Homemade pop-up flash diffuser

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by carlas, Dec 19, 2006.

  1. Has anyone attempted to make a diffuser for a pop-up flash? I am looking for a getto rig to help with some low light pictures where I do not want to kill the subject with the harsh pop-up flash. (my new camera is ordered, complete with speedlight and diffuser, I just need a solution for tomorrow!) Someone pointed this out to me (see attached pic) and it looks handy! Any other ideas or suggestions, I'm all ears.
  2. thats so cute and totally genius! i rekon it will work a treat .. other wise a triple layer of
    tracing paper will do the trick!

  3. I was looking at Lumiquest Softscreen (http://www.lumiquest.com/softscreen.htm), it costs
    about $14. After looking at the solution you found, I think I am going for your version!
  4. If you diffuse a pop-up flash - GN 12, if you're lucky - I wonder what effective range there
    is left....
  5. hey w. smith..... there will be light... a different quality of light... a better looking light .....a
    little less light is easliy compensated for! .. lighten up x
  6. You may find this link very helpful.

  7. So, who makes those cylindrical round plastic thingies? My digicam doesn't come with'em!

  8. This looks really neat. You might want to throw some tin foil in the back portion. This will help reflect some of the light forward again, instead of illuminating the photographer's face!
  9. Mark, that was a fabulous link, thank you so much! I'll definitely be making my own bouncecard for the speedlight.

    Back to pop up flashes... One other solution I've found is a plastic LCD diffuser, an thin film found on laptop screens to diffuse the backlight. Not exactly the easiest thing to find... unless you work in IT and have some dead laptops laying around to loot from. I have not tried this possible solution yet, but I'm planning to test the film canisher, tracing paper, and LCD diffuser tonight and see what the differences are. Should all go according to plan I'll post some images.

    Thanks all!
  10. Hey Carla,

    The same thing is shown in the Jan 2006 issue of Popular Photography page 42.

    You show great creativity!

    Take the nay sayers who keep mentioning the the GN is around 12 with a grain of salt. These are the same people who imply that it's impractical to bounce with an on camera flash in a small room.

    First, the rated GN is for iso100, at iso400 it doubles to 24 (75 feet at f1, 37 feet at f2 etc.). Further more, as suggested above, putting some sort of reflector in your unit will also increase your effective guide number since the GN rating is for typically a 18mm field of vision, so if you shoot with a 50mm lens, most of your light is being wasted without some sort of reflector.

    Happy shooting!

  11. I've tried that film cannister diffuser, and I have to say that it didn't work for me for my pop-up flash. I would try to go the route of a "true" upward bounce trick. I think there are lots of different homemade solutions out there, if you search for them. FWIW, I made a basic bounce gadget a long time ago, with good results. That link given above for a better bounce card looks really handy and like a definite improvement handling- and looks-wise over mine. Half way down my page you can see my comparison of direct, film-cannister-diffused, and upward-bounced flash.
  12. I made a simple bounce card out of a piece of mat board, double-sided scotch tape, and some aluminum foil. I scrunched up the foil to make it wrinkly, flattened it back out, and then taped it to the mat board. I just hold it in front of my pop-up flash to direct the light to the ceiling. You loose a lot of light, so you will need high ISO and a fast lens, but it looks pretty good with my 50 f1.8....all things considered.
  13. I have tried several homemade devices since I'm too cheap to buy a nice flash (360 or 540 for the Pentax).

    One method that softens the light nicely is a piece of (thin-ish) white cloth and an elastic. Wrap that loosely around the pop-up unit and direct shots work well.

    As far as bouncing, I'm going to experiment with several reflective surfaces. Maybe the tin foil mentioned earlier!
  14. If you cut a slot half way down close to the other slot you can slid the camera strap in the slots and replace the cap it can't come off the strap so it is always on the strap and ready to go .
  15. Steve, this thread was started in 2006 and the last post was in 2008.
  16. While this thread's at the top, I think it's worth clarifying how little diffusers like that work.

    First thing to realise is that they don't actually soften the light. The main source remains tiny and hard in character. (As if something the size of a film canister could ever be anything else!)

    What happens is that a good proportion of the light is radiated upwards, back and sideways to be bounced from any nearby light-coloured surface to lighten the hard shadows of the direct light. If there are no nearby light-coloured surfaces to bounce from, then the 'softening' effect is little to zero. So no use using the thing outdoors at night, for example, or in the middle of a large, high-ceilinged ballroom.

    Having said that, I think it's pretty futile trying to use a puny pop-up flash for anything except paparazzi style lighting, or as fill flash, or in an emergency when there's nothing else to hand. The loss of light from such a diffuser reduces its usefulness considerably. To the point where you're probably fighting to overcome any ambient light.

    Stick your hand in your pocket and buy a 'proper' flash! It's not like they cost a lot used or from 3rd party vendors.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2019
  17. I use a plain old handkerchief...
  18. The handkerchief was commonly recommended as a flash diffuser about 60 years ago or more. The problem is - it just doesn't work. It has almost no effect on the quality of light.

    A bit of white fabric stuck over the flash lens doesn't make the area of light any bigger, just slightly dimmer. Admittedly, it will spread the light and give a wider coverage angle, but that's all. So unless you need to expand the coverage of the flash for an extreme wideangle lens, leave your hanky in your pocket.

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