Use these key accessories to refine the output of your portable speedlights
By David Willis
Modern on-camera flashes are so powerful that many photographers are looking at them as a primary light source, and not just for events. Many of the advanced capabilities that used to be reserved for much more sophisticated and expensive lighting systems are now found in speedlights.
Like traditional studio lighting, adding any of several light-modification tools can enhance and alter this light output as needed for your project. This makes multiple flash setups extremely simple to use and maneuver, especially since the bodies are so compact that they can be hidden, often right in the scene.
Learning to control light is essential for pro results, and thanks to the large variety of affordable solutions for shaping light from your flash, a portable and sophisticated lighting system now can stow right into your camera bag.
Lastolite Ezybox II Octa
Diffusion products reduce and affect light output by passing the light through any number of semitransparent materials. The quality and nature of the material changes the light as it passes through, diffusing (and also reducing) the total output, which results in images with a much softer light spread and far less contrast. Softboxes, octaboxes, domes, silks and fabrics are the most common types of diffusion products.
Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible Pro Kit
Softboxes combine a panel of soft white material with a reflective interior, often in white, silver or gold, for channeling light forward with minimal light loss. Lastolite's Ezybox II softboxes are a great value because they fit battery-operated on-camera flashes, as well as larger studio flashes, through available adapters. There are removable inner and outer diffusion baffles for adding or reducing diffusion. The Ezybox II is available in several sizes as both a square or an Octa softbox system, as well as the Large Ezybox II Switch with a 35x35-inch square front diffuser and a narrowing zip device that will squeeze the panel down to a 17.25x35-inch rectangular shape for two configurations with just one product. Estimated Street Price: From $135.
Strobros Globe Diffuser
Gary Fong's Lightsphere Collapsible Pro Kit, which fits most popular flash models, includes several versatile tools for enhancing output. The kit includes a soft white diffusion dome that folds down, making it easier to carry compared to hard plastic models. Red, yellow, green and blue gels affix to the Lightsphere Collapsible for adding creative color looks, as well as correction for tungsten and fluorescent. Also included in the kit, the PowerSnoot with removable PowerGrid has a chrome-reflective interior and channels light for a powerful spotlight separation or farther throw. The warming AmberDome and power-boosting ChromeDome with Adapter Ring also are included for use with the Collapsible. Estimated Street Price: $129.
The Strobros Globe Diffuser from Impact is a simple, yet effective diffusion solution. It slips over on-camera flashes, and softens and spreads the output for more natural light spread with less contrast, which makes it ideal for event photography and portraiture. The Strobros will fit to most common flashes, and the small form factor makes it a good choice when using wide-angle lenses (larger on-camera light mods like softboxes can reach into the frame when shooting extra wide). Estimated Street Price: $25.