Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce Flash Diffuser Question

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' 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

    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. Advertisements

  2. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    Minor improvement, or more likely forgot to raise it.
    No comment.
    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.


    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource:
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems:
    -- [SI gallery]:
    -- [SI rulz]:
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 14, 2004
    1. Advertisements

  3. Matt

    KBob Guest

    Save your money. Get a sheet of white cardstock or thin illustration
    board and fashion a simple fan-shaped reflection diffuser that can be
    easily installed with a wide rubber band, velcro or whatever. This
    idea can be expanded on to include a surface of crumpled aluminum foil
    if crisper highlights desired. Normally the flash is directed
    straight up, and the angle of the reflector canted slightly forward,
    depending on its size.

    Other alternatives include various small soft-box arrangements that
    fasten onto the flash head, but these tend to be hard to set up,
    expensive, and offer little more that a simple diffuser. One wedding
    rig I've seen actually uses umbrellas mounted to a frame that is
    supported on the photog's shoulder's. Sounds like a very effective
    arrangement, so long as you don't turn quickly and poke someone in the
    KBob, Nov 14, 2004
  4. Matt

    McLeod Guest

    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
  5. Matt

    McLeod Guest

    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
    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
  6. Matt

    KBob Guest

    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

  7. 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.

    street shooter, Nov 15, 2004
  8. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    Having done as you suggest and having the Lumiquest widget as well, and having
    the omnibounce, I assure you that omnibounce is the most effect for least space
    in the camera bag. If there is no ceiling to bounce off of, then the lumiquest
    kit is the next best thing.

    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource:
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems:
    -- [SI gallery]:
    -- [SI rulz]:
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 15, 2004
  9. 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

    Gary Hendricks, Nov 15, 2004
  10. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    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.
    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.


    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource:
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems:
    -- [SI gallery]:
    -- [SI rulz]:
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 15, 2004
  11. Matt

    Bob Hickey Guest

    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. Matt

    Bill Tuthill Guest

    Another way to save money is to find a shampoo bottle with the
    same shape as your flash head. Cut to fit. That's really all the
    Omni-Bounce is, a piece of plastic.

    Except: you can get yellow and green Omni-Bounces, to warm the light
    and to mimic fluorescent lighting (for use with FL-D filters).
    Bill Tuthill, Nov 15, 2004
  13. Matt

    Gordon Moat Guest

    All my lighting gear is calibrated through my Sekonic, since I rarely use automatic
    or TTL controls.
    I think anyone who uses more extensive lighting get used to doing things manually,
    checking with a good lightmeter/flashmeter, or occasionally pulling a Polaroid.
    Once you do this often enough, that control provided by manual settings can be
    faster to get going than struggling with any auto settings.
    Gordon Moat, Nov 15, 2004
  14. Matt

    Gordon Moat Guest

    I have not found any shampoo bottles like that, too many are round or
    oval. Any suggestions?
    Very true, though it is a thick piece of plastic, and it is shaped for a
    snug fit on each flash type.
    Gordon Moat, Nov 15, 2004
  15. Matt

    Patrick L. Guest

    I saw a japanese web site where this gal had a flash unit and an umbrella
    mounted on a helmut.

    Imagine wearing that contraption to a wedding. Toss "inconspicous" out the
    window. But she took very nice pictures with it.

    Patrick L., Nov 15, 2004
  16. Matt

    Alan Browne Guest

    Patrick L. wrote:

    Knowing the Japanes they probably thought she was quite clever, admired her
    ingenuity and praised her for it, as well as cooperated with her shooting. The
    Japanese are quite admiring of celver eccentrics.

    -- r.p.e.35mm user resource:
    -- r.p.d.slr-systems:
    -- [SI gallery]:
    -- [SI rulz]:
    -- e-meil: there's no such thing as a FreeLunch.
    Alan Browne, Nov 16, 2004
  17. Matt

    Bill Tuthill Guest

    Somebody told me that the Swiss Formula shampoo bottle used to fit
    the Minolta 5400xi flash head. Didn't try it myself.

    Hating excess photographic equipment from when I gave up photography
    in my adolescence, I decided against buying flash bracket and cable,
    so I happily use The Shell** as my flash diffuser. It's not compact,
    but it does a relatively good job of diffusing in both landscape and
    portrait mode (without adjustment) and produces a nice catchlight.

    ** not affiliated with Bob Shell
    Bill Tuthill, Nov 16, 2004
    1. Advertisements

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments (here). After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.