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Thread: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

  1. #1

    Default Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Hi all,

    I'm not too satisfied with the images my sto-fen's been giving me. I have taken a few sample photos to show you what I mean. All photos except two were shot at -2/3EV with no flash exposure compensation (FEC) at 1/60s, f/4.0.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysumnc...in/photostream
    This image was taken with flash at 45deg, diffuser on

    ]http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysumncc/6597501995/in/photostream
    Again at 45deg, but with diffuser off.

    Let me bring your attention to the subject's face. You can see that the face is very poorly lit and looks flat with the diffuser on compared to leaving it off. Also, the fur of the subject looks as if the flash has been shot directly when the diffuser is on. Finally, look at the leather sofa that the subject is standing on. With the diffuser on, the creases on the surface are not as clear as removing the diffuser. The surface looks less dull as well.

    I thought it might be something FEC might be able to fix, but I was wrong. Let me show you:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysumnc...in/photostream
    +2/3 FEC

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysumnc...in/photostream
    +1/1/3 FEC

    While the image looked better lit, they still looked very 2-dimensional and lacking the punch as compared to removing the diffuser.

    I experimented with other angles but I pretty much got the same kind of results.

    60 degrees, diffuser on | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    - 60deg, diffuser on

    60 degrees, diffuser off | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    - 60deg, diffuser off

    Straight on, diffuser on | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    - straight on, diffuser on

    Straight on, diffuser off | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    - straight on, diffuser off

    Negligible difference when straight on, but I don't think the diffuser was meant to be used this way.

    I hope that I am wrong. But in any case, I hope I have managed to get my distress across to you.

    PS sorry i cant get pictures up so I have to link them!
    Last edited by mysum; 30th December 2011 at 09:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bonrya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    reposting for you:

    ----

    Hi all,

    I'm not too satisfied with the images my sto-fen's been giving me. I have taken a few sample photos to show you what I mean. All photos except two were shot at -2/3EV with no flash exposure compensation (FEC) at 1/60s, f/4.0.

    This image was taken with flash at 45deg, diffuser on

    Again at 45deg, but with diffuser off.

    Let me bring your attention to the subject's face. You can see that the face is very poorly lit and looks flat with the diffuser on compared to leaving it off. Also, the fur of the subject looks as if the flash has been shot directly when the diffuser is on. Finally, look at the leather sofa that the subject is standing on. With the diffuser on, the creases on the surface are not as clear as removing the diffuser. The surface looks less dull as well.

    I thought it might be something FEC might be able to fix, but I was wrong. Let me show you:

    +2/3 FEC


    +1/1/3 FEC

    While the image looked better lit, they still looked very 2-dimensional and lacking the punch as compared to removing the diffuser.

    I experimented with other angles but I pretty much got the same kind of results.

    - 60deg, diffuser on
    My Flickr
    ~Neko baka

  3. #3
    Senior Member bonrya's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    reposting for you: (the max number of pictures you can have in a post are 5)

    ---------------


    - 60deg, diffuser off


    - straight on, diffuser on


    - straight on, diffuser off

    Negligible difference when straight on, but I don't think the diffuser was meant to be used this way.

    I hope that I am wrong. But in any case, I hope I have managed to get my distress across to you.

    PS sorry i cant get pictures up so I have to link them!
    My Flickr
    ~Neko baka

  4. #4

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Thanks!

  5. #5
    Member pasay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    what effect were you trying to achieve?

    sto-fen's are, IMO, not the best light modifiers (if they can be called that) in that they don't really modify your light as much as scatter it around. with a sto-fen, your flash actually becomes a bare bulb with light going to all directions, hence the "flat" lighting you see.

    if you notice on your images, with flash at 45, without the stofen is better. because you are directing your light to your ceiling (making it into a HUGE reflector) then the light falling off the ceiling is a nice soft light. with the stofen on, the harsh light being re-directed by the stofen from the flash overpowers the light from the ceiling.

    indoors, i would rather bounce from the wall or ceiling (with a bounce card on the flash for fill light on the subject) rather than use a sto-fen or bounce cap

    hope that helps
    a Nikon body, some lenses, a flash, and a whole lot of dusty photos

  6. #6

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Thanks for the advice but I still want to know what the best scenario to use my sto-fen is!

  7. #7

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    The Stofen does not really allow you to control the amount of light being bounced off the ceiling and the amount of light going forward to your subject.

    Judging from your 2 images of +2/3 and +1 1/3 FEV, it's either your FEV settings are incorrect, or you're shooting at very low ISO, e.g. ISO 100, such that your flash is already at maximum flash output, that's why you're getting almost the same exposure from both settings. Even when using flash, you have to increase your ISO a little.

    IMO, the Stofen Omnibounce is only useful when you want flat, even lighting, and is most effective in small spaces like a small room.

    Also, with your subject against the wall, it's very hard not to get a shadow.

    Try increasing your ISO to 400 or 800, and when in a small room, directing your flash towards the back top left or right corner of the room. You may also want to move your subject away from the wall.
    Last edited by genegoh; 31st December 2011 at 07:22 PM.

  8. #8
    Moderator ziploc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Usually when you use the sto-fen you'll need to shoot straight rather than bouncing it. This is because the sto-fen will lose about 2 stops of light from your flash output. If you bounce it, there will be further light loss and the flash will not have enough power to light up your subject properly except for very near subject distance. This is the reason why you don't see any difference with FEC, because your flash has already max out its power. A good habit is to check your flash everytime after firing, usually the flash will light up an indicator if it cannot attain the proper exposure (not sure about Canon but in Nikon the ready light will blink). As mentioned by others, when you have a wall or ceiling to bounce, it is better to use bounce flash rather than the sto-fen.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    I only use my stofen when outdoors where there is no ceiling or if the ceiling is too high, or if the ceiling black (does not reflect light).
    Its softer than a direct bounce card.

