07 August 2008

Short diffuser review

After some events without diffuser, I decided to buy one. It is nice to shoot with bouncing, but there are times when ceiling is too high (or not convenient for bouncing). If you have time to make a setup with umbrella and many lights (or flashes), then go that way.

But many events happen quickly and you must find a way to soften your lights from your flash. One of most used method is diffuser/softbox. There are many of them. I read reviews, talk with users, try some of them and then decide – Lumiquest Promax System.

Promax System comes in a kit – basic unit, three interchangeable inserts (white, silver and gold) and frosted diffusion screen. The basic unit allows 80% of the light to bounce off the ceiling while 20% is redirected forward as fill light. I paid 75 EUR (in Slovenia, EU) – not cheap, but kit is nice and many users writes positive reviews.

I take some time and make a short compare between direct flash, bouncing flash, Promax basic unit, Promax basic unit with white insert and a simple homemade softbox. Softbox was “designed” by my friend Aleš Velušček.

For test I use Canon 30D, Canon 580EX in shadowed room (daylight). I will repeat test with different lightings later. I hope Promax (of course with insert in basic unit) will work as promised outside.

Here are crops from shadow part of the picture. What is the best for you?

Direct flash:

Aleš's homemade softbox:

Flash with bouncing (ceiling):

Lumiquest Promax basic unit (80:20):

Lumiquest Promax basic unit (80:20) with white insert:

For flash bouncing I have to write one note. The shade (although not hard at all) appears on bottom side (not visible on this crop). But, if you can - use bouncing.
Close enough are Promax with basic unit - 80% of flash goes to bouncing and 20% are direct to object. In many occasions this is very good, so I'm pretty happy with results. You can also see catchlights in eyes (yes, 20% of flash lights are direct).
Homemade softbox are close enough. Light are soft and softbox is cheap enough (well - if you have parachute textil and tailor in your house).

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