Night club photography can be a fun and fulfilling way to take your photography career.
However, the atmosphere of a club brings with it its own unique challenges to overcome.
No other subset of photography is as distinct in its style, requirements, and methodology than a club shoot due to the unique nature of your surroundings.
Any professional photographer will tell you that, to use your flash effectively indoors, you need to “bounce” the light, which is to say it should be direct at your subject rather than into the camera lens.
This can be accomplished in many different ways.
However, in a night club atmosphere, especially one with dark walls and high, dark ceilings, you’ll find that you have very little control over your flash.
On the contrary—it’ll blow out your subjects in blinding detail while getting otherwise sucked into the abyss around them. Using a flash on its own will give you overexposed, startling bright models and not much else—that’s not exactly the effect you want.
For more control of how you light your subjects, you’ll want to invest in something called a flash diffuser.
What is a Flash Diffuser?
A flash diffuser can go a long way to giving you a more natural light even with a flash.
What a flash diffuser does, to put it simply is soften and/or spread the light from your flash to reduce the harshness of the shadows cast and spread the light more uniformly.
At its most basic, a flash diffuser is a piece of transparent plastic that fits over the light source of your flash.
Once your flash is activated, the light must pass through this piece of plastic, where it’s softened before lighting your subject.
When used correctly, a flash diffuser can be one of the most important pieces of nightclub photography equipment in your bag.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Flash Diffuser for Club Photography
Flash diffusers can be great accessories.
However, there are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing the best flash diffuser for club photography.
As mentioned, night club photos have their own unique set of challenges, so it’s important to ensure your flash diffusers work to soothe them.
Even if you have the best flash for nightclub photography it can create harsh results if not managed properly.
It’s important to scout out your night club beforehand to ascertain how dark the club will be when you shoot.
Moreover, you want to check the walls—how dark are they? How high are the ceilings? The higher the ceilings and the darker the interior, the more light you’ll need and thus, the less opaque you’ll want your diffuser to be.
A more diffused light is always the best look.
However, diffusion also means a weakening of your light source.
If the club is too dark then too much diffusion will means that very little light covers your subjects.
Try and find a happy medium between diffusion and intensity—you may need more than one diffuser to experiment with different levels.
Here is a list of the 7 best flash diffusers for club photography.
Let’s dive in:
The Best Flash Diffusers for Club Photography
You could make a flash diffuser yourself with some simple tools, but it will more than likely pale in comparison to the flash diffusers found online.
Sometimes, as simple as a tool seems, it’s best to differ to a manufactured version. With that said, the best flash diffusers for club photography are listed below.
For many photographers, the search for a light diffuser stops at Gary Fong and his collapsible light sphere diffuser.
However, you’ll notice that the popularity and credibility come at an increased price point.
At nearly 6 times the cost of most other diffusers, the light sphere does do a great job and is made of quality materials.
Forgoing simple plastic, the light sphere uses collapsible, soft silicone which diffuses light in all three dimensions.
(4.4 / 5)
- One of the few “name brand” light diffusers on the market
- Collapsible yet sturdy silicone gives a great performance
- This light sphere is much more expensive than most other diffusers on the market
Flash Diffuser Light Softbox 6×5” by Altura Photo (Universal, Collapsible with Storage Pouch) for Canon, Yongnuo and Nikon Speedlight
This flash diffuser softbox is ultra-compact and universal thanks to its collapsible canvas and Velcro design.
While this diffuser comes in three different sizes, the Velcro connector on the bottom should easily cinch to the diameter of your flash, no matter the make and model.
Best of all, it offers a huge, soft diffuser plate to effectively disperse your flash.
(4.6 / 5)
- Easily affixed to your flash and effectively one-size-fits-all
- The high-quality diffuser panel will make even the harshest flash look soft in comparison
- Due to its size, it may get in the way of certain smaller cameras
- Some consumers prefer a more compact design that fits right over the flashbulb
Softboxes are great for certain people but others prefer a “hard diffuser” design, which affixes directly to the bulb of your flash.
This can preserve more light by diffusing it much less, which can be a great compromise when you’re in a night club.
Most of all, since the Neewer flash diffuser connects to the flash, it lacks the bulkiness exhibited by a softbox.
