Thinking Outside the [Soft] Box
In a previous blog post, we laid out the different types of modifiers that we offer. Each modifier has its own pros and cons and situations they're perfect for. But it can be hard to choose which one you need, especially when we have five types of softboxes and two types of beauty dishes. Even the size of the modifier can be factor in making sure you have the perfect set-up.
But it's important to remember that a light modifier is more than the sum of its parts. For example, one of our EZ-Pro softboxes has the following compenents:
- outer shell
- diffusion (inner and outer)
- reflector disk
- eggcrate grid
While the outer shell is necessary for the struction of the modifier, every other component is, for the most part, optional. Without the diffusion, a softbox is simply a giant reflector, which stops light from spilling out in every direction.
Whether you're shopping around for light modifiers, or you're just interested in seeing how each one can make a difference, read below to see how those minute differences look to the eye.
As mentioned above, we sell five different types of softboxes. The classic style with rods is the most simple way to do it. They offer sturdy structure, but can be a chore to set-up (one reason why our demo images don't show them).
The EZ-Pro line is a refreshing revist of the standard softbox, opting to open like an umbrella, rather than having to put each rod in individually. This cuts down on assembly time, which helps in a fast-paced shooting environment.
The Deep EZ-Pro line functions the same as the EZ-Pro line, in that it opens up like an umbrella. The key differences is the depth, and the fact that they have more vertices on the front face. While most softboxes max out at eight points (octogons), our Deep EZ-Pro Parabolic softboxes have sixteen spokes around, which make for a more circular catchlight.
An honorable mention is the foldable softbox. Affordable and portable, don't count them out! The foldable softboxes collapse to an even smaller size than our EZ-Pro and Deep Ez-Pro lines of softboxes, but I would say they can be a bit more...challenging to put back in their bags (anyone who struggles with putting collapsible modifiers back in their carrying cases would agree with me).
Lantern softboxes work similarly to a more conventional softbox in the sense that they both work to make light less harsh. But that's about all they have in common. The best comparison I could make would be a standard lightbulb that you could find in any household lamp or ceiling fan. Rather than focusing light in a specific direction, the lantern softboxes excel is throwing light in every direction.
As seenn on the right, it's a great way to light an entire room with uniform, soft light.
Like the Deep EZ-Pro softobxes, beauty dishes have a much rounder catchlight.
They come in two styles:
Classic beauty dishes are large, metallic dishes that shape light, especially when used its key component: the central reflector dish. Without that dish, a beauty dish is nothing more than a giant reflector.
EZ-Pro beauty dishes are made of fabric, closer to the way softboxes are assembled. However, they also have the ability to be collapsed, which can help save space in a studio, or make travelling with them easier.
Classic Beauty Dish
Classic Beauty Dish 16"
Classic Beauty Dish 18"
Classic Beauty Dish 22"
Classic Beauty Dish 28"
Out of all of our modifiers, I probably use snoots the least. Despite that, I believe that it has a lot more control than some of the other modifiers here. Rather than a softbox, that spreads light everywhere, snoots are great for limiting spill and really focusing on certain elements in an image.
A popular way to use a snoot is to use it as a hairlight, as it does give some background-separation while also adding a nice edge light to the subject.
This would be especially helpful when shooting dark hair on a dark background. Without the edge light, it'd be easy for the hair to bleed into the background.
The shape of the snoots make lighting very directional, leading to more dramatic looks. While limiting your light using a snoot may seem like a hindrance, you can get some beautiful results if your placement is right.
(This is also a good example of how the falloff from the light can lead darker hair to blend into the background).
- Fotodiox Staff