Softboxes or Umbrellas?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by roadkill, Jan 16, 2009.

  1. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    I am getting ready to buy some lighting and I wanted to pick some experienced minds as to what they found best for all around use. Best bang for the buck, most versital etc. I'm going to be shooting models, maybe portraits, outdoors, and possibly products. Any opinion would help. Thanks
     
  2. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    What type of lighting? Umbrella is undoutably the cheapest and easiest way to go. Softbox setup isn't something that can be done in 5 seconds. You don't get spill with a softbox though and you can get a softer light. You can have a choice of the type of umbrella like reflective, shoot through, gold, etc... Softboxes are generally white.

    Buy both. That's the simple solution.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I prefer to shoot with softboxes...especially when I want to control the light spill.

    I have a foldable softbox which takes less than a minute to set up, but it's still rather big and bulky when it's folded down, which makes it a pain to pack and travel with. Umbrellas are very easy to pack up and set up. A bi-fold umbrella is less robust but very folds down very small, great for keeping in a camera bag.
     
  4. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Both.

    Umbrellas are easiest to carry around and a smaller one can be feathered for a very soft effect. You can also get them to shoot through which approximates a soft box as well.
     
  5. xposurepro

    xposurepro TPF Noob!

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    my favorite setup I tend to use most in the studio is a 46" shoot-through umbrella on my main and a 4' softbox as my fill.
     
  6. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I'm curious as to why you do it that way. I use a softbox as my main and an umbrella for my fill.
     
  7. xposurepro

    xposurepro TPF Noob!

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    Because one day I got into a discussion on light setups with another studio photographer who was saying that when mixing you always put the softbox on the main and the umbrella on the fill and I brought up the fact that there are no "always" and you had to leave room for experimentation and creative discovery .. basically he was a newbie that started up a studio and thought he knew everything so I had to show him that no matter how much you learn you can always learn something new and there's no one way to do anything .. turned out I liked the control I have on the reverse setup so I just kept doing it.
    I like doing my own thing. If I was a sports photographer I would be the one photographer at the super bowl who spent half the game with his back to the field using a fish-eye. :mrgreen:
     
  8. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Didn't we have a nice discussion on this not too long ago?

    It definitely fallls under personal preference, but I seem to prefer shooting with umbrellas becuase they offer me more versatility. A softbox is optimized to shoot more of a fixed area and if you are using battery powered strobes, you'd better have both multiple and at least a couple of the strongest ones in there to be able to light anything bigger than a small/medium sized softbox.

    Umbrellas are more efficient at tossing out a wider and bigger beam of light, especially a silver bounce umbrella vs a shoot through, but the price is a small increase in harshness (honestly, an easy price to pay!).

    To evenly light an area of 20 feet by 10 deep (4-5 people wide and 3 deep), I can use 2 umbrellas and 2 SB-600s and get an easy F/5.6 at ISO 200. To do the same with softboxes, you would need nothing less than a couple of 110V studio strobes.

    Depends on what you want. If you are going to use softboxes, you are limited to smaller areas or much bigger units powering them.

    My preference is umbrellas. :)
     
  9. roadkill

    roadkill TPF Noob!

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    wow thanks for the feedback guys. Gave me some reference points
     
  10. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    First I am going to change your question just a bit too.....

    Softboxes & Umbrellas?

    My answer is YES.

    As has been pointed out already, they serve similar, but also different purposes. Neither is that expensive, and both would be useful for having on hand.
     
  11. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    lol... definitely that both give your pics a different feel. Softboxes give you some amazingly diffused and even light. At this level, I do not know any umbrella that can match, except possibly a shoot-through with a brolly (umbrella with the rear blocked off), however, the shape of the area that is going to be shot shall be cirtular rather than rectangular.

    Having both is the only way to get the best of both worlds, of course.
     
  12. Fiendish Astronaut

    Fiendish Astronaut TPF Noob!

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    I'm a softbox man personally. The little portable ones fold into my pocket/bag easily and you can control where you weant to direct a beam of beautifully soft light.
     

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