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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Macro Talk 
Thread started 04 Dec 2017 (Monday) 12:13
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MT-26EX-RT Diffusers

 
Dalantech
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Post edited 3 months ago by Dalantech. (8 edits in all)
     
Dec 04, 2017 12:13 |  #1

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon becoming one with the universe, Legos, and a hot glue gun. The result is a diffuser set that stays together, but I can easily take it apart and swap out some of the diffusion material. Currently using the Canon supplied diffuser, two layers of 1/4 stop white silk, and a Gary Fong Puffer Plus. Also in the diffuser that I took apart to show you the guts there is a layer of 1/8 CTO gel.

IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/gJrhURul.jpg

The diffuser that Canon supplies with the flash is made of some really opaque plastic, and it's solid. The clips on the diffuser, and the larger/deeper indent on the flash heads, lock the diffuser in place really well and can support some weight. No need to hot glue the diffuser onto the flash heads like I had to do with the MT-24.

A few years ago I was watching a tutorial on Youtube and in it a portrait photographer was using layers of white silk until he got the diffusion that he wanted. I really like the effect, but the amount of space that I have to work with is pretty limited so I'm restricted to just two or three layers. There has to be a gap between the layers or the amount of light reduced by the silk seems to go up exponentially. Done right the light from the flash becomes "feathered" and looks really soft.

I use the Puffer Plus as a last stage for a couple of reasons. The outside surface is dimpled, so it has a lot more surface area than a flat piece of diffusion material. I can also use a larger section of it because it's curved. I use the heads in a key and fill arrangement, just like portrait lighting. So I need to be able to position the flash heads as close to 45 degrees apart as possible (key at the top with the fill off to one side). The 1/8 CTO gel is to make the light from the fill a little warm -really makes the subject "pop". Nearly all of the inspiration for my lighting comes from portrait photographers.

Here's a shot of both diffusers on the flash heads with the focusing lamps on. The brightness of the focusing lamps can be controlled in five increments, and this is with them set to level 4.

IMAGE: https://i.imgur.com/V6clnEfl.jpg

Edit: Light loss with the diffusers is about two stops compared to the bare flash heads.

Edit II: When my son was younger he gave me one of his Hot Wheels cars to use as a test target and I like using it due to the curved surfaces, windshield, and the gloss finish on the paint (although it has seen better days). Both images where taken with the Canon MP-E 65mm at 1x, so they represent the worse case in terms of light quality for me, since the diffusion only gets better as the distance between the subject and the diffusers gets shorter. Both images are an almost straight from camera to JPG with very little post processing.

With the bare flash:

IMAGE: http://i.imgur.com/UILzLmXm.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://imgur.com/UILz​LmX  (external link)

With the new diffuser:
IMAGE: http://i.imgur.com/d8maktrm.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://imgur.com/d8ma​ktr  (external link)

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Lester ­ Wareham
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Dec 10, 2017 08:15 |  #2

Any test results?


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Dalantech
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Dec 11, 2017 02:09 as a reply to  @ Lester Wareham's post |  #3

I'll see if I can find something suitable in the house -weather has been really bad lately.


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Dalantech
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Post edited 3 months ago by Dalantech.
     
Dec 12, 2017 10:33 |  #4

Lester Wareham wrote in post #18514577 (external link)
Any test results?

When my son was younger he gave me one of his Hot Wheels cars to use as a test target and I like using it due to the curved surfaces, windshield, and the gloss finish on the paint (although it has seen better days). Both images where taken with the Canon MP-E 65mm at 1x, so they represent the worse case in terms of light quality for me, since the diffusion only gets better as the distance between the subject and the diffusers gets shorter.

With the bare flash:

IMAGE: http://i.imgur.com/UILzLmXm.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://imgur.com/UILz​LmX  (external link)

With the new diffuser:
IMAGE: http://i.imgur.com/d8maktrm.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://imgur.com/d8ma​ktr  (external link)

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Archibald
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Dec 12, 2017 13:35 |  #5

Sounds like a complicated diffuser, but the results look good.


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Dalantech
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Post edited 4 months ago by Dalantech.
     
Dec 12, 2017 13:38 as a reply to  @ Archibald's post |  #6

It wasn't too bad to build really. The hard, and somewhat expensive, part is getting a lot of different Lego plates. The benefit is that I can take them apart and try different diffusion material. Better than building a whole new diffuser set every time I want to try something new.


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Dec 12, 2017 13:41 |  #7

Did you consider just mounting a diffuser on the front of the lens instead of on the flash heads?


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Dalantech
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Dec 12, 2017 14:20 |  #8

Archibald wrote in post #18516288 (external link)
Did you consider just mounting a diffuser on the front of the lens instead of on the flash heads?

Mounting a diffuser to the lens, and then firing the flash through it, is really inefficient. I have material inside my diffusers that forces the light to go out the front. Light that bounces off of a lens mounted diffuser just goes out into space. Also the light that's coming out of a lens mounted diffuser is almost as bad as a ring flash in the sense that the light ends up being parallel to the lens unless it's bent toward the subject. With the way I diffuse the twin flash I get a lot of control over shadows without using ratio control and dealing with the exposure problems it creates. There's just no comparison in terms of light quality.


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Dec 12, 2017 15:48 |  #9

Dalantech wrote in post #18516330 (external link)
Mounting a diffuser to the lens, and then firing the flash through it, is really inefficient. I have material inside my diffusers that forces the light to go out the front. Light that bounces off of a lens mounted diffuser just goes out into space. Also the light that's coming out of a lens mounted diffuser is almost as bad as a ring flash in the sense that the light ends up being parallel to the lens unless it's bent toward the subject. With the way I diffuse the twin flash I get a lot of control over shadows without using ratio control and dealing with the exposure problems it creates. There's just no comparison in terms of light quality.

