Speedlight or Flash Diffusers and Softboxes

Kill the Harshness of Flash By Adding a Diffuser or Softbox

Flash Diffusers and Softboxes

Speedlight or Flash Diffusers and Softboxes: My professional digital camera kit grew and became larger and heavier over time. I had been looking for a portable lighting accessory for my Speedlites. Hopefully the following accessories will help to replace your studio lighting kit when shooting:

  • Weddings
  • People
  • Properties

...like it did for me. After natural light, diffused light from a softbox is my favourite. It can be virtually impossible to replace two powerful studio flash heads with a single speedlight. However, I have come pretty close with two speedlights and my Pocket Wizard TTL set up.

What I needed was something that would give the same flattering, diffused effect as a large softbox. All without compromising the power of my speedlights for which I would use it (I use 2 Canon EX580 II Speedlites).

I would primarily use these for my wedding photography. I come across many situations where flash is needed but I absolutely hate direct flash with a vengeance. Something simple, light and effective that I can simply plonk on my flashgun or speedlight quickly with the knowledge that it will work.

Power output

Note: The main thing to point out here is that with any diffuser system you will need to adjust the power output. This is to allow for the slight loss of light due to the diffusion. Think about it. Rather than a powerful discharge of intense flashlight, the light is being softened and "spread out" by the softbox or diffuser. To account for this, simply increase the flash exposure compensation by 1, 2 or 3 stops depending on how close you are to your subject.

What you get is a much more evenly spread and flattering fall of light on your subject. To make things even nicer, I bounce (when possible), the light from a ceiling or wall which enhances the effect.

As a further test of this 2-flash set up, I was recently asked to shoot 8 villa interiors as a matter of urgency. Normally, I would set up two or three studio lights for each room and then have to lug them around the house as I shot each room individually. This would take hours for each property.

What I did recently was to try out this speedlight lighting system in these villas…wow! Not only did I finish the shoot in record time (about 6 times as quick), the effect was as close to using studio lights as I could have wanted.

Using speedlight or flash diffusers and softboxes

The large softbox attachment when aimed directly at the ceiling produced enough power to bounce the flash light up and down. As well as throwing "fill in" light from its luminescent sides.

The wedding images below were also taken using parts of this system. Whether you are:

  • In an indoor environment with little or no natural/useful lighting
  • Outdoors looking for some lighting creativity

...rather than using harsh direct flash, off camera or bounced flash proved to be worth its weight in gold.

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