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Thread: Which Softbox?

  1. #1

    Which Softbox?

    I've been looking and learning from different threads on this site and now I'm taking the step to post my first thread!

    For a while I've been looking for a soft box to buy. Unfortunately, I don't have much experience with soft boxes or portrait photography in general. Hopefully you guys can help me. I'm looking for a large soft box (or light modifier) that provides a pretty good wrap and is about $50 and under(I'm on a budget). Thanks for your help!

    Here are some links to some that I saw. Please give me your guys feedback on this, thanks!


    http://www.amazon.com/White-Satin-Um...2775590&sr=1-2

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2-X-43-Umbre...item53eaed65a1
    I like this one

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Softbox-alie...-/120849255968

  2. #2

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    Have a guess :)
    The last one will give you the most wrap and the best quality of light, but it will also require a bigger strobe to drive it - and you didn't mention what you'll be using.

  3. #3

    Re: Which Softbox?

    The last one will give you the most wrap and the best quality of light, but it will also require a bigger strobe to drive it - and you didn't mention what you'll be using.
    OOps! Sorry, I should have mentioned what I use. I have a:

    Yongnuo 560 flash

    Sunpak TTl only flash (I also use a 6ft cord to trigger it)

    2 cheap flashes that I can't even set the power on them
    (Iíve mainly been using them for lighting up the background.)

    Also, what do you know about brolly boxes or they are also called softbox umbrellas? I think the second link I listed is a brolly box. Thanks for the reply!

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    I think you'll be better off with the umbrella since you only have a speedlite.

    Honestly, I haven't used any other difuser but the umbrella and I'm liking it.

    here's a quick sample:
    Which Softbox?

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    It also kinda depends on what you're doing with them ... umbrellas are "ok" outside, but in a studio they tend to throw light around a bit, whichh isn't what you want. Probably a good place to start though (shoot through though).

    Flashes are severely under-powered compared to strobes though; just one of my 1200RX units has as much power as about 20 580EX IIs - and I have 5 1200RXs. If you don't have enough power then you'll have to shoot at lower shutterspeeds and mix in ambient light (with possible colour temp and movement/camera shake issues) - or shoot at a wider aperture and risk DoF issues - or use a higher ISO and risk dynamic range AND colour temp issues.

    My advice would be to "beg - borrow - steal" (read "save up") enough money to get at least a couple of cheap studio strobes (if you're shooting in a studio) - something in the 400 watt-seconds range as a bare minimum.

    Which Softbox?

  6. #6

    Re: Which Softbox?

    think you'll be better off with the umbrella since you only have a speedlite.
    Honestly, I haven't used any other difuser but the umbrella and I'm liking it.
    Thanks for the advice! I'm thinking about going with a brolly box (softbox umbrella). But, I'm still looking
    thanks! (Good pic by the way.)

    It also kinda depends on what you're doing with them ... umbrellas are "ok" outside, but in a studio they tend to throw light around a bit, whichh isn't what you want. Probably a good place to start though (shoot through though).

    Flashes are severely under-powered compared to strobes though; just one of my 1200RX units has as much power as about 20 580EX IIs - and I have 5 1200RXs. If you don't have enough power then you'll have to shoot at lower shutterspeeds and mix in ambient light (with possible colour temp and movement/camera shake issues) - or shoot at a wider aperture and risk DoF issues - or use a higher ISO and risk dynamic range AND colour temp issues.

    My advice would be to "beg - borrow - steal" (read "save up") enough money to get at least a couple of cheap studio strobes (if you're shooting in a studio) - something in the 400 watt-seconds range as a bare minimum.
    Ha! I can feel my wallet getting lighter and lighter the more I look!
    Thanks for the advice and reply.

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Quote Originally Posted by Photographer x View Post
    I can feel my wallet getting lighter and lighter the more I look!
    I used to fly twin engine planes for a hobby - over $400 an hour - and I could swear it cost me less than photography ...

    Be afraid ... be VERY afraid

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Good advice here Photographer X (if that is your REAL name!?).
    I am a budding portrait photographer and I would suggest getting a shoot through umbrella to start - they're cheap and easier to use.
    When I first started, I used a reflector (actually a $3 cardboard posterboard from Walmart). A few purchases later and I was the proud owner of a pair of shoot through umbrellas and stands. This shot was done with one umbrella, one bare flash (YN-560's) and a piece of clearance rack black fabric duct taped to a wall.
    Which Softbox?

    I agree with Colin 100% about umbrella spill. If you are trying to be targeted with lighting in the background, they are hard to work with! I recently bought a Wescott Apollo speelite 28" softbox, and I definitely like it for some portraits (not much experience with it yet). I made this with the Apollo, a home made snoot on a second flash, and a drape borrowed from a window in my house.
    Which Softbox?

  9. #9

    Re: Which Softbox?

    Good advice here Photographer X (if that is your REAL name!?).
    I am a budding portrait photographer and I would suggest getting a shoot through umbrella to start - they're cheap and easier to use.
    When I first started, I used a reflector (actually a $3 cardboard posterboard from Walmart). A few purchases later and I was the proud owner of a pair of shoot through umbrellas and stands. This shot was done with one umbrella, one bare flash (YN-560's) and a piece of clearance rack black fabric duct taped to a wall.


    I agree with Colin 100% about umbrella spill. If you are trying to be targeted with lighting in the background, they are hard to work with! I recently bought a Wescott Apollo speelite 28" softbox, and I definitely like it for some portraits (not much experience with it yet). I made this with the Apollo, a home made snoot on a second flash, and a drape borrowed from a window in my house.
    What can I say! My parents gave me a strange name. JK. Nice pics and I looked around on the web and saw that the softbox does have a lot of light spill. I don't have much experience but I'm guessing that when using an umbrella youíre not getting the full amount of power that you can (since the light just spills out the uncovered back of the umbrella) from the flash. I'll probably end up with an umbrella or maybe a softbox umbrella. Thanks!

