Umbrellas or Soft Boxes?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by N'Kolor, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. N'Kolor

    N'Kolor TPF Noob!

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    Which do you perfer for portraits?
     
  2. Johnboy2978

    Johnboy2978 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I prefer a large softbox personally. It gives a nice soft directional light and makes nice catchlights. Just my .02
     
  3. Double H

    Double H TPF Noob!

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    Softboxes give you better contrast. I have several, but I like my homemade one the best.
    [​IMG]

    example result
    [​IMG]
     
  4. cameramike

    cameramike TPF Noob!

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    care to share how you made it?
     
  5. SpeedTrap

    SpeedTrap TPF Noob!

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    My Vote is for the soft boxes, I have both and I use the softboxes way more often, the umbrellas are nice but much softer light with the boxes
     
  6. luis_relampago

    luis_relampago TPF Noob!

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    Definitely Soft Boxes, they are better distributing the light all around with a softer touch than umbrellas.
     
  7. Mike Jordan

    Mike Jordan TPF Noob!

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    It depends on what you are trying to achive. You have more control of the light with a softbox over an umbrella, but you can get a better spread of light over a larger area with an umbrella. Getting a wider spread of light can be very usefull when shooting a large group of people or going for full length or when you have an active kid or two moving around and you can't be changing your lights every minute or two.

    A softbox can give you softer more diffused light, but sometimes you want light that is a bit stronger or harsher because of your subject. Umbrellas are also cheaper (in most cases). You can get a 60" umbrella a lot cheaper than a 60" softbox. On the other hand, a 60" umbrella takes up a lot more room than a softbox (realitively speaking when you consider the spread of the umbrella).

    To throw something else into the mix, for soft light and something that is very cheap to make, a light panel is even better than a softbox. You can make a two panel 6' tall by 4' wide light panel out of PVC and white nylon (I like sport nylon over rip stop nylon) for one panel and black nylon for the other panel (to block the light towards the camera) that is free standing for about $30. With PVC you can make it different sizes as well and make it so it breaks down easy for storage and transport. That is a very large diffused light source. To get the same size light with a softbox would be very expensive.

    I find that both umbrellas and softboxes (and light panels) have their place in the tool kit. They get along very well together. :D

    Mike
     
  8. Double H

    Double H TPF Noob!

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    Sure. I used matte board, masking tape, an old bracket for a smaller softbox, and some vellum paper. I'll see if I have time later to make another, and show the actual steps.
     
  9. N'Kolor

    N'Kolor TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys! I currently use soft boxes at work but was interested in your thoughts on umbrellas. Looks like I will be getting a set of soft boxes for my home.
     
  10. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    :thumbup: I agree. I use both, as well as light panels and bounce cards. You use what you need to get the desired effect.
     
  11. nikonkev

    nikonkev TPF Noob!

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    As people have already mentioned above, it really depends on what you're going for.

    I personally prefer softboxes, as they give a more diffused lighting and less harsh on the subject(s). Then to give it more dynamic range, I put a hardlight in behind the subject(s).

    If you're shooting large groups, you're going to find that umbrellas will work better to spread the lighting more evenly.
     
  12. RacePhoto

    RacePhoto TPF Noob!

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    But, if you are on the move, and using slave flashes, where there's no electricity, then umbrellas are a winner. Also since I shoot portable, on location, I decided on umbrellas. Oh, I need to add, I don't shoot portraits! :)

    I was amused. One reply said Softboxes give you better contrast., a couple of message down, said much softer light with the boxes and better distributing the light all around with a softer touch than umbrellas ? HUH?

    HELP! Now I'm confused.
     

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