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09-17-2012, 08:15 PM   #1
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Small umbrella or soft box?

I am just starting to experiment with some small still life shooting using one off-camera flash with an umbrella. I am currently using a 45" convertible umbrella on a 10' light stand which is giving me great results using a 540FGZ flash.

I am setting this up in a small room and using a small table to shoot my objects. The size of the objects I like to shoot are about the size of a couple skeins of yarn or the size of a bowl of fruit. The table top I am using is ~4' x 2' against a wall with a black or white backdrop. I am finding that the 45" umbrella is a bit too big to position the way I want to, plus I feel something smaller would also help direct/concentrate the light a bit better for these smaller objects.

Should I look at a smaller umbrella, or maybe a soft box? I've never used a soft box so don't really know what the intended use is for them. I like to use the umbrella so far for the effects I can get with the option of bouncing or shoot through.

A quick look at Adorama shows a 30" convertible umbrella. I think the size would be OK. Before I order one, I wanted to get opinions on the 30" umbrella vs. a soft box that attaches to the flash head. I already have a 10' light stand and swivel mount for the flash/umbrella.

I also plan on adding a second flash to the setup - both flashes will be controlled by Cactus triggers.

09-17-2012, 08:18 PM   #2
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A softbox will give you deeper shadows, but more directionality. You can always lighten the shadows by placing a reflector on the opposite side of your subject.
09-17-2012, 08:50 PM   #3
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Actually, I like the idea of the deeper shadows for still life shooting. Also, as I see the soft boxes that attach to the flash head are a lot smaller which would give me a lot more room for proper placement of the light source which is a problem with any size umbrella in my confined space.

Thanks for the input!

Which leads to another question....

What I am seeing for a soft box for a hot shoe type flash look like they attach directly to the flash head with velcro. Is there a light box that is compatible with a flash that would mount on my light stand. For one reason, I want to be able to use gels on the flash head and don't see how that would work well with a soft box attached directly to the flash head.

Last edited by stormtech; 09-17-2012 at 08:55 PM.
09-17-2012, 09:03 PM   #4
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Here you go: Lastolite 21x21in Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit LL LS2462M2
Not recommending that model or brand but it is what you are looking for.

09-18-2012, 06:10 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Actually, I like the idea of the deeper shadows for still life shooting. Also, as I see the soft boxes that attach to the flash head are a lot smaller which would give me a lot more room for proper placement of the light source which is a problem with any size umbrella in my confined space.

Thanks for the input!

Which leads to another question....

What I am seeing for a soft box for a hot shoe type flash look like they attach directly to the flash head with velcro. Is there a light box that is compatible with a flash that would mount on my light stand. For one reason, I want to be able to use gels on the flash head and don't see how that would work well with a soft box attached directly to the flash head.
it will work using something like a lumiquest softbox III or LTP and Efxtra gel holder but you'll always have to open the softbox if you need to change gel, Ezybox is a different story, great quality of light, I use Easyfolders from phottix on p200 stands and they work wonders, great build quality, I talk about them on my blog, so yes, if you want a hotshoe flash to mount on a lighstand that's what you're looking for, the most reasonable size is around 25" and they collapse in a super small bag when not in use
09-18-2012, 07:41 AM   #6
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Thanks for the suggestions Neo_.

I am going to start out with the Lumiquest softbox III with the Fxtra gel holder. I like the idea that you can attach the softbox over the gel holder. This will give me a nice small alternative to my large umbrella.

While the stand mounted softboxes are what I thought I wanted at first, they are pretty big. I think this solution is perfect for starting out with this and will also give me some portability.

Thanks for the input everyone!
09-20-2012, 04:10 AM   #7
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I have both. once I purchased the softbox, the umbrella hasn't come out since


randy
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