If you take photography seriously then you will probably already know that one of the most important things in photography is getting good light, especially when you are photographing people.
Many people think that if they have spent a fortune on a top of the range camera then they are good to go but that is just not so, if you intend to do portrait work and the only flash you have is the onboard built in camera flash then you are in trouble.
There are many ways round this problem, the most expensive but best being the purchase of proper studio strobes, you can pick a decent studio strobe for about £100 these days but if you are looking to get started on the cheap or don't have the room for a studio light then you have to look at other options.
The next option would be that you could get a flash gun (please note at this point that this review is only of use to DSLR users), a flash gun is a flash unit that fits on to the hot shoe of a DSLR camera and allows you to tilt the head of the flash and bounce light of ceilings or walls to get a soft diffused light rather than the bright harsh light you get from an on board built in flash. You can also buy diffusers to fit onto these flash guns again offering you much softer more pleasant light.
Now if even the outlay of around £60 for a cheap flashgun is too much for you then fear not there is another option but be warned this is nowhere near as good as the other options or for that matter anywhere near as good as it would have you believe it is.
The Lumiquest soft screen pop up flash is a diffuser that is designed to fit onto your camera and diffuse the light that comes from you're built in flash, thus offering you better light with very little expense.
There are many setbacks with this option though, none more so than the fact that every DSLR camera has a different type of pop up flash and this varies how well this item will work and because it fits on by securing itself to the hotshoe it will not work with Sony DSLR`s at all because of the hotshoe on the Sony being different to all others.
The way this diffuser works is simple, it slots into your cameras hotshoe and then wraps over the cameras built in pop up flash and then secures onto the cameras name plate on the front.
The flash is hidden by the white shoot through fabric on the front of the diffuser so when the flash goes off, instead of just hitting straight on at full power it is spread out slightly and has the harshness taken from it.
What you achieve from this softer more spread out light is better skin tones, less shadow and no bright spots on the skin where the flash directly hits. Sadly though the truth is that the Lumiquest pop up diffuser falls way short of giving the absolute soft light portrait photographers want and depending on how far forward your pop up flash sits it sometimes does virtually nothing at all.
If you have a Nikon camera then you will get the best results from this item as it fits best on the Nikon and feels more secure as well as the screen sitting a good inch and a half off the flash.
For Canons this is completely different, the screen feels very slack and fees as though it could fall off at any minute, it also sits almost touching the flash so it offers little or no diffusion at all.
The Lumiquest Company offers a small piece of sticky on one side, Velcro on the other tape which they say will hold this screen in place if it does not feel secure in the hotshoe, take it from me, you do NOT want to be sticking things all over your very expensive DSLR camera!
If you intend to buy one of these then I would suggest you do not buy it online but you instead visit a dealer so you can try it on your camera first. If it does not feel very secure and offer at least an inch of space between the screen and the flash then quite simply it will be no use.
Costing only ten pounds this would be a great item if it lived up to its promises but sadly it does not. Yes it does feel very robust and I doubt it would break on you, and yes on the right camera it does offer diffused light even if only slightly but no it does not fit almost every DSLR and no it does not offer greatly diffused light like the professionals like to work with so do not be mislead.
These days Nikon and Canon users can pick up very inexpensive flashguns (even good second hand ones from Ebay) and they offer a far superior type of light to messing around with one of these and if you intend to shoot portraits for non family members then they also look far more professional then the Lumiquest screen.
There is no substitute for proper lighting it is as simple a that but if this fits your camera then it will offer you slightly better lighting perhaps for times when the big flashguns are not needed but softer light is.
If you Google this products name you will find many places selling it but be warned the promises offered with it are far from being strictly true so do not get sucked in, this product is no better than just OK and even then it is as I say only Ok with certain cameras. It costs around ten pounds everywhere I think and it can be ten pounds wasted if you do not try it on your camera first!
Thanks for reading.