Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce Flash Diffuser Question

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Matt, Nov 14, 2004.

  1. Matt

    Matt Guest

    I have seen Sto-Fen 'Omni-Bounce' Flash Diffusers used quite regularly, but
    excuse my ignorance, I would be interested how they work.

    Obviously, they create a softer light than normal flash, but I have seen
    them used in two different ways:
    Firstly, paparazzi when shooting close to politicians, and secondly when
    shooting close to animals.

    When paparazzi use them, they seem to point the flash directly at their
    subjects.

    When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse used it, such as shooting Giraffes at
    close range at 17mm, he had it at a 45° angle, Seeing as the Giraffe was
    almost licking the lens, it seemed like it would totally miss the Giraffes
    head if you went by where the flash was pointing.

    Also, I have heard that the Sto-Fen diffuser is best used at 45°.

    Can anyone elaborate?
    Matt, Nov 14, 2004
    #1
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  2. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    Matt wrote:

    > I have seen Sto-Fen 'Omni-Bounce' Flash Diffusers used quite regularly, but
    > excuse my ignorance, I would be interested how they work.
    >
    > Obviously, they create a softer light than normal flash, but I have seen
    > them used in two different ways:
    > Firstly, paparazzi when shooting close to politicians, and secondly when
    > shooting close to animals.
    >
    > When paparazzi use them, they seem to point the flash directly at their
    > subjects.


    Minor improvement, or more likely forgot to raise it.

    >
    > When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse used it, such as shooting Giraffes at
    > close range at 17mm, he had it at a 45° angle, Seeing as the Giraffe was
    > almost licking the lens, it seemed like it would totally miss the Giraffes
    > head if you went by where the flash was pointing.


    No comment.

    >
    > Also, I have heard that the Sto-Fen diffuser is best used at 45°.
    >
    > Can anyone elaborate?


    Yeah, McLeod and I were looking for a fight so this will do fine!

    1. It is a slightly larger area than the basic flash. So slightly softer. At
    45° the area is slightly larger still, and so slightly softer again. Slightly.

    2. It is designed to take advantage of white walls (side) and ceiling to further
    make the lighting area large and soft (while reducing harsh shaddows). This is
    the mode where the contribution to soft lighting is the greatest.

    3. At 45° the flash head is at a higher position relative to the lens axis, and
    so there is less chance of redeye.

    4. It reduces the maximum power of the flash by about 1.5 stops. On a TTL or
    AUTO flash, this is no problem.

    4a. On an AUTO flash, setting it to 45° or higher is a necessity, not an option
    as the omni-bounce straight forward will radiate partly at the flash sensor
    causing it to shut off early.

    4b. On a non-Auto, non-TTL flash, divide the film ISO by 3 or 4 and use that as
    the setting on the flash for distance/aperture determination.

    Since I love McLeod so much, I'll argue with me on his behalf:

    5. McLeod prefers the flash pointing straight up with the omnibounce for very
    soft lighting using the ceiling as well as the wall behind the photographer (if
    there is one). I disagree, on the other hand he earns his lving at this! I'll
    stipulate that it does work if the wall behind the photog is relatively close (a
    foor or two) v. a subject range on the order of 10-15 feet.

    (Did I shoot myself hard enough there McLoed? Sorry if I wasn't harder).

    The omnibounce is ALWAYS in my bag and I use it for almost all camera mounted
    flash shots. I have another widget, the Lumiquest 80-20 which is very good, but
    more cumbersome. I've recently seen an inflatable softbox that fits over flash
    heads yielding a surface of about 4 x 6 inches. Seems like a bright idea, but I
    haven't seen the results.

    Cheers,
    Alan.



    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI gallery]: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- [SI rulz]: http://www.aliasimages.com/si/rulz.html
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 14, 2004
    #2
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  3. Matt

    McLeod Guest

    On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 14:52:37 -0500, Alan Browne
    <> wrote:

    >5. McLeod prefers the flash pointing straight up with the omnibounce for very
    >soft lighting using the ceiling as well as the wall behind the photographer (if
    >there is one). I disagree, on the other hand he earns his lving at this! I'll
    >stipulate that it does work if the wall behind the photog is relatively close (a
    >foor or two) v. a subject range on the order of 10-15 feet.
    >
    >(Did I shoot myself hard enough there McLoed? Sorry if I wasn't harder).
    >
    >The omnibounce is ALWAYS in my bag and I use it for almost all camera mounted
    >flash shots.


