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Flash Diffuser - Lambency Compared

Also known as a  Lightsphere

A lambency flash diffuser is a device that fits onto the front of a flash and both reflects and diffuses the light output, reducing greatly shadows.  This is explained in greater detail in Flash Diffuser - Lambency.

I wanted to get a direct comparison on how well this worked compared to other flash techniques short of using studio equipment.

The need often arises to take test shots of models, pictures for magazine illustrations or family photos and you don't want to take or set up a full studio. Also for photos at social events like weddings you need a very mobile means to get good flash photos.

There are two variations, cloud and clear. In my view the difference between the cloud and clear is not great, see illustrations for each in Flash Diffuser - Lambency. So I have, in this test, just used one, the cloud.

In this test I wanted to look both at working at a little distance and close up,

The images are taken with a Nikon D300 set on P, exposure variation set to EV-0.7, to make shadows show up well, and auto white balance. In effect as near automatic as the camera does so as to give a fair comparison. Normal room lights were on. A Nikon SB800 flash is used.

Using an EV of -0.7 makes the images a little darker than normal buts is useful in that it makes the shadowing stand out more.

The model is a Girlequin positioned on a chair against a radiator so only inches from a wall.

We are looking at direct flash and Stofen diffusers at different angles and the lambency cloud diffuser.

Results Compared

The first set are with the camera in portrait or upright perspective and a little way from the subject, in this case a Girlequin is positioned against a wall.

Straight direct flash towards the model

Heavy shadows behind, unflattering and harsh, no major shadowing on face or neck.

Direct flash set at 45 degrees towards ceiling

Better results, still noticeable shadows on background.

Direct with Stofen type diffuser on flash

Similar to direct but a little softer.

Flash with Stofen angled at 45 degrees to ceiling.

Reasonable results but shadows on the wall are heavy.

Flash with Stofen pointed directly up at ceiling

Shadow on eyes and under chin. Shadow on wall behind is softer and not as noticeable.

Flash with lambency cloud diffusion

Turning the camera to view and getting closer to the model

Lambency diffuser (cloud)
Stofen direct at ceiling
Stofen at 45 degrees
Stofen direct at model
Flash direct at model
Flash only at 45 degrees
Flash only pointing at ceiling


The lambency diffuser produced good results as good as any other and was consistent.

A Stofen at 45 degrees when close or at the ceiling when some way off produced comparable results. But you need a ceiling.


By: Keith Park   Section: Lighting and Reflectors Key:
Page Ref: Flash_diffuser_lambency_compared Topic: Flash, Studio and Reflectors Last Updated: 03/2010

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