    But the problem with bouncing light off the ceiling is your light will not be white. It will carry the ceiling's color cast, so auto/1 white balance may not work.
    With Stofen, you can safely set to 1 custom wb and color will generally by right.

    If there is a lot of smoke or in a night club, I *MAY* choose to use a stofen vs bouncing.
    Or I may just use bare flash, straight on.

    There was someone in this forums who uses a modified stofen. He cut off the top end of the cup and reflect the light off the ceiling.
    You might want to try that. Theoratically, it may produce the best results.
    Last edited by IsenGrim; 1st January 2012 at 04:03 PM.

  10. #10
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ziploc
    Usually when you use the sto-fen you'll need to shoot straight rather than bouncing it. This is because the sto-fen will lose about 2 stops of light from your flash output. If you bounce it, there will be further light loss and the flash will not have enough power to light up your subject properly except for very near subject distance. This is the reason why you don't see any difference with FEC, because your flash has already max out its power. A good habit is to check your flash everytime after firing, usually the flash will light up an indicator if it cannot attain the proper exposure (not sure about Canon but in Nikon the ready light will blink). As mentioned by others, when you have a wall or ceiling to bounce, it is better to use bounce flash rather than the sto-fen.
    If the ceiling is too low and the room is too cramp, direct or bounce card would be better right?
    Equipment: D800|D700|11-16|28-75|105 Micro VR|50 F1.4G|85 F1.8G
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  11. #11

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    All the pics are under exposed because you relied on the camera's refective metering of what it thinks is proper exposure.

    And the lower pics, you still dial extra -2/3, so it's even darker.

    Don't treat on camera flash modifiers as magic, people who have great on camera flash exposures and beautiful lighting are often flash masters who can use any modifiers to great results.

  12. #12
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    the design of sto-fen omni bounce is to create a bare bulb effect, it is best use in a room, whereas some parts of the light will illuminate the subject directly and the most of lights will bounce in omni direction on to the walls and ceiling and fall on the subject, to create wrap around effect, technically the softness lights does not come from the omin bounce but it is lights bounce from the ceiling and the walls and fill in the shadow areas.

    so if the room is too big ceiling too high, or flash is too close to your subject, you will not able to see the wrap around effects, using omni bounce at outdoor is totally waste of flash power.

    as for the TS samples, your exposure is under, 80% of the images is in white, you should add flash compensation +1.5 stops to two stops.

    and we all know that placing your subject or asking your subject standing against the wall, will look like doing a Police mug shots, beside the ugly shadows on the wall. there is no depth in the photos as well.

    the most common way to use omni bounce is the point forward in 45 degree, but you point forward directly or 60 degree up or 90 degree straight up, that depends on the size of the room and also camera to subject distance, no hard and fast rule but you need to do your own experiment to know the difference of effects and your preference.

    hope this help.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    so if the room is too big ceiling too high, or flash is too close to your subject, you will not able to see the wrap around effects, using omni bounce at outdoor is totally waste of flash power.
    I like to use it outdoors/when there is nothing to bounce because it can feather light. It might be a waste of power but it will produce (IMO) the best effect when compared to direct/bounce card/etc etc.

  14. #14
    Moderator catchlights's Avatar
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    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Quote Originally Posted by IsenGrim View Post
    I like to use it outdoors/when there is nothing to bounce because it can feather light. It might be a waste of power but it will produce (IMO) the best effect when compared to direct/bounce card/etc etc.
    feather light is mean not pointing the light at the subject but using the edge of the light to illuminate the subject, are you referring to this?
    Shoot to Live, Live to Shoot
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  15. #15

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    feather light is mean not pointing the light at the subject but using the edge of the light to illuminate the subject, are you referring to this?
    Yea. Maybe some people may not agree that it produces the 'best' effect, but i think it makes a face look least flat.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Am I using my Sto-fen correctly?

    Quote Originally Posted by catchlights View Post
    the design of sto-fen omni bounce is to create a bare bulb effect, it is best use in a room, whereas some parts of the light will illuminate the subject directly and the most of lights will bounce in omni direction on to the walls and ceiling and fall on the subject, to create wrap around effect, technically the softness lights does not come from the omin bounce but it is lights bounce from the ceiling and the walls and fill in the shadow areas.

    so if the room is too big ceiling too high, or flash is too close to your subject, you will not able to see the wrap around effects, using omni bounce at outdoor is totally waste of flash power.

    as for the TS samples, your exposure is under, 80% of the images is in white, you should add flash compensation +1.5 stops to two stops.

    and we all know that placing your subject or asking your subject standing against the wall, will look like doing a Police mug shots, beside the ugly shadows on the wall. there is no depth in the photos as well.

    the most common way to use omni bounce is the point forward in 45 degree, but you point forward directly or 60 degree up or 90 degree straight up, that depends on the size of the room and also camera to subject distance, no hard and fast rule but you need to do your own experiment to know the difference of effects and your preference.

    hope this help.
    Totally agree.


    On the other hand, also tempted to cut a hole at the top of my stofen. Any guarantee results?
    And what do you use to cut it? The plastic is so thick!
    Last edited by sin77; 2nd January 2012 at 08:26 AM.
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