    I agree with everything you say. It does pretty much the same thing
    which ever way you point it. The last sentence pretty much covers why
    photojournalists have it on all the time...they're too busy shooting
    to worry about whether it's on or off and usually they are just adding
    a little fill or catchlight to the eyes with it anyway. That is also
    the reason nature photographers use flash, unless you're shooting for
    National Geographic with one of those huge tele extenders. In my
    experience you can get away with much less flash power with digital
    than film and removing the sto-fen is not neccessary. I know this
    goes against the laws of physics so maybe it's just a poor hypothesis.
    McLeod, Nov 14, 2004
    #3
  4. Matt

    McLeod Guest

    On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 14:52:37 -0500, Alan Browne
    <> wrote:

    >4b. On a non-Auto, non-TTL flash, divide the film ISO by 3 or 4 and use that as
    >the setting on the flash for distance/aperture determination.
    >
    >Since I love McLeod so much, I'll argue with me on his behalf:


    One other good idea is to actually calculate your guide number with
    the Stofen on. Since flashmeters are no longer the rarity they used
    to be it's very easy to do without even shooting any film but you have
    to be aware of what sort of room you are shooting in. A large open
    room will give very different results from a room with an 8 ft white
    ceiling.
    One of the best photogs I know ignores auto, ttl, d-ttl for 95% of
    his shots and knows his flash well enough to do a quick mental
    calculation for main light, fill, or just a kicker in the eyes..
    McLeod, Nov 14, 2004
    #4
  5. Matt

    KBob Guest

    On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 17:51:11 -0600, McLeod <>
    wrote:

    >On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 14:52:37 -0500, Alan Browne
    ><> wrote:
    >
    >>4b. On a non-Auto, non-TTL flash, divide the film ISO by 3 or 4 and use that as
    >>the setting on the flash for distance/aperture determination.
    >>
    >>Since I love McLeod so much, I'll argue with me on his behalf:

    >
    >One other good idea is to actually calculate your guide number with
    >the Stofen on. Since flashmeters are no longer the rarity they used
    >to be it's very easy to do without even shooting any film but you have
    >to be aware of what sort of room you are shooting in. A large open
    >room will give very different results from a room with an 8 ft white
    >ceiling.
    >One of the best photogs I know ignores auto, ttl, d-ttl for 95% of
    >his shots and knows his flash well enough to do a quick mental
    >calculation for main light, fill, or just a kicker in the eyes..


    Agree with this. I normally use a Quantum-X flash with a Norman
    battery pack, and this 400 W-S arrangement is non-TTL, and cannot be
    made TTL. It's not a big job to take a flashmeter and make a few test
    shots (or use the camera's histogram) at the apertures & distances
    planned. True, it's one more thing to worry (or not worry) about, but
    it certainly beats flashbulbs. And if I can't live without auto
    flash, the unit does have a built-in SCR device that works in most
    circumstances. If the image isn't dead-on exposure-wise (often
    slightly over if anything), the 14n almost always has enough elbow
    room to recover it. One advantage to shooting flash by "guide number"
    is that you are doing the equivalent of using an incident light
    reading, most often a solution to highly contrasting subjects, and
    generally the method used by pros under studio conditions.

    Most of this automatic stuff is just a bunch of marketing, anyway,
    including overpriced lenses, rant, rave etc. We'd do well to get back
    to basics and leave that stuff alone. The image is what we're after
    here, not a closetfull of equipment, right?
    KBob, Nov 14, 2004
    #5
  6. "Matt" <> wrote in message news:<cn84b1$c7c$>...
    > I have seen Sto-Fen 'Omni-Bounce' Flash Diffusers used quite regularly, but
    > excuse my ignorance, I would be interested how they work.
    >
    > Obviously, they create a softer light than normal flash, but I have seen
    > them used in two different ways:
    > Firstly, paparazzi when shooting close to politicians, and secondly when
    > shooting close to animals.
    >
    > When paparazzi use them, they seem to point the flash directly at their
    > subjects.
    >
    > When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse used it, such as shooting Giraffes at
    > close range at 17mm, he had it at a 45° angle, Seeing as the Giraffe was
    > almost licking the lens, it seemed like it would totally miss the Giraffes
    > head if you went by where the flash was pointing.
    >
    > Also, I have heard that the Sto-Fen diffuser is best used at 45°.
    >
    > Can anyone elaborate?



    I use mine in the straight-on position with the flash mounted on a
    Stroboframe and get results very much to my liking. Moving the
    primary light source further from the lens will do more to improve
    your flash photography than will any diffuser alone. The diffuser is
    useful for on-camera fill-flash; I'd still recommend shooting with the
    flash head in the straight-on position.

    Michael
    street shooter, Nov 15, 2004
    #6
  7. Hi

    I have been a fan of the Sto-fen Omni-bounce flash diffusers for many
    years now, They have many uses, the most important of which for me is
    that they give a slightly softer light than an on camera flash will
    without one.

