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Old 02-15-2012   #11
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

If you are looking for more wrap you may want to go with the shoot through and a black cover. It will give you a little more wrap because the white is a little less directional, on top of that put on the diffusion cover and I've HERD that it has similar characteristics to an octobox (but wit a little more hot center) or just get this Westcott Octabank Softbox for Flash Only - 7' 3661 B&H Photo although it is a little more $$
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Old 02-15-2012   #12
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

Quote:
Originally Posted by ESP View Post
I am looking at the PCB 64" Silver Soft PLM and was wondering if anyone has experience with it. I currently have a 42" photflex soft box. Is there any advantage to one over the other? I want to primarily use this for Portaits, both full length and head shots. What about a large octabox instead? Any feedback is appreciated.
I have all three sizes (51", 64" & 86") of Paul C Bull's ( Paul C. Buff - The PLM System ) Soft Silver PLM™ Umbrellas (with soft silver bounce interior / black exterior).
I have and use the White Front Diffusion Fabric for each of them.
This turns them into very effective, large 'Softboxes' (They're actually shaped like an 'Octabox'.).
Comparing the surface area of each of them (I assume that's a 42" x 36" Photoflex soft box?), the 42" Photflex is 10.5 ft² and the 64" PLM is 16 ft²-- quite a difference in size.

You should get the 86" PLM for full-length and group shots and use your 42" photflex soft box with it for fill.

I am very pleased with the results I get for all manner of Portraits shots with the PLMs in fairly close, all of them wrap nicely; and I only paid $246.70 for all 3 PLMs w/ Diffusers a little over a year ago.

Its true that PLMs are very good when used as large Reflectors for photos of large objects or groups as stated by jerryph, but I can't agree that that is what they are best used or designed for...

I have two Photflex softboxes, a 36" x 48" and a 24" x 36" but I don't use them nearly as often as the PLMs because of the setup speed, and for Portraits I like the round 'catch-lights' much better than the square/rectangular ones from the Photflex softboxes.

You can check the PLM's Color Balance characteristics here ( Paul C. Buff - PLM? Competitor Comparison Page )
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Old 02-16-2012   #13
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

No, it won't be anywhere near an octa simply because an octa has 2 layers of diffusion and more importantly, it is way deeper and shoots that light out in a very wide "V" pattern, this gives the octa an incredible wrap. One of the main effects of this widened pattern is no center hot spot, which means that when metered, there is less than a 1/2 stop anywhere top to bottom, side to side.

The PLM has a very pronounced hotspot in the center and placing the cover on it does reduce that a little and does increase the size of the transitional edge of where the diffused slips into the shadow, but when metered, you will see that there is a big difference when metering from side to side and top to bottom... this just what a PLM is supposed to do and covering it up with the cover firstly eats up a good stop of power and secondly, doesn't soften the light all that much.

The cover is not very expensive, so it is not like a big loss, but the error and disappointment would come if someone expects octa level performance from a PLM.

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Old 02-16-2012   #14
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

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Originally Posted by Michael Rose View Post
This turns them into very effective, large 'Softboxes' (They're actually shaped like an 'Octabox'.).
Have you ever shot with a 7-foot octa? If you did, even once, you would see how inaccurate that is.

Try this with the PLM... shoot with the PLM camera left and subject camera right, so you from camera position see the PLM's profile (you being 90 degrees to it), now place your subject's face 2 feet away from the PLM, but, move the person so that they are 2 feet *behind* the PLM. With an octa, this will give you a subject wrapped in this amazingly soft light that gently fades.

With the PLM, this person is not even going to be lit very much. Try it out and see for yourself!
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Old 02-16-2012   #15
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

jerry
you got a plm and a softbox the same size?
Can you show us a picture of them being used from the same distance?
If not don't worry about it.
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Old 02-16-2012   #16
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

Quote:
Originally Posted by patterfr View Post
jerry
you got a plm and a softbox the same size?
Can you show us a picture of them being used from the same distance?
If not don't worry about it.
Jerry posted a pic from the 63" plm, subject distance of 5'

Here is a 67" Octa, about same distance

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Old 02-16-2012   #17
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

Quote:
Originally Posted by patterfr View Post
jerry
you got a plm and a softbox the same size?
Can you show us a picture of them being used from the same distance?
If not don't worry about it.
I have the PLM, and the biggest softbox I have is 50", and I would love to do the comparison but I am currently 800 miles from home, coming back in about 2 weeks. But having used both already, it's pretty obvious how they work.
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Old 02-16-2012   #18
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

Quote:
Originally Posted by scootermcq View Post
Jerry posted a pic from the 63" plm, subject distance of 5'

Here is a 67" Octa, about same distance

Thanks scooter.
That's nice light.
I'm digging the large soft/octabox.
From jerry's picture, I'd think I wouldn't want to use the big silver plm from this distance if that's the hard light it throws.....so there must be a better use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryph View Post
I have the PLM, and the biggest softbox I have is 50", and I would love to do the comparison but I am currently 800 miles from home, coming back in about 2 weeks. But having used both already, it's pretty obvious how they work.
Not to me or I wouldn't have asked.
I'm trying to figure out why you'd want to use a 63 inch modifier at 5 feet that gives such hard light. There must be better uses then.
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Old 02-16-2012   #19
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

Quote:
Originally Posted by scootermcq View Post
Jerry posted a pic from the 63" plm, subject distance of 5'
Here is a 67" Octa, about same distance
The light in your photo taken with the 67" Octa is certainly wrapping around your subject.

Did your 67" Octa have a Front Diffusion Cover on it and did Jerry's PLM also have one on it?

Why don't you and Jerry have your Octa and PLM placed closer to your subjects?
Yes they are large modifiers, but unless they are placed fairly close, they will create sharper shadows than they should!

As an aside, each and every one of the 'octagonal-shaped' softboxes listed on B&H are shown with Front Diffusion Covers on them.
This leads me to believe that al/most every maker of 'octagonal-shaped' softboxes thinks that the Front Diffusion Cover is an integral part.

Why do you insist that PLMs alone should be primarily used without a Front Diffusion Cover?
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Old 02-16-2012   #20
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Default Re: Softbox vs. PLM

That's what I'm thinking too. Take that diffusion cover off the octa and you got similar lighting to the plm......but I'd love to see a comparison.
Going out of your way to get a large hard light doesn't compute in my feeble brain, certainly not for using it at 5 feet to produce this kind of light.

My bathroom in my house is on the third floor and I look out my window and every time I'm sitting there contemplating life I think I ought to go set up lights outside in the dark and take a pic of them going off with different light modifiers from above and see just what the ACTUAL difference is....maybe that's a project for me.


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