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Light Sphere

Chris Andro , Jun 15, 2008; 10:16 a.m.

I just recieved a SB-800 for my D70s, and a friend told me to go out and get myself a light sphere.

Can anyone with experience using them, clowd or clear, tell me what sort of difference they make vs. the included Nikon diffuser and or bounce card.

Seems like a very small price to pay, but how are the results?

Thanks in advance.


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Shun Cheung , Jun 15, 2008; 10:35 a.m.

The topic of the Light Sphere has been discussed quite a few times here in photo.net. In particular, check the Wedding Forum and Lighting Forum.

$40 or so is not a whole lot of money, but that is a lot of money for a piece of semi-translucent rubber/plastic. As a B&H associate calls it: "Gary Fong's Tupperware." Never the less, I did buy one recently just to check it out.

Russ Butner - Portland, OR - Vancouver, WA , Jun 15, 2008; 11:17 a.m.

Something much cheaper and adjustable, is the Demb Flip-It. ( http://www.dembflashproducts.com/flipit/ ). Very compact, lightweight, adjustable, designed and built well. It's the best of the light modifying devices that I've found and used.


Tachion Feynman , Jun 15, 2008; 12:16 p.m.

Shun, how wat it?

I have naively thought of experimenting with making my own "light sphere" from some plastic stuff. Could start experimenting with empty water jugs and then see if I could fix up something more practical. Of course, if you show up for a paid shoot with a duct tape and milk jug contraption or something like that you'd be laughed at. I think Gary is a very smart man!

Shun Cheung , Jun 15, 2008; 12:37 p.m.

I did some test shots at home, and the Light Sphere seems to be ok. It does make the SB-800 top heavy, which is a common complaint. I haven't used it in actual shoots.

Personally, I prefer to simply use the pull-out white card reflector built-into the SB- 800; the main disadvantage (as well as advantage) of it is that the card is too small, and I can certainly use a larger reflector surface.

Gary Fong is clearly very successful in marketing.

Robert Hooper , Jun 15, 2008; 02:23 p.m.

I have seen and tried dozens of gadgets over the years and found nothing that beats a piece of paper sized and configured any way you like, rubber-banded to the flash head. Camera mounted strobes are weak enough without further diminishing power with diffusion material. The SB-800 comes with its own diffusion dome that works quite well at short distances, if thats the way you want to go. Otherwise the paper rubber- banded to the flash head makes maximum use of the power available for coverage at a distance, and the diffusive quality of the light is quite good.

Save Your Money

D.B. Cooper , Jun 15, 2008; 03:34 p.m.

I've used several diffusers over the years - Sto-Fen, Nikon, Fong, Demb, and they all work to more or less degree. All are better than bare flash, unless you're going for a hard light look. At the end of the day, you have to pick what you like, because they all have at least subtle differences.

I prefer more straight diffusion than bounce both because of shadows and because I somehow manage to have to shoot in places where the ceiling is quite high or dark (or both).

Gary Fong is a marketing genius for sure, but that alone won't sustain a business. His products work, and work well. My personal preference is the cloud lightsphere. I have the clear also, but seldom use it. I pack the cloud with a cloud dome and an amber dome (I have the chrome dome, but seldom use it either). I've had the lightspheres for about 3 years now.

To me, the edge transition of the lightsphere is smoother than the others, I find it more versatile, being able to pop the dome off and use it as a straight flash very quickly, or shoot through the dome. To me, the only downside to the lightsphere is that it's bulky to pack. I've never had a problem with it falling off. When I'm traveling light/compact, I use the Joe Demb unit. The Demb unit usually lives in my G9's bag.

With either the Fong or the Demb, I like not having to pack a Stroboframe. I still use Sto-Fen and the Nikon diffusers here and there, especially when attaching to a mini-softbox like a Lastolite 15".

Robert Hooper , Jun 15, 2008; 04:11 p.m.


"I prefer more straight diffusion than bounce both because of shadows and because I somehow manage to have to shoot in places where the ceiling is quite high or dark (or both)."

When the ceiling is too high, dark, colored, or nonexistent, I just tilt the flash head forward to the 60 degree mark to begin with, or even the 45 degree mark to get more distance. You can keep the flash head upright and just bend the paper forward for more bounce effect if you want. Try it.

In my illustration, I used a simple business envelope, but you can use a standard sheet of letter size printing paper or bigger to make a larger reflective surface to bounce off.

Russ Konrad , Jun 15, 2008; 05:03 p.m.

Robert has the same idea as the Better Bounce Card. Rather than using paper - use white foam from an art supply store. It is flexible, can be turned down, and it doesn't crease at all.

Check out the video on the Better Bounce Card site. The guy will sell you one if you insist, but he also tells you how to build one of your own for less than $5 or so.

A Better Bounce Card

Having said that - I do use a clear Lightsphere and like the results I get with it.

David Cunningham , Jun 16, 2008; 12:59 a.m.

i have to second the demb flip-it. it replaced my lightsphere after shooting one event.

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