Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce pop-up flash diffuser review

Sep 21 2010

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce is an elegant solution for improving images taken with a pop-up flash of a DSLR's. Pop-up flashes create harsh and unflattering light because they are small and positioned very close to the camera lens axis. There are two things that can be done to improve the lighting from a pop-up: diffusing and bouncing. Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce does both.

Mini Bounce is made of translucent plastic. Being positioned in front of a pop-up flash, it increases the light source, as a result softening the light. The side flaps are a bit angled, which aids the horizontal frame coverage, making Pro Kit Mini Bounce useful for group shots.

The center piece of Mini Bounce features a silver reflector with small holes (similar to the honeycomb pattern). Thus, the center part passes through only a portion of flash light, which reduces the hot spot at the center of the diffuser. The rest of the light is reflected upward to be bounced off of a ceiling. The bounced light fills the shadows improving the image even further.

The versatile design of Pro Kit Mini Bounce makes it possible to install it on virtually any DSLR. The installation is fairly simple, but it may take a bit of practice for some camera bodies.

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: front view, on camera Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: side view, on camera
Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: top view, on camera Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: folded flat
Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: snap fastener to secure on camera

While Pro Kit Mini Bounce is very original and smartly done, the question that quickly comes to mind is how long it can last. The plastic that it is made of is very durable, and it is the same one that is used for the manufacturing of the parts of Speedlight Pro Kit 4 and Speedlight Pro Kit Beauty Dish. The two reflective silver pieces, however, are glued onto the plastic, and they seem to be prone to peeling off. We believe that, even though it may potentially present a problem, glueing those reflective parts back on (in case, they do come off) or even stapling them on is easy to do, and it will keep the bouncer in service for a long time.

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: center silver reflector, honeycomb Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: silver reflector for extra

Using a diffuser makes any flash work harder and reduces the effective range of the flash. Since pop-up flashes are typically weak, you may find yourself in a situation when your flash is not able to adequately illuminate the scene. In that case, you have to increase the ISO setting on your camera to get a proper exposure.

The following images show Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce side-by-side with LumiQuest Soft Screen and Zeh Bounce light modifiers. Soft Screen diffuses the flash light, similarly to Mini Bounce, without doing any bouncing. Zeh Bounce, on the contrary, relies solely on the ceiling bounce approach.

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: compared to LumiQuest Soft Screen diffuser Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: compared to Zeh Bounce reflector

The first image below is taken with direct (unmodified) pop-up flash. The second one shows the result from a pop-up with Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce installed, but the top of the diffuser is covered by a black opaque panel to block the ceiling bounce, simulating the outdoor scenario. Finally, the third sample picture illustrates the indoor usage of Mini Bounce (includes the ceiling bounce).

All sample shots are taken from about 4 feet from the subject. The white background is just a few inches away from the subject to demonstrate the shadows quality. The ceiling is about 5 feet above the camera.

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce review: direct pop-up flash example
Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: outdoor example Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: indoor example

The first sample image looks flat, and the shadows under the chin and on the background have sharp edges, and they are very dark (a typical direct pop-up image).

The second (left) image (with Mini Bounce installed, but with a panel on top) shows "blurrier" shadows, which is the desired "soft shadow" look.

The final test image (right) is very similar to the previous shot, but you can notice that the shadows not only have softer edges, but they are also a tad lighter because they are filled by the light bounced off of the ceiling. Please note that the results may differ depending on the height and reflective qualities of the ceiling.

Below, there is a couple more sample images without and with Pro Kit Mini Bounce (left and right, respectively). As you can see, with the diffuser, the image has more dimension to it and the shadows are not as harsh as without one.

Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: portrait example, direct pop-up Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce: portrait example, indoor

In conclusion, Speedlight Pro Kit Mini Bounce is a unique pop-up flash accessory. It works as a small softbox and as a ceiling bouncer at the same time. It is suitable for indoor and outdoor photography. It works equally great for one person and group portraits. Smart design makes it compatible with the majority of modern DSLR cameras. Pro Kit Mini Bounce is a quick and easy way to give your pop-up flash images a better look.

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





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