Looking to purchase first softbox, please help

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Hello,

So with the purchase of my D600, I got $250 credit to Rakuten.com (formely Buy.com) and I am planning to use it on a monolight. I am planning on going with this flash and battery from Adorama.
Rakuten.com - Flashpoint II 620M A/C - D/C Monolight, 300 Watt Second Strobe with D/C Battery Pack

I am planning to use this for wedding photography, engagements, etc (if you have any other recommended lights buyable through Rakuten, please let me know)

I don’t know much about Softboxes and speedrings. The softbox should be ideal for 2 people, would a 24x36 be a good size? That seems like a common box. I don’t have a studio so I would benefit from a softbox that is collapsible and easy to transport. The flash is 300 watts and I believe it has a proprietary mount. My understanding is if I get this

Amazon.com: Flashpoint Speed Ring for all Flashpoint Model Monolights.: Camera & Photo

I could use softboxes meant Bowens or Alienbees mounts?

Thanks!
 

Mach0

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Depends on whether or not you plan on doing full size body shots
 
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I see people change out lenses but not really softboxes

So you're saying there is no good size for what I described or should expect to have multiples if I want full body or not?
 

Mach0

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I see people change out lenses but not really softboxes

So you're saying there is no good size for what I described or should expect to have multiples if I want full body or not?

For full body shots I either use a 60 octa or parabolic.
 

tirediron

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I use a 30x30 for headshots. For 3/4 body shots, a 50x50, and for full body, I generally haul out the 60" brolly-box. A 24x30 is really too small for lighting a couple unless you just want shoulders up.
 

hirejn

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I really like the Wescott Apollo 28x28. It collapses like an umbrella and goes in existing umbrella mounts, no need for speed rings. Very good quality of light. I can set it up in about a minute. I bring it to every wedding but haven't used it yet (I've used it for other work). There's usually no need and I find that outdoors there's too much risk of it blowing over, unless you have a good sand bag that you want to carry everywhere. I try to go with just a Fong dome and no sand bag for ease of transportation, since I carry a stand around for outdoor shots. The Fong dome is a touch better than bare light and usually I'm just looking for a kiss of light or to fill shadows, so the light isn't tremendously noticeable. A soft box is too cumbersome just to fill shadows. Do couples really care that I'm using a Fong dome instead of a soft box? They don't have the foggiest clue about anything I do or why. They just know they like the pictures. Don't get overly technical with lighting.

For indoor formal shots, I would not use a soft box because I'd rather have the spread of light provided by a shoot-through umbrella than the control of a small soft box. I would do two umbrellas. If you have a studio light, you could get by with one 4-foot to 5-foot soft box. Formals is one of the few if not only situations I would use more than one light. If you try to carry a soft box on a light stand everywhere you go on a wedding, you'll find it cumbersome. Establish specific shots you want to accomplish with it, and then ditch it. A small diffuser is much easier to work with as you travel around and if you're skilled the images will still be good. When I would use a soft box is for the bride or groom alone getting ready or poses before the wedding. If you don't understand lighting or posing, little of this will make a difference.
 

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2xx36 is smallish. It's fine for headshots and head and shoulders poses at normal distances. I would prefer to have a 36x48, or larger, for people, and even then, a 36x48 has to be "some distance back" in order to light a standing person evenly and head-to-toe. You can get more angle of coverage from a large umbrella, for a LOT less money than a comparable softbox.

I actually prefer umbrellas for "people", most of the time....just easier to transport, easier to set-up, lower cost, can be used without a boom stand all the time, and so on.

Of course, one thing in today's world; a lot of people preach about lighting with HUGE modifiers, like 60 inch umbrellas and $3,000 mega-parabolic modifiers from Europe, and so on. Those kinds of lights are damned near impossible to actually set up in a lot of locations, due to ceiling height, and then you have issues with being able to get the light "up", so that it "rains down" and casts shadows where you want them. My opinion: if you want to go "big", to get soft, wrap-around lighting, look into large, portable scrims (also called panels) from ScrimJim or Westcott or whoever. Scrims offer a ton more adjustability than softboxes. You can make the light softer, or more-sepecular, by changing where the light is placed in relation to the panel and subject; this is NOT true of softboxes. The downside is that scrims are bulky, and need "grip" gear to stabilize and position them; two light stands P{ER panel is the norm, so that makes scrims better for bigger jobs.

There are some wonderful hybrids, called umbrella boxes. The Lastolite Umbrella Box is the one I use. The other one is the Photek Softlighter II. These are umbrellas that have a diffusing layer on the front. The light goes inside, and is aimed at the curved part of the umbrella; the light hits that, and bounces back, and then is diffused by the front diffusing fabric. This is, in effect a double-diffusion umbrella. There is no spill light coming from the back side. The lighting is a lot like a softbox, but without the need for a speed ring, and with INSTANT set-up and tear-down. Annie Liebovitrz is probably the most famous shooter who relies on the Photek Softlighter for her sessions. For "location" lighting, umbrellas are really probably the easiest,most portable solution. I would really suggest buying another flash head as soon as you can.

