New Toys: Apollo 28" and 50" softboxes.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by JerryPH, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I've been looking at softboxes for the last, oh... perhaps a year. Testing and playing and pricing out all kinds and I even was fortunate enough to play with Profoto softboxes so I got a good feel for top of the line equipment as well as mid and lower end setups.

    About 3 months ago, I made my choice and started the saving process that is now familiar to me. In between then and last week I picked up the DVDs from Zack Arias (highly recommended, BTW!), and was pleasantly surprised to note that his choice of softboxes in the DVDs and mine were identical. :)

    Today I picked them up but unfortunately I don't have the time to put them through their paces as I have an after business hours kinda-sorta emergency job to do tonight. In the meantime, though, don't think that I could control myself and not pull out the 28" Apollo and 50" Apollo softboxes made for battery powered flashes (from BH Photo) and test them out and do a few pics with a single SB-800 flash and a pair of Pocket Wizards.

    First off, kudos to B&H. Their site said the 50" was not in stock and an expected delivery date of 3-4 weeks is what it was... both came within 5 days!

    A single battery operated flash inside 28 and 50 inch softboxes. A few months ago, if someone had asked me about the possible effectiveness of such a mismatch (small flash, huge softbox), I would say nay... but, wow, was I ever pleasantly wrong!

    Starting with the 50 inch Apollo, my settings were ISO 200, 1/2 power on a Nikon SB-800, subject to softbox distance of 8 feet and I was getting perfect exposures at F/5.6 (center of softbox was about 5 feet off the ground, lighting pointing lightly downwards)! That meant that this softbox was properly lighting an area of about 16 feet wide by 10 feet tall!

    I am a stickler for keeping the flash power around 1/4 power for fast recycle times and extended battery life... so I lowered the power to 1/4 power, upped the ISO to 800 on my D700 and increased aperture to F/8 and tested it... not surprisingly, a perfect exposure as per the histogram (minor flashing blown highlights, nothing worth writing home about).

    Nextm out came the 28" Apollo. No surprise that the same settings gave me the same perfect exposures as the 50 inch softbox. What this smaller softbox gave me, though, was a more precise control in a smaller area. This smaller softbox I initially thought was going to limit me to 1/2 and maybe if I was lucky 3/4 length portraits, but I was again wrong.

    Using my Sekonic meter, the 28" softbox at a distance from subject of 8 feet gave me an area width of 8 feet horizontally and 7 feet vertically where the light was all within a 1/2 stop!

    Incredible. I am used to the way umbrellas work and their very finikky fast light drop off from the edges... and this latitude was not what I thought a softbox was supposed to be able to do!

    The 28 inch is a great size and very usable in tighter/smaller rooms and basements and is good for 1-2 people portraits from head to full body. Placed very close to the subject like for a head or bust shot, it will deliver incredibly diffused light that just wraps the around the subject beautifully.

    The 50 inch... advance warning... it is HUGE. It is my 'Big Mama" as Arias appropriately called it. Installing it, it is easy to bump into standard height ceilings, walls, the family dog, whatever is close if you are not careful. But what got me every time was the fact that it gave me PERFECT even coverage from corner to corner with a battery powered flash.

    So, does all this praise mean that I am packing away my umbrellas? No. Umbrellas do things that softboxes cannot. Visa-versa is true too. They are tools that help me get the shot based on my needs. Knowing how each works and when to use either gives me greater leverage and both belong in my equipment bag.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Nice. That's some pretty good coverage for hot-shoe soft boxes. Are they baffled?

    EDIT: When you get a chance, how about a profile shot of those.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    No, and I think that the reason why I don't need full power to get proper exposure at F/2.8 is the lack of that internal baffling that is traditional in a "normal" softbox (an exaggeration, but you know what I mean :) )

    Sure! I'll have the chance to do that tomorrow.

    What I forgot to mention is that they fold away just like an umbrella. Unlike a standard softbox, I can have this spread out and ready to place on a lightstand by the count of "one thousand one". Disassembly is no harder than packing away an umbrella either. Fold the sofbox by pressing a small button that releases it, folding it closed and twisting it just like you would any other umbrella.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2009
  4. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,527
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Wow...I thought for sure those would be baffled. You don't see a hot spot at all, particulary in the 50"...nice.


    Thanks. I'm intrigued.....

    They are a bit pricey, but they look like they do a really nice job.
     
  5. AlexColeman

    AlexColeman TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    1,732
    Likes Received:
    1
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Excellent, do you think they would work with my 900s and 600s?
     
  6. 250Gimp

    250Gimp TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,031
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Chelsea, Quebec
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Nice toys Jerry!!

    I think I may be interested in getting the 28" one later in the year, so I can't wait to see some of your results.
     
  7. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Messages:
    11,443
    Likes Received:
    2,100
    Location:
    Wichita, Kansas, USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Ok Jerry. You started this brag....er I mean thread TWO DAYS AGO!!!!

    Where are the D@#& photos to show what they can do???? :D :mrgreen: :lol:



    Have fun with the new toys.:thumbup:
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    Montreal, QC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I agree, they are a bit overpriced for what they are, but I could not find more affordable alternatives short of a DIY. I was even going to try that, but time for me is so hard to find lately so that and the fact that someone went out and did a better job than I could ever DIY it myself convinced me and I just bit the bullet.

    A few pics from different angles as requested.

    Apollo Softboxes - a set on Flickr

    I can guarantee you 100% that either one will work. The pics in my flickr stream with the softboxes lit up are done using a SB-800 set to 1/4 power. These boxes are made for battery powered flash setups, but what is nice is that the 50" is deep enough that a full sized strobe will fit in there too. I don't think the 28" is big enough, though... when I get my 1000 W/s strobe, I'll test it out.

    Here is another small surprise... this morning I stuck the SB-600 in there, set it to be a wireless CLS-iTTL remote and used the on camera flash from the D700... hit the shutter and the darn flash inside the softbox went off! So I started walking around the room and went so far as being beside the softbox and it still fired off using iTTL. I think that the front scrim is so thin and the reflective material inside the softbox almost becomes a reverse light amplifier and lets CLS work perfectly.

    This needs a little more testing, as I just now thought of the fact that I did not try standing behind the softbox, but I was really surprised that it worked at all in the first place, and that makes it a very interesting option to add to the toolkit when using this equipment.

    A wireless TTL solution in a softbox makes it SO easy to use that I do not even need a light meter, just set it up and enjoy if that is what I want to do.

    LOL! Not a brag, just a chance to voice a "first look" opinion. First chance I get to put someone in front of them, I promise I will post it here. Knowing me, anything that I like and do not like, I will gladly mention.

    I did take a few shots of my father and the light really wraps nicely, but he asked me not to post them on the net, so I cannot. First chance I get with someone else in front of them, I'll post them, I promise!
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

50 big mama softbox

,
50 softbox
,

50 inch softbox

,
50 inch big mama softbox
,
apollo 28 review
,
apollo 28 softbox review
,

apollo 50 softbox

,

apollo softbox review

,
battery powered softbox
,

big mama softbox