Soft Box recommendations


TPF Noob!
May 7, 2014
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Hey all,

I've just been given £100 in Amazon vouchers from work as a thank you for producing some "outstanding work". Currently I have 2 strobe flashes. (Lencarta S rings I think) with reflective umbrellas (40").

As I am learning, I am only using one of the flashes. As a start, I am taking profile shots for friends and family. Should I look to buying a softbox? From my understanding, it will produce a softer light and help control shadows?

Should I get octagon or square? I doubt I will be shooting full body, so won't need a rectangle for now.

Something like this?

The flashes are Lencarta SmartFlash 2 400Ws. So you would agree that I should certainly get a soft box and keep the reflective umbrella for larger groups?
It depends; a soft box, octa-box, brolly-box, or whatever form it comes in, is a very useful and versatile modifier, but if you've already got umbrellas, then the differences are going to be slight and subtle. If there isn't something you need more, than it would be a good choice, but if there are other things (triggers, cables, what-have-you), then I would go in that direction.
Thanks for the comment.
There isn't really anything I can think of apart from new glass. But EVERYBODY ALWAYS NEEDS GLASS :p

It's mainly because my umbrellas are reflective and not a diffuser, so thought it would make quite a big difference?
The main difference will be in the "wrap" that is, the transition of the light from full brilliance to full shadow and how it 'wraps' around the subject. With a good quality softbox, you will get greater wrap than with a reflecting umbrella. That said, the difference will not be 'night and day', and it would take an experienced eye, in most casts to determine which modifier was used. Remember too that the basic reflecting umbrella was the studio standard for 50+ years and a LOT of great images were made with them. They can't be all bad! ;)
The 60" Softbox picture is the best one their, just seems to make everything softer and the back shadow actually pleasing with no distractions.

So my choices are the softbox are a diffuser add on to add to my existing umbrella. His picture was the 2nd best in my opinion. Both will work.

Hmm! more research!

Thanks all!
I looked up your studio monolights on-line--those look very good for the price! very good feature set. Yes, that is the S-type , three-lug style mount made popular by Bowens, and since adopted by multiple other companies.

here is a type of 8-rib reflecting umbrella box that is a pretty good value: Softbox Umbrella Reflective 42inch These are being sold through a USA vendor, but are probably also available on Amazon from multiple vendors. These mount using the umbrella shaft mounting, and work pretty well with both speedlights and studio flash units. I bought a pair some years back...still in good condition. Surprisingly well-made for the price....built better than the Lastolite Umbrella Box that costs $80 each.

There are plenty of modifier types. I like this type because the light is doubly hits the concave side of the umbrella, and then the light is reflected back, and diffused by the front white nylon cover. The drawstring closure system on these works splendidly, on flashes of widely different sizes. These set up fast, take down fast, and never require a speedring to be packed. These are an option to the 42-Pound Sterling octa seen in your post above.
I've been looking into the inverse-square law and came across a video where the photographer shot a model with a softbox right up to her face. The result was a brilliant (in my opinion) picture of light contrast and a jet black background. That is a shot I am interested in replicating as I have a few friends asking for it. Can this kind of shot be produced with the umbrellas that @Derrel recommended? I heard they spill too much light to achieve that result? Let me know asap please as I want to buy something today for a delivery tomorrow. I'm on call so will be stuck indoors. Perfect time to play around with lights etc.

this was one shoot-through umbrella:

Single Light Selfie by The Braineack, on Flickr

I was standing maybe 4-5' from a dark felt/velvet background. you can see there's some spillage on the BG, but not a lot.

What derrel linked is essentially a softbox. it's directional and diffused; it's just not rectangle. You'd no doubt be able to do the shot you're looking for with those "collasable softboxes".
Would need to see the pic for reference, but I'm guessing a softbox with a grid will do what you want.
at around 6.42.

@Braineack - sorry when you say collapsable you mean the umbrellas?

how is a bounce umbrella with a diffused panel [collasable softbox] essentally any different than the octobox in his video?

the only real difference is the direction the light source faces, which adds another layer of scattering light.

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