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FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting 
Thread started 04 Dec 2013 (Wednesday) 20:47
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StoFen Diffuser

 
I ­ Love ­ Cats
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Dec 04, 2013 20:47 |  #1
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I recently picked up a used 580EX II here on POTN. It came with a StoFen diffuser. I played with it. I don't like it. Perhaps that is because I don't know how to use it. I tried it direct. All it does is cut my output by about 2-2/3 stops. I tried it vertical, bouncing off the ceiling. Pretty much the same conclusion. I just watched a video on it and it said (and demonstrated) to use it facing forward and angled up at 45 degrees. I guess I could see that if you have no ceiling or walls nearby. I believe that I get better results with a bare flash bouncing off nearby walls or ceilings. Am I doing something wrong?

Oh, I also got a 2' O/C cord. I don't see ever using a flash bracket. Is there any other use for it?




  
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Dec 04, 2013 22:09 |  #2

I Love Cats wrote in post #16502411 (external link)
I recently picked up a used 580EX II here on POTN. It came with a StoFen diffuser. I played with it. I don't like it. Perhaps that is because I don't know how to use it. I tried it direct. All it does is cut my output by about 2-2/3 stops. I tried it vertical, bouncing off the ceiling. Pretty much the same conclusion. I just watched a video on it and it said (and demonstrated) to use it facing forward and angled up at 45 degrees. I guess I could see that if you have no ceiling or walls nearby. I believe that I get better results with a bare flash bouncing off nearby walls or ceilings. Am I doing something wrong?

Oh, I also got a 2' O/C cord. I don't see ever using a flash bracket. Is there any other use for it?

No you're not doing anything wrong. The stofen, for many people, is useless. It's made to send light in every direction. It doesn't soften the light (bigger = softer and the stofen doesn't make the flash head much, if any, bigger) so all it really does is cut down the output of the flash as you've observed.

Some people do like them and use them often so maybe one of those people can give a few pointers. But personally I find them kind of pointless and would rather bounce the flash.




  
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Wilt
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Dec 04, 2013 22:31 |  #3

A Stofen, aimed upward in the presence of a ceiling, does two things


  1. It pushes light up to the ceiling, where it turns the ceiling into a large virtual source of soft light
  2. It pushes light forward to the subject, where the reflection creates a catchlight in the eyes



An upward pointed flash does #1, but not #2, and that is the advantage to using a Stofen in those circumstances.

The disadvantage of using the Stofen in those conditions would be that the light is dimmer because light is scattered around in a hemisphere, some of of going nowhere in the direction of the ceiling nor forward to the subject. So it has some advantages -- and some disadvantages -- in those circumstances.

But when outdoors, they are a total waste of flash power, and consume your batteries faster as a result.

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I ­ Love ­ Cats
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Dec 04, 2013 22:34 |  #4
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I just played with it a bit more. It does seem to work a little better if I elevate 45 degrees AND pull out the 580's diffuser panel. Any regular users with tips? I'm all ears, or eyes, as the case may be.




  
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Dec 04, 2013 22:51 as a reply to  @ I Love Cats's post |  #5

I just saw this. Yes, going 45° is typically the most effective way to use it. I have a 430EX and a StoFen, and a 580EX II with a StoFen clone (Vello brand). At 0°, somehow it overwhelms the camera. At 90°, sometimes that works very well. 45° typically works well, especially if it is very dark.

Experiment with it. The idea with the diffuser panel is interesting; I hadn't tried that. While you can play with the flash compensation, you might actually have more luck with exposure compensation.

Don't be afraid to up your ISO. I don't know what you have for a camera or what you use for image processing. I found my 60D could easily work between ISO 800 and 1600, and get a very nice image. Doing that, you get more of the ambient light, and whatever your flash is doing looks more natural.

Good luck! I use umbrellas, Gary Fong modifiers, and have used softboxes and beauty dishes. I still like and use my StoFen/Vello diffusers.


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Dec 04, 2013 23:00 |  #6

I think Wilt covered it pretty well. You can get the upward pointing flash to give you catchlights,, if you tape a 3x5 card (bounce card) to its top (parallel to the flash axis).

Not worth the light loss IMO

You can create your own monster bounce card (Google a better bounce card)


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catchlights being the least of your problem :D

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Dec 04, 2013 23:09 |  #7
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A StoFen turns a flashgun into a bare bulb, sending light all directions, 360 degrees. Yes, it'll eat up ~2/3 of a stop but on most situations this shouldn't be problematic. If it is, you already do not have enough light anyway, so you have to bump your ISO regardless.

It works wonders for close up portraits in events, with the flash head tilted 45 degrees and aimed backwards, yes, backwards: the light is too harsh otherwise.

