The best light modifiers for on-camera flash photography

external flash photo modifiers
Flash photography is often frowned upon. The blinding, flat light of an on-camera flash is about the least flattering light possible. Even with external flashes, such as those from Canon, Nikon, Sony and other camera manufacturers, the quality of light can be pretty dismal. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be this way.

If you own or plan to buy an external flash for your camera, here are a few accessories that will help improve the quality of your on-camera flash.

Roge-FlashBender-2-XL-Pro

Rogue FlashBender – $35 to $60

Rogue makes a variety of flash modifiers, but the FlashBender is the company’s key product. Available in a range of sizes, the FlashBender is essentially a flexible bounce card that sends light forward as well as upward to bounce off a ceiling. Use it when you want soft, equal lighting in a room. It can also be molded into different shapes to direct the light more narrowly.

The newest version, the FlashBender 2 XL Pro, features an extra large, “Super Soft Silver” surface that offers a nice compromise between a flat white reflector and a contrast-oriented silver one.

The FlashBender attaches to any standard flash via a simple strap, is lightweight, and will easily stow away in any camera bag.

Buy it now on: Amazon

Westcott-Micro-Apollo

Westcott Micro Apollo – $30

Like any soft box, the Micro Apollo uses a large, white shoot-through surface with black sides and back. This provides an even, soft light compared to a bare flash, while controlling light spill. Use it when you want to light a subject without bouncing light around the entire room.

At 5 inches by 8 inches, the Micro Apollo is designed specifically for on-camera use. It fits virtually any brand of full-size external flash, sets up in seconds, and is very portable.

Buy it now on: Amazon

Fstoppers-Flash-Disc

Fstoppers Flash Disc – $50

The Flash Disc works a lot like a soft box, only with a smaller profile. It provides a very even light and is great for portraits or product shots. As a bonus, the backside of the Flash Disc offers a built-in gray, white, and black card that can be used to dial in white balance and exposure on your camera.

Thanks to a collapsible design, the Flash Disc folds down into a carrying pouch that can fit in the palm of your hand.

Buy it now on: Amazon

Magmod-Magsphere

Magmod Magsphere – $50 + $25 for required Maggrip

Magmod makes all kinds of flash accessories, from grids to gels to diffusers, and they’re all part of an integrated system. Each modifier attaches to a flash via strong neodymium magnets, so they’re incredibly quick to work with. The Magsphere is a diffuser with a much lower profile than the other modifiers on this list, which is nice when you’re trying not to draw too much attention to yourself. It also features better light transmission than other hard plastic diffusers. It works best as a catch or fill light, both indoors and outdoors.

Buy it now on: Amazon

A 3×5” card – $3 for a pack of 100

Let’s face it, sometimes the simplest solution is the best. Or if not the best, at least it’s the cheapest. With any old three-by-five-inch note card and a rubber band out of the junk drawer, you can have yourself one of the greatest flash accessories around. Try to find a card that is as close to pure white as possible, as off-white cards will lend a color cast to the flash output. Simply rubber-band one end to the back of the flash head, point the flash upward, and shoot away. Indoors, you’ll get a nice bounce off the ceiling plus some forward fill light from the card itself.

Buy it now on: Amazon

Yes, that suggestion is here partly as a joke, but many established wedding photographers have been known to shoot entire receptions with nothing else attached to their flash. So if money is tight, give it a try.

Photography

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.
Computing

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Deals

These 30 Amazon Coupons can help you save on the things you need

Did you know there are thousands of Amazon Coupons and promo codes that you can take advantage of? We found coupons for everything from tech to everyday products. Find out what savings you've been missing out on.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.
Photography

Full frame or 4K for less than $1K? These 4 older cameras still have a lot to offer

Looking for a great camera deal? Sometimes, you might be better off buying one that's a few years -- last generation's professional models may not cost much more than today's entry-level models.
Photography

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.