Top 5 Flash Accessories

Must-have accessories to make the most of your pop-up or hot-shoe flash.

1. Lumiquest Soft Screen
$13, street
www.lumiquest.com
Onboard strobes can be harsh and unflattering, particularly for portraits. That's why you need a LumiQuest Soft Screen in your kit. This fold-flat diffuser fits over the on-camera flash, providing more even, diffuse light, with better wide-angle coverage. Other uses: Quick, evenly lit product shots, and "cloudy-bright" close-ups, even in the harshest light.

2. Better Beamer
$39, street
www.birdsasart.com
How does Pop Photo Contributing Editor Arthur Morris add fill light and catchlights to the eyes of his distant subjects in wildlife photos? With this simple Fresnel lens by Walt Anderson, which focuses the strobe beam to throw it much farther than the flash's telephoto setting. It's not just for wildlife -- it'll also give you more reach for night sports and stage shows when shooting with telephoto lenses.

3. HonlPhoto Speed Snoots
$19-$23, direct
www.honlphoto.com
In the studio, snoots give you pinpoint lighting. But most snoots are bulky and unwieldy. Not HonlPhoto's Speed Snoots. The 5-inch Shorty and 8-inch Regular ($19 and $23, respectively) focus the flash's beam, yet fold flat and don't take up any more room in a camera bag than a couple of 8x10 photos. Add a Speed Strap for just 10 bucks more, and you don't have to gum up your flash with Velcro!

4. Gary Fong
Lightsphere-Universal $50, direct
store.garyfonginc.com
What was that weird lightbulb-like thing on the pro's strobe at your friend's wedding? Chances are it was a Gary Fong Lightsphere-Universal. Event photographers swear by it. This simple flash modifier emulates the bare-bulb omnidirectional effect of big-block heads for a fraction of the price.

5. Photoflex On Camera XTC II Softbox
$20, street
www.photoflex.com
Can't take your studio setup on the road for location portraits? This little device is the next best thing, turning your accessory strobe into a softbox that smoothes shadows and evens out the light. Combine it with an off-shoe cord and a mini-reflector for diffuse directional light, and you've got a go-anywhere studio the size of a deflated beach ball -- that's right, the XTC II is inflatable. (Plus, it's the only strobe accessory that doubles as a travel pillow.)