Saturday, 25 July 2009

The 99 pence 'Stofen' diffuser

Just got in from shooting a wedding this afternoon and running through my checklist this morning I realised that my Stofen had gone walkabout. The Stofen is useful (even outdoors) for simple portraits as it can reduce the harshness of the fill light and soften any facial shadows. Knowing I would need one I turned to my usual emergency lighting diffuser supplier, my kitchen and bathroom.

The bathroom was disappointing but the kitchen had a gem of a surprise. A soap dispenser in a semi-transparent plastic white rectangular bottle. At the moment these are available in just the right size as they are being sold with 50% extra free so instead of the usual slim bottle this is 1.5 times deeper.

The product you are looking for is a Cussens Carex Sensitive soap dispenser with 50% Extra free. It come with a lilac top and the bottle looks lilac when full. Once emptied and washed out the bottle is a beautiful semi-transparent nearly white colour. They cost 99 pence and are available in Waitrose and I would imagine most major super markets. Even if you throw the soap away (I saved it in a bowl) this is a superb deal.

Measure 3 inches from the bottom and cut the top off with a sharp pair of scissors and wash thoroughly. The plastic name labels peel off easily and leave no residue. A rubber band around my Metz 54 and it was a perfect fit. Two rubber bands around my SB24 and another perfect fit. Tested with both and no colour cast at all just a great diffused light. The best part is that it looks as good as the real thing and works at least as well. DIY it may be but it looks the part and works.

I used it extensively today for the wedding and it worked very well. If anything (because it is slightly longer than a Stofen) it actually gave me a more pleasing image and did not get knocked off or fall off.

I have just been out and bought 4 more for the princely sum of £3.96 giving me a total of 5 'stofens'.

Seriously, it looks good and works very well. This is the bargain of the century for those who need a 'stofen'.

A little update for those using smaller flash heads. For the 430 EX the Radox 300ml Clean and protect handwash is a perfect fit. Straight cut across 2.5 inches from the bottom and it is an easy but snug fit. It is slightly clearer than the Carex plastic but have just tested it - I must have the cleanest hands in Christchurch - and it still works quite well. All a bit subjective but I have a little comparison test I do which is to shoot something in a recessed corner of the room. If the diffuser is contributing little fill light then the shadows in the overhang from the bounce on the ceiling will be pronounced and clear. The less intense the shadow (whilst maintaining the overall lighting) the better the diffuser is working. A quick bounce comparison of with and without the Radox showed that even though this is relatively clear it was still pushing some light forward.

So, Carex for the 580 and Metz 54 and Radox for the 430. I have not got a price on the Radox one as I helped myself (in the pursuit of results and research) whilst my other half was out. I'm sure I'll be told in clearly understood saxon english exactly how much it costs when she finds the pudding dish full of soap next to the sink.