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by Tim Zurowski on Wed Aug 09, 2017 7:36 pm
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Doing a lot of macro photography these days and I am in need of a diffuser for my SB-900 flash. Not having used flash diffusers very much, I am unsure what would be the best choice? Would it be best to get the hard plastic type that just slide on the end, or a soft dome type diffuser? Or any other recommendations? I have a hard plastic type that fits on my SB-600, but will not fit on the SB-900. I want the best option for close macro work of insects. It will be used at times for 100% flash lighting and at others times for just a bit of fill light.
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by ChrisRoss on Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:01 pm
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Do you have a better beamer? If so just replace the Fresnel lens with a piece of diffusion material, you will probably have some from a mail order package that has arrived, You are looking for the white foam sheeting. Glue a couple of small strips of stick on velcro to the edges and you have a great diffuser, This image is my setup with and MP-E lens. You really need a flash arm to get the diffuser close in to the subject, in my experience the type of diffuser matters a lot less than getting it close, you want the light source to have a large angular size as seen from the subject..

http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~chrisx2/images/NovoflexRail.jpg

I have used that for all my 100% flash macro images, See this gallery for example:

http://www.aus-natural.com/Fauna%20-%20Insects%20Mammals%20Reptiles/Spiders/index_gallery.html

Make the diffuser slightly bigger than the fresnel so you can curve it, getting the light to come from different angles.
Chris Ross
Sydney
Australia
http://www.aus-natural.com   Instagram: @ausnaturalimages  Now offering Fine Art printing Services
 

by Tim Zurowski on Wed Aug 09, 2017 8:22 pm
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Thanks Chris. I am not able to get that close as I am just using a Sigma 150 f2.8 macro that focuses at about 15". Not sure what the material you are talking about using. Got any suggestions for other types of material I could use? How are you getting your flash to angle down like that?
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Tim Zurowski
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by andre paul on Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:16 pm
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tim,
for several years i 've been using the omni bounce diffuser( better diffuser then the original nikon ) , works fine for butterflies and other critters.
i also like and use the westcott micro apollo softbox. ( with the sb800, probably works with sb900 also )

both are cheap and work decently.

a bracket for flash like the wimberley shown by chris is sometimes useful but i use it less then before, as i am getting lazy ;-)

good luck.
andre.
andre reichmann
**sao paulo-brazil**
 

by ChrisRoss on Thu Aug 10, 2017 2:00 am
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Tim That's just the way it's set with the MP-E as it has a very short focus distance. It works quite well on my 180mm macro as well, but with the diffuser extended forward to sit above the lens at 45° or so. This image was taken with my 180 macro and 1.4x at around min focus distance and the butterfly has wings about the size of a fingernail. Flash set as described above:

http://www.aus-natural.com/Fauna%20-%20Insects%20Mammals%20Reptiles/Butterflies%20&%20Moths/slides/Greenish%20Grass%20Dart%208.html

The angle is set by using a Wimberley macro flash bracket which will allow such placement.

The diffusion material is translucent white foam sheet, I'll take a shot of some and post an image for you. as well as the setup on the 180mm

Again, the diffuser is much less important than a flash arm and off camera cord, getting the diffuser close so it is big from the subject's point of view is what softens the light. Save your money on the diffuser and keep it for a flash arm would be my recommendation.
Chris Ross
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Australia
http://www.aus-natural.com   Instagram: @ausnaturalimages  Now offering Fine Art printing Services
 

by Tim Zurowski on Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:58 am
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Thanks for the help and suggestions guys. :) I was hoping to find out what the real world differences were between a cloth and hard plastic diffuser. I tested a few types of cloth with my BB last night and did not like the results. I thought the flash with the plastic cover did a better job. Since I do not want this to cost much, I am just going to get one of these for now: https://www.amazon.com/Sto-Fen-Omni-Bounce-Diffuser-Aperlite-YH-500-N/dp/B001F9GUAE
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Tim Zurowski on Thu Aug 10, 2017 12:13 pm
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Problem solved. I phoned a local camera store today and he assured me that my SB-900 came with a diffuser. I had no idea that it was in that compartment at the bottom of the carrying case. So, after years owning this flash, I just found out today that I have one :)
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
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by ThomasBarbin on Thu Aug 10, 2017 11:35 pm
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Hey Tim,

I think that DIY diffusers are the way to go for photographing arthropods. Here is a link to my current diffuser setup: http://imgur.com/a/zNTbG

This setup consists of a cheap Vello softbox, a transparent binder cover lined with tracing paper, tinfoil to bounce the flash down, and a final flat piece of packing foam which seems to help minimize hotspots on shiny exoskeletons (e.g. beetles). The key is to experiment and find what works best for you.

To see what the light from this setup looks like, look here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasbarbin/
All of the recent macro photos were taken using this setup.