Try it with different zoom settings on the flash head. The wider the zoom, the more the flash light will fill the diffuser, but in doing so it will also be weaker, thus requiring a higher power setting in the flash.


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Dec 05, 2013 00:37 |  #8

Alveric wrote in post #16502767 (external link)
A StoFen turns a flashgun into a bare bulb, sending light all directions, 360 degrees. Yes, it'll eat up ~2/3 of a stop but on most situations this shouldn't be problematic. If it is, you already do not have enough light anyway, so you have to bump your ISO regardless.


Here is a post where use of Stofen is in a 'lots of light' situation, yet reduction of flash intensity HURTS

https://photography-on-the.net …p?p=12144306&po​stcount=49


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I ­ Love ­ Cats
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Dec 05, 2013 04:26 |  #9
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Thanks all. BTW, I use a 60D & 5D. I keep a roll of scotch tape and some 3x5 cards in my bag, so I am used to working that way. Looks stupid, works. I got some decent results, on-camera, with the StoFen. I think it may be more useful as a room-filling slave, off-camera. It was free and I have the time to experiment.

Any uses for the O/C cord, other than a flash-bracket?

Gerry. I'm up early. Couldn't sleep worrying about Micro-Lab final today. So why am I on POTN at 5:00 am?




  
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Dec 05, 2013 07:56 |  #10

Although the StoFen is often criticized and even made fun of, I keep returning to it for "event" photography in relatively small rooms.


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Dec 05, 2013 09:04 |  #11

I Love Cats wrote in post #16503070 (external link)
Gerry. I'm up early. Couldn't sleep worrying about Micro-Lab final today. So why am I on POTN at 5:00 am?

Did you get a 95 in that Psych exam?:D

...and you are asking me?...:p

Good luck with the exam today!


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Dec 05, 2013 10:08 |  #12

I have used many different flash diffusers over the years, including "A Better Bounce Card," but keep coming back to the Stofen.


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Dec 06, 2013 10:52 |  #13

Alveric wrote in post #16502767 (external link)
A StoFen turns a flashgun into a bare bulb, sending light all directions, 360 degrees. Yes, it'll eat up ~2/3 of a stop but on most situations this shouldn't be problematic. If it is, you already do not have enough light anyway, so you have to bump your ISO regardless.

It works wonders for close up portraits in events, with the flash head tilted 45 degrees and aimed backwards, yes, backwards: the light is too harsh otherwise.

I do that without the stofen. Reverse bounce is on of my favourite techniques. About the hard light - if you bump up your ISO and balance the ambient you can get very good direct flash shots. I do that if I have no other options.


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Dec 06, 2013 11:02 |  #14

GordonSBuck wrote in post #16503284 (external link)
Although the StoFen is often criticized and even made fun of, I keep returning to it for "event" photography in relatively small rooms.

You are using it for what is was designed to do in the correct environment so you will get the results you are looking for. The major criticisms are that often you can do the same with bouncing, it wastes power and it is used in large venues and outdoors.

I prefer to bounce in a smaller room over a dome diffuser but that is a personal choice. Battery drain is dependent on type of batteries and conditions. Some people don't care because they have lot's of spares or feel they don't shoot enough to drain them. I drove my wife to work this morning and the annual christmas drive is on at the hospital we go past. Employees dressed as angels getting cars to pull over. One lady taking outdoor shots had a GF sphere on her flash. I wanted to pull over and talk to her but my wife would not let me. :)


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Dec 06, 2013 11:09 |  #15

Alveric wrote in post #16502767 (external link)
A StoFen turns a flashgun into a bare bulb, sending light all directions, 360 degrees. Yes, it'll eat up ~2/3 of a stop but on most situations this shouldn't be problematic.

From Stofen's web site:

"Q: What adjustments in exposure do I have to make using the Omni?

A: We have found that with the automation offered in most of today's flashes makes exposure quick and easy. No exposure adjustment is needed on your part. The only thing that happens with the Omni in place is the Maximum Distance of the flash is reduced by a factor of 2.5. For example if your Max Distance is 50 feet divided by 2.5 now equals 20 feet with the Omni in place. "

IOW, a loss of 2-2/3 f/stop! What was GN100 (50* f/2), is now GN40 (20* f/2). If you shot at f/10 at 10', you now shoot with f/4 at 10'

That isn't bad, per se. In jest, I once fabricated a light modifier to mimic a Fong Lightsphere, made from a Feta cheese container, to prove what you could do without spending $60 for a flash modifier.

IMAGE: http://i69.photobucket.com/albums/i63/wiltonw/Equipment/Flashmod-1_zpsec435644.jpg
It drops output from f/8 + 0.7 to f/4 + 0.4

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