Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 0 out of 5
Yeah, but: Just the wrap, man, just the wrap.
The Long Version: Gary Fong is the Ken Rockwell of lighting modifiers. And that's fine - this review doesn't have anything to do with either one of them, or even the actual product that's in the Gary Fong Lightsphere® Collapsible™ box. It's not even about how the hell someone managed to trademark the word 'Collapsible™'. And for the record, yes, the Gary Fong Lightsphere® Collapsible™ does what it says it does. Two ping-pong balls taped to the top of your flash would also do what the Gary Fong Lightsphere® Collapsible™ does, but that's not the point. This review is just about the package that it comes in.
The box itself is thin black cardboard with a sticker that carries all of the text, graphics, and photos. This is a cost-effective way to create the multi-lingual packaging that's needed for international sales, and the box follows the current trend of keeping it as small as possible. It does fall down a bit by having plastic shrink-wrap around it, but that may add enough integrity to let them use a lighter grade of boxboard. There are also some style points involved by having the actual Lightsphere® Collapsible™ wrapped in coloured tissue paper instead of more unnecessary plastics. But that's hardly enough to motivate a review: the photos are where things start to get interesting.
We see an attractive model in the advertising version of the classic Comedy / Tragedy masks, known as the 'before' and 'after' photo. The one labeled "Without" shows a woman who's rehearsing for her passport photo, while the "With" looks like she's just heard a funny joke from a good friend. Sure, it's a blatant and obvious attempt to manipulate the viewer, but it's so clumsily done that it's impossible to take offense. Besides, given what these things look like when they're stuffed on top of a speedlight, I'm sure that lots of people really do laugh and smile when they see them. But let's look closer, shall we?
Here's the "Without / Sans" photo. It's a pretty standard straight-blast flash photo: the hallmark of novice camera users and really abysmal wedding photography. Nothing too remarkable here, so let's move on to the "With / Avec" image.
It's a huge improvement, verging on school portrait quality. It's so good, it's almost impossible to believe that a single on-camera flash could possibly create these results. Take a good look at the catchlights in her eyes in this photo, and compare them to the "Without / Sans" image. It really is impossible to believe that this was taken using a single on-camera light source, no matter how artfully it's bounced. In fact, the soft caressing shadows look even better than in the similar images on the Gary Fong Product Page, where our attractive model has only one catchlight reflected in her eyes.