Also, if you ever want to go out a shoot macro, let me know! I'm also from Victoria.

Cheers,
Thomas
 

by ChrisRoss on Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:28 am
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Hi Tim,

here's my setup :

http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~chrisx2/images/Setup180Macro.jpg

and a closeup of the diffuser:

http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~chrisx2/images/Diffuser.jpg

as you can see from the link in my previous post it gives nice light, the key again is getting the diffuser in close, within about 10-20cm ideally. The material was originally some packing around some electronic goods. If you want to try it out I could mail you a piece if you can't find any. The diffuser built into the flashes is "OK" but again the light source is small.......... you can only go so far without getting the light source in good and close. It is normally designed to extend the angle of coverage of the flash, on my Canon flash it's used for 14mm wide angle coverage.
Chris Ross
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Australia
http://www.aus-natural.com   Instagram: @ausnaturalimages  Now offering Fine Art printing Services
 

by Tim Zurowski on Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:34 am
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Thanks Chris. . . . . . really appreciate the offer :)  For now I am going to stick with the SB-900 diffuser since I personally do not see any improvements with the sample images I have seen posted. My SB-900 plastic diffuser did a better job than the one I made with the beamer. I am however going to try to get a Wimberley flash arm, but that is going to take awhile since they are fairly pricey.

Cheers
Tim
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by aolander on Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:56 pm
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A small diffusion device like the one your SB-900 came with is not large enough to help much with larger macro subjects. The diffuser surface should be much larger than the subject to do much in the way of softening shadows, etc. This is the reason large soft boxes are used for portraits. A small diffuser will help with very small subjects but things like a large butterfly need a large diffuser.

By the way, refurbished Wimberley macro flash brackets are being sold on ebay by Wimberley for $120.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Demo-F-2-Macro-Bracket-Refurbished-from-manufacturer/192045572618?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649
Alan Olander
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by Tim Zurowski on Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:44 pm
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I am using the SB-900 diffuser for very small subjects; i.e hoverflies, Spittlebugs, Stink Bugs, etc. I do not need it for subjects the size of butterflies.

B&H has the Wimberley flash extension arm for $102. I do not need the bracket since I already have it and two extensions for my telephoto flash bracket system.
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Mike in O on Sat Aug 12, 2017 1:48 pm
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I use a Sigma 140 macro flash....those big flashes just get in the way.
 

by Tim Zurowski on Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:29 pm
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Mike in O wrote:
I use a Sigma 140 macro flash....those big flashes just get in the way.

Yeah, and look at the price of it! I already own 5 Nikon flashes. I have heard that the ring flashes are a waste of time. 
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Mike in O on Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:27 pm
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I picked mine up for $149 new on Amazon. They work great, modeling between the 2 flashes to increase depth and two lamps for focusing.
 

by Tim Zurowski on Sat Aug 12, 2017 6:01 pm
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https://www.amazon.ca/Sigma-EM-140-Macro-Flash-Cameras/dp/B00064XR6Y

Too much of a "one trick pony" for me.
Cheers
Tim Zurowski
www.timzphotography.com
 

by Mike in O on Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:30 pm
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If you are a Sony shooter, try this fragile in the field twin lights (not as good as the Minolta ring light but is also a Minolta design)
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?A=details&O=&Q=&ap=y&c3api=1876%2C%7Bcreative%7D%2C%7Bkeyword%7D&gclid=CjwKCAjwzrrMBRByEiwArXcw2zAt7hmSSL0naY8_a3Fd3NBmuRQjnqL7nW-902CJ7Rw8_ARvCUC3IBoC2q8QAvD_BwE&is=REG&m=Y&sku=475713
 

by andre paul on Sat Aug 12, 2017 8:48 pm
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i have two wimberley macro brackets and two micro apollo softboxes.
they work. but they are heavy. working in the amazon and atlantic rainforests where amazing butterfies are seen ( and other critters ) is cumbersome , handholding for several hours is not really practical. tripod shooting is not always possible.
sometimes they do work very well, but not always necessary.

currently i prefer the simple stofen omnibouncer diffuser, and results are quite good imho , at least to my eyes.
a lot of agility is gained with a smaller and lighter rig.
it works pretty well for all sorts of butterflies imho.( and other citters as well )

i do think the stofen diffuses light somewhat better then the original nikon model as the nikon is more translucent.

regards,
andre.
andre reichmann
**sao paulo-brazil**
 

by DChan on Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:00 pm
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Here's one person's setup for insect photography:

https://robinwong.blogspot.com/2015/08/insect-macro-photography.html

You can easily find on youtube videos showing you how to make a macro soft box with inexpensive material. Here's one example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YO5kFoHR_jU
 

by SMB on Tue Aug 22, 2017 12:39 pm
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Look up MagMod: https://magnetmod.com/

I have used that diffuser. It is a little bulbous for what you are describing, but I often hand hold my flash off camera.
 

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