What/who makes a good soft box?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by LAW2, Nov 8, 2006.

  1. LAW2

    LAW2 TPF Noob!

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    I have an old 36x36 soft box from Larson that I have never used. It was gifted to me. It’s in good shape, but the white fabric seems a little discolored and I’m not sure of the reflective ability of the silver lining. In fact I’m not sure what kind of speed ring to buy for my intended AB purchase. I am about to jump into the arena of baby/child portraiture. I have read that getting the box low is important since the kids are on the floor and that the larger the box the better, but do would you recommend a big box for kids? What size would you recommend? Should you match the size of box to your subject? If I need to buy a box how to I chose a good one? What features or construction methods should I look for? Thanks for your responses.
     
  2. toastydeath

    toastydeath TPF Noob!

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    While I can't answer the specific baby portrait questions or what to look for in a GOOD softbox, I can answer some of them (or, hopefully answer some of them).

    The bigger the box is (indeed, any diffuser), the softer the light will be at a fixed distance from your subject. So, if you have the same flash on the same power settings, you're going to get softer light than you would with a smaller box at that same distance on the same lamp.

    For that reason, you don't need to match the size of the box TO your subject, but you need to take into consideration what kind of light you want your subject to have.

    A big box can be placed farther away (out of the frame) and still maintain a (relatively) soft light, whereas a very small box will begin to harden rapidly with distance.

    I'd test out my present equipment before going off to buy more stuff. I'd put a light source that I knew well inside the diffuser (ghetto rigging is acceptable), and just mess around with the light. See how it fell on stuff at different distances, and just generally pay attention to what that particular diffuser/reflector did to my familiar light. Does it warm it up, does it cool it down, what kind of distance/hardness could I get, et cetera, et cetera. Lastly, I'd take some on-tripod pictures of still life with it (even if I'm using a desk lamp inside the softbox) to see how it looked in some pictures.
     
  3. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    My opinion would be to get an Octobox. I have been doing child work lately and the catch light is just to square. I have decided to switch to my shoot thru umbrella until I get the Octo.
     
  4. sylph

    sylph TPF Noob!

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    Are you planning on transporting it or are you stationary in a studio? If stationary, you can't go wrong with a lot of the softboxes... I'm going to get a really large one for my new studio. However, until I am totally moved in, I have been using a Wescott-Apollo 50x50 and it is GREAT for on-location. The reason why I recommend it is it diffuses very nicely but it also collapses like an umbrella... so no speed ring and no frustrations... it is very simple to work with. It does give square catchlights, but I love square catchlights. It's so much softer to me than a "burst" like my old softliter gave...
     
  5. LAW2

    LAW2 TPF Noob!

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    Sylp,
    I will be totally stationary. Set up in my dining room and living room. After some research it appears Photoflex and Westcott have a strong following. Any recomendations on what the interior of the softbox should be? I see white/silver/gold. I would think white might be best for children, but I have no experience to base that opinion on. Thanks
     
  6. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Another option, of course, is the umbrella and they are less expensive than soft boxes. Also the silver ones will put a little more light on the subject because they don't have to shoot "through" anything. For small children they are plenty large and you can get them up closer for softer light.

    The interior should be white or silver. Gold will warm the subject and you can and should control color cast yourself if you are shooting digital. If you want to have gold soft boxes or umbrellas, they should be the second or third ones you buy, not the first.

    As to brands, I often recommend Calumet and will do so again. I've used their studio equipment and lighting for years and have always found it to be high in quality and reliable and durable. http://www.calumetphoto.com.
     

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