Info about reflectors


TPF Noob!
Jul 30, 2010
Reaction score
Small Town, Mississippi
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
I'd like to purchase some reflectors to use in outdoor portriats... Any tips on the best brands or brands to stay away from? I think I will go with one of the 5 in 1 types, but what sizes are usually better? Also, how often do you use them in outdoor settings and how do you know which one to use?
Wow, those are expensive. Go to your town's hobby store and buy white board for a fraction of the cost.
Or, go to the harware mega-store ( Gigantic Home Fix-it-Up Mega-Store, you know the one..with the 20 minute check-out lines) and buy some PVC pipe and some elbow joints, a hacksaw, a file, and make your own collapsible rectangular frames.

Use white rip-stop nylon to make 42 inch by 42 in ch or 42 x 72 inch fabrics...the frames are expensive...all you need to do is decide what brand of factory-made fabrics you want to emulate/coordinate your sizes with...a guy or gal can make very good "Panels" aka "scrims" by using PVC....costs about $7.50 to make a 42x 72 PVC panel at Gigantic Home Fix-it-Up Megastore prices for white PVC pipe and elbows...

Google for DIY reflectors or DIY reflector panels, and so on....hundreds of on-line tutorials will pop up. By sawing 3-inch PVC pipe sections into C-shaped seqments and epoxy gluing two identical ones of them back-to back, you can make what are called "joining clips" that will allow two or three or four panels to be clipped together, eliminating the need for light stands.

2 panels or 3 panels will make a BEAUTIFUL changing room, or a massive light box, privacy panel, massive scrim, etc,etc,etc.
Wow, those are expensive. Go to your town's hobby store and buy white board for a fraction of the cost.
Nah! Those aren't expensive.

Besides the OP didn't say anything about cost, and I included a range. The most expensive, the last, is cheaper than paying an assistant in the long run.

These here are getting up there in price a bit, but are as valuable and important to making a good photograph, as a good lens is.

Matthews Reflector - 42x42" - Silver 119732 - B&H Photo

Matthews 40x40" Reflector Survival Kit 999002 - B&H Photo
Ah,like so,so many things, this used to be totally, 100% free! This is the tinkertubes .PDF file showing dozens of DIY studio lighting devices that can be made from good old PVC pipe, and the various elbows, T-joints, threaded connectors, and good old sweat equity, a tape measure, and a hacksaw...

Photoshop Training and Photography Training Tutorials - Software Cinema - Tinkertubes

When I was a young man, Dean Collins was the Number One Proponent of what came to be known at the Lightform Panel system,which was handled by the Bogen company.
It featured the venerable P-22 panel and the P-42 panel There are a few Dean Collins video segments available on the web to watch for free. Dean Collins did not invent panels, or scrims; they were a natural invention of the early Hollywood movie lighting directors, who used large wooden or metal frames with large expanses of silk or cotton fabric to diffuse,shape,and reflect and modify light back in the very early days of motion picture making in Hollywoood,California. Sometimes, you might encounter the term "silk", in place of scrim, or panel. Scrims, panels, silks, diffusers, diffusing screen, screen--all of these can refer to basically the same thing or something pretty similar. Scrim Jim is a high-end one today, as is California Sun Bounce.

New ones are rounded and collapsible....great for portabillity and great for cheap shipping from eBay to you, but much harder to gang up (aka join), harder to prop up, harder to stand up, harder to secure with cheap $2.49 A-clamps from Mega-stores, and harder to make your own fabrics, and almost impossible to fit to found fabrics or materials...I know people like the rounded or oval-ish collapsible reflectors, but they are less-efficient at actually reflecting or diffusing light, per-diameter (area = do the math),and in general, you will find that square or rectangular panels make life easiest in almost all ways--except breaking them in to ultra-compact package sizes!!

To me, something in the 42x72 size range is "standard" for full-length people. it is actually big enough to do the job it is needed to do on 1,2 people....on groups of 3,4,6, tyou will want two panels quite often, clipped together. 3x3 or 4x4 is also very handy.

Google for Dean Collins videos, and be prepared to see how flexible this idea really is. There is a guy, I think his site is Lighting Magick (with a k at end) who has a for-sale course, plans, supplies, and free theory/lessons. He used to at least.

Most reactions