Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by syphlix, Sep 11, 2009.
don't they do the same thing? why is the box so much more costly?
No, they do not do the same thing. A shoot-through umbrella FLOODS the shooting area with about as much ligt coming out of the back side as it does the convex side, leading to large amounts of what is called "ambient spill light". if you rig up two heads,each channeling 400 watt-second fired through two shoot-through umbrellas, you will have two umbrella lights that will end a lot of light foreward, toward the subject,and also a lot of light backward,toward the camera and the remainder of the shooting area.
I have seen many beginners using two shoot-throughs,and wondering why their main light and fill light didn't provide a 3:1 lighting ratio, but were together producing a very flat, dull lighting effect. Answer? In their small shooting areas, the ambient spill light coming from two shoot throughs was boosting the overall ambient light levels so high that the difference in light level striking the shadowed side and the main light side were almost *identical*.
A softbox contains the light head itself, and forces all the light forward, so the fall-off from a softbox is much more pronounced. A softbox does not scatter light all around the shooting area,and in that way it is very different from a shoot-through umbrella. Softboxes are mechanically a bit more complex than an umbrella, and so cost more than an umbrella, which is a very cheap, easily-made design that does not need a precision-machined speed ring to accept a flash head.
If you want the best of a softbox and an umbrella ,the Photek Softlighter or the Lastolite Umbrela Box are flat-faced, enclosed umbrellas that handle and output a lot like a softbox does, but cost less and set up faster and easier.
They both soften the light, but a softbox can give you more control of the light because it's constrained to one direction and doesn't spill all over the place. I much prefer to use a softbox, but I do appreciate that there are times when an umbrella is either a better choice for the shot or more convenient to set up/bring along.
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