With Soft Screen
by Joseph LaQuiere

"Declaring the glory of God
through photography of His created world"
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LumiQuest Soft Screen, Popup Flash Diffuser
Here is a useful accessory that I picked up the other day when I was wandering through a local camera shop while waiting for my wife in the mall. 

The "Lumiquest Soft Screen" is a simple vinyl and plastic diffuser that will adapt to most popup flashes and will fit in a shirt pocket without much more fuss than an index card.  At around $13.00 it is in everybody's budget and can make the quality of light from your, on camera, popup flash much more pleasing.  Sometimes an accessory like this is more trouble than it's worth but I found this one, to attach easily and convenient to carry.  I purchased this to put on my Canon Rebel XT.
Click for larger image
Click for larger image
The Soft Screen folds compactly and easily fits into a shirt pocket.
Since the diffuser is made to fit a wide variety of cameras I found that the slot was too large for a nice fit
on my Canon Rebel XT so I used a piece of, translucent, reinforced, duct tape and wrapped it around the slot as
shown.  You could use the standard grey stuff but it would not look as neat.  Press the tape together
so that the two sticky sides adhere to each other in the center of the slot.
Click for larger image
Next, using a sharp knife, cut a slit in the tape long enough to accommodate the front end of the flash holder.
When the modification is complete you should have what looks like this.
This is how it fits on the front of the flash of the Rebel XT making it easy to put on and off.
The smaller slot made with the tape prevents it from falling off easily. 

Beware that if some sticky stuff comes off onto the flash housing, when you attach the Soft Screen,
the next time you try to use your flash it may stick closed when you press the flash release.
 Don't be alarmed, open the flash with your fingers while pressing the release and remove the residue
 from where it shuts.  After a few times of putting the Soft Screen on and off the residue should not
be a problem or you can try rubbing it off of the edges of the tape before using.
For the Rebel there is another modification that you will need to make.  On the Rebel XT there is a micro
switch located in the right side of the hot shoe mount that shuts off the popup if something is attached.
You will need to cut a little of the Soft Screen tang away as shown to clear the switch.
With the modifications you are ready to use your Soft Screen.  I found that there
are two ways to attach it.  The first and obvious way is just to slip the slot over the front edge
which will give you a profile like the one on the left.  The other method is to loop the
tang around and slip the slot over the housing as shown on the right.  As you can see
the profile on the right places the diffuser screen further away from the flash head.
The second method of attachment seems to work best and give the most diffused
result for the flash output.
In use don't expect earth shattering results, I found the diffusion to be subtle but
desirable with a more even distribution of light with less noticeable hot spots.  You will also
find that the color of the flash light changes to a warmer tone.
The picture on the left is with the popup flash only,  the one on the right is with the Soft Screen attached.
Above is another example, roll your mouse over the image to see the effect with the Soft Screen
Popup flash only
As you can see from the examples it has a nice affect and can make a definite improvement in the
 appearance of your flash pictures. I have found that you can get a little better diffusion by turning the flash
intensity down on the camera if your camera supports this.

While the flash range is of course reduced I think overall most pictures are better with
 the Soft Screen and there is less red eye when using the diffuser. 
The LumiQuest Soft Screen is easy to use and definitely worth having for $13.00 and change.
Popup flash used without diffuser
With Soft Screen attached
Popup flash used without diffuser
With Soft Screen attached
There is a tang on one end that fits into the hot shoe on top of the camera while the slot at the other end is made to slip over the protruding end of the flash housing when the flash is open.  I found that this slot was much too large to fit nicely around the Rebel XT and modified it with a bit of duct tape.
September, 2006