Sto-Fen or Nikon diffusion dome?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dan_k|6, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. Do you feel that the StoFen omnibounce performs better than the dome that comes with the SB800? I was watching a video on shootsmarterTV and Will Crockett said that the SB800 dome doesn't really work well.
    Is there any truth to this?
  2. IMO, any difference isn't worth the additional cost of the Stofen, esp. since the usage will probably augmented by bouncing or using it as daylight fill
  3. ...Will Crockett said that the SB800 dome doesn't really work well.​
    He's wrong. The diffusion dome included with the SB-800 is designed to activate the micro-switches that modify the SB-800 default settings to be more appropriate for use with the diffusion dome. It does what it's supposed to do.
    Shootsmarter appears to be geared toward selling lessons and other items. It's in their interest to cast doubt on certain products. This creates controversy and "buzz" and by mentioning their name and website on discussion forums it increases their Google ranking.
  4. I actually heard from somebody (I think here) that they are identical in function except for those micro-switches. I bought one for my 600 because it didn't come with one.
  5. Will Crocket likes the product here:
    It's much bigger than a stofen or the one included with the SB800 and has many more options so I can understand why he prefers it.
    Anyway, a stofen or Nikons "ripoff" is just a piece of overpriced plastic.
  6. "Nikons "ripoff" is just a piece of " - the diffuser dome comes free with SB-800, so it is as big "ripoff" as one could imagine. I like ripoffs from Nikon like that. Give me more offs.
    Stofen can possibly be inserted the wrong side and disengage the flash head from auto zoom operation.
  7. I am a happy user of the Sto-fen, and have to disagree with Pete above STRONGLY! My Stofen makes my SB600 work GREAT for indoor flash work, and I rarely (if ever) have it off the flash. only 20 bucks for the SB600, and of course, the SB800 already comes with a diffuser, so it's not over-priced... as it's already included (although SB800s are discontinued now...)
    That said, there are some other good options out there, and the one that Pete S links to is one of them from all reports.
  8. Looked at the Crooket's link provided by Pete, and I see nice white plastic diffusers there, but for the asking prices?, this could quality better as... "ripoff".
  9. I use both Sto-Fens and Nikon diffusion domes, and see no practical difference in their effectiveness. The differences are minor.
    The Nikon cap fits just one way and activates a microswitch to zoom the flash in (wider). The Sto-Fens cap fits two ways - one way activates the microswitch, the other doesn't. The Nikon cap snaps securely in place, whereas the Sto-Fens is a friction fit.
    The Sto-Fens cap comes in three colors - clear, amber and green. They do a reasonable job balancing for daylight, incandescent light and fluorescent light respectively. Nikon gels work well too, take much less space in the bag but are harder to use (and reuse).
    I rarely use a flash without a diffusion cap in place. It evens out coverage when using a wide-angle lens, inside or out (q.v., any political photo op on television), or when working really close (<3') with any lens. If you point it straight up rather than angled toward the subject, the light in a small room is very even and nearly shadow-free. If you don't get enough light, then tilt the head 45 degrees toward the subject, or remove the cap completely.
  10. I generally use bounce flash, but sometimes it isn't practical. I built a cheap diffuser for my SB800. The cost is less than $0.25 (although a whole ream of card stock costs considerably more).
    The softness of the shadows depends on the size of the light source. That's why they use umbrellas in studios. The clip-on diffuser that came with the SB800 isn't much larger than the flash itself, so this solution gives softer shadows. I used it at a wedding (I was one of the guests, not the pro) and it gave me good results.
    It does look non-professional, but it works.
  11. I used a Stofen on my SB-600 and the D200. My sense is that the D200 "read" the light as "cloudy" moving the WB to a more reddish tone.
    I would either stick with using what's built-in or directly made for the SB-800.
    OR, I would consider using a DEMB reflector (what I use now)...
  12. The principle behind the Sto-Fens is that the flash acts like a bare bulb. The walls and ceiling reflect this light creating more uniform illumination than bounce light alone - the whole room is your "umbrella". When it works, it works very well, much like a soft box near the lens axis.
