The best flash diffuser must be compatible with your flashgun, stable, and easy to use. With these factors in mind, I listed the top five items on the market below. Read on to know why they are essential.
As a casual photographer, I like using an external flash on my photoshoots as it helps me illuminate various subjects. But more than that, it also offers more control over lighting for added creativity.
However, a flash often results in harsh lighting and shadows, which can make my photo unappealing.
Fortunately, I found out that you can use an effective device to create a more natural look to a photograph.
Flash diffusers are one of the best light modifiers to get. They attach to the exterior of the flash unit to diffuse light. As such, they provide a more flattering and natural effect on your images.
But with so many products on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one that meets your needs and budget.
To help narrow down your choices, I have compiled this guide with the five best flash diffusers. I reviewed various articles and customer reviews to determine these top picks.
And if you are curious which options will matter to you, I also included top tips when buying a flash diffuser.
Continue reading to learn more!
What Is a Flash Diffuser?
As its name suggests, a flash diffuser softens and diffuses the light. It helps reduce the harshness of shadows created by concentrated or intense lighting.
It can also distribute light evenly to cover a larger area than the scope of an external flash. So if you are looking for a more natural appearance in your photographs, a flash diffuser is one of the best camera equipment to get.
The most common flash diffuser is a piece of white or transparent plastic that fits over the exterior of your flash unit. Once you use the flashgun, the light will pass through this plastic, spreading it out for a more uniform look.
However, a flash diffuser comes in various shapes and sizes that offer varying levels of diffusion. The larger the diffuser, the softer the light that you will get.
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5 Best Flash Diffusers
1. Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Light Softbox – Editor’s Pick
The Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Light Softbox comes in three sizes–6 x 5, 9 x 7, and 11 x 8 inches. But even the smallest diffuser can effectively spread out light for a more natural look in your photographs.
It also features an additional internal diffuser to reduce shadows and soften light further. But if you do not want the extra effect, you can simply remove it.
This light modifier is also compatible with most shoe-mount external flash units. These include Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, and other flash diffusers.
Plus, it is easy to set up, owing to the integrated hook and loop fastener. Simply secure the strap to the external flash head and adjust it accordingly for a tight fit.
It is important to note, though, that there were a few criticisms about the form of the diffuser. Some users said the diffuser tends to slump and tilt down.
Still, most customer reviews for this item were overwhelmingly positive. Many praised how sturdy and lightweight it is. No wonder it is Amazon’s Choice for flash diffusers.
For this reason, the Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Light Softbox is our top choice for the best flash diffusers on the market today.
- Available in three sizes to meet photographer’s needs
- Removable internal diffuser to further soften light
- Easy to mount
- Adjustable strap to fit most flashgun units
- It comes with a 100% 90-Day satisfaction guarantee
- Diffuser tends to slump and tilt down when using the flashgun on an angle
- A few users reported that it was too small to make a difference in their photographs
2. Rogue Photographic Design Rogue FlashBender 2 – Best for Travel
If you are looking for a versatile yet compact light modifier, consider getting the Rogue Photographic Design FlashBender 2.
As a softbox diffuser, it can diffuse and spread light more evenly to give a more natural look to your photographs. But it is also convertible into a bounce flash reflector, gobo, or snoot. Thus, you have more control over lighting, which allows for additional creativity compared to other flash diffusers.
The FlashBender 2 can also fit all popular brands of accessory flash, owing to its adjustable attachment strap. It wraps securely around your flash head. At the same time, it is easy to attach and remove.
When not in use, this flash diffuser packs flat so that you can store it in your pocket or bag with ease. Most customers like how compact it is for travel.
However, some users said that the velcro strap is not that sticky, meaning there is a chance that the diffuser will slip off your flash. It is also quite heavy, so when you try to angle the device, the diffuser can tilt downward.
Nevertheless, the Rogue Photographic Design FlashBender 2 is still one of the best flash diffusers today. It produces soft and diffused light for its size, making it an excellent alternative to larger softboxes.
