The Omni-Bounce. Like? Dislike? Tips?

This is a discussion on The Omni-Bounce. Like? Dislike? Tips? within the Photography Discussion forums, part of the PHOTO FORUM category; The Omni-Bounce. Usually called the most costly piece of plastic you can buy. After seeing lots of people online telling others "you need an Omni-Bounce! ...


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  1. #1
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    The Omni-Bounce.


    Usually called the most costly piece of plastic you can buy.

    After seeing lots of people online telling others "you need an Omni-Bounce! It helps so much!", I decided to get one.

    I'd had it for months now. But I've found myself using it less and less.
    I've found that I like the results alot better when not using it (just bouncing the flash normally off walls/ceiling without the
    Omni-Bounce). You have more control of the result doing that, then just letting the Omni-Bounce bounce light everywhere
    on its own, then looking at the result and glare being over here, and light over there that you didn't want, etc.

    I'd heard lots of different sides on 'how to use it':
    • Some say you use it in conjunction with bouncing off ceilings/walls, hence the " bounce" in Omni-Bounce.
    • Others say that no, that if you have a ceiling to bounce off of already, then why do you need an Omni-Bounce?
      That using it would just knock off a few stops of light from your output.
    • Others say that it's best to use the Omni-Bounce outdoors to soften the flash.
    • Others say that the "bounce" in Omni-Bounce means that the plastic itself bounces around the light, so you don't
      need a ceiling to bounce off of. That it's best to use the Omni-Bounce when you have no other surface to bounce off of.
    • Others say that it's best to use the Omni-Bounce when your flash isn't connected to your camera, that the results
      this way are better then using it on camera.
    • Others say that it's only of good use with macro shots.

    etc.

    It's all very confusing.

    I've found though, like I said, that I like the results alot better without it in most of the situations I shoot.
    I don't really get what all the hype was about. I mean, I can see using it in SOME situations. Since the Omni-Bounce
    throws light everywhere, if you're in a small room it'd be able to throw (bounce) light off the ceiling AND walls
    (instead of just pointing the flash at the ceiling). That would help to wrap light around the subject from all sides instead
    of just from the ceiling, etc. But really, in most situations, I prefer just not using the Omni-Bounce and just bouncing
    the light normally.

    Example: all of these shots, I just bounced the flash normally off the ceiling:
    http://www.photoforum.com/index.php?showtopic=33752

    The following weekend, I was at that club again, but tried out the Omni-Bounce that time.
    The results were okay, but I liked the result of the non-Omni-Bounce shots alot better.
    I ended up just taking it off midway through and finishing the night with it off.

    So what do you think?
    How do you use your Omni-Bounce?
    Are you happy with the results?
    When do you use it, and when do you not use it?
    Any tips?

    Feel free to also post your own photos here using the Omni-Bounce. Or test shots with/without it. etc.
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  • #2
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    Also, I've heard that the Omni-Bounce is best used when using wide angle lenses indoors. Which makes the most sense to me out of all the 'how to use it' info. If you're using a wide angle lens, then you'd want the flash to cover a wide angle also. So having the Omni-Bounce throw light all over (bouncing off ceiling and walls, etc) would be helpful in that situation.

    But as for just everyday indoor shots using a non wide angle, I like the results best when not using the Omni-Bounce.

    So what's all the hype about?
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  • #3
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    I have the Stofen filter for the SB600 which as far as I am concerned is useful for direct on flash though I usually bounce it anyway - it diffuses the light removing bright spots, yes bouncing you will "diffuse" the light and lose light but also soften the bright spots and harsh shadows.

    I also us a Gary Fong clone which diffuses and spreads the light even more - neither are perfect but in reducing heavy shadows they do their job.

    The link to the examples all have dark backgrounds so heavy shadowing isn't apparent so either way for these it doesn't make any difference.

    I guess one rule of thumb maybe where a background will cast heavy shadows best use the diffuser if not leave off and you will get more light but still bounce - but if direct flash you will definitely use the diffuser and get shadows but they will not be as harsh.

    One way the diffuser will help is with any reflective surfaces in the image.

    What seems eons ago I did some test shots using flash and diffusers HERE and the bottom line was the best results eventually was shooting RAW and correcting using PP. Now this was on an inanimate shiny object but maybe a repeat on real life scenes might be needed.

    Okay thats me done

  • #4
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    Nice test!

    I'm just in a love/hate relationship with mine I guess. hehe.
    At times, it's nice. But more times then not, I find myself just taking it off.

    I just took these to test it out.