  10. #10
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Just to clarify:
    You will get more spill from a reflective or shoot through umbrella than a soft box. I estimate my umbrella passes about twice as much light as my softbox. This is because the flash actually points away from the subject inside the soft box - so it has to be reflected before being diffused. The light is softer though!
    For outdoors/big spaces, the spill wouldn't usually matter, which is why a shoot through umbrella works best for me in this case - usually!
    Don't get hung up on which one is perfect, because they are both good tools and neither is best suited for all applications. If you do this long enough you will eventually have both anyway.
    Shoot through umbrellas, in my opinion, are cheaper, easier to use, and pass more light. For me this make them the obvious choice for a first light modifier.

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Quote Originally Posted by speedneeder View Post
    the flash actually points away from the subject inside the soft box
    Hmmm - what kind of softboxes are you using Brian? Mine attach to the front of the strobe and then go through (usually) double-diffusion - but it's still incident light hitting the subject (not reflected light).

  12. #12
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    Re: Which Softbox?

    The Wescott Apollo softbox is built specifically for people with speedlites and umbrella stands. It actually collapses just like an umbrella. When you open it there is a shaft inside just like the umbrella shaft. The Speedlite reflects off the back of the box and there is only one diffuser. It is not a conventional box with an adapter ring. There is a zippered hole in the bottom that the light stand goes through. The flash/umbrella holding part actually goes completely inside the softbox - no adapter ring on the back.
    Hope this makes sense

    Maybe this will help:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...light_Set.html

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Its also possible to just turn your light around and fire directly through the diffusion panel.

  14. #14
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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Have you tried that Terry?
    I thought about doing that, but it seemed like my flash head would be way too close to the diffuser? That would make it effectively a much smaller softbox wouldn't it?

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Time for you to open your wallet and invest in a couple of studio heads I think Brian. Go on - you know you want to!
    Last edited by Colin Southern; 30th March 2012 at 10:00 PM.

  16. #16
    speedneeder's Avatar
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    Re: Which Softbox?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Time for you to open your wallet and invest in a couple of studio heads I think Brian. Go on - you know you want to!
    Hahahhahaaaaaa!
    You know I had a good laugh at myself a couple weeks ago while photographing some hockey games. I started to think about how much money I was carrying in my camera bag - 60D, 70-200 f4L, 17-55 IS, 580 exii, ND filters, 4 SD cards... Then there is all the stuff i dont carry in my bag...
    WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!
    I'm not sure, but I am having fun

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    Re: Which Softbox?

    First of all, the first two images are umbrellas and the last one is a softbox that is made for a Paul C Buff (Alien Bees) studio light, so it would have to be modified to use it with a portable flash. I wouldn't suggest you go with it this.

    If you have never used a light modifier before, I would agree with the other posters and suggest you try getting started with an umbrella. The first listing is probably going to give you the most flexibility to start. You can use it either as a conventional reflective umbrella or remove the cover and use it as a shoot-through umbrella.

    In order to complete your kit, you will also need a stand and a clamp (with shoe) that allows you to mount your flash and umbrella to the light stand. My guess is that you will have to almost double your budget of $50 to put together a basic modifier.

    If you have not used a light modifier before, I would suggest the umbrella would be the best starting point. Softboxes are a tad trickier to use and I've only used them with studio flashes, never with Speedlite type flashes. With their larger spill, you can be off a bit more than with softboxes, and frankly, they are a bit easier to set up and use. The secret with both types is to have them positioned fairly close to your model. If you are using an umbrella, the distance to your model should not be a lot more than the diameter of the umbrella. Get it too far away, and it will start acting like a point source and the light will be a lot harsher and will cast shadows.

    You should also look at investing in a white reflector. I use a piece of coreplast (hollow plastic) that is about the same diameter as the umbrella or a piece of bristol board bounce some light back at your model.

  18. #18

    Re: Which Softbox?

    Re: Which Softbox?



    First of all, the first two images are umbrellas and the last one is a softbox that is made for a Paul C Buff (Alien Bees) studio light, so it would have to be modified to use it with a portable flash. I wouldn't suggest you go with it this.

    If you have never used a light modifier before, I would agree with the other posters and suggest you try getting started with an umbrella. The first listing is probably going to give you the most flexibility to start. You can use it either as a conventional reflective umbrella or remove the cover and use it as a shoot-through umbrella.

    In order to complete your kit, you will also need a stand and a clamp (with shoe) that allows you to mount your flash and umbrella to the light stand. My guess is that you will have to almost double your budget of $50 to put together a basic modifier.

    If you have not used a light modifier before, I would suggest the umbrella would be the best starting point. Softboxes are a tad trickier to use and I've only used them with studio flashes, never with Speedlite type flashes. With their larger spill, you can be off a bit more than with softboxes, and frankly, they are a bit easier to set up and use. The secret with both types is to have them positioned fairly close to your model. If you are using an umbrella, the distance to your model should not be a lot more than the diameter of the umbrella. Get it too far away, and it will start acting like a point source and the light will be a lot harsher and will cast shadows.

    You should also look at investing in a white reflector. I use a piece of coreplast (hollow plastic) that is about the same diameter as the umbrella or a piece of bristol board bounce some light back at your model.
    Yea after looking at them a little more I realized that mounting the alien bee softbox would be a pain. Also I don't think I have enough space to use it! I have a reflector (about 40 inches) but I've not really used it a whole lot. Thanks for the advice!

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