What You Always Wanted to Know About Diffusers and Reflectors

Today I bring you a very interesting photographic accessory. Diffusers and reflectors for photography. If you often drop by the blog, you will know that we are not very supporters of large equipment nor do we recommend the most expensive cameras. We are of the opinion that the camera does not make the photographer, you will have read it many times in the different articles. Indeed, we think so. Not having a better camera or better equipment will make you a better photographer. Yes you will be if you master lighting in photography, for this, you have everything you need to know in this guide, information, tricks and tips. Obviously, if you are a professional photographer, this aspect is something more important, although it will surely not be the case πŸ˜‰

Now, having super gear and all the accessories in the world isn’t going to make you a better photographer doesn’t mean that using certain gadgets won’t help, and I’m not referring to expensive ones. Sometimes we get scared with some terms, or we limit ourselves to our camera because we can’t make big investments, or we just get so excited about our first camera that we stay there and don’t take another step. Has it happened to you?

Key accessories in lighting

What you do need to know, whether you have just landed in this world or have been for some time, is the importance of light in photography. Controlling the lighting is crucial when it comes to achieving a good photograph. This does not mean that you have to have a super lighting studio, in fact, thinking about this is something that stops us from taking small steps in expanding the team in terms of light accessories. Sometimes it is simply about having the key accessories, those that can get you out of more than one jam and that also have an almost ridiculous cost.

Today I am going to talk specifically about two of them, reflectors and diffusers, what they are, what they are for and where to find them. Knowing them will mark a before and after in your photography πŸ˜‰ I assure you. And I don’t tell you anything in portrait photography.


Some people think that reflectors are something for professionals or photography freaks. Nothing is further from reality. They are very discreet, yes, and there is no self-respecting professional who does not use them. Does that mean that an amateur or beginner should not aspire to them? Not at all, its use is very simple, its cost is very affordable and the results are immediate. I’m going to introduce them to you β€œHello, reader here, reflector here…” hehe, I’m kidding πŸ˜‰

What is a searchlight?

A reflector, as you might guess, is any object that serves to reflect light and fill in shadows. It serves to achieve a balance between light and darkness and function as a second light when there is none. And when I say Β«any objectΒ» it is because although there are reflectors made expressly for it, if you don’t have them at hand you can use any other material that reflects the light by way of improvisation, for example, a white cardboard, a white wall or even a tetrabrik can serve as a silver reflector for small motifs.

5-in-1 spotlight

5-in-1 spotlight

The best known is the 5-in-1 reflectorwhich consists of a flexible ring with different mating surfaces:

  • White. It bounces the light softly and does not change the color temperature.
  • Black. In this case, rather than reflecting, what it does is absorb excess light and intensify shadows.
  • Golden. It bounces the light providing a warmer tone.
  • Silver. The silver reflector bounces more light than the white one and, like the white one, does not modify the color temperature.
  • Diffuser. The disk to which these four reflectors are attached is translucent and will serve as a diffuser (more on diffusers later).

To give you an idea of ​​the effect of the different reflectors, here is a very clear diagram:


Take a look at this video to see how the reflector works (you don’t even need to listen to it πŸ˜‰ ).

I am talking about discs, because the best known or the most commonly seen are those with a round shape, although you can also find them with a rectangular shape and triangle. There are also different sizes, smaller and larger depending on the needs of each one. You can find them on Amazon from 19 euros for 60 cm in diameter or 18 euros for 110 cms.a very small investment for what it offers, don’t you think?

Other types of reflectors

round reflector

1. Round reflector. Small circular reflector for when the light comes from behind the subject. It has a white and a silver surface and folds.

2. Reflective panel. For more advanced users or professional use. They are reversible panels with support that rotates 360 degrees to use horizontally and vertically. And we are already talking about other prices, they are around 90 euros (I already warned that it was for more advanced or professional users πŸ˜‰ )

3. Umbrella type reflector. Umbrellas are used to diffuse light and also to reflect it, like this one that costs about 17 euros and it’s silver and black.