  13. Anyone ever used a Fong Lightsphere - I am doing some team portraits on a d90 with a sb600 flash -
    no experience in shooting youth basketball team pics so i'm looking for some help on lighting
    i'm going to buy some type of diffuser - which one?
  14. I have a Fong Lightspehere and find it only comes into it's own when you can bounce it on a ceiling. Ultimatelightbox seems way expensive for what it is. I use Lumiquest modifiers - much cheaper and far more variety.
  15. i think anyone paying for a glorified piece of tupperware ought to be spending money on more flashes or better lenses.
    these pieces of plastic all do the same thing. the radius of the curve on the rear side on the inside of the unit is not going to make any difference in your photographs. they all diffuse the light in almost the exact same way. just use the stock sb800 diffuser if you have an sb800. if you lost it or have a different flash buy the cheapest thing you can.
    the gary fong lightsphere is a racket just as bad as the sensor cleaning fluid one. that guy's built an empire for himself just with a bit of marketing, good on him.
  16. I don't know Cory, I along with many others are getting great results with the Lightspheres.
    I have both the cloudy and the clear and got a nice pkg deal from B&H for $79. Even though I don't use flash all that often, when I do, both myself and the subjects are pleased.
  17. when i misplaced the dome on my sb-800, i gambled on a $4 generic. works exactly the same. the design of the face still activated the micro switches that lex mentioned. the smooth front design (sto-fen, etc., i think) will not activate these switches.
  18. To some extent Cory's observation is correct. For many years I've made diffusers from various items ranging from translucent white materials: styrofoam plates, templates used by stain glass artisans, even empty isopropyl alcohol bottles. They all do pretty much the same thing.
    But the commercially made devices do look somewhat more professional, and appearance is important when shooting certain assignments. So I don't use my homebrewed gear when shooting events, even tho' I do most of 'em free of charge.
    The diffuser dome included with the SB-800 has one major advantage: it fits neatly into my small shoulder bag without having to remove it from the flash. Since it does a good job as-is, and is always handy, that factor makes it the "best" for my purposes. You choose what works best for your purposes.
  19. lex, this will show how old we are: i remember my film photojournalism days light years ago when i cut out a rectangular hole on bayer aspirin, orange juice and other similar transluscent plastic bottles for diffuser domes. i remember my 3-inch diameter, 4-inch long white cross alcohol bottle :)
  20. I think the main reason for buying a commercial solution instead of buying a DIY is ruggedness, quick foldability and ease of transport; the dome that came with the SB-800 fits snugly and diffuses light well. DIY solutions tend to not be as easy in the field (or then I just don't have the right equipment to make such). Anyway, if the commercial version is cheap, I don't consider it a big deal, but usually I want to test the concept first using a DIY solution and for stuff that doesn't leave the house DIY usually works well.
  21. I've used Sto-Fen products for several years. Still do on my Sunpak 383s. When I went DSLR, I got an SB-800, and use the Nikon white diffuser, and a Sto-Fen amber one on rare occasion. To me, there's no difference between the white Nikon and Sto-Fen diffusers, and as mentioned, the Nikon one is made for the switch on the SB-800. That said, I do stick a piece of cut gel under the Nikon diffuser now and then.
    I also use a Fong lightsphere when I know I'll be shooting single on-camera indoor flash ahead of time. I like it better then either the Nikon or the Sto-Fen, but it's pretty bulky. Soon I'll experiment with a Demb diffuser (it packs flatter than the others). I also use LumiQuest softboxes, and read somewhere where Joe McNally used the 80-20. I like to experiment...YMMV
  22. Just go with the stock nikon dome.
    If you want a "Fong Lightsphere" with ultrabounce 2 with extra magic sprinkles, contact a manufacturer in China and they'll mail you a sample for 20 cents plus shipping. Don't pay $100 for plastic tupperware that doesn't even come with a lid for food!

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