    These are both direct flashes (the flash pointed directly at the subjects).
    Without Omnibounce:


    With:


    As for diffusing the flash straight on through the omni-bounce, it didn't diffuse it much.
    Both created a dark shadow. Both added the same glare on the glass. Both shots look about the same.

    Then I tried with the flash at a 45 angle.
    Without omni-bounce:


    With:


    Since the omni-bounce throws light in more directions, it casts a shadow from the phone that isn't there from the "without" shot.
    I do like the soft shadow there, gives it depth. But because of that light from the omni-bounce, it also created glare on the glass.
    So if I had to choose, I like the without shot better.

    It's things like this in most of the shots I take that just make me like using regular bounce instead of the omni-bounce better.
    Of course, I'm not a lighting expert. Maybe I'm doing things wrong..
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  • #5
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    Two more examples.
    I didn't do very good lighting work in the above post. I was bouncing off the ceiling,
    which caused you not to be able to see the face of the phone very well, So here's another example.

    I have a wall to the right of me (I can reach my arm out and touch it). So I bounced off that to help illuminate the face of the phone (so I turned my flash to the right).

    Without omni-bounce:


    With:


    Both look decent and identical, except that WITH the omni-bounce, it caused glare on the glass, on the door handle
    in the top-left, on the dark red thing on the right side, etc.

    That's what I meant in my original post when I said:
    "I've found that I like the results alot better when not using it (just bouncing the flash normally off walls/ceiling without the
    Omni-Bounce). You have more control of the result doing that, then just letting the Omni-Bounce bounce light everywhere
    on its own, then looking at the result and glare being over here, and light over there that you didn't want, etc."


    With the omni-bounce on, I have less control. The light goes all over.
    But without it, I was able to bounce off the wall and light up what I wanted, where I wanted it.

    Maybe I'm just doing it wrong. hehe.
    I don't know. I just tend to almost always like the NON omni-bounce shots better then with it. These examples are just a
    small showing of what I mean. I mainly focused on the glare caused from it vs without it, but you can see what I'm getting at.
    It's harder to control where the flash goes with it on, and I just tend to like the shots with it off alot more.

    I don't knowwww. I really want to like it. Since I spent money on it and all. But more times then not lately, it stays
    off my camera. And there are people out there who say they leave theirs on their camera all the time.
    I don't get it. Is it just me not using it correctly? heh
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  • #6
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    Still testing this out more.
    I decided to try the macro option that I had listed in the original post,

    "Others say that it's only of good use with macro shots."

    It did really good actually.
    With the flash being so close to the object when doing macro shots, it either didn't light up the object at all (just went right over it),
    or if I tried bouncing off the ceiling, etc it would only illuminate the top of the object, or cause shadows from my camera/lens
    being so close to the object, etc.

    But attaching the omni-bounce, it spread out the light evenly across the whole area. No worrying about shadows from bouncing
    (because of the camera being so close to the object) or about the light missing the object completely because it being so close
    to the lens (and the flash just shooting over it).

    So that's a plus for the omni-bounce.
    It does well in macro shots.
    Spreads the light out nicely when usually it'd be tricky to get descent flash shots in such an up close macro area.
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  • #7

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    I have an omni-bounce clone and found exactly the same thing as your comparison above.

    I find it's almost like using a white bounce card to direct some light forward and get fill flash / catch lights in addition to the main bounce light... except... I almost always find the effect too strong, and too harsh. Almost as bad as using direct flash, and with weird colour castes from the walls.

    (If outside, I don't see the point of it at all, as it is just a less powerful direct flash. I think it's just supposed to turn your flash into a point source-like light).

    For that reason, like you, I almost always end up taking it off and playing with a white card instead.

    That said, I just bought the ST-E2 so I could play with off-camera flash, and I found a new respect for the piece of plastic. With only one off-camera flash, I didn't see the point of just bouncing all the power off the ceiling -- it wasn't that much different from on-camera. But, with the omnibounce on, it was like having two flashes -- the main flash bounced off the ceiling, and then a straight-on flash from the omnibounce, more powerful than a white card, that I could position and try to get artistic with. The shadows were still there, but they were much nicer when not thrown from straight ahead.

    Also, if the flash is held significantly above the subject (but still bouncing off the ceiling), it seems to behave nicer.

    I'm going to try with some black tape on the front of the omnibounce to modify the effect. Or... maybe a white A3 sheet behind it.... lots of possibilities before I break down and buy additional speedlites. Interested in trying those lightsphere-flash-bongs as well.


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