What is a Diffusion Dome?

Have you ever noticed that little piece of clip-on plastic when you get a new camera flash? That’s a dome diffuser. But before you clip it on and thing you’ll get amazing photos read the rest of this article. That diffusion dome might not be doing what you think it is.

What does a light dome do?

A diffusion dome (also known as a light dome or stofen) is only intended to be used indoors. So, if you’re running around outside at back to school shoot or a wedding and using the clip-on diffusion dome you’re not really doing much of anything except draining your battery.

The main object of a dome diffuser is to scatter light in all directions. However, a dome diffuser doesn’t change the quality of your light source. A diffuser will “fill-in” the shadows and generally reduce the darkness of the shadows you have, but if you want to make shadows softer you’ll need to use a softbox.

Remember that the quality of the light (aka softness of shadows) is controlled by the size of the light source and the distance from the light source. Nicer-looking light comes from a large light source and by being close to it.

How do you use a dome diffuser?

To use your diffuser, you normally just clip it on top of your flash. Depending on what type you have, you might need to put on an attachment first.

How does a flash diffuser work?

A flash dome works by scattering light in all directions. Rather than using the flash to send light in one narrow path, the diffuser makes the light bounce around before leaving the flash unit. This helps to spread the light evenly and reduce shadows inside.

When would I not use a diffuser?

If you’re trying to get soft light, a diffuser isn’t the right tool. As stated before, the best choice, in this case, is a softbox.

Also, if you’re outside you’re not going to do much but waste battery using a dome diffuser. Keep in mind because the light isn’t be focused it’s going to use more flash power to light your subject. Most often times people turn up the power of the flash and noticed it takes longer to recycle and can overheat in just a few minutes.

Other ways to eliminate harsh shadows

A diffusion dome isn’t really my favorite technique to get nice shadows. Remember that the quality of light is defined by the size of the light source. That’s not to say that the light source has to be the “direct” light source. So…pro move…I point my flash straight up towards the ceiling and let that scattered light rain down like a sun shower all over my subject.

You may be thinking to yourself, Justin; there’s no way that will give me nice light, but this trick essentially turns your entire ceiling into a light. Yes, you’ll have to bump up your flash power, but unless you have black ceilings (yes, I HAVE seen that before…don’t ask) even a little flash should have more than enough power to light your subject.