggrin:
 
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