Diffusers, Barn Doors, Flags, Soft Boxes

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Diffusers, Light Modifiers

Beauty Dish

Another modifier loved for its distinct, flattering look is the beauty dish. Due to its design, it is able to soften the light output of your flash while still maintaining a crisp appearance, something unmatched by any other modifier. Another plus is that beauty dishes are round, allowing users to create natural-looking round catchlights in their subjects’ eyes. Normally reserved for larger monolights and studio strobes, many manufacturers have found a way to make versions for on-camera flashes, such as this Strobros Beauty Dish Version II from Impact.

Bounce Cards

The bounce card and reflector is another option to consider for controlling light.. Available in different sizes and shapes, the bounce card is intended to “bounce” light toward or around the subject when the flash head is pointed skyward. The resulting effect is a diffused and softened light that lacks unflattering hot spots. Bounce cards come in a range of shapes and sizes, and may also feature open designs that allow light to bounce off low ceilings or reflectors, providing ambient background lighting for a more natural look. Although the bounce card is an age-old standard, companies like Rogue are still reinventing the wheel with products like the Flashbender, a bendable, directional bounce card that can double as a softbox with additional accessories.

Bounce Dome or Bounce Diffuser

The bright, powerful, and at times harsh blast of light from your flash unit is rarely the most flattering light with which to fry your subjects, and commonly requires some control and finesse to bring out its optimal qualities. This role ultimately falls to the most popular of flash accessories—the flash modifier. The most common modifier found in almost every shooter’s bag is the bounce dome, also known as a bounce diffuser, which mounts directly on the flash head to soften light output. The bounce dome may not be the strongest modifier, but it has been favored by event photographers for decades due to its small form factor and ability to produce reliable and predictable results. Typically included with most flash units, but also made by third-party manufacturers like Vello, these are available for most flashes and speedlights and are a low-cost essential accessory for any flash user.

Color Filters & Gels

A photographer trying to foster emotion in their photographs needs to know how to use and control light, but also how to balance it and charge it with feeling. For this reason, colored gels have been an essential component of every photographer’s lighting kit for decades, and have found creative ways to enter the world of portable flash. Often used for lighting effects, gels can be purchased in sets that cover broad spectrums of color, designed to fit multiple purposes or a specific mood or intention. A prime and popular example of one such kit is the Photo Color Effects Filter Kit by Honl. Corrective gels may also be used by photographers to balance color and remove color casts from ambient light or from mixed-lighting setups. In these situations, many event photographers will find a kit such as the Honl Photo Color Correction Filter Kit extremely useful.

Flash Extenders

Another accessory which isn’t very common, but can be useful in the right situations, is the flash extender. These lenses will boost the range of your flash by focusing the light into a narrower beam. The immediate downside is that you will get less coverage and a harsher light, but the flash will reach more distant subjects and will work better with long telephoto lenses.


An additional directional modifier is the grid, which produces a controlled but feathered beam of light. Larger, more spacious grids such as the Vello 1/4" Honeycomb Grid will produce feathered softer spots of a greater diameter, while narrow grids like the Honl Photo 1/8" Speed Grid will produce a sharper, narrower spot with greater contrast. Those looking to experiment with different grid styles may want to consider the ExpoImaging Rogue 3-in-1 Flash Grid, which offers three different beam angles and includes colored gels for enhancing lighting effects.

Ring Lights

Ring lights are ideal as facial fill lights, since it's as if the light were coming directly from the lens. They can also work as eye lights, adding that “glint in the eye,” pervasive in Hollywood cinematography. Many ring light designs are bulky and restrictive. The Stellar Lighting Systems STL-232R is compact and lightweight, designed to reside on your DSLR lens while being as unobtrusive as possible. A set of adapter rings is included for thread sizes ranging from 52 to 77mm. A ball head shoe adapter is also included for those occasions you don't want to mount it directly on your lens. It is a continuous light, but can be used for still photo and video applications alike (as can all of the lights mentioned here, in fact).


Some photographers may need to take full control over where the light falls in the scene, or they might desire a narrow spotlight that creates images with dramatic tones. This task is fulfilled by the use of a snoot, a narrow, conical, or cylindrical modifier that contains and directs light at a narrow point within the image. Snoots are often sold in two main varieties, collapsible or rigid, and may feature internal reflective coatings that lend a warm or neutral tone to the projected light. Rigid snoots such as the Impact Strobros Snoot produce a well-defined circle of light that can be controlled further using attachable honeycomb grids. Soft, bendable snoots such as the Honl Photo 8" Speed Snoot will produce a feathered, less defined patch of light, but are usually more convenient to carry and store. Alongside the snoot is another classic accessory, the barndoors. These are available with a number of different options, but in a very basic sense they allows photographers to easily flag off the light, offering better control over where light will fall in a scene or from what walls it can bounce.


A mini softbox, as the name suggests, is a smaller version of a softbox that is designed especially for use with an on-camera flash. A softbox converts your flash into a larger, softer light source to help lessen the intensity of shadows and produce a more wrapped-light quality. The differently shaped softboxes will produce differently shaped catch lights in subjects’ eyes; otherwise the different shapes will function similarly based on corresponding dimensions or surface area of the softbox.

Lighting Accessories

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Diffusers Reviewed by Gene Wright on . Rating: 5