My ambient light purist days are over. Just got my first external flash. Sony HVL-F36am. Now I'm looking for affordable diffusers but have no experience as to which is best. I shoot mostly location portraits. Thanks for your advise.
Than I need a stand and sand bags and c clamps cause the damn thing would catch as much wind as it would light. I'm looking for something I can just attach to the flash for now. Definitely getting one some day.
yep that is true,i have an assistant holding my light stands for me!any of those modifiers in your link will soften light for you.in fact i have used the end of an alcohol bottle on my flash when i started
IMHO those stofen and fong diffusers aren't the way to go. They cut your light output draining your batteries and then spray light in every direction. It's better to bounce off a white or light surface. If that's not possible because the walls/ceilings are dark or you're outside then you can rubber band a white 3X5 to the top of the flash and angle it up. The other key is pulling in as much ambient as possible so you aren't necessarily blasting your subject. Unless you want that hard direct light look...and in that case you shouldn't be diffusing the light source.
There isn't any point to using one of those directly pointed at your subject when you're not getting bounce off walls and ceilings. What you want to do is increase the size of your light source(generally). What you could do is one of those mini softboxes that attach directly to the flash. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_ … Caps%2C424
Those little plastic thingies you stick over the flash won't do much to diffuse light. You're much better off bouncing if you're reluctant to use an umbrella or softbox (which I don't really understand). If the flash is going to be stationary and off-camera, get a stand and a bracket and use a real modifier that will actually do you some good.
The Rogue Flashbender is nice in a pinch and can just as easily be used as a flag when you're bouncing instead of using it as a reflective surface.
Problem with the Rogue Flashbender just from looking at it is the flash has to be in the bounce position. On my external flash the HSS is disabled in the bounce position. That's why I was thinking about a diffuser to give a bit more diffused light from a little larger surface whilst maintaining my HSS capability.
I'm just excited to have HSS because now I can have my entire shutter speed range for controlling exposure. Now I can add fill flash without blowing out the backdrop.
As has been noted, it's not the diffusion which softens the light; it's the resulting SIZE of the light due to that diffusion.
Adding 1, 2 or even 10 layers of diffusion directly to a 1"x2" light simply cuts the output (by attenuation) and spreads it out (by diffusion). It doesn't do anything by itself to soften the light.
The Sto-Fen and similar can be useful inside a house, as houses usually have low, white-ish ceilings and light-colored walls. The diffusion ends up bouncing some of the 'lost' light from the walls, softening things very slightly. Angling the head of the flash to aim it at a large white surface is far more effective.
There's a reason large umbrellas and softboxes are used when soft light is desired, and why their fronts are not just a few inches from the light source.
The best solution for indoor on camera flash diffuser is the lightsphere. It bounces light off ceiling and walls wraping your subject and drastically reducing the harsh shadows. For outdoor shoot on camera flash you can use a bounce card or mini softbox. This is for the speedlight of course. Remember if your competing against the sun you may have to use bare flash.