Comparing Diffusion Materials for Photography Lighting

As many photographers switch from using strobes to using continuous lighting for their photo shoots, they need solutions to avoid the 1950s-era hard light look caused by using unmodified, direct light. Diffusion softens and shapes light to flatter models and change the feel of an image. Because there are practically limitless choices when it comes to diffusion materials, selecting a panel can be a time-consuming and expensive task.

Fortunately, Jay P. Morgan provides an introduction to diffusion material in this episode of the Slanted Lens. Go behind the scenes on a steampunk photo shoot to see the effects of different types of Rosco diffusion panels for photographic lighting:

Morgan used a 2k continuous light, beauty dish with grid, rim lights, mirrors, blue background light, and a reflector to light his steampunk set. Starting with a shutter speed of 1/50 second and an aperture of f4.5, he used a Tamron 70-200mm lens to shoot several test shots using the following Rosco diffusion panels:

  • 1/2 white
  • 1/4 tough light
  • full white
  • grid cloth
  • light grid cloth
  • opal frost
  • silent 1/4 grid cloth
  • tough rolux
  • velvet frost


The comparisons throughout the video are invaluable for those new to diffusion. Seeing how different types of diffusion materials change the look and feel of an image helps you make decisions about your personal lighting kit that will lead to strongly stylized images.

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