There are many modifiers available to improve the quality of the light emitted from a flashgun, but the MagMod MagSphere is one of the easiest to use.
MagMod makes the MagSphere from white silicone, which means it’s soft, squishy and easy to transport. However, when you need it, it adopts its flattened sphere shape and it sits on the end of a flashgun like a tame jellyfish.
Although it’s white, the MagMod MagSphere is also translucent. That means light passes through it but its diffusing qualities scatter the light to make the illumination softer. As it’s an omnidirectional diffuser, the MagSphere can be used with the flashgun pointing directly at your subject, or straight up for subtler illumination.
Conveniently, there’s a slot in the base of the MagSphere where you can insert one of MagMod’s gels if you want to change the colour of the light.
MagMod supplies the MagSphere by itself, but it needs a MagGrip for it to be mounted on a flashgun. This can also be bought separately, but it makes sense to buy them together in the MagMod Starter Kit. This is a stretchy bit of rubber that fits over your flashgun to hold the MagSphere in MagPlace. It’s designed to fit over a wide variety of flashguns.
Like the MagSphere’s base, the MagGrip has two magnets built in. It’s these magnets that hold the MagSphere in place.
Build and Handling
The most difficult aspect of using the MagMod MagSphere is stretching the MagGrip over the flashgun. It’s like using a mini Bullworker. I’ve tried a few different ways to fit it and there’s doesn’t seem to be a knack. It’s just a case of using a bit of brute strength while being careful with your flash. Happily, once the MagGrip is fitted, you don’t need to take it off. You can leave it on even if you’re not planning to use your MagSphere.
It’s such a pain to fit the MagGrip, I’d buy extra grips rather than swap it between different flashguns.
I’ve used the MagGrip on a couple of Canon Speedlite flashguns. I’ve also tried using it on a Profoto A1, as I’m told it will fit. However, after a few fruitless minutes, I gave up – after all the A1 comes with its own modifiers.
Thankfully, once the grip is in place, the MagSphere pops on effortlessly. What’s more, the magnetic attraction ensures it fits in the correct location over your flashgun’s light panel. The tight fit of the MagGrip also means that it doesn’t come off your flashgun when you pull the MagSphere off.
And although the magnets hold the MagSphere on tight so it’s not knocked off easily, it doesn’t take much effort to remove it when you want to.
The MagSphere does a great job of softening the light coming from a flashgun. In some cases, such as the close-quarters portrait below, the impact is fairly subtle, but the highlights are a fraction softer and the shadows in the lines of my subjects face aren’t so deep.
Although the MaSphere is white, my images taken with it in place are warmer than those without. This is evident in the two comparison shots below. They were taken with exactly the same exposure settings with the white balance set to Sunny.
Shooting a plain white wall reveals that the spread of light from the flashgun is wider with the MagSphere in place. With a Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT on top of a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, and facing forwards, there’s still more light at the side of the frame closest to the flash, but the light is more uniform than without the MagSphere. This is also visible in the images below, there’s much more light on the right side of the image in the shot with the MagSphere in place.
Although shooting with the flash pointing directly at the subject creates catchlights that give away the use of the flash, the results with the MagMod MagSphere in place look more natural than with bare flash.
MagMod states that using the MagSphere cuts out less than 1Ev of light from your flash. I think that’s about right.
MagMod’s flash modifiers have proved a big hit amongst wedding and social photographers. They’re quieter to use than those that involve Velcro straps, and you don’t have to get a specifc design for each type of flash you own. They’re also quick and easy to pop on and off. Just make sure that you put the MagGrip on your flashgun well in advance of you needing to use it.
Some flash modifiers look a bit Heath Robinson, but the MoagMod MagSphere is far from that. It looks and feels like a professional -level piece of kit.
If you use your flashgun on a frequent basis, or you intend to, I recommend investing in the MagMod MagSphere or the MagMod Professional Flash Kit which includes it.