SpectraLight flash diffuser review: first impression

Jul 15 2009

SpectraLight (best flash diffuser rating: 8.98) is a variable angle flash reflector. It works similarly to the other diffusers of this kind (like, for example, Demb Flip-it!, DiffuseiT, Hanson Skin Glow!), but it has some interesting features.

First of all, it uses the precision ballhead mechanism (instead of a hinge) to adjust the angle of the reflector. This allows you easily reversing the reflector to use the back side of the reflecting panel.

SpectraLight documentation says that the ballhead can eventually be rendered unusable due to normal wear. This, of course, is no wonder since the ballhead is plastic. However, since it is made of ABS, we could vouch that the SpectraLight will see years of service. Even if the ballhead does wear down, you can contact manufacturer to get it repaired.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: frame, reflectors, stickers, case, manual SpectraLight flash diffuser: ballhead

SpectraLight diffuser is designed to use interchangeable reflecting panels. It comes with a set of three panels and two stickers. Two panels are white and the third one is translucent. The stickers are silver and gold. They should be affixed to the white panels. Thus, once the stickers are in place, you get reversible white/silver and white/gold reflectors, and a translucent panel. You can make some bubbles while affixing the stickers. The minor bubbles will not affect the light quality, but avoid the big ones.

One of the interesting ways of using SpectraLight is bouncing light off of a ceiling and a wall simultaneously. You can do this with other bouncers,too, but since most of them are white, you might loose a significant amount of flash power. The silver panel of Spectralight diffuser reflects enough light to be effectively used in the wall/ceiling bounce scenario.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: white reflector SpectraLight flash diffuser: gold reflector

The translucent panel can be used as a reflector for lesser fill light and as a shoot-through diffuser. Basically, putting the panel in front of the flash head turns SpectraLight into a small softbox. The only difference is that there are no "softbox" sides, which causes some light spill and wastes some battery power. Nevertheless, while not perfect, the "softbox" option can be useful (for example, in outdoor portraiture).

SpectraLight flash diffuser: translucent panel

SpectraLight is designed as an open frame. So, to change the panels, all you have to do is to slide them in and out. Also note that there is a locking mechanism built into the frame, so you don't need to worry about the panel falling out of the frame.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: frame SpectraLight flash diffuser: rails

SpectraLight can be attached to a flash head with a wide slip-free stretchable band, and therefore, it fits very large number of flashes. We believe the band does a good job and holds the diffuser securely.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: anti-slip band SpectraLight flash diffuser: attached to a flash head

All SpectraLight units are shipped with a dedicated case. It has a separate compartment for all your interchangeable panels. The case also has a belt attachment, which is very useful if you want to have your panels quickly accessible.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: case logo SpectraLight flash diffuser: case, belt attachment
SpectraLight flash diffuser: diffuser in the case SpectraLight flash diffuser: reflectors in the case

SpectraLight creators suggest making your own reflecting panels. You can use one of the included panels as a template to cut a reflector of the correct size and shape. Make sure you use a material that can be easily inserted into the frame.

SpectraLight is priced at $55 (MSRP).

Below is a couple of sample shots taken using SpectraLight diffuser.

SpectraLight flash diffuser: sample picture, mannequin SpectraLight flash diffuser: sample picture, Sony camcorder

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.