- Multi-purpose light modifier (use as diffuser, bounce flash reflector, gobo, or snoot)
- It softens light in a range of situations
- Effective in bouncing and redirecting light
- Adjustable attachment strap to fit most accessory flashgun unita
- Great for travel as it packs flat
- It is heavy, which can pull down your flash along if you angle it downward
- Some users said that the attachment strap comes apart too easily
3. Neewer 6 x 5 inches Translucent Softbox – Best Budget
Flash diffusers do not have to cost you a fortune. There are several budget-friendly light modifiers out there, and the Neewer 6 x 5 inches Translucent Softbox is among them.
It boasts of two diffuser layers to effectively reduce harshness and soften shadows. The result is softer, diffused light that makes your photos natural-looking.
This diffuser is also compatible with most on-camera shoe-mount flashgun from popular brands. The stretchable opening attaches to the flash head with ease, while the fastening tape allows a secure fit.
When not in use, it folds down flat to fit inside your pocket or camera bag. The package even comes with a carry pouch for convenient storage.
Most customer reviews for this flash diffuser were positive. However, some users said it does not diffuse the light very well due to the small size. It also does not include instructions, so it is up to you to figure out how to attach it to your flash unit.
But for its price point, the Neewer 6 x 5 inches Translucent Softbox is hard to beat. It is worth trying out and seeing for yourself if you can achieve noticeable results.
- Two diffuser layers to create softer and natural-looking light
- Stretch opening for a universal fit
- It folds down flat when not in use
- It comes with a carry pouch for convenient storage
- A few users did not notice significant improvements in the lighting of their photographs
- It does not include instructions, which makes it tricky to set up if you are a beginner
Do you prefer a flash diffuser similar to snap-on plastic ones but want one that creates a softer light? We recommend checking out the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible Gen5.
The dome uses a transparent material compared to others with white dye. This construction ensures that it will not block flash efficiency but rather provide an omnidirectional light. It also features concentric rings inside to spread light evenly and achieve soft diffusion.
The package even includes a collapsible speed mount and a universal cinch strap. These fit into most flash units from popular brands like Canon, Nikon, Sony, and more. Simply secure the Lightsphere Collapsible and attach the white dome (which acts as the diffuser) to your flash. When not in use, you can fold it flat for easy storage.
What’s more, the Gary Fong Lightsphere is the only diffuser that comes with a removable top. It is handy if you want to achieve maximum flash output for adequate fill light.
And if you want further control over the light, there is an option to buy a color gel set (sold separately).
All these benefits come at an expensive cost, though.
There were also some users saying this flash diffuser was quite tricky to attach to the flash. A few even reported that it is prone to slipping off no matter how much you tighten the velcro strap.
That said, the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible Gen5 is still among the most effective flash diffusers on the market. It offers relatively better light dispersion for higher-quality images.
- Clear, translucent material do not block flashgun efficiency
- Removable top to provide maximum flash output
- It includes Lightsphere collapsible speed mount, white dome, cinch strap, and field guide
- It folds flat for easy storage
- Option to add colored gels
- Quite expensive
- Not as easy to attach to the flash
- Some users said that it kept falling despite tightening it
The MagMod MagSphere enables you to use your flash unit as an omnidirectional source. Thus, you can achieve a softer and diffused light for a more natural look in your photographs.
It can also act as a main light. Simply aim it directly at your subject to get a more uniform illumination.
There is even an option to insert MagMod’s colored gels through the integrated slot. Not only can you spread light evenly, but you can also adjust the color temperature.
This flash diffuser is made of a durable and flexible rubber, which ensures that it retains its original form. When not in use, it can fold down easily to fit inside your pocket or bag.
Despite these benefits, it requires you to buy the MagGrip. This mounting device makes it compatible with most flash units. However, the diffuser is already expensive by itself, and when you add this attachment, it will cost you more.
Some users also said that it is pretty heavy, so you might lose the angle adjustment of your flash.
That said, the MagMod MagSphere is among the best flash diffusers on the market. It shines the most when you use it with other MagMod’s light modifiers.
- Soft and even diffusion of light
- Omni-direction light increases light-emitting surface by over 250%
- It offers twice the brightness compared to competing modifiers
- Durable silicone rubber
- Integrated gel slot to adjust color temperature (colored gels sold separately)
- Steep cost
- It requires a separate attachment (MagGrip) to fit into your flash unit
- Some users said that it is heavy, which can weigh down your flash
How to Choose the Best Flash Diffuser
There are several factors to consider before buying a flash diffuser.
