Q: Can I use my Lightscoop on cameras other than those listed on your site?
A: I only recommend the Lightscoop for the cameras listed on this site. We are testing the Lightscoop with others, but until we test it, we won't promote it. Keep in mind:
1. Only certain camera models have built-in flash units powerful enough to bounce light to a ceiling or wall and send back enough light to properly expose a picture. This is particularly true for point-and-shoot cameras. I know that the tested camera models produce enough light.
2. The profile of the pop-up flash is different on various dSLR camera models. The hot shoes also are different. The Lightscoop's shape and angle have been designed to work with the listed camera models.
3. Some camera models disable their pop-up flash when anything is installed in their hot shoe. I have designed for this on the listed cameras but have not conducted research on unlisted models.
NOTE: If you find that the Lightscoop performs well on other camera models, I would love to see your results.
Q: Why can't I leave the camera on P (program); aperture-priority ("A" Nikon or "Av" Canon) or shutter priority ("S" Nikon or "Tv" Canon)?
A: You can, of course. BUT if you do, the available light will be competing with the light from your flash, and you may get undesirable effects such as blurry or shakey-looking pictures. You should always feel free to experiment!
I recommend putting the camera on manual exposure (M) and setting the camera at a high shutter speed and wide aperture (small f-number) like f2.8 or f4. The high shutter speed tends to decrease the amount of available light and let the flash effect of stopping motion take over. As you become more comfortable bouncing with the flash, you may want to experiment with slower shutter speeds to pick up ambient light, but the out-of-the-gate settings will produce the most reliable results.
The wide aperture is needed to pick up all the light from the small flash that is being bounced off the ceiling or wall and then illuminating the scene.
Q: Why do you recommend Flash Compensation? Isn't the flash going to automatically give the best exposure?
A: Until I began testing different camera models, I thought the same thing. It turns out that many newer technology built-in flash units are also trying to calculate and balance ambient light with the flash exposure—squelching the flash output in some cases. This often underexposes the overall image when bouncing with the Lightscoop. Successful bouncing requires maximum output from these tiny built-in flash units.
Unlike + or - Exposure Compensation, which over- or under-exposes an image, Flash Exposure Compensation of +1 or +2 actually forces more output from the flash—you literally will get more light. I have found that adding a +1 Flash compensation, or, when available, +2, or even going to Manual flash gives a better bounce exposure. Most cameras will have at least +1 Flash Compensation.
Q: Why must I use Spot Meter method?
A: The choice of metering method for most cameras actually makes NO difference. HOWEVER, the latest Through-the-Lens metering technology from Nikon attempts to balance ambient light and strobe light with metering modes other than Spot meter. Matrix and Center-weighted modes underexpose images made when bouncing with the Lightscoop on newer Nikons.
According to my tests, Spot Meter and Flash Compensation force maximum output from the built-in flash in a way that Matrix or Center-weighted metering will not allow. For simplicity in providing instructions, though,
I've stipulated use of Spot Meter for all Nikons. You should always feel free to experiment. Don't forget to use Flash Compensation +1 or, if available, +2, to force the most light from the flash.
Q: Why can't I use the Lightscoop outside?
A: Bounce flash is a technique for improving the quality of indoor light by redirecting the light from your built-in flash to a larger surface such as a ceiling or wall.
The light then bounces off the ceiling or wall and spreads out to cover the scene in front of your camera. (See diagrams.) Since there's nothing for the light to bounce from when shooting outdoors, the Lightscoop is absolutely useless when used outside — as are even expensive external strobes. See for yourself.
Q: Why a ceiling height of 8-12 feet?
The pop up flash in your camera is not powerful enough to reach a more distant surface and still send enough light back to sufficiently light a scene.
I'm afraid you'll have to forget shots in churches, gymnasiums and the like! I've gotten good results in rooms with higher ceilings, actually, but I don't want users to be disappointed if their results are not as good.
Q: Why must the ceiling or wall be light-colored or neutral?
A: A dark ceiling will absorb the light rather than spread it, so your picture will turn out too dark. A tinted surface will affect the overall color in your picture.
If the room you're shooting in is green, for example, your subjects will look a bit green thanks to light reflected off the green walls or ceiling.
Q: What about noise at ISO 800?
A: Technology is improving with every digital camera release. Newer 35mm SLRs with interchangeable lenses produce beautiful images at ISO 800.
Ken Rockwell finds no problem with noise at 800 in an interesting and thorough test he conducted on his site.
Further, noise, the digital equivalent of film grain, is typically most objectionable in the shadow areas. Because the bounced light fills in the shadow areas, most people do not find grain to be a problem using flash and the Lightscoop.
As Rockwell also observes, there IS a noise problem at ISO 800 with compact and point-and-shoot cameras. Film shot at 800 typically produced objectionable grain. It's just not an issue with the new dSLR technology.
Q: Why did you invent the Lightscoop?
A: I was impressed with the technical excellence and light weight of today's 35mm single-lens reflex cameras with powerful pop up flash units. But I HATED the ugly flash.
I demand that my students NEVER use direct flash. Of course, normally they are using an external flash, and I spend a lot of time teaching them how to bounce the light in order to achieve more even, natural-looking lighting.
I could have added an external strobe and used all the techniques I teach. I just thought it a shame to go to that trouble and expense for casual shooting, especially since the pop up flash on many cameras is powerful enough to bounce in most situations.
I began testing ways to redirect the light from the pop up flash so that it would bounce off a ceiling or wall. I finally came up with the Lightscoop.
The Lightscoop immediately solved most indoor flash problems – and doesn't add weight or bulk to my camera bag.
I'm a professional, but I love it. For non-professionals, the Lightscoop is the one piece of equipment that will instantly improve their photography.
And that means I have to see fewer UGLY flash photos!