The FStopper Flash Disc was developed by one of FStopper’s founders as a small portable light modifier for battery powered flash. The design works by bouncing the light output of the flash to a larger circular chamber above, softening it in the process. Another unique feature of the design is how it takes up little space when folded for storage. I acquired two samples to use with my portable light kit, which consists of four flashes, three of which are the popular Yongnuo brand, and four compact light stands. So, let’s see how the FStopper Flash Disc works for gun photography.
Setting up the FStopper Flash Disc is very easy, you open it up then just slip it over the flash unit and you’re done. Unlike using a small soft box or dome box with a flash, the FStopper unit doesn’t block the red optical window, where the optical trigger is typically located, at the front of the flash. While not critical in my case, my Yongnuo flashes have a radio trigger built-in, its handy if your flashes are optically triggered.
One of my first uses of the FStopper Flash Disc was for night photography. It seems to be working fine for that. However, it was only marginally better at diffusing the light than the free clip-on white plastic diffuser which comes with my Yongnuo YN-560 flash.
Note that the Yongnuo flash with the FStopper Flash Disc was placed high over Nick’s right shoulder in the above picture. The second Yongnuo flash with the cheap clip-on white plastic diffuser cup was placed in front of Nick to highlight the muzzle and the objective of the optic. One thing the FStopper Flash Disc was noticeably better at controlling the light spill.
A close-up shot of the Jiva instant coffee package featured in an upcoming Be Ready! magazine article by Ben Winslett. Even with a FStopper Flash Disc on each flash, the light was still not sufficiently softened. I felt the heavy textured sheet paper the coffee cube is sitting on contributed more to breaking up the shadows than both FStopper flash modifiers did.
I used the same setup during my Definitive Arms factory visit. The background that I used was the floor in their shipping area. I shot this picture looking down while standing on the stairs. Harsh shadows were cast on the hard concrete floor.
Another image I took from the Definitive Arms shop floor. For this one, I put the Kalashnikov on top of a rifle bag. The texture of the rifle bag fabric helped to break up the harsh shadows to an extent.
It didn’t take long before both of my FStopper Flash Discs began to look like this. Basically the top parts of both are now touching each other. According to the manufacturer, this has no effect on the functionality of the Flash Disc (photo courtesy of Amazon.com). I’m not so sure about that claim, since it really reduced the internal volume the light output can bounce in. I think it’s easily fixable by adding a small clip-on plastic separator at the top.
With a bit more standoff distance and an infinity background, the FStopper Flash Disc performed much better. I really like the disc shaped light spill pattern it projected on the foreground.
It’s clear that the FStopper Flash Disc light modifier was designed for portrait work. As such it actually does a decent job for photographing people. However, it just doesn’t soften the light enough for shooting firearm photos. Also, its $49.99 price is at least $20 too high for what it offers. A name brand compact-size softbox is not much more, and the similar looking Chinese clones are available for 1/3 the cost.
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