Gary Fong Lightsphere II Portrait Diffuser


gary fong 5In my line of work I frequently like to have portrait photos.  In the past I have sent patients to a local photographer, who did a great job.  The problem is one of expense and logistics.  I didn’t want the expense and the patients didn’t want the hassle of going there.  While I don’t need Cosmopolitan shots necessarily,  I do need something very good.  Home or office portrait studios can cost a great deal of money when you add umbrella flashes, backgrounds, etc.  I wanted to see if a simple flash diffuser could produce decent portrait results at a fraction of the cost.

kara straight flash 2 kara straight flash

kara with diffuser 2 kara with diffuser 3

Notice the difference between the top and bottom sets of photos? The top set of photos were taken with a regular flash and the bottom set with a simple plastic flash diffuser made by Gary Fong.  This is a product I just purchased and have begun to use, but seems promising.  I purchased the product to take portrait photos of some of the patients in my office.  (This is NOT a patient of mine so please put your HIPPA handguns away…!).  The product is called the Gary Fong Lightsphere II Portrait Diffuser and it is available in four styles to fit most flashes; you order one to fit your specific flash model. While I purchased the product through a dental website, it is available at Gary’s website (along with a bunch of other great stuff) at:

gary fong 3The diffuser easily fits on the flash model you order it for.  The light from the diffuser is much softer than from the flash alone, as seen in the photos above.  I also used the diffuser for some of the photos I used in another review for this site and found it to work quite well for closeup photography.

gary fong 2Even for simple portraits you will want a background of some sort.  Many are available and can be as simple as a piece of black non-shiny fabric hung behind the model. Also helpful is a small reflective disc that the model holds to reflect light up and help prevent shadows under the chin.

So if you are a photography buff and would like to improve your portraits without spending a fortune I would take a look at this innovative product.

Posted in: Camera Gear
{ 8 comments… add one }
  • gary fong October 9, 2009, 12:14 pm

    Thank you! Glad you like it!

  • Ben Udkow October 9, 2009, 12:47 pm

    Get a Flip-It instead. Much better control over the light, no spill behind you and much much smaller product. The Fong products just blast the light everywhere which makes you use more power on your flash (kills your batteries and increases recycle time).

    Also, the Lightsphere isn’t supposed to be pointed at the subject like in the photos. It should be pointed up so it makes a “bare bulb” effect and bounces off of the ceiling and walls. 🙂

  • Ben Udkow October 9, 2009, 1:02 pm

    BTW this is a great set of reviews of the different diffuser options:

  • Gardenwife October 9, 2009, 3:46 pm

    I’ve seen people make homemade diffusers, but this looks like a great product. When I can finally buy an external flash for my Sony Alpha, this will be very high on my wishlist. The flash is still on that wishlist! LOL

  • Gardenwife October 9, 2009, 4:29 pm

    Gary, why will The Puffer diffuser not work with pop-up flash on Sony DSLR’s? Could it be retrofitted to do so?

  • Tyler Puckett October 9, 2009, 10:06 pm

    Photographers have been doing this for years. But, back in the day they just used an x-acto knife and cut a large “X” in a piece of tupperware.

    I doubt this will work any better or worse, but it’s an interesting product.

    I will say this: putting the plastic diffuser cap that either comes with your flash or is available for less than $10 on eBay and turning down the flash exposure compensation to 1/2 to a full stop should acheive very similar results.

    Neither are near as good as bouncing the flash off a wall, ceiling, or into a softbox of some type.

  • Gaming Accessories October 10, 2009, 6:25 am

    This product is amazing. I love the way it makes my portraits look naturally lit. It does leave a yellow tint to the photo, which it’s meant to do. Sometimes a bit much for me, so I do recommend using a gray card when your shooting to be able to balance your light if your not going for the overly warm tint.

  • Zabbler October 10, 2009, 11:57 am

    I have use the Fli-it and a number of other similar reflectors. They do direct more light forward, but are much harsher and don’t smooth out shadoews enough. I still have one but don’t use it much.

    I have three Lightspheres that I use constantly.

    That pretty much says it all.

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