    The Omni-bounce caps are always in my bag. They represent a very
    simple and durable way of balancing flash and available light colour
    temperatures to within the range where Photoshop can do the rest with
    ease.

    Regards
    Gary
    www.basic-digital-photography.com

    "Matt" <> wrote in message news:<cn84b1$c7c$>...
    > I have seen Sto-Fen 'Omni-Bounce' Flash Diffusers used quite regularly, but
    > excuse my ignorance, I would be interested how they work.
    >
    > Obviously, they create a softer light than normal flash, but I have seen
    > them used in two different ways:
    > Firstly, paparazzi when shooting close to politicians, and secondly when
    > shooting close to animals.
    >
    > When paparazzi use them, they seem to point the flash directly at their
    > subjects.
    >
    > When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse used it, such as shooting Giraffes at
    > close range at 17mm, he had it at a 45° angle, Seeing as the Giraffe was
    > almost licking the lens, it seemed like it would totally miss the Giraffes
    > head if you went by where the flash was pointing.
    >
    > Also, I have heard that the Sto-Fen diffuser is best used at 45°.
    >
    > Can anyone elaborate?
    Gary Hendricks, Nov 15, 2004
    #7
  8. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    McLeod wrote:

    > On Sun, 14 Nov 2004 14:52:37 -0500, Alan Browne
    > <> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>4b. On a non-Auto, non-TTL flash, divide the film ISO by 3 or 4 and use that as
    >>the setting on the flash for distance/aperture determination.
    >>
    >>Since I love McLeod so much, I'll argue with me on his behalf:

    >
    >
    > One other good idea is to actually calculate your guide number with
    > the Stofen on. Since flashmeters are no longer the rarity they used
    > to be it's very easy to do without even shooting any film but you have
    > to be aware of what sort of room you are shooting in. A large open
    > room will give very different results from a room with an 8 ft white
    > ceiling.


    I'll grant you that one though I doubt the range variance is very wide when the
    sto-fen is at a medium angle ... as most of the light will be direct path
    subject and back to the auto sensor.

    > One of the best photogs I know ignores auto, ttl, d-ttl for 95% of
    > his shots and knows his flash well enough to do a quick mental
    > calculation for main light, fill, or just a kicker in the eyes..


    Kicker in the eyes is no sweat, if I'm that close and all I want is a punch
    there, then I set 1/16 or 1/32 and it's doen. But without my meter or one of
    the 4,327 varieties of TTL flash on my machine, I'm lost for what power setting
    to use even with limited aperture choices.

    A few weeks ago I was at an oyster party and happily snapping away party pics.
    I'd forgotten the camera was in "M" mode... thankfully the TTL is the default
    mode of the system and still obeys the flash comp in "M"... great shots of course...

    One negative about the stofen and a high angle ... when close up and the stofen
    is set high (45° or higher) then you're less likely to get a catchlight in the eyes.

    Cheers,
    Alan

    --
    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpe35mmur.htm
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems: http://www.aliasimages.com/rpdslrsysur.htm
    -- [SI gallery]: http://www.pbase.com/shootin
    -- [SI rulz]: http://www.aliasimages.com/si/rulz.html
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 15, 2004
    #8
  9. Matt

    Annika1980 Guest

    Annika1980, Nov 15, 2004
    #9
  10. Matt

    Matt Guest

    Matt, Nov 15, 2004
    #10
  11. Matt

    Annika1980 Guest

    Annika1980, Nov 15, 2004
    #11
  12. Matt

    Bob Hickey Guest

    "Matt" <> wrote in message
    news:cn84b1$c7c$...
    > I have seen Sto-Fen 'Omni-Bounce' Flash Diffusers used quite regularly,

    but
    > excuse my ignorance, I would be interested how they work.
    >
    > Obviously, they create a softer light than normal flash, but I have seen
    > them used in two different ways:
    > Firstly, paparazzi when shooting close to politicians, and secondly when
    > shooting close to animals.
    >
    > When paparazzi use them, they seem to point the flash directly at their
    > subjects.
    >
    > When wildlife photographer Andy Rouse used it, such as shooting Giraffes

    at
    > close range at 17mm, he had it at a 45° angle, Seeing as the Giraffe was
    > almost licking the lens, it seemed like it would totally miss the Giraffes
    > head if you went by where the flash was pointing.
    >
    > Also, I have heard that the Sto-Fen diffuser is best used at 45°.
    >
    > Can anyone elaborate?
    >

    You can make any number and shape of reflector or snoot out of a
    plastic milk container, and in the course of doing your tests, find a more
    accurate GN and the look you want. I wouldn't expect miracles from any of
    them, as the first way to soften the lite is just to use a much bigger
    source: umbrella or lite box or wall or something. Bob Hickey
    Bob Hickey, Nov 15, 2004
    #12
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