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Flash Diffuser - Lambency

Also known as a  Lightsphere

A lambency flash diffuser is a  device that fits onto the front of a flash and both reflects and diffuses the light output, reducing greatly shadows. The flash unit is pointed vertically, and the device fitted, light hits the curved top cap of the unit and this reflects it back through the side. Sides can be clear or misty (cloud). The caps are replaceable allowing different colours to be used.

The advantages are said to be:-

  • Reduction of harsh shadows.

  • Avoiding red eye.

  • Reduced glare.

  • Less over exposure (lost highlights).

  • Wider angle than normal flash.

  • Simulated bounce flash when you have no ceiling.

  • When switching from portrait to view a lot, you don't have to constantly change the flash to get the right bounce effect. (Although better if flipped upright).

As light goes out 360 degrees, as well as some going on up, the light is less concentrated, giving the effect of a lower powered unit and therefore reducing the working range considerably.

A number of suppliers produce these, under slightly different names, at a variety of prices.

 

The image right shows a Nikon D300, SB800 and lambency cloud diffuser

The Phottix lambency flash diffuser kits come in a number of  versions, these include models for different flash units, there are 4 variations to cope with this, a cloudy and clear version and each giving 8 varieties. These then come with different selections of coloured domes (vaults). Kit prices are from 25 to 45, see range at www.phottix.net. We selected two, one cloud and one clear, each with a range of domes, and the fitting we chose was for the Nikon SB800, which also fits the SB600.

Clear left and cloud right

The variety of domes, called vaults, allow you to get a similar effects to putting a filter on the flash, so balancing the flash light to mix with artificial light of various colours, and allowing you to work with different white balance   settings.

For event and wedding photography for example this means that you can set your camera and flash colour to match the background lighting so the image, including background colours, are correct. As always you have to be very careful of mixed lighting and with the lower power caused by spreading the light out so much, you may find that the ambient background lighting has more effect than when using flash without it.

For product photography you can place a reflector behind a flash with this device on to get a very similar effect to a large flat panel light or soft box.

Cloud or Clear
Cloud

Cloud has more diffusion and is slightly warmer, so more suited to portraiture and social photography, will reduce shadows the most so can be more attractive for some portraiture.

 

 

 

Image taken using Nikon D300, SB800 flash and Photitix lambency cloud diffuser, an EV of -0.7 is set to make shadows show up more. Normally shadows would be lighter than this. The model is a Girlequin (see Girlequin's ).

Clear

Clear allows more light to pass, so you have more light. In practice as modern flash units change the light output to that required, this is not likely to be that noticeable when working close up, but batteries will last longer.

 

 

 

Image taken using Nikon D300, SB800 flash and Photitix lambency clear diffuser, an EV of -0.7 is set to make shadows show up more. Normally shadows would be lighter than this.

You may feel, I do, that there is insufficient difference between the cloud and clear to need to carry both.

Other Options

Gary Fong Lightsphere is another make of lambency defuser, and has some other options available as add on domes. They also make a collapsible version for those who say this is too large to carry with them. The Gary Fong Lightspheres were expensive, but more recently prices have dropped and you can find some from around 35, see BBJimports. There is also a new model with a universal fitting system, so fits more flash guns with only two models, an obvious advantage to dealers, but not very useful to you, however this costs more. Their kits, with extra caps, are still expensive, as are the add on caps. Gary Fong also has a tutorial website showing how to use his products (or other lambency diffuser) at www.flashdiffuser.com

Other options are a Stofen diffuser and big bounce cards - see our section on Lighting and Reflectors

Comparing Results

I wanted to see the difference between direct flash including angled and bounced, the use of a Stofen, again including angling and bouncing, and the lambency diffuser, so have carried out a test. This is covered in the article Flash diffuser - lambency compared.

 


By: Keith Park   Section: Lighting and Reflectors Key:
Page Ref: Flash_diffuser_lambency Topic: Flash, Studio and Reflectors Last Updated: 03/2010
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