umbrella vs. softbox
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Old 05-29-2007   #1
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Default umbrella vs. softbox

Does shooting through a translucent umbrella give you the same effect as a soft box?

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Old 05-29-2007   #2
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

I'm not sure if I should reply just yet... my first softbox is in transit at this moment. I can't speak from experience, but I can respond with the reasons that I ordered a softbox when I have been using umbrellas. One of the biggest reasons that I am trying out softbox lighting is being able to move the light source in closer to the subject. With my umbrellas, I can only get so close before the shaft of the umbrella starts to be a concern. Same story with the light stand. The softbox will get much closer and give a better wrap around light. I'm also looking forward to achieving the softbox catchlight instead of an umbrella reflection. In a nutshell, that's my reasoning behind spending a few more dollars, maybe I'll have some samples to share in a few days.
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Old 05-29-2007   #3
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

It's not quite the same because shooting through an umbrella still lets lots of light bounce around your room. Boxes are more directional.
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Old 05-29-2007   #4
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

What about an umbrella reflected on the inside with a black cover on the outside?
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Old 05-29-2007   #5
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

OK, if I answer this you gotta give me some Karma.

The answer is: No.

OK, to elaborate. An umbrella, either shoot through or not, bounces a wider spread of light, so more hits the back ground, etc. Also, some power is lost due to it not going toward the subject matter. Also, some scatter hits walls and ceilings and then hits subject oft times fill the shadows some. If none of that affects your image in a negative way to you, then no problem.

Soft boxes contain light in a, um, well, a box. IF the front is recessed it even cuts the light more off, reducing the spread. IF fitted with grids or louvers, even more so. Also, since there is not a rod or light unit or light stand between the light and the subject, you get cleaner high lights. You can get covers that change the shape from rectangular to round, if you feel you must have round catch lights to mimic the Sun.

A more important question might be what do the different sizes do to the image? Search these forums for the answer.
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Old 05-29-2007   #6
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

I was waiting for someone to ask about the shape of an umbrella vs the flat front panel of a softbox.

Gzamira - you are referring to a brolly box. It more closely approximates a softbox but a softbox it 'taint.

Larger light sources are softer light sources

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Old 05-29-2007   #7
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

Nikonfreak,

Thank you for the Karma. I am going to break a hundred sometime this week if it kills me.

Just to be picky, your comment, " Larger light sources are softer light sources" is only true if the distance to the subject remains constant. A six foot soft-box 40 feet a way is almost a point source.

Last edited by kgphoto; 05-29-2007 at 09:16 PM.. Reason: typos
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Old 05-30-2007   #8
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

Softboxes give you more control over the direction of the light and are more efficient than umbrellas, but I'm put off by their cost and the extra gizmos needed to attach them to a flash.

I haven't bought one yet, but from everything I've heard, the Softliter II is a great alternative... kind of a cross-over product. It attaches to a flash just like an umbrella, keeps light from spilling out of the back, and is pretty efficient in terms of light loss. Here's the picture and link with description from Adorama.




http://www.adorama.com/PTSL54.html?searchinfo=photek%20softliter%20ii&ite m_no=4
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Old 05-30-2007   #9
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

I use only umbrellas. I like the spread of light as my apartment "studio" is very small.

I miss the nice rectangular catchlight for portraits though.
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Old 05-30-2007   #10
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Default Re: umbrella vs. softbox

i like the softbox light better, i have an octogon softbox. the catchlight looks better than an umbrella, there are no lines and it is even, a shoot thru is even worse, i tried it one time and did not like it at all. to create a softbox effect i have however shot through a white sheet with decent results.


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