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02-07-2009, 12:08 PM   #1
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Steal This Idea!

I'm serious - I have what I think is a pretty cool product idea, but I have no interest in trying to manufacture or market it. If anyone wants to get rich off this, you have my blessing - but maybe you could send me one unit as thanks :-)

The ultimate version of the idea would be a lot of things in one, so let me start with the most important: a bounce card for the pop-up flash. Yes, I know about the Lightscoop, but it looks unnecessarily bulky, it only bounces in one direction, and it appears it does nothing to prevent the flash from blinding you as it bounces. It also doesn't do anything else but bounce flash.

My idea would have a back panel that flips up vertically behind the flash to protect your eyes and a front panel that flips up at an angle to bounce the flash. Ideally, there would be a mechanism to set it to a given angle and leave it there, but it doesn't have to be anything that fancy to be valuable. Something like a simply pipe-cleaner type of stiff but bendable wire should do the trick. No reason something like this couldn't twist to bounce sideways. Between the front and back panels would be a long strip to mount on the hot shoe.

I'm picturing something that folds completely flat. Two 3"x3" (or so) panels connected by a 2" long (or so) strip just wide enough to fit through the hot shoe. Mostly stiff, but flexible at the joints to hinge

Simple little device, but between folding flat and providing eye protection, it would already seem more useful to me than the Lightscoop. But wait, there's more!

You've got two panels. The front should be white for most effective bounce. But what it were actually a translucent sleeve with a removable opaque insert? Then you could use it without the insert as a diffuser (and thus substitute for the Lumiquest Soft Screen). Include a warming translucent insert and you can use it either with or without the opaque insert to warm your bounced or diffused flash. Design the sleeve right and maybe it would work as a quick-and-dirty substitute for the ExpoDisc in terms of setting white balance, too. Oh, and as long as you've got this sleeve you could probably throw a microfiber cloth in there too.

One more thing. The back panel needs to be opaque to block light, but aside from that, it shouldn't matter what color. Hmmm, how about 18% gray?

Anyone think such a gizmo could possibly cost more than $20 to produce?

02-07-2009, 03:27 PM   #2
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Given how weak the built-in flash is, and that the idea is to bounce it off the gadget and then down again off of a ceiling, I think you definitely need to make it mirrored rather than white. By the time you've made it sturdy, I question if you have anything less bulky than the lightscoop.
02-07-2009, 04:13 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mattdm Quote
Given how weak the built-in flash is, and that the idea is to bounce it off the gadget and then down again off of a ceiling, I think you definitely need to make it mirrored rather than white.
I've tested this. A plain white card is good enough for ISO 100 at f/2.8, ISO 200 at f/4, or ISO 400 at f/5.6 on my K200D in my average-sized living room. So even the kit lens could benefit from this. Some cameras may have weaker on-board flashes, though. Anyhow, no reason you couldn't make the insert mirrored - or reversible, even. Maybe mirrored one side, white or warming on the other.

QuoteQuote:
By the time you've made it sturdy, I question if you have anything less bulky than the lightscoop.
Mine folds completely flat, meaning it takes up *much* less space in a bag. Wouldn't weight any more than an ounce.
02-07-2009, 04:18 PM   #4
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Sounds good Marc,
But putting that much effort into improving a pop up flash probably wouldn't yield too much (photographically). Bounced surfaces have to be pretty close to the camera and subject for that to work significantly.

I reckon if anything, design an off-camera twin P-TTL flash with customisable flash intensities to get a varied mixture of front and bounced flash.

02-10-2009, 09:24 AM   #6
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No. That's a knock-off of the Lumiquest Soft Screen that I mentioned in my post. It's a *diffuser*, not a bounce card. That's like using my proposed gadget with the opaque insert removed, but that's just gravy (since I know from experience with the Lumiques that it doesn't work very well). The main point of the thing, as I tried to make clear from the beginning, is bounce.

I guess I'm underwhelmed with the response to this idea. I don't know if that's because I didn't do a good enough job of describing it, or if people don't appreciate the value of bouncing flash, or if they think the popup flash is not strong enough to be bounced, or if they think there is some flaw in my design that would prevent it from working as expected, or if they don't think of it as enough of an improvement on the Lightscoop (the only comparable device I am aware of) to be worth having, or if the folks who otherwise might have thought it a good idea have external flashes they are happy to always take with them and hence don't see the need for themselves, or something else.

