Photography Lighting is supported by readers. When you buy with our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more

This post was most recently updated on June 26th, 2022

Are you considering purchasing a flash diffuser but aren’t sure if it’s worth it? Maybe you have heard other photographers discussing flash diffusers and want to know more about them?

Or perhaps you have a light diffuser gathering dust at home with no idea how to use it? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

Finding the right lighting for your photographs can be challenging and often leaves many of us feeling stressed, especially if you have spent a lot of money on external flashes, only to find them harsh and too bright for your pictures.

Desperate to help you search for answers and see the words “flash diffuser” come up time and time again, with little information about what they are. 

Well, no more! Today we are here to give you the answers you need! Keep reading to find out what a flash diffuser is, the different types, and how to use them to enhance your photography. 

What Is A Flash Diffuser?

Let’s get straight into it! A flash diffuser is a light modifier attached to the upper part of an external flash unit. Its job is, you guessed it, to diffuse the flash!

What Is A Flash Diffuser?

When you use the flash, the diffuser will soften or spread out the light from the flash. Usually, a flash is concentrated light, and sometimes it can be harsh, ruining your photographs. 

But no more with a flash diffuser! By spreading out or softening that harsh light, you get a softer and more flattering light that can help enhance your photographs even further!

It’s also a handy tool for removing shadows that strong lighting and its harshness can cause.

Overall, you can expect a flash diffuser to remove the harsh, artificial-looking flash from your photographs, leaving you with a softer and more flattering light. 

Flash diffusers are available in a range of shapes and sizes, offering you plenty of choices.

The different shapes and sizes will give you a different level of diffusion, with the larger diffusers offering the softer lights.

The most basic type of diffuser that we see is the rectangular dome box that snaps onto the top of your flash box. It’s usually made from a white, semi-transparent plastic that creates a “bare bulb” effect when used. 

Let’s look quickly at the different types of flash diffusers you can choose from. 

Dome Flash Diffusers 

Dome flash diffusers feature a translucent dome that helps spread light and reduce the intensity of your flash. These are one step above built-in diffusion panels and are often the most popular choice. 

Mini Softbox

A mini softbox is a 3-4inch version of a studio softbox. It features a square sheet of diffusion material that sits over the light, offering you that softer light when you take your picture. 

What Is A Flash Diffuser?

Sphere Flash Diffuser

Sphere flash diffusers create a larger surface area for the light and usually feature a sturdier mount. There are many popular options to choose from, too, should you go with a sphere flash diffuser. 

They tend to be expensive diffusers but are extremely easy to use and feature more softening power than a dome version. It’s worth considering these factors when deciding if it’s the right diffuser for you!

Bounce Flash Diffuser 

Bounce flash diffusers work slightly differently from others seen today. Instead of shooting the light towards the subject, it is bounced away from the scene. These diffusers tend to lose more light than a sphere or softbox but create a nice soft light. 

When it comes to bounce diffusers, the larger the surface area, the better! 

Pop-up Flash Diffuser 

For those with a pop-up flash, a pop-up flash diffuser is your best option. The diffuser will attach directly to your camera and soften the light built-in flash offers.

These accessories can be purchased, or you can use DIY options as listed below. 

DIY Diffusers 

You don’t even need to spend money either; there are plenty of DIY options for flash diffusers that even professional photographers use!

You can use everyday items like food containers (opt for the smallest ones you can find) or white coffee filters to diffuse the light and give your images a softer light. 

If you are looking for a flash diffuser, we recommend considering the type of lighting that you want to create in your photographs and using that as the basis of your search. It’s also worth considering your budget and material used; ideally, you want a flash diffuser to be durable, just in case you drop it. 

And these diffusers aren’t just used for external flashes either! You have lots of options you can explore for your camera flash if you wish to manipulate the light.

Choosing between your options will depend on what you are photographing and the results you want to achieve; it can always be helpful to try out a few different options and experiment to find a light and diffuser that best suits your needs and goals. 

Now that we have looked at what a flash diffuser is, let’s move on and see how you can use them! 

How To Use A Flash Diffuser

Using a flash diffuser is extremely easy, and it can even be paired with other techniques to get the right lighting for your images.

What Is A Flash Diffuser?

How you use a flash diffuser will vary depending on the type of diffuser you have opted for, but don’t worry, we will go through this now! 

For dome, sphere, softbox, and pop-up diffusers will need to be fitted over the flashgun. You will want the head pointing towards the subject too.

You can adjust this where necessary to ensure that the diffuser is in the correct position. When you are ready, take your picture with the flash on, the light will shoot through your diffuser and be diffused to create that softer lighting we all crave. 

Bounce diffusers will need to have the light pointed through the diffuser. You will want the large surface area of the diffuser (not the strobe) to face the subject before you take a photograph.

It’s worth noting that bounce diffusers can vary from brand to brand. It’s best to check the instructions and follow those to set up and use your bounce diffuser. 

If you run into any difficulty, be sure to check out tutorials online by searching for your model. You can also find downloadable instruction manuals online should you misplace yours. 

Using a diffuser is super easy; simply strap it onto your flash gun’s head, and you are food to go! If you are using some DIY options on your camera’s flash, you can attach these or angle them over the flash as you see fit. It can take some adjustment, so be sure to set aside time to experiment with it. 

While using a flash diffuser and an external flash, you can play with your camera’s settings too. Using your manual flash mode on your camera allows you to turn down the intensity of strobe flash yourself and blend the light in with the rest of the scene, especially when a flash diffuser is used too! 

Are Flash Diffusers Worth It? 

If you struggle with the light your flash offers you and want to create softer lighting, then yes, a flash diffuser is worth it! Often you can pick them up without needing to spend a fortune and can enjoy softer lighting in your photographs for years to come!

There are plenty of options for flash diffusers too, and as they are so easy to use, we are yet to find someone who doesn’t think they are worth it!

Be sure to spend some time experimenting, and don’t be afraid to adjust the settings on your camera too, to enjoy beautiful lighting that will enhance your photographs.