Light output from Flash Modifiers

There are different types of accessories that you can put on the end of your flash unit to control, limit or enlarge your light source. They provide various results depending on your creativity and lighting requirements. Used in combination, they can enhance your lighting setup.

The most common flash modifier that people buy is the Stofen Omnibounce, and unfortunately it is used for entirely the wrong reason. It does not make the light bigger and therefore soften the shadows. It bounces some of the light sideways and is used for bounce-flash. I have them but never use them anymore. They waste photons and I need as many as I can get from my flash head, going in the right direction

The reason I use modifiers is for either or all of the following:

  • Soften the light
  • Focus the light
  • Pop a subject from the background
  • Focus attention to a specific area

What follows is the output of all the modifiers I have to help you visualise the results of the light.

MY SETTINGS: 430EX II flash in manual mode at 1/4 power, on light stand. Fired remotely with Elinchrom Skyports. Camera is on manual mode, settings do not change and are not important for the tests.

I am zooming the flash head, not the lens, when I comment on the focal length. The flash is also positioned about 2 metres away from the wall.

Bare flash, 24mm at 1/4 power.

Bare flash, 105mm at 1/4 power – See the difference with the zoom. There is a stronger light in the centre with the zoom.

85cm shoot through umbrella at 24mm, 1/4 power- Much softer than bare flash AND you lose a stop or two of light.

85cm shoot through umbrella at 105mm, 1/4 power – Can see the ribs of the umbrella.

1/4 inch grid on flash head, 24mm at 1/4 power – Nice focus spot. Good for rim light

1/8th inch grid on flash head, 24mm at 1/4 power – Very tight, good for hair light.

5 inch snoot at 24mm, 1/4 power – Not as uniform as the grid but the advantage is you can adjust the end of the snoot.

8 inch snoot at 24mm, 1/4 power – Very tight, minimal falloff.

5 inch bounce card, flash pointed up, 24mm at 1/4 power.

5 inch bounce card, flash pointed up, 24mm at 1/4 power (view ceiling in view)

CONCLUSION

The umbrella softens the edges of the light and makes it a slightly larger light source that will wrap around the subject and so soften the shadows. Take a look at the edges of the test shots.

I like the spotlight effect that the grids provide, nice and round and well defined. Relatively soft edges too so it won’t be as harsh as you expect. Great for isolating and picking out your subjects from the front.

The snoots produce quite harsh light, as you would expect from such a small light source. Therefore the uses are limited to highlights where you won’t be hitting the front side of the subject.

The bounce card throws a small amount of light forward so great for fill-in whilst bouncing.

I have the “Honl Speed System” which you can review here

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