As to the mount: Flashpoint 320 and 620 use the "old" Photogenic brand's mounting lugs. Not the current one, but their "old" mount. and yes, you can use softboxes meant for other brands....they basically use 4 rods, positioned at 10,2, 4, and 8 o'clock on a round pattern....one rod in each hole, so more or less, softboxes are pretty universal in where the rods go.
 
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I try to go with just a Fong dome and no sand bag for ease of transportation, since I carry a stand around for outdoor shots. The Fong dome is a touch better than bare light and usually I'm just looking for a kiss of light or to fill shadows, so the light isn't tremendously noticeable. A soft box is too cumbersome just to fill shadows. Do couples really care that I'm using a Fong dome instead of a soft box? They don't have the foggiest clue about anything I do or why. They just know they like the pictures. Don't get overly technical with lighting.

So you pretty much only use Speedlights for the couple? I do have and use a the Gary Fong Diffuser, but mostly indoors for nightclubs and bars. I used a Speedlight over the weekend into a shoot through umbrella and it did do ok. How do you orient the Fong? Point it up, directly at them?

There are some wonderful hybrids, called umbrella boxes. The Lastolite Umbrella Box is the one I use. The other one is the Photek Softlighter II. These are umbrellas that have a diffusing layer on the front. The light goes inside, and is aimed at the curved part of the umbrella; the light hits that, and bounces back, and then is diffused by the front diffusing fabric. This is, in effect a double-diffusion umbrella. There is no spill light coming from the back side. The lighting is a lot like a softbox, but without the need for a speed ring, and with INSTANT set-up and tear-down. Annie Liebovitrz is probably the most famous shooter who relies on the Photek Softlighter for her sessions. For "location" lighting, umbrellas are really probably the easiest,most portable solution. I would really suggest buying another flash head as soon as you can.

As to the mount: Flashpoint 320 and 620 use the "old" Photogenic brand's mounting lugs. Not the current one, but their "old" mount. and yes, you can use softboxes meant for other brands....they basically use 4 rods, positioned at 10,2, 4, and 8 o'clock on a round pattern....one rod in each hole, so more or less, softboxes are pretty universal in where the rods go.

I have heard of the umbrella boxes before, but don't really ever see them in use leading me to think there is a reason for that. I will look more into them. Does the flash not get a 'cool' spot where the light is passing around the monolight?

I will plan to add more monolights to the tool bag in the future but for now I will be happy to have 2 speedlights and a mono.

I don't know why I am struggling with the various mounting options so much. Let me see if I have this down.

Softboxes are sold with a speedring of some sort
Speedrings are specific to the light, not the softbox
I can purchase another speedring that fits my light which should work with most softboxes

Sound right?
 

dbvirago

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I have had the Adorama kits for years. The monos are good quality; the softboxes are a PITA. I would either look into the umbrella boxes are consider ease of setup part of your research. Of course, if these will stay in a studio and never get taken down, it's not an issue. Just my .02
 

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When used CLOSE,and with close-up framing on the subject, meaning half-body or tighter, with a large 8.5-inch reflector inside, the 43-inch Lastolite Umbrella Box yields a nice catchlight that has a black "dot" in the center, but this is visible only when the light is very, very close and the subject is also close to the light. It looks somewhat reminiscent of a ring light's catchlight.I do not really see much of a "dead spot" or "cold spot", no.

Used with a "normal" reflector of 5 inches diameter, or with NO reflector, the catchlight is perfectly "white". Here, take a look at SOOC with an Umbrella Box and Brownline M90 8.5 inch reflector. One thing to note is that the Photek Softlighter II is a 10-rib umbrella, and is very nearly round.

IMG_4012_Jenni_CROP_1600_BW_V1.jpg photo - Derrel photos at pbase.com
 

Mike_E

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Using the monolight as a keylight you might be better served using a regular umbrella on bridal shots. Moving it back a bit will give you full coverage and a harder light raking across the dress will bring out the thread work much better and help with the decorations on the cake as well.

Unless you have a much different style than I've seen you won't have time to use a softbox w/speedring. The 50" Apollo is great but is a PITA to carry around and unless you have a second & a third it's useless outdoors except on the calmest of days.

The 28" Apollo is great for head and shoulders work and is doable time wise so this might be a better option along with an umbrella. Umbrella boxes are good too (I prefer the type with the front diffuser as the shoot through bleeds too much light on everything else) if you'd rather get one of these than the Apollo.

If you are a glutton for punishment then a 4x6 foot 5in1 with a diffuser panel on a second stand would be good. Using the reflector that comes with the monolight you just move the light back and forth to get either a harder or softer effect. This also gives you a great reflector for other work.

hope this helps

good luck and congrats on the D600
 
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Thanks for all the info.

The Flashpoint 620m and battery pack have been ordered. I already have bounce and shoot through umbrella as well as a large reflector that has a diffusion panel

I will just hold on to these for a little bit

Thanks
 

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