Gary Fong Lightsphere vs. Tupperware

She's thinking how good her photo would look if she only had tupperware on hand

The Basics of On-Camera Flash

The softness of light produced by a flash is controlled by the size of the light source.  The larger the light source is, the softer the light.  This is why you see photographers shooting a flash through an umbrella.  The umbrella spreads out the light and produces a softer quality of light on the model. There are times when umbrellas, softboxes, and the like are too cumbersome.  For example, when shooting a wedding reception I generally keep the flash mounted on the camera so I can get some quick shots moving around the event.

However, the light produced by the raw flash pointing directly at the subject is too hard.  The light quality is terrible! One solution to this problem is to bounce the light off the ceiling so the ceiling spreads out the light and then reflects down on the person.  Unfortunately, this magic technique does not work in every situation.  Suppose the wedding reception is outside–where could you bounce the light off now?  Or suppose the wedding reception is in a room so large that the ceiling is too far away to bounce the flash off. In these situations, most photographers turn to commercial on-camera flash diffusers such as the Gary Fong Lightsphere or the Adorama Mini Softbox.  These miniature flash diffusers slightly enlarge the size of the flash and diffuse the light.

What is the Gary Fong Lightsphere?

Gary Fong Lightsphere on a DSLR
Gary Fong Lightsphere on top of a YN-560 flash on a Nikon D7000 with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

The Gary Fong Lightsphere is a collapsible piece of ribbed and frosted rubber that fits snuggly on top of an on-camera flash and diffuses the light of the bare flash so that it falls more evenly and softly on the model. The product does reasonably well for what it is.  It does in fact diffuse the light and produces reasonably pleasing light on the model considering that the picture is taken with on-camera flash.

Why in the world are you comparing this product to tupperware?!?!

The Gary Fong Lightsphere costs $50 (at the time of writing).  For a hunk of rubber that produces only marginal improvements over the on-camera flash in my opinion, that is just way too much money.  The fact is that the darn thing looks like a piece of tupperware to me. So, I got curious.  Was this product doing anything that any other hunk of plastic couldn't do?  I tested my hypothesis by taking several pictures with a few different pieces of tupperware to see if I had completely wasted my money on this expensive piece of tupperware called the Lightsphere.

Gary Fong Lightsphere Review
I personally prefer the light from the tupperware and the Lightsphere over the flash bounced off the ceiling. The direct flash is just nasty looking.

So which one produced the better lighting?  The tupperware or the Lightsphere?

After my testing, I found that there was absolutely no significant difference in my opinion in the quality of the light produced by the tupperware in comparison to the quality of light produced by the Lightsphere.  In short, save your money. I understand that photographers might be tempted to buy the Lightsphere just because it looks more professional than Tupperware, but have you looked at the Lightsphere?  It looks like a UFO landed on your flash!    If you still aren't convinced about the tupperware, then you might consider a much cheaper option for on-camera flash such as the Opteka Mini Softbox or even a DIY option.


40 thoughts on “Gary Fong Lightsphere vs. Tupperware”

  1. All the heavy lifting is happening in the ceiling bounce with a tiny bit of fill in the fong/tupper shots. The small amount of fill introduced by the devices is subtle, but could be the difference between a good shot and really good shot. I don’t think it will ever make or break any photo.
    Second, I have to laugh at all the “pros” who say that coming in with a Gary Fong makes them look pro. What a joke. Get over it. You are in denial. It looks looks like you have tupperware on your flash! You don’t look professional because of the Gary Fong.

  2. When using the lighsphere collapsable did you have the cloud dome in place? I have a Lightsphere Universal Cloud and an Lightsphere II Cloud and the images always look better when I don’t use the cloud dome when firing straight up. Seriously keep the lid off.

  3. I’ve use Gary Fong light sphere with good results taking photos of my family and friends. I am not a professional, I just want to take good photos and Gary products gets the job done. I wouldn’t want to use tupper ware at our family gathering or wedding that I attend, so the lightsphear does add some credibility when I’m shooting

  4. You prove your point that tupperware works just as well as the GF.

    One small critique, not about you or your information, but there is spam within your responses.

    Keep up the good work. I appreciate it, just not the spammy responses.

  5. I’m late to the party but I’m also in the market for a flash modifier.

    The way I understand Gary Fong (or the tupperware) works is that they enhance forward light to lift shadow on the face, like kicker. That’s why sometimes the Light Sphere rendition looks better than bounce flash – less shadow under eye socket, nose, etc. on the subject face. (Remember Gary Fong always wears a baseball cap when he does demonstration? I think he has a purpose – to emphasize the shadow caused by the downward-only light from bounce flash.)

    BUT if you prop up the bounce card during bounce, the effect becomes very close to Light Sphere or Tupperware. With the bounce card up, bounce flash easily beats Lightsphere or Tupperware, especially if you take the loss of light from the plastic into account. Maybe you can try that out and add to your demonstration. Your blog shows high up in google search, so people may benefit going forward.

  6. Which Tupperware did you use? I made a Tupperware diffuser years ago with hamburger press! Did a good job!

  7. I’ve just happened upon your podcasts, and on the whole find them worth listening to. That’s the point – right? But this article about Tupperware is really very silly. The essence of a photographer is not how much better you are from anyone else, its all about how good you can be. Condescending articles that rubbish those who are more successful than you are, does you no credit.

  8. What do you think of cutting the side off of a 1 gallon milk container and attaching it to your flashgun. Point the flashgun up and the piece of plastic at 45 degrees to bounce to your subject. Would this work well?

  9. I stumbled across this post after looking for reviews on the lightsphere before purchasing one. I saw a photographer using it at a friend’s wedding and wanted to add one to my equipment. After reading this post I decided to raid my storage cabinet in my pantry and came across my flow-n-stow bar nice containers. I cut the neck off the top, marked the size of the flash, cut the appropriate size hole for a snug fit and slid it on. The storage container is the right color translucent white and works great for the 4 bucks it cost for the container originally.

  10. Tupperware is really good for non professional use, but i prefer lightsphere specially with the color and tones issues.

    For manual settings I recommend to use a good app for calculatios like Fototool in google play store (It’s free).

  11. LOL that is so cool you did the comparison. The Lightsphere has been in my wishlist with B&H for a while. Really couldn’t decide if it was worth the $59 or not. Your testing has made up my mind and saved me the $59 although I probably won’t use Tupperware either.
    The Lightsphere looks pretty amateurish, not sure why people think it looks professional.

    Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for doing this test and your opinions.

  12. Also, correct me if I’m wrong but just putting a large Styrofoam coffee cup over the flash would have the same basic effect right? Cost is zero. Yes they could easily break, but are super light weight and available free everywhere with the purchase of a coffee.
    Hey if you thought it didn’t look professional you could put a NIKON sticker on it 🙂

    Not real sure if Styrofoam would change the color of the light but that’s also an easy fix.

  13. Of course it looks like a topperwear and it acts like a topperwear, but you don’t show up at a wedding with an actual topperwear on your camera…….
    Don’t re-invent the wheel, if topperwear-like material procuces the effects necessary, use topperwear-like material to design a sphere that will be specially desigend to fit a flash as a professional.

  14. I bought a similar thing from Falcon Eyes called a photo lambency shade. It comes with four different coloured caps and costs only about 15 Euro. Looks better than tupperware and it’s easier.

  15. Great idea, it’s the results that count at the end of the day, not how pretty your camera looks. You want to see some of the hacks that we use in advertising photography even with clients there, and in 40 years I’ve seen all sorts.

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