Is a softbox a softbox?

CxThree

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Hi,

I am fairly new to studio shooting. I have played around wiht my 3 light umbrella setup and am ready to play with some softbox shots. As usual, the prices of softboxes are all over the place. I see some cheapo ones on ebay. I see some very high priced ones on many sites.

What is the key to look for when shopping for one? Any particular brand a better solution than the others (Considering quality vs price)?
 

inTempus

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I've only owned one brand, Paul Buff (Alien Bee).

They aren't expensive and they're very high quality in my view. I say that never having owned a really expensive softbox mind you.

AlienBees: Foldable Softboxes

You also can't beat the Alien Bee warranty. They take care of their customers.

Everything in my studio (light related) is Alien Bee. So far I'm extremely happy with the quality. But then Alien Bee's are popular with hobbyist photographers for a reason!

Here's some of my Bee's stuff including a shot of one of my softboxes to the right.

505975794_KEnqw-L.jpg
 

Garbz

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I would say yes softboxes are softboxes. They are all pretty much the same from the effect but my guess is would differ in usability. The material used to diffuse them is fairly standard, and like cheap vs expensive umbrellas the price determines how long they will last some abuse rather than how good the resulting image will be.
 

Big Mike

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Some softboxes have a 2nd diffusion screen, which can reduce the hot spot and give you a more even light. Some have a little bit of a lip (shade or hood) that helps direct and constrain the light better than others.

The collapsible/foldable softboxes are sort of like umbrellas because they can be quickly set up. The 'old style' softboxes require some assembly when you set them up (unless you just leave it assembled all the time). Some people find it a real PITA.
One issue with the foldable boxes, is that they don't pack down as small as the regular ones and they are somewhat delicate.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the softbox can accept accessories like a grid.

If you are looking at all different brands of softboxes...keep in mind that you need to have a 'speed ring' that is compatible with your light. The speed ring is how the box attaches to the light.
 
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CxThree

CxThree

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Thanks everyone. I will look at those.

Tharmsen, what are the dimensions of that room?
 

JerryPH

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Like anything else in life... nothing is free. You can get a Profoto softbox and pay $900 and then you can get a same sized softbox and pay $250. What will be different are build and material quality (quality materials, diffusion layers, etc...).

The big trick is getting the quality that suits your needs. If you are a professional maybe nothing less than a $8000 octabox will do, but if you are an amateur or beginning hobbyist, a bare speedlight or perhaps a 45" umbrella may be all you really need.

The collapsible/foldable softboxes are sort of like umbrellas because they can be quickly set up. The 'old style' softboxes require some assembly when you set them up (unless you just leave it assembled all the time). Some people find it a real PITA.
The first time it is a funny experience watching someone put one together or break it down, but they really are a PITA.

One issue with the foldable boxes, is that they don't pack down as small as the regular ones and they are somewhat delicate.
Not all that much more, but it is a consideration if maximum strength it a requirement.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the softbox can accept accessories like a grid.
Good point, many manufacturers make proprietary equipment and only their softboxes fit properly. I believe Elinchrom are like that.

If you are looking at all different brands of softboxes...keep in mind that you need to have a 'speed ring' that is compatible with your light. The speed ring is how the box attaches to the light.
There are also the ones that really do act like an umbrella and can be mounted on a light stand in the same way. These types use no speed ring and are IMHO a little more versatile for the amateur. The bad part is that large heads will not easily fit in the smaller softboxes.

3394855495_7f830af864.jpg

3394856055_f740d54001_o.jpg
 
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inTempus

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Thanks everyone. I will look at those.

Tharmsen, what are the dimensions of that room?
It's 13' wide, 15' long and 8' high. Cramped, but it works until the rest of the basement is finished... hopefully by the end of next week.
 

Montana

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I've only owned one brand, Paul Buff (Alien Bee).

They aren't expensive and they're very high quality in my view. I say that never having owned a really expensive softbox mind you.

AlienBees: Foldable Softboxes

You also can't beat the Alien Bee warranty. They take care of their customers.

Everything in my studio (light related) is Alien Bee. So far I'm extremely happy with the quality. But then Alien Bee's are popular with hobbyist photographers for a reason!

Here's some of my Bee's stuff including a shot of one of my softboxes to the right.

505975794_KEnqw-L.jpg


Not trying to thread-jack, but I have a boxed up alienbees 4 light set waiting at the house for my return! Just wanted to know if that was alienbee's boomarm and if so how do you like the quality of it?
 

inTempus

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Not trying to thread-jack, but I have a boxed up alienbees 4 light set waiting at the house for my return! Just wanted to know if that was alienbee's boomarm and if so how do you like the quality of it?
Yup, that's the Bee's boom arm. It's very high quality. Everything but the backdrop and table is Bee's in that room. I'm extremely happy with the quality of the product.

I'm going to be buying a lot more stuff from Paul C. Buff in the future. :)
 

Sw1tchFX

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I dissagree with the "softboxes are softboxes" mentality.

My buddy has a set of photoflex softboxes that blow chunks, we rented a Prophoto 600R compact kit with some softboxes in it and the difference was night and day. the reflective material, and like what mike said earlier, the 2nd diffusion panel make all the difference in the world. People's flesh looked less specular and the light had less of a hotspot.
 

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