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 Post subject: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 18th, 2011, 10:24 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
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Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
I wanted something that would give me better diffused flash lighting than my Gary Fong Lightsphere and I stumbled upon the Graslon Prodigy. It has an interior mirror system that directs the light so that the entire 5" x 8" dome head is evenly lit. While not cheap, it does a really good job at distributing the light and softening the shadows.

Mounting is via four sliding and locking rubber covered clamps and an elastic velcro strap that adjust to the size of the flash head.

Here's a shot into a mirror showing the even quality of the lighting:

Image

Here's the difference between 1) using the diffuser and 2) un-diffused flash:

1)

Image

2)

Image

An Ensatina from today with the diffuser:

Image

Overall, it does a really good job at softening shadows and making reflections less harsh.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 8:09 am 

Joined: June 7th, 2010, 5:46 am
Posts: 608
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Looks interesting. Does it fold up or come apart in any way to make it more compact when carrying it in the field? How rugged does it seem to be, (could it be placed into a backpack with other camera equipment and not get broken)? Have you tried using it with a wide angle lens?


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 9:12 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 283
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Thanks for taking the time to post this. Yesterday I returned from four months in the field and as always my list of desired new gear a mile long. A new diffuser is high on my list.

I have the same questions about portability and durability as were posted by Bgorum. Also, what species of flash do you currently have it mounted on?

Thanks,

-Don


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 9:13 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 283
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Species of flash= Too much alone time in the rainforest. What type of flash are you using?

-Don


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 19th, 2011, 5:23 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
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Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
I have the dome diffuser on which sticks out about 3", so it may be bulky compared to the flat one. The unit itself is pretty well made, but I would always keep a diffuser on to protect the internal reflectors. It is a snap on cover with 4 tabs, so I would think the tabs would be the week spot.

Pictured on a smallish Sony HVL-F36AM Flash. This gives an idea of how far the dome extends:

Image

There is a rear cover to protect the mounting bracket parts when stored:

Image

Here is coverage at 16mm (Sony APS-C; 1.5x crop factor over full frame 35mm):

Image

At 26mm:

Image

There is a smaller unit called the Insight, but I opted for larger to better spread the light. Here's their website:

http://graslon.com/


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 20th, 2011, 7:55 am 

Joined: January 3rd, 2011, 10:21 pm
Posts: 283
Location: Rara Avis, Heredia, Costa Rica
Thanks. I'll keep that one in mind while I'm searching.

-Don


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 20th, 2011, 8:45 pm 
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Joined: October 13th, 2010, 8:42 am
Posts: 419
Location: So. California
This is very interesting. I've been looking for a much larger diffuser but what I've found seem fairly flimsy. This looks well built and strong enough for fairly rough handling. I went to the website link you provided and saw that there were two different styles; a flat and a dome diffuser. The site stated the flat diffuser was more for directional flash and the dome diffuser was designed for more bounce flash as well as directional. By the photos it looks like you went with the dome diffuser. I would have thought the flat diffuser would be the better option for directional flash of field herps. Then again the dome diffuser would be a good all around choice and not just for one type of photography.

The diffuser for a pop-up flash looks like the best pop-up diffuser I've seen yet, certainly is the largest. As the saying goes "The larger the light source the softer the shadows".

Anyway, thanks for the info and the link. I think I've found my next diffuser.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 21st, 2011, 4:28 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
Posts: 3297
Location: San Antonio, TX
That's a interesting bit of kit. I am a little concerned about how "field hardy" it is or how easy it would be to carry in the field.

Their pop-up diffuser does look excellent (except it doesn't fit sony or other non-standard hot shoes :( ).

I would love to see some photos comparing all of these different diffuser types:
Fong vs Graslon vs Stofen vs Photoflex collapsibles vs homemade plastic ones

I suspect most of them do about the same job.
I have found that really large diffusers (12 inches or so) don't give very good results due to the lack of shadows. Shadows give dimensionality to photos.

