PRESSlite, the manufacturer of one of the most versatile flash diffusers (see PRESSlite VerteX review), has recently released PRESSlite ECLIPSE Light Shield, a new accessory for speedlights designed to give photographers more control over the light when bouncing flash light off of walls and ceilings.
Many speedlight users set the flash head to the vertical position to bounce the light off of the ceiling directly above them. Depending on the distance to the subject and the desired lighting effect, it may not always be the best choice. That is why flash heads often have 45 and 60 degree positions, so photographers can bounce off of the ceiling area that is closer to the subject. However, when you set your flash to bounce, for instance, at 45 degrees forward, your subject is not only illuminated by the reflected light but also by the stray light coming from the flash itself, which may not be the result you want. So, this is where PRESSlite ECLIPSE Light Shield can help you by blocking the stray light from reaching your subject. Not only that, when taking pictures at an event, you can unintentionally "blind" people while using light bouncing techniques, so "shielding" your flash can be very important at times.
PRESSlite ECLIPSE consists of a fairly large piece of black foamy material, a plastic mounting band, and a velcro strap. Assembly is very easy once you know how to do it, so we recommend giving the included instruction sheet a quick overview.
The design is interesting in a sense that it makes the black foam piece "float" around your flash. It is important because not too much light is being blocked this way, and the flash can still be used at even the widest zoom setting for softer lighting effect when necessary.
ECLIPSE Light Shield not only blocks the light coming towards the subject but also the stray light that goes off to the sides, as you can see in the images below. Therefore, it is also effective when you change your camera orientation from landscape to portrait, without needing to re-attach or adjust the unit.
If you shoot with multiple speedlights, you may want to consider having PRESSlite ECLIPSE on each flash you use for bouncing (to light up the venue, for example). When you move around the room during an event, you may get unwanted flare from the remote speedlights, if you are not careful enough. So, shielding them may help.
We found that the black foam sheet can withstand deformation quite well. After some use, it had marks, but it would restore its original shape and continue to work, as designed. The concern we have is that it is probably possible to accidentally rip the foam when under pressure on a job, but even then, a piece of tape should easily fix it.
You may even want to consider wrapping your speedlights with the black foamy part of PRESSlite ECLIPSE, so you don't have to store it separately, while also giving some extra protection to your more expensive equipment.
The following two photos are taken with a flash set to 60 degrees up with (left image) and without (right image) ECLIPSE Light Shield. As you can see, the difference is quite noticeable. The right image looks kind of flat compared to image taken with the PRESSlite unit. You can also see the shadows on the background casted by the stray light. Let us say though, that both images look quite good, and it is just a matter of the lighting effect you are after. The stray light in the right image actually works as a fill light (opening up the shadows). It may or may not be the desired effect. (Please note that the results vary depending not only on the distance to the subject and flash head angle but also on the ceiling height and reflective qualities.)
The current price for PRESSlite ECLIPSE is just under $20, which seems reasonable enough considering that the included velcro strap is similar to HonlPhoto Speed Strap and LumiQuest Cinch Strap, that are being sold at about $10 each. Obviously, the velcro strap can be used with many other flash light modifiers.
As a final word, we can add that while you can use other flags (including DIY) to block the stray light, they'll likely not be as effective or easy to use as PRESSlite ECLIPSE. So, if light bouncing is one of your primary flash techniques, the new ECLIPSE Light Shield can be a nice addition to your gear bag.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.