Bounce Card/Beauty Dish for DSLR Built-in Flash
When shooting party pictures with flash, you either bounce the light off the ceiling or use a home-made better bouncecard. However, what if you want a similar effect with the camera's built-in flash?
Here is a simple solution that I came up with. Compared to the mini softboxes and similar accessories that you can buy online for the built-in flash, it is more robust, much cheaper (2€) and very compact.
Build Your Own Mini Bouncecard
You will need:
- A thin sheet of white plastic - I bought a plastic folder/loose leaf binder
- A small piece of aluminium foil (or other reflective material)
- Some adhesive tape
Cut out and assemble the bouncer as shown in the picture to the left (click on it for a larger version). The hardest part was to come up with the right dimensions. The dimensions shown will make the bouncer fit on a Canon EOS 450D camera and its sister models.
Variant Versions of the Bouncecard
The card could be made a little wider than the 76mm shown - that was just how much room I had in my small camera bag! A length larger than 130mm does not really make sense due to the quite focussed beam coming from the internal flash. If you want nicer highlights in the eyes of your subjects, consider a circular shape rather than the rectangular one I used - a radius of around 50mm should be fine.
An alternative to the sheet of plastic is to use foam rubber (German: Moosgummi), just like for the better bouncecard. However, in this case you may need add something which keeps the flap with the piece of aluminium foil in the right position, e.g. a piece of thin wire.
The bounce card will cause portraits to be softer and will prevent large wide-angle lenses from throwing a shadow in your pictures. Obviously, the downside is that it swallows a lot of the light from the already not very powerful built-in flash. Since the softness effect will quickly become less pronounced at longer distances, close-distance portraits are the main application.
Below are comparisons between the effect of a direct, unmodified built-in flash and the same scene with my mini “beauty dish”. Move the mouse pointer over the pictures to see the effect of the bouncecard.
Focal length 17mm (27mm equivalent), distance of 20cm to the toy. The toy is 12cm large. This shows how big the shadow of my 17-55mm lens can be.
Focal length 55mm (88mm equivalent), distance of 100cm to the toy. The effect is less pronounced, but still visible very well.