Gary Fong's Puffer - Pop-Up Flash DiffuserWe've all been there. You've just picked up a new digital camera, whether a high-end point-n-shoot, or a dSLR, and now you're ready to capture some amazing photos. However, your budget didn't allow for an expensive external flash unit to go along with your sweet new camera.
While the built-in flash units on higher end "prosumer", Super-zoom, and dSLR models are very handy, they still lack the power and options offered by an external unit. One area they really lack in is light diffusion, which can lead to strong shadowing, harsh direct light, over exposure of highlights, etc.
That's where Gary Fong's Puffer comes into play. This "Pop-Up Flash Diffuser" is designed to soften the harsh direct light that comes from your built-in flash, giving you a more even, natural looking source of light. This helps make photos more pleasing, in a variety of settings. I shoot mostly portraits, as people are my favorite subjects, and Gary claims that the Puffer helps produce much more pleasing skin tones. This is a universal "one size fits all" unit, that does offer adjustments to allow you to custom fit it to your camera.
The one requirement is that your camera is equipped with a standard flash hotshoe, which is what the Puffer uses to mount to the camera. The special diffuser then hangs in front of the pop-up flash.
Physical Views and Features:
Here we can see the only two pieces of the Puffer system: the mounting bracket and the diffuser.
Assembly is simple and straight forward, and you can adjust the height of the diffuser thanks to 8 different slots. The ends of the mounting bracket simply plug into the holes provided. This allows the Puffer to fit a wide variety of models from most of the major manufactures; Canon, Olympus, Sony, Nikon, Panasonic, Pentax, FujiFilm, etc.
To mount the Puffer, simply slide the mounting bracket into your flash hotshoe. Since many hotshoes will disable the flash's pop-up button when you have something inserted into the mount, it's best to pop-up the flash beforehand; My Canon EOS 50D, and the Rebel T3i we had in for review would not pop-up the flash if the Puffer's mount was all the way forward.
Another reason you want to have the flash up is depth. Each camera is different, how far in the hotshoe the mount needs to go will vary. On my EOS 50D, the mount needs to be about 2/3 of the way in, otherwise it prevents the flash from fully opening.
To attach the diffuser portion of the Puffer, Gary recommends you place the actual lens of the flash in the center of the diffuser. This helps create more even lighting, and is the recommended method of installation.
Below are a couple of shots of the Puffer on my EOS 50D.
Steve's Conclusion and Sample Photos
I used the Puffer with two Canon EOS models, my personal 50D and the Rebel T3i we had in for review. The results were the same with each camera; the Puffer provided softer, more pleasing flash coverage on all of our subjects. The unwanted shadows you see when using a flash head on to your subject are greatly reduced in most cases. This is a superb product for most any user who uses the flash often, whether for portrait or "people" type photos, close-ups, or even product photography for selling items on sites like Ebay, Craigslist, and Forums. While some may be concerned with a slight loss in output due to the light having to travel through the diffuser, this minute amount was not worrisome to us, as the benefits of the unit itself outweighs the possible slight loss in range.
At just $21.95 US + shipping or less (only $16.79 on Amazon as of 6/2011), this is a must have accessory for anyone shooting with the stock built-in flash on their dSLR, Super-Zoom, or Prosumer (aka Bridge) camera. Gary Fong's Puffer will allow you to enjoy your photos even more than when using the built-in flash by itself; holding you over unit you can pick up an external flash unit. Then you can upgrade to his awesome Collapsible LightSphere flash diffuser. See a few of our sample photos below; click for full-size, unedited photos.
For more details, visit Gary Fong's website.
CLICK HERE to order your Gary Fong Puffer - Pop-Up Flash Diffuser from Amazon.com Today!
Breakdown of the following photos (all taken using an EF 50mm f/1.8 lens):
- Canon EOS 50D's built-in flash
- 50D built-in flash with GF Puffer installed