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Graslon Spark Pop-up Flash Diffuser Review

Graslon Spark Flash Diffuser  


 

October, 2011

Graslon is a California based company which specializes in making diffusers for camera flashes (aka speedlights or speedlites). Their latest product is the Spark diffuser. The idea behind a diffuser is to soften the light from a flash to create a more natural looking photo and eliminate shadows. The Spark is unique in that it's designed for pop-up flashes rather than mounted ones. The Spark will work with most DSLR cameras that have a pop-up flash and a hotshoe (the Spark currently won't fit Sony or 2/3rds Micro cameras). It weighs 3.2 ounces and measures 5 in. wide, 3 in. high, and 4.2 in. long. The Spark attaches to the camera by sliding it into the hotshoe. Graslon recommends attaching the Spark before poping up the flash. Likewise, the flash should be closed before removing the Spark from the camera. There's a hole located in the back of the Spark for easy access to the pop-up flash. Below you can see the Spark attached to a Nikon D50 camera.

Graslon Spark Pop-up Diffuser attached to camera

What makes Graslon's diffusers different are the insides. They have an internal reflecting system which creates a larger source of light with minimal loss. Essentially light from the flash is reflected back into the diffuser and then reflected and spread evenly forward. Here's what the inside of the Spark looks like:

Graslon Spark Pop-up Diffuser inside

I took test shots using several different angles and distances. The shots were taken with a Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 17-70mm OS lens. The results were consistent. Images taken with the Spark were better that the ones without. The cropped example below was taken at 35mm with the flash five feet away from the subject. Using the pop-up flash alone resulted in a washed out look and harsh shadows behind the subject. With the Spark the image was more natural looking. It wasn't perfect though. The background wall in the example was actually light tan in color. But overall the Spark improved the image.

Graslon Spark Pop-up Diffuser sample

I also compared the Spark with the Nikon SB-400 Speedlight. The SB-400 was mounted in the hotshoe of the camera and bounced off the ceiling at a 60 degree angle. As expected the SB-400 produced better images than with the Spark/Pop-up flash combo. Below you can see there is no light reflecting off the figure and virtually no shadow behind it. (This comparison isn't completely fair though since a bounced flash and diffused flash are two different things. The example is given to show how well the Spark compares to an external bounced flash).

Test shot with Nikon SB-400 Speedlight

 

The Spark definitely works as advertised. For anyone who uses their pop-up flash often and are on a limited budget the Spark may be a worth while investment. It retails for $39.99. But if you're willing to spend a little more you will probably be better off with an external flash. The Nikon SB-400 Speedlight retails for around $120. If you're a Canon shooter the 270EX II Speedlite costs about $160. The Spark does have a few advantages over an external flash. It weighs less and you don't have to worry about batteries. However, it's actually a bit larger than the two flashes mentioned. For more info visit Graslon's website here.





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