Here's a shot with a 12 x 8 inch collapsible diffuser on the flash. I think it leaves a lot to be desired.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 21st, 2011, 2:59 pm 
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Joined: October 13th, 2010, 8:42 am
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Location: So. California
I've been intrigued about these diffusers since reading this post. I began reading what other websites and forums had to say about them. Most thought it was a really good idea but had not used one yet. Neil Van Niekerk's forum (primarily wedding lighting) was ambivalent regarding them. Said they don't work any better than other diffusers available and that the dome interferes with the camera's TTL system. Posters on DPReview seemed concerned about the dome blocking the TTL metering and making exposures even more inconsistent than with the other diffusers in the market already. I know that is an issue with some of the other diffusers that I've been looking at; such as the Lumiquest Softbox III. I'm not so overly concerned about that as others, especially in shooting herps at night in manual mode. It doesn't take much to regulate the light output in manual flash mode at night as it does in shooting just about everything else (especially on the move fill lighting, would not want to do that in manual flash mode). I would be using the diffuser for more than just herp photos, so that is a consideration for me.

Owen,
How about an update in the near future on your working with that diffuser. I really like it in spite of what others have said, but I'd like to hear what your thoughts on it are after some good photo shoots with it, especially in TTL metered shots.

Chris,
Quote:
I have found that really large diffusers (12 inches or so) don't give very good results due to the lack of shadows. Shadows give dimensionality to photos.

I agree completely. The shot you posted is almost directly overhead of the snake (I don't know how it's oriented, it may be straight on) which would make it difficult to show any shadows of any type. In that situation you could try shooting the snake with the flash off-camera. I like the light and how it's diffused, I wouldn't want to change that at all, but by moving the flash to one side of the other it would bring out the depth and larger shadows from the snake as well as the texture in the rock.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 7:08 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
Posts: 1917
Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
A few additional shadow comparison tests and some field (voucher quality unposed photos from today:

Test with Graslon Prodigy, Dome cover:

Image

Graslon Prodigy, Flat cover:

Image

Gary Fong Lightsphere (direct flash):

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Gary Fong Lightsphere (45 degree upward angle):

Image

Undiffused flash:

Image

Pop-up Flash:

Image

From the field. Reflections on shiny herps are much like that of overhead blue sky:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 8:11 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
Posts: 2648
Location: Ventura, CA
Hey Owen, thanks so much! I got the model for my Canon EOS popup flash ...fits on tight and offers superb diffuions up to at least 6 feet! ...funny, I've thought using a reflector back to a parabola would be a great solution to get "width" and thereby mitigate point-source issues. I'm so happy that the genious minds at Graslon produced this!

Before.
Image

After.
Image


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 8:18 pm 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
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Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
Nice! I would be a liar (pun definitely intended) to say that the second shot wasn't much better. The softer shadows are less distracting.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 8:24 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
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Location: Ventura, CA
Oh yeah, should've mentioned that, I ordered that yesterday, Monday, and got it today ...this operation is off-the-charts in customer satisfaction with me so far! :)


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 22nd, 2011, 8:28 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 3:44 pm
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Location: Ventura, CA
Owen wrote:
Nice! I would be a liar (pun definitely intended) to say that the second shot wasn't much better. The softer shadows are less distracting.


Obviously you can take diffusion too far. Hard light exposes textural detail and pumps color but hard shadows form strong shapes to confuse the eye, as well as hide details due to high contrast. To my eye, this product performs perfectly in probably most situations.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2011, 9:27 am 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 10:14 pm
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Location: San Antonio, TX
Kevin Price wrote:
The shot you posted is almost directly overhead of the snake (I don't know how it's oriented, it may be straight on) which would make it difficult to show any shadows of any type. In that situation you could try shooting the snake with the flash off-camera.


The flash was actually off camera. I was trying for an overhead, diffused shot, but I was unhappy with the result. The light rocks certainly don't help. I find this really large diffuser produces suboptimal results for herps.

Owen,

I think your caudate shots show both the benefits and the pitfalls of diffusers. The newt on the leaves is a great example of diffused flash producing top-notch lighting (I might increase the contrast a bit in PS). The Dicamptodon shows the pitfalls - big, bright reflections.

As for your stone frog comparison series, I actually think the differences are so subtle that any of those diffusers would do the job. So the pertinent question might be the ease of use/field hardiness. Which ever is easier to use and most hardy might be the best.


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 Post subject: Re: Graslon Prodigy flash diffuser
PostPosted: November 23rd, 2011, 10:44 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 11:35 pm
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Location: San Jose', Northern Catcrapistan
Yeah Chris, I guess I should have also added the Minolta 1200AF/MFC-1000 Ring Flash into the comparison. The differences are mainly the shadow rendering. I do shoot with my contrast at -2 or -3 to avoid blown areas. Maybe I should start shooting raw. Anyway, if used off camera on a bracket or handheld, I'm guessing I could control the reflections better.


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