Flash Diffuser - Lambency
Also known as a Lightsphere
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
You may feel, I do, that there is insufficient difference between the cloud and clear to need to carry both.
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
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.