4. For advanced. Especially if you are a portrait lover and want to go one step further, you have to know the beauty dish. Ideal to highlight the beauty of your models.


Unless you have a stand to hold the reflector, you’ll likely need a kind soul to help.

Go looking for helper πŸ˜‰


  • For small surfaces you can use pieces of mirrorsalthough with care because they can reflect light very hard, it can be a good exercise to practice and play with them for a while to see the effects and possible results πŸ˜‰
  • wear white clothes so that it reflects the light on the subject you are going to photograph, especially if you are going to photograph closely.
  • A foil on a cardboard it can serve as a silver reflector.
  • Do not limit yourself to its usual use, in addition to filling in the shadows, you can use the reflector to enhance or raise the brightness in the light areas.


Unlike the reflectors that I have just presented to you, a diffuser will allow you to diffuse the light, or what is the same, soften it. In this article I explained the difference between hard light and diffuse light, in case you are not very clear about what I am talking about when I say soft or diffuse light. And if you’re short on time, I’ll put an image, in a blink you’ll see the difference.

Diffused light (top) and hard light (bottom)

The difference between one and the other (besides the hat and the clothes πŸ˜‰ ) is that in the image above a white tissue paper has been placed on the glass to diffuse the sunlight that fell directly on the window. Well, that’s a diffuser. In this case a simple tissue paper. There is also the 5-in-1 diffuser that I have presented to you before with the reflectors and other professional diffusers, such as umbrellas. or others for the flash that we will see now. In addition, you can make your own diffusers with a translucent material and some support (if you want to avoid looking for a helper πŸ˜‰ ) depending on your needs.

diffusers for the flash

There are different types of diffusers to use with the handheld flash and obtain more natural results. Flash light is usually quite harsh and can give aggressive results. (I’m not even talking about the built-in flash because we never recommend it, but if you use it at least put something like this πŸ˜‰ )

oh!!! That you don’t have flash yet? And you haven’t thought about buying one? Here is a great guide to help you in such an arduous task ;P Here are the different types:

Tab Type Diffuser

1.Flange type: It usually comes incorporated in any hand flash and unless you need all the power of the flash because you are at a considerable distance from the subject, it is better to use it if you are not going to use another one or to bounce the light. The result will be softer and more natural.

window type diffuser

2. Window diffuser. It has the effect of light windows but in a tiny size. It’s not even worth 3 euros on Amazon. You also have them in larger size for study, such as this one.

3. Box type diffuser. It is a plastic box which fits into the flash. Nor does it reach the euro. As you will see, the investment is not excessively important πŸ˜‰ and to take flash portraits it will be essential.

4. Strobella type diffuser. For short distances. It is a mini umbrella, somewhat bulkier than the others but its larger surface makes it more appropriate for closer shots. Unlike the window, which emits light only from the front, the umbrella, due to its shape, allows light to escape in all directions.

folding diffuser

5. Double diffuser. this diffuser It has two faces, one white for a softer light and the other silver for greater reach. And it costs less than two euros!

6. Folding diffuser. For product photography or the most creative shots.

One last tip (or two)

If you think that these “gadgets” are expensive, you can’t miss the article in which my colleague Iaio tells you how you can make some of them for very little money.

To finish, I would like to give you the last piece of advice. These accessories won’t do you any good if you don’t use them. I mean, even if today you stay with the theory, if you don’t put it into practice you will soon forget about it. If you don’t do some test (even if it’s at home with a piece of white cardboard, a piece of aluminum foil or white tissue paper) and check the effects, this article will evaporate in your brain between so much information that you receive daily, and you and I will have wasted time. We don’t want that, do we? Well, come on, let’s practice!!!

And if it has helped you, please share it on your favorite social network so that others can benefit from this information πŸ˜‰ Thank you very much and until next time!