umbrella or softbox??

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by puyjapin, Dec 18, 2009.

  1. puyjapin

    puyjapin TPF Noob!

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    i was looking into buying a budget home studio kit having borrowed a friends for some shots. I used a studio flash with a umberlla in front of it. some kits have an umbrella and a softbox.... with 2 heads. what is the difference and would both be used together??
    thanks
     
  2. t00sl0w

    t00sl0w TPF Noob!

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    this is a question i have been wondering about as well....
     
  3. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    in short, the difference b/n the two is spill and so called directionality.
    umbrella give you more spill and encompasses (someone will rebuke me on this one :) ) great area (BUT NOT ALWAYS). So if you have a small home studio with only two light umbrellas might be a bit more beneficial (reflective/shoot through) b/c they will also cover the background a bit.
    Softbox is more directional. B/c it does limit where the light is coming out of you can direct the light.
    BOTH ARE GREAT, Both deliver amazing results if used correctly. Many time softbox is a main light while umbrella is a fill.
    If you can, get both and play around.
    good luck
     
  4. puyjapin

    puyjapin TPF Noob!

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  5. Pugs

    Pugs TPF Noob!

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    This is what I just spent the last few minutes typing up... Only better worded...
     
  6. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    not sure, but probably will be ok - if to dark then you boost your iso, open up a bit, or drag the shutter.

    On this one for example
    AlienBees: Illuminating the Galaxy with Professional Photographic Lighting Equipment at 15feet 1/4 power at iso 400, 1/60sec I get about f5.6 with reflective umbrellas I think its 60" (don't remember).


    Many of the cheaper kits can do an OK job but here few things to consider
    Recycling Time. Not a bit problem if you are 1/4 power but at full power long recycling time can/are a problem ESPECIALLY when you're shooting kids - waiting for 3seconds for next shot isn't much fun.
    Light Control. Some cheaper models allow you to modify light in full stop increments. If you have room to move back and forth it isn't a big issue but if you're bounded by light that extra 1/2 that you need or don't need might be a pain in the _ _ _ (depending on your style of shooting).
    Shooting style - some folks will set the lights, won't move them and shoot shoot shoot doing all of the adjustments as needed in the camera. Others will be keep camera setting same while moving lights as needed.
     
  7. IgsEMT

    IgsEMT No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Type faster, and save my fingers :D :lmao:
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    They don't say if that's feet or meters...I'd guess Meters. To put that into perspective, the Canon 430EX has a GN of 43m and the 580EX has a GN of 58m.
    So in other words, those strobes are not very powerful. That might be enough for a small studio, but for anything bigger, it isn't much power.

    They are also listing the 'Power Range' as 160 Watts. The units used to measure flash/strobe are Watt Seconds. Small point maybe, but I'd expect them to know that.


    HERE is a site that nicely compares different light modifiers.

    My personal preference is for softboxes because they allow you to constrain the light more than an umbrella.
     
  9. puyjapin

    puyjapin TPF Noob!

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    so for home use it would be fine with a simple backdrop, for a few portraits and photographing the kids etc>?
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    It depends on your set up and what you want to do. For example, if you want to shoot something with a dark or black background, that might be difficult because an umbrella throws light all over, which will likely get onto the background, making it lighter than you want it to be.

    If keeping light off of your background isn't an issue...then umbrellas are probably fine.
     
  11. puyjapin

    puyjapin TPF Noob!

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  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I think the two photos at Zak Arias' web site will show the difference quite well.

    Zack Arias – Atlanta based editorial music photographer » Shoot Through Umbrella vs. Softbox

    Keep in mind that there *is* a hybrid type of umbrella, produced by a select few companies, in which the light head is inside the umbrella. The umbrella that performs more like a softbox than any other is made by two companies. Annie Liebovitz uses the Photek Softlighter, and many European photographers use the Lastolite Umbrella Box; both are very,very similar. I use the Lastolite Umbrella box 40 inchers and am happy with them. These are NOT to be confused with the cheaper "Brolly Box" style. A "Brolly Box is usually just a cheap umbrella, a shoot through, with a black backing on it,and it is not very popular with serious studio lighting people. The Photek SOftlighter and the Lastolite Umbrella Box are *not* what is called a Brolly Box style--they are much,much better, and actually doubly diffuse the light. He light is bounced off of a reflecting surface inside the umbrella, bounces back, and then goes through a front diffusion panel, creating a very soft light, much like a softbox. The cheaper Brolly Box just shoots light through a shoot thru umbrella that has a black backing on it.

    Take a good look at this page's two photos, and you will see that a shoot-through umbrella sends MORE light "backwards" and into the room than it send the direction the flash is pointed; that light bounces all over the room, creating what is called "ambient spill light". When using a reflecting umbrella, which is not shown in the above photos, ALL of the light goes in one direction. A convertible umbrella is a reflecting umbrella with a removable black backing fabric that you can take off, and is the type of umbrella shown on the Zack Arias page (with its black backing removed); look at his caption--where is says the "silvered" side of the umbrella, that means a satiny-finished silvered side, typical of most convertible umbrellas--not a metallic silver side. Metallic silvered umbrellas are available, and they produce crisp light with a lot of specularity,and are wonderful for Black and White. Speedotron's Super Silver metallized umbrella is excellent.

    One big advantage the softbox has is its ability to be fitted with grids, either vertical strips (not as common this decade as in the past), or square "egg crate" grids, with further reduce spill light,and keep the light contained and heading straight out of the box,and not all over the shooting area. Softboxes can alsi be had with a recessed face, which keeps the front panel back 3 to 4 inches from the leading edge, and produces less spill light as well. A recessed-front softbox with a grid added keeps the light going "forward" more so than a flush-face softbox with no grid.

    Zck's site has a lot of wonderful tutorials on it.
     

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