- Become a better photographer today!
remember me:     

BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

Photography Question 
Marquee Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2004

Flash Photography: Diffusion Suggestions?

Hello all,
I have a Canon Rebel Ti and was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to diffuse the on-camera flash. I find the on camera flash is not very flattering and need a way to soften the flash a little until I purchase the 550EX Speedlite.

4/11/2005 10:34:06 AM

Michael H. Cothran

member since: 10/21/2004
  There's no real or efficient way to do it. If you use the pop-up flash as a "fill" light - that is, dimmer than your ambient light - the effect can be quite acceptable. But forget it if you are using it as a "main" light. When you get your 550EX, be sure to get the off-camera TTL cord too, and add a nice soft box, like the two portable units available from Chimera. Portable Chimera softboxes will give you the best quality and softness you can get out a small strobe.
Michael H. Cothran

4/11/2005 10:50:10 AM

Marquee Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2004
  Michael, thank you for responding. I plan to get the off-camera TTL cord with the flash but I will add the softboxes to my growing wish list of accessories.

4/11/2005 12:00:50 PM

Dick Parrish

member since: 11/23/2003
  Once you have the off-camera flash, you might take a good look at Gary Fong's LightSphere II. It does a great job.
Dick Parrish
Dick Parrish Photography
Cape Coral, Florida

4/12/2005 12:08:17 PM

Roy Blinston
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/4/2005
  My photo teacher told me to put some diffuser tape over the glass on the pop-up flash. For a more softer light, use small piece of tracing paper (or layers) and cellotape.

4/12/2005 12:41:22 PM

Sheri Fletcher

member since: 8/13/2004
  I was told by my teacher to put several layers of Scotch tape over the flash to keep it from being so obtrusive.

4/12/2005 2:45:31 PM


member since: 2/20/2002
  In a pinch, try using a Kleenex or a piece of lens paper. It sounds like you are beginning to "enjoy" yourself. Good luck ...

4/12/2005 2:51:05 PM

Liza M. Franco
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/26/2004
  Try the tissue paper used for wrapping around hair when doing a perm. Let your flash pop up, and just tape it in place, works great.

4/14/2005 7:49:15 AM


member since: 11/10/2004
  You will never diffuse an on camera flash. Get another flash. If you want the best, go quantum. It's spendy but very accurate.

4/19/2005 6:39:56 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  Save your money on the light sphere also. You can find a plastic container for a one or two dollars. Or still use the index card rubber banded around your flash.

4/19/2005 7:18:52 PM

Marquee Smith
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/17/2004
  Again hello to all and thank you for your responses. My apologies for the delay in saying thank you. I work in in the financial industry and tax season bites.:-)

Before posting the question I tried the tissue paper, but saw no difference in the lighting effect. I may not have used enough layers, so I will try again. I am also going to try the scoth tape.

Gregory L. or Dick, what does the light sphere do???

4/20/2005 4:13:50 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  Tissue on the pop up flash won't do anything but cut down on the output.
The light sphere is a translucent thing that you attach to a flash that has a head that you can turn for bouncing. The top of it has a hole, so when you point the flash up to bounce off the ceiling, most of the light goes up and bounces. Since it's also translucent(and white), you get light reflecting off the inside walls of it, and passing thru it forward. That provides some fill to the light coming off the ceiling, and it's diffuses slightly since it's translucent. But it's mostly adds fill.
Diffuse light needs to be bigger as well as diffused by it's direction. You bounce light off a wall or ceiling, you're creating a big spot where the light reflects off the wall, which is your light source. So you have a 5ft size light source that also scatters light in multy directions. Same with light coming thru see thru curtains in a window.
Tissue on a pop up flash, you have a 1 inch size diffusion light source, no effect. Light sphere, you have maybe a softball size light source that reflects some light forward. You could do the same with an index card taped to your flash. Most light goes up, some gets reflected forward as fill.
Light looks more diffused if it's bigger relative to what you're shooting, and closer. Big window up close, looks really diffused. Move back, looks less diffused, because the farther away, the more directional light is.

4/20/2005 4:46:56 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  The key to ANY diffusion of flash or studio lights is to get some distance between the material and the light source.
Taping tissue on your flash head will decrease the light output and call for a wider aperture setting for exposure, but won't diffuse the flash. The effect on the subject will be the same,...only with less depth of field.

Shooting strobes through white umbrellas has always worked with studio set-ups. The reason is that the umbrellas are positioned a few inches or more away from the flash units.

4/20/2005 5:48:41 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  Sorry,...but to get back to Marquee's original question,...there is little you can do to diffuse a pop-up flash...short of holding some kind of diffusion material a few inches in front of the flash when you take a picture.
When you get the 550EX, follow Michael C.'s advice and get a good soft box.

4/20/2005 6:06:07 PM


member since: 10/3/2002
  I also have the Canon Rebel Ti and was wondering if you ever have a problem with the shutter freezing up and the battery icon blinking in the display on the back? Mine does this just enough to be really irritating and the batteries are fresh, so I know that is not the problem. The odd thing is, I had a Rebel prior to this one and it did the same thing! I ended up giving it to a friend who needed a camera, warning him of its little quirk. Now that this new one is doing it, I'm thinking maybe this is a common problem. Any ideas?


4/20/2005 7:47:50 PM


member since: 2/18/2005
  I have been shooting with a D70.
when I use the fisheye lens, my old flash (an SB-20, i, too am saving for a new flash, aiming for an sb-800) doesn't have the coverage to avoid vingetting the corners, so I cut the bottom off of an old clear film canister, and slit the side. it pops perfectly over the rotating head of the SB-20, but it also clips nicely onto the pop-up flash.
happy shooting,

4/21/2005 7:04:41 PM

Glenn Donaghy

member since: 6/3/2004
  I am using a 550EX for my wedding business and I have found using a bracket works well. If you don't want to go that step, there are plastic diffusers that just slide on to the head to diffuse that work very well.

4/22/2005 3:40:55 AM

m. schwendener
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/29/2006
  Diffuse on-camera flash: on another discussion here I found a link to the Lumiquest softscreen. I don't think I saw a comment of anybody who has used it, though.


8/6/2006 2:09:11 AM


To participate in the Forum, become a BetterPhoto member or Sign In.

Copyright 1996-2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved.