The purpose of this review is to test Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear by comparing the results produced by this diffuser to the images taken with a bare flash. The setups below include direct mode, bouncing off of ceiling (with and without an inverted dome), bouncing off of ceiling and wall (flash head tilted 45 degrees and rotated 90 degrees to the left), and also a ceiling bounce with the camera positioned vertically (portrait orientation).
The test environment is identical to the one described in Lightsphere II: Cloud vs. Clear test: relatively small room with white walls and low ceiling.
Please note that the results produced by Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear are not only greatly dependent on the surroundings, but they may also vary with flash zoom settings and flash model. For this test, we used Canon Speedlite 580EX II set at 50mm zoom. (50mm is what Canon flashes default to when flash head is tilted.)
Lightsphere II Clear produces more pleasing results in direct mode compared to a bare flash. Since there is plenty of bounce surfaces around the camera in our setup, the bounced light opens up the shadows (makes them lighter). The shadow edges are also improved since the Lightsphere's inverted dome is about 5 times larger than a typical flash head.
There is a great difference between using Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear with and without the inverted dome. As you can see, without the dome, fill light created by Lightsphere is barely noticeable. With the dome, however, fill light is strong, and the shadows produced by ceiling bounce are practically gone (there are filled with the light bounced off of walls).
This setup is similar to the previous no dome setup, but for this test, we tilt the head position to 45 degrees and rotate it to the left. This way, we get a different light direction. Similarly to Test 2, without the dome, there is just a tad of fill light.
This last test demonstrates how the images look like when Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear is used for vertical shot. As you can see, the light is coming from the left side where the diffuser is. The light source is still above the lens axis, which makes Lightsphere usable without a flash bracket.
Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear is capable of producing pleasing images in a presence of light-colored walls and a low ceiling. Being larger than a flash head, it softens shadow edges to some degree depending on the distance to the subject. Due to the body plastic being highly translucent, Lightsphere II Clear effectively distributes light in all directions, which results in lighter shadows (if there are walls to bounce of). Please note that without the inverted dome, most of the light is thrown the same direction as the flash head is pointed to. So, to achieve the "bare bulb" lighting, you should use Lightsphere II Clear with the inverted dome installed.
If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.