I recently got a new camera, one of those compact mirror-less types that produce DSLR-quality photos. Whilst I will definitely have a post especially dedicated for that once I’ve taken and compiled a decent lot of shots, I just need to make a quick shoutout about this recent discovery that I made.
Get a freaking diffuser. It’s one of these little gadgets that diffuse and spread light from camera flash. Flash, for me, is generally bad - using it overexposes your photographs. See exhibit A.
An overexposed photograph of crispy worms - a delicacy in Thailand. It tasted all goooood.
Good quality cameras, including the compact mirror-less ones, are capable of taking awesome photos in low light conditions without the need for flash, especially if they have high ISO capabilities. However, the higher the ISO setting, the grainier the photo can be. In this case, it may be justified to use flash. But then again, there’s that issue about overexposure.
Now enter the diffuser. What a diffuser does is it “softens” the light from the camera flash. Some DIY solutions include cutting a hole into a pingpong ball and placing it over the flash unit (like this), but here’s a better solution: get a Lim’s Easy Bounce diffuser. It is basically a small mirror that you slide over the flash unit. When you trigger the flash, the light hits the mirror instead of directly onto the subject, the mirror then reflects the light toward the ceiling, and then light “bounces” from the ceiling onto the subject. The result is a well illuminated subject without the overexposure. If you have a Sony NEX camera, the most decent-looking and most portable diffuser you can get is Lim’s Easy Bounce - at least in my opinion. Check it out here. The caveat is that Lim’s is especially made to fit Sony NEX cameras only. However, I’m sure there are other diffusers out there that can fit your camera.
Now below are samples shots that have not been even slightly edited - if this won’t convince you I don’t know what will. They’re all taken with the same settings: f/4.5, 1/25, ISO1600.
The first photo is taken with no flash at all. By itself it’s already decent - but I want more lighting to bring out the colours. The second photo is taken with flash. Makes your cringe, doesn’t it? It’s overexposed, and the flash produces a shadow. Look back at your photos taken with flash on and you will see these two characteristics present in almost all cases. The third photo is taken with the Lim’s Easy Bounce. Everything is brighter without being overexposed.
Get one quick - it’s just about $20 on eBay!