BounceLite Flash Modifier Review

Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken a flash photo and wished a) it wasn’t so washed out, b) it didn’t have those harsh, black shadows behind the subject, c) it wasn’t so bluish all over, or d) it were possible to do it all over again because the results just plain sucked. Does this picture sound familiar? You need a flash modifier. In fact, you may need a BounceLite.

Flash modifiers generally either diffuse light, reflect light or occasionally alter the color of the light emitted by an electronic flash. The innovative new BounceLite can do all three—consecutively or simultaneously. It attaches to the business end of most large shoe-mount flash units and passively works its magic, letting you decide the desired effect and allowing the camera to control exposure.

There are three main pieces that work in harmony to modify the flash’s output. The first is a hinged white roof that can be closed to direct all light through the large front diffuser or angled open to redirect some of the light upward and forward. The second is a gel filter holder that has a hard textured, light-diffusing surface and can be used empty, with a filter or not at all. The third is the translucent, pillow-like front diffuser that acts more-or-less like a mini-softbox to soften and spread the light. As you can imagine, these three perform differently depending on how they are positioned. The permutations are virtually unlimited considering that you can bounce the flash through the diffuser and onto the wall or ceiling, et cetera. The key—clearly—is to experiment and remember what configuration is most pleasing to your subject and to you.

The BounceLite attaches securely to most popular shoe-mount flashes by way of an amazingly secure rubber belt. Despite its ample size, its light weight prevents the camera from feeling top heavy (although this might change if you use a large flash on a smallish camera). I used my sample on a Canon 430EX and a Nikon SB600.

Now the bad news. At the present time there are no photo distributors (and consequently no retailers) in the country who sell BounceLite. However, you can order it from Fotocapio in England and the shipping to the US or Canada is free. That’s more than fair. It’s available in a variety of kits with and without color correcting filter gels and sells for $130 to $195. Click here to watch a video of a typical kit being unboxed.

Of course, if you read this and persuade your local camera dealer to call his favorite distributor and ask them to begin carrying it, who knows? You may indirectly affect the course of commerce in the photo industry.

Does it perform as advertised? Yessiree. What I like best is it makes you really think about how you’re altering the flash output. Playing with the color gels is fun, too. With some diffusers, it’s more a matter of point and pray. The BounceLite makes you feel like you’re in control.

Downside? No way to sidestep physics. As with all flash modifiers, by definition BounceLite absorbs or wastefully reflects some light in the process of redirecting the flash output. Consequently, the flash working distance is reduced—which is another way of saying that the flash becomes less powerful. But the light falloff is minimal, and shouldn’t present a problem.

—Jon Sienkiewicz