DIY Lamp shade macro diffuser
This is an article about a DIY macro diffuser I've been using a lot during the past year.
This diffuser is specifically made for use with the Canon MP-E65 macro lens. It can be used with various flash units (including built in flashes). I prefer to use it as in the above configuration – with a Canon 270EX mounted on a 11" friction arm attached to the tripod mount via a §CB Mini-RC bracket from Custom Brackets.
In the above image it's mounted on a tripod for convenience, but I generally use it hand held as a flash diffuser. For early morning tripod shooting, it works great as a sunlight diffuser, reflector and/or "wind screen" though.
Pros & Cons
+ Good flexibility in terms of the resulting lighting. Inspires creativity and experimentation.
+ Works equally well with flash and natural light. Which in turn means it works well for movie recording. (As opposed to flash mounted diffusers)
+ Lightweight, durable and easy relatively easy to pack.
+ Solid fit and easy to adjust to different angles and working distances.
+ Provides fairly ample room around the subject compared to similar solutions.
+ Relatively high transmittance – saves flash batteries, keeps recycling times short and shortens effective exposure time.
– Specifically designed for use with one lens (the MP-E in my case). If you want to change lens, you also need a different diffuser. Flash mounted diffusers obviously have an advantage in this respect.
– Relatively high transmittance can result in harsher lighting than more opaque options.
– Slightly more demanding than the average diffuser. If you want to get the most out of it you may need to change flash positioning and camera settings.
Obviously some of the pros and cons go hand in hand here – the higher transmittance makes it more flexible and power effective while at the same time requiring more care. Adding layers of some semi-translucent material to the dome would shift its properties towards a more typical "high-diffusion-low-maintenance-diffuser". This would be an option for photographers who are more interested in consistent (rather than dynamic) results.