Below, we included the most important features to review beforehand. These help ensure that your chosen light modifier can meet your needs.
Flash Diffuser Type
A flash diffuser encompasses various types of lighting equipment.
As previously mentioned, a snap-on plastic cap is the most common type of flash diffuser. Also known as a diffusion dome, it spreads the beam of light from your flash unit to make it appear softer.
But a flash diffuser can also be a mini softbox. This lighting modifier uses fabric or rigid material to change the direction of light. The result is softer and natural-looking illumination.
Choosing between different kinds of flash diffusers will depend on your preference and needs.
Flash diffusers are not always one size fits all.
While we only listed products with a universal fit in this article, you may find other items only suited for particular flash models.
It is vital to choose one that is compatible with your external flash unit. If not, you risk getting a flimsy one that often slips off your equipment, or worse, one that does not fit at all.
A flash diffuser must stay in place to serve its purpose. Avoid those with loose fittings as it can slip off at the slightest adjustment or one that is too heavy that it weighs down your flash.
Instead, look for a model that remains stable and secure at all times, even when your flash is tilted downward.
Ease of Use
That said, a flash diffuser must not be too tight-fitting that it is hard to set up or remove. It must be the right balance between secure and easy to use.
We recommend buying a flash diffuser that can be attached and replaced using one hand. It will come in handy if you have a lot in your hands (pun intended!) during a shoot, which is often the case.
The quality of a flash diffuser highly depends on the material used and overall design. The last thing you want is a cheap plastic material that easily tears off, ultimately affecting the outcome of your photographs.
So if you want to capture stunning images, buy a flash diffuser with robust construction and high-quality materials.
The size of the flash diffuser determines how soft or diffused the light will be.
As a rule of thumb, the larger the diffuser, the softer the quality of the light it gives off. That does not necessarily mean that larger diffusers are better, though. Smaller ones might be enough to achieve noticeable results and meet your needs.
Size also affects the portability of the flash diffuser. If you travel a lot, a compact and collapsible model might suit you best.
Number of Flash Diffusers
As you browse the market for the best flash diffusers, you might encounter products that come in different quantities. Some are available in multiple packs, while others feature different shapes and sizes.
If you are a beginner, the chances are that you probably do not need that many diffusers. It is more likely that a single flash diffuser is enough for your everyday photography needs.
However, professional photographers can take advantage of these bundled packs as they allow for more creativity.
Flash diffusers are relatively inexpensive, making it easy to choose one that suits your budget.
However, if you want to invest in different variations, you can also find higher-end models. These often come with other pieces of lighting modifiers, ideal for professional use.
Regardless of your budget, it is essential to get one that does not compromise on quality. You want a flash diffuser that can enhance, instead of reducing, the outcome of your photographs.
Consider getting a flash diffuser with a warranty. It ensures that you can ask for a return or refund should you be unhappy with your purchase.
The warranty can also indicate the quality of the product. Brands that offer a longer guarantee are confident that their items will last you a long time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a diffuser and a reflector?
A flash diffuser is placed on the same side of the main light to diffuse and spread it more evenly, which reduces shadows.
In contrast, a reflector is usually positioned on the opposite side of the primary light source. It bounces the rays of light to illuminate the subject and minimizes shadow.
How to use a flash diffuser?
You do not simply point-and-shoot with a diffuser attached to your flash unit.
Avoid casting it directly on the subject as the diffuser is small enough to spread out the light source everywhere. This means that the flash might still produce shadows.
For best results, point it at an angle to bounce the light off on a reflective surface, such as the ceiling or nearby wall. Doing so gives you a well-lit scene with minimal shadows. It is also best to experiment with different directions to achieve the look you want.
Do you use a flash diffuser outside?
If you are a beginner, you might think that a flash diffuser and a flash, in general, are only necessary indoors.
However, using a flash diffuser outdoors can significantly alter the final results of your images. You can point it towards a scene that has uneven exposure or harsh shadows to soften light. Thus, you can achieve a more flattering and natural-looking photo.
That concludes our list of the best flash diffusers on the market.
All our top picks can provide softer light for a more natural look on your photos. But if we only have to recommend one, it would be the Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Light Softbox. It comes with two internal diffusers to spread light evenly. It is also easy to set up yet still secure. Plus, it is available in three sizes so that you can choose one that best suits your needs.