But oh well, looks like I'll have to try making one for myself at least. I'll try to post some pictures when I have a prototype (which is probably as far as I'll go unless the world starts beating a path to my door...)
02-10-2009, 12:23 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Marc Sabatella Quote
No. That's a knock-off of the Lumiquest Soft Screen that I mentioned in my post. It's a *diffuser*, not a bounce card. That's like using my proposed gadget with the opaque insert removed, but that's just gravy (since I know from experience with the Lumiques that it doesn't work very well). The main point of the thing, as I tried to make clear from the beginning, is bounce.

I guess I'm underwhelmed with the response to this idea. I don't know if that's because I didn't do a good enough job of describing it, or if people don't appreciate the value of bouncing flash, or if they think the popup flash is not strong enough to be bounced, or if they think there is some flaw in my design that would prevent it from working as expected, or if they don't think of it as enough of an improvement on the Lightscoop (the only comparable device I am aware of) to be worth having, or if the folks who otherwise might have thought it a good idea have external flashes they are happy to always take with them and hence don't see the need for themselves, or something else.

But oh well, looks like I'll have to try making one for myself at least. I'll try to post some pictures when I have a prototype (which is probably as far as I'll go unless the world starts beating a path to my door...)

Guess I'm not seeing the difference between what you've described and a piece of 3x5 notecard and some tape. I've used that, and it wasn't extremely effective, even in a small room with white walls. I had better results with the semi-opaque film canister cut out. Then I went to a real flash and found strobe zen.
02-10-2009, 01:20 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mister Guy Quote
Guess I'm not seeing the difference between what you've described and a piece of 3x5 notecard and some tape. I've used that, and it wasn't extremely effective, even in a small room with white walls.
Really? What was ineffective about it? I've had great results using that method - except without the tape (just holding the card in position). The only problems I had were either accidentally dangling my fingers in front of the lens, or not getting the angle right. So the improvements in this area that I am hoping to see by actually building the device are that it eliminates need to hold card in place with my hand. Thus making it easier to get the angle right and sticking to it.

Oh, the other advantage of what I'm describing over a simple card - and I assume over the Lightscoop - is the fact that flash bounced this way is *blindingly* bright to the photographer. I usually close my eyes before taking a shot this way. The whole reasonf or the back panel is to block that - although IO haven't tried it, so I don't know how big it would need to be in order to be effective.

BTW, since you mention walls, I'm guessing you were mostly shooting portrait mode. Or were you trying to bounce sideways? It is true that I've done most of my experimentation in landscape mode and bouncing off the ceiling. A couple of advantages this probably gave me:

a) the ceiling is usually closer to me than a wall
b) the ceiling is almost always perpendicular to me, making the proper bounce angle easier to eyeball
c) ceiling are usually white
d) there are rarely any other objects between me and the ceiling to get in the way of a clean bounce

QuoteQuote:
I had better results with the semi-opaque film canister cut out.
Tell me more...

QuoteQuote:
Then I went to a real flash and found strobe zen.
And just to be clear, I'm not entertaining any delusions that my idea would improve on a "real" flash, except in that it will be much smaller and lighter and hence more likely to be something the casual user would be willing to carry around at all times.


Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 02-12-2009 at 03:42 PM.
02-10-2009, 02:40 PM   #9
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Not sure if you've seen these, but maybe you could reverse engineer it and make it work to your liking!

light scoop digital photography lighting built-in flash Olympus Nikon Fuji Canon Pentax
02-10-2009, 08:41 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by ghost Quote
Not sure if you've seen these, but maybe you could reverse engineer it and make it work to your liking!

light scoop digital photography lighting built-in flash Olympus Nikon Fuji Canon Pentax
Quoting from my original post:

QuoteQuote:
Yes, I know about the Lightscoop, but it looks unnecessarily bulky, it only bounces in one direction, and it appears it does nothing to prevent the flash from blinding you as it bounces. It also doesn't do anything else but bounce flash.

Last edited by Marc Sabatella; 02-12-2009 at 03:45 PM.
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