Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible
I tested it for you!
We’ve all heard advice such as Rick Sammon’s famous phrase: “Take the darn flash off the camera”. True, the worst place for a flash is on the camera but, let’s face it, it is also the most convenient! There are a few basic rules to keep in mind when using flash, among them is the simple fact that the closer and larger the light source, the softer the light will be on your subject. We all try different techniques to create this giant softbox with our flash. It often works great. Even if you do not have an assistant with you, the simple method of bouncing the light behind you will often give you some great results. Every so often we hear of a product that claims to give you studio quality lighting using your flash attached to your camera… I wasn’t looking for a studio light replacement, simply something I could attach to my flash to give me a softer light while shooting a cocktail party or corporate event. The type of situation when you can’t possibly ask your subject to move to a window or closer to a wall in order to bounce your light.
I came across the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible and decided to give it a try. In this simple test, I photographed the same subject using different techniques that would be available in most situations. The flash was located at about 40 inches from the subject (you wouldn’t be much closer to your subject if you were taking candid shots at an event). I set the flash to E-TTL and, in order to give you the most accurate results, I performed no post processing in the images other than a quick cropping.
For the first picture, I pointed the flash directly at the subject (which we know not to do). The light is harsh and unflattering:
Then I bounced the light to the ceiling. Ceiling bounced light creates distracting shadows below the eyes, the cheeks and the nose:
I bounced the light behind me (many camera flashes, such as the Speedlites will allow you to rotate and tilt the top portion). The light is more even and the result is much better. The problem is that if you in the middle of a crowded room, that may not be an option.
Then I used the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapstible which attaches easily to your flash and took the same picture. The light is definitely the softest. Unfortunately my subject (who is not a model) was tired of smiling!
My conclusion is simple: I would definitely use the Gary Fong Lighsphere to photograph an event when I need to get those candid shots quickly and shooting with the flash off the camera is not an option.
The Lightsphere Collapsible folds down to 1.5 inch (3.8 cm) thick. Its stretchable base mount fits on most flash units. It is sold for $59.95 USD. It can also be purchased in a basic kit or a pro kit. The Gary Fong line of products also includes accessories such as a PowerGrid, PowerSnoot, colored gel sets, amber and chrome domes, flaps as well as pop up flash diffusers and iPhone and point and shoot photography accessories. For more information and product videos you can visit their website by clicking here: Visit Gary Fong Site.
The Lightsphere Collapsible is also available on Amazon.com (currently 15% off).