(4.4 / 5)
- More direct light, which is still diffused
- Super lightweight and small
- Less diffusion than a softbox, if it that’s a concern
- Not universal—requires the Neewer branded Speedlite flash
Pangshi Flash Diffuser Reflector Two-Sides Silver/White Bounce for Speedlite Nikon SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, Canon 380EX 430EX 550EX 580EX Vivita Flash Sunpack Nissin Sigma Sony Pentax Olympus Yongnuo
It might look a little goofy, but this flash diffuser by pangshi has a two-in-one purpose by acting as both a flash diffuser and reflector.
Sometimes, due to the intense darkness of a club, you’ll find that your light simply vanishes into thin air.
A Reflector combined with a diffuser, in theory, keep your light focused yet soft.
Think of it this way—any light that would otherwise be light to the ceiling will bounce down from the reflector, where it will find its way to your subjects.
Moreover, at just $6.99 this would be a great tool to experiment with.
(4.5 / 5)
- Acts as a two-in-one tool with the reflector hood and light diffuser combination
- The reflector is removable if you don’t need it
- The reflector is a bit small and may not give you the results of a full-size reflector
- The stretch strap may not fit over larger flashes
Fotasy Soft Universal Cloth Flash Bounce Diffuser Cap for Flashgun Speedlite, Universal Flash Diffuser fits Canon Metz Nikon Nissin Olympus Panasonic Pentax Sigma Sony Sunpak Flashes
These soft cloth flash bouncers by Fotasy give you the wider diffusion of a softbox with the footprint of a standard flash diffuser thanks to their cloth design.
Due to their simple elastic bottom, these should fit on most flashbulbs.
Thanks to their cloth material, they’re both easily transportable and damage-proof.
(4.3 / 5)
- As a material, cloth acts as a great light diffuser
- Extremely lightweight and durable
- May not fit larger flashes that exceed the stretch of the elastic material
- For some, the amount of diffusion may be too soft (weak)
Rogue Photographic Design ROGUERELG2 FlashBender 2 Large Reflector, Bounce Flash, Snoot, Gobo (Black/White)
What is great about Rogue’s line of FlashBender products, is that you can bend it into a variety of positions.
It has an elastic fastener with velcro edges which means adding a FlashBender reflector is very easy.
Once it is all attached, the internal wire of the reflector’s structure holds everything and you can reform the shape.
This allows you to have much more control over light than you would with a standard reflector.
The velcro sides also means a small snoot can be formed.
FlashBender’s small size and flat form make it an accessory that is easy to take anywhere.
(4.4 / 5)
- It’s large. Measures about 9×10 inches, which is great for me. There are smaller ones out there, if this would be too big for your needs
- Works really well. Great for bouncing the flash
- Easy storage
- Well built. Feel really solid with high quality materials
- Can be reshaped
- A bit pricier than the rest
- Getting it on the flash can be a bit of a chore until you get the hang of it
The Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce outputs light in all directions.
It uses both ceilings and walls to bounce flash and without these surfaces, the reflector is better for spreading flash.
It is great for spreading light and it is flashgun-specific.
It offers a snug fit, however, you will need to purchase a new diffuser if you switch between flashguns.
(4.3 / 5)
- Offers a nice and soft light — not harsh
- Displays colors and tones naturally
- Strong build
- The discharge can be very bright so warn your subject not to look directly at it
I personally go with the Gary Fong lightsphere. The quality of it and its build makes it worth the money.
If you are going to pick a light diffuser for club photography, might as well go with the best one!
Flash Diffusers Are Great When They’re Appropriate
With knowledge and intuition as a photographer, you’ll find that you begin to have a knack of knowing when and how to use the tools at your disposal.
Even the best flash diffuser for club photography will be unhelpful if it’s used when it’s not appropriate.
Scouting your location beforehand and experimentation is just as important as the quality of your diffuser.
However, flash diffusers are cheap enough that they’re easily a must-have camera accessory to carry with you.
They are typically lightweight, compact, and easily installed so you can experiment with them during your sessions and get a feel for how they perform, what they do, and soon enough develop a deep understanding of when to use them.
Night clubs, due to their nature, are one of the best ways to experiment with a flash diffuser and, when used expertly, a flash diffuser can take your club photography to the next level.
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