Which of the two diffusers to the left would you think provides softer lighting? On the left is the 4" x 6" Graslon Insight. On the right is one of the market leaders, the much larger 6¼" x 7¼" Lumiquest Softbox II. If you chose the larger diffuser as the softest, then you wouldn't be alone. Common wisdom in the photography world is that a larger diffuser provides softer lighting, but is size the only specification that matters?
The series of photos below, top to bottom are taken with direct flash, the Graslon Insight and the LSB II. All three pictures were taken with the camera attached to a tripod and the same distance to the subject. Minimal adjustment was made for exposure.
Notice the softer shadows and warmer flesh tones produced by the Graslon Insight. How is it possible for a smaller diffuser to create such quality lighting? For decades, diffusers have been designed in a very similar way. Some form of translucent material is placed in front of the flash to scatter the light and soften shadows. This works well on large studio diffusers because the flash is far from the diffuser, so the beam of light has time to expand and make use of most of the surface area. With portable diffusers, this is a problem because the flash is so close to the diffusion surface. With these compact units, the beam of light does not have time to expand and can leave a hot spot in the center of the diffuser. That hot spot effectively becomes the size of the diffuser. A giant diffuser may seem like the best choice, but because of the hot spot, most of it would simply be extra, un-used material.
The following photos clearly reveal the hot-spot problem. The LSB II (right photo) leaves a hot spot in the center of the diffuser and does not fully use its larger size. The Graslon Insight (left photo) uses 100% of its diffusion surface with its revolutionary new mirror design. It enlarges the light before it ever hits the diffuser with a series of internal mirrors. The Insight is more efficient and outperforms larger diffusers as shown in this example. The Insight literally provides its own bounce. Having a large diffuser is good, but only if the entire surface area is being used.
Try the next generation of small flash modifiers by Graslon and you will be pleasantly surprised with your results. Purchase the Insight Diffuser at Graslon.com with the promo code "phototalk" for only $62.95 with free shipping during the month of September. Graslon also offers two other diffusers that use this mirror technology. The Prodigy is larger than the Insight and provides even softer lighting. The Spark diffuser is a great tool to use with any digital camera with a pop-up flash. For more information about all Graslon products, visit www.graslon.com.
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