That's the problem, there is no comparison. We need some comparisons, and then we would be able to demonstrate the differences.

Of course it is true that light shining on a lens-mounted diffuser is mostly wasted into space. It doesn't matter, though, because enough light reaches the subject. That is all we need, enough light on the subject. At typically 1/4 power, flash duration is short enough.

The quality of light is much harder to judge and I don't know of a standard way to do comparisons. I use lens-mounted diffusers on my macro lenses, for various reasons. I'm not necessarily satisfied with them... and if possible, I would like something better, if there is something better that is also convenient. Maybe something like you devised would do the trick.

But how would we know?

Maybe I should give some thought to doing some testing.


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Dalantech
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Post edited 4 months ago by Dalantech.
     
Dec 13, 2017 02:22 |  #10

Archibald wrote in post #18516406 (external link)
That's the problem, there is no comparison. We need some comparisons, and then we would be able to demonstrate the differences.

I could give you some examples, but it wouldn't be my work and I don't want to give the impression that I'm putting someone else down. Trust me when I tell you that a diffuser connected to the end of a lens produces flat light -looks pretty much like a ring flash, although the specular highlights aren't the same shape.

Archibald wrote in post #18516406 (external link)
Of course it is true that light shining on a lens-mounted diffuser is mostly wasted into space. It doesn't matter, though, because enough light reaches the subject. That is all we need, enough light on the subject. At typically 1/4 power, flash duration is short enough.

Totally disagree. Good light quality means more than just getting enough light on the subject. I can get plenty of light on the subject with less diffusion, but the micro contrast (blown out pixels due to low diffusion) will erase a lot of texture detail. Even the angle that the light strikes the subject can impact image quality. Last but not least: Movement as little as half the width of a pixel is enough to amplify diffraction, but it won't look like traditional motion blur. If you get the flash as close to the subject as possible (to keep the flash duration as short as possible), properly diffuse the light (instead of just blocking it), and take as much control over the motion in the scene as possible then you can avoid what I call "macro motion blur". Unfortunately too many people think that the duration of the flash is always going to be short enough to stop motion, but it's just not true. A lot of the image softening that people blame on diffraction is really just due to motion. I get asked on a regular basis if the MP-E 65mm has less diffraction than other lenses, because the majority of my images are taken with that lens. But it cannot defy the laws of physics and it's just as prone to diffraction as any other lens. The difference is how I diffuse the light and the techniques I use to take control of the motion in a scene. It's the reason why I can take images, like this one at F11 and almost 3x, that have a lot of detail:

IMAGE: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1651/25686912900_cf138274d2_z.jpg
IMAGE LINK: https://flic.kr/p/F8S9​hC  (external link) Newborn Blue Mason Bee II (external link) by John Kimbler (external link), on Flickr

It's also the reason why I tell people, in the image description, that my images are single frames cause I get tired of peeps asking "How many frames did you take for that stack?"...

Archibald wrote in post #18516406 (external link)
The quality of light is much harder to judge and I don't know of a standard way to do comparisons. I use lens-mounted diffusers on my macro lenses, for various reasons. I'm not necessarily satisfied with them... and if possible, I would like something better, if there is something better that is also convenient. Maybe something like you devised would do the trick.

But how would we know?

Maybe I should give some thought to doing some testing.

Light quality is very subjective, and I'm not so sure that you could develop a lab test bed to measure diffusion other than on a very basic level. Different diffusion materials have different effects. I use a couple of layers of 1/4 stop white silk cause I like the way that it "feathers" the light -a quality that's kinda hard to quantify. I got interested in it after seeing a portrait photographer use it, and the light that he was able to get looks as good as early morning sun.


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Jan 02, 2018 12:17 |  #11

You need a 3d printer :)


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Dalantech
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Jan 02, 2018 14:30 as a reply to  @ JasonC007's post |  #12

I've actually been considering it. Any suggestions for a good printer that I won't have to take out a loan for, and plastic that works well to diffuse light?


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JasonC007
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Jan 03, 2018 04:23 as a reply to  @ Dalantech's post |  #13

The best you will get for your money is a Prusa i3 MK3 - https://shop.prusa3d.c​om/en/ (external link)

I have 2 of the MK2 versions and they are excellent, however I'm in the process of updating one of mine to a custom build which should give me more speed without loss of quality. I need more speed to try and keep up with diffuser orders! I could buy more printers but I have limited space at the moment.

For the diffuser face I use White PLA (biodegradable plastic) which when printed thin has some transparency to it, however differnet brands vary on opacity. For all of my other White parts like the diffuser body liner I've started using PETG which is much shinier than the PLA I use which has increased light output. For the rest of the parts I use PLA again.

You will also need to learn 3D modelling and I recommend Autodesk's Fusion 360 which is free to hobbyists.

They are both a learning curve but entirely worth it :)


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Dalantech
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Jan 03, 2018 10:27 as a reply to  @ JasonC007's post |  #14

All aboard the hype train ;) The shipping date has slipped until Feb, but me thinks I'm gonna order one then.


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Jan 04, 2018 04:53 as a reply to  @ Dalantech's post |  #15

Yes there is always a backlog, they are extremely popular, and for good reason. The problem is if you order in Feb the shipping date will most likely be 3 months later :( I ordered the MK2.5 in September which I should get end of this month.


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