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07-06-2015, 01:14 AM   #1
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Recommendations on soft boxes

I rarely do portrait work (maybe 2-3 times a year), but was looking to buy a couple smaller soft boxes for my 3 Pentax af200t's on a cactus trigger/slave setup. I was looking soft boxes on the smaller side, cheap but decent in quality. I seen a few cheap Westcott soft boxes online but was unsure if: 1) If there is a minimum size I should buy 2) If they actually attach well to flashes like these due to how boxy the flashes are. I wanted to get advice/recommendations/feedback on what to buy instead of buying stuff and only finding out it does not work well with my setup.


Any advice is appreciated!

07-06-2015, 02:18 AM   #2
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Hi. Over the years I have tried several softboxes. In my home studio and on location I typically use Paul Buff softboxes with an Einstein or my Alien Bees (800s).

For use with my Metz flashes I often use on location two lastolite "speedlight" softboxes. They are called Ezyboxes. The small, which is approx 10-12 inches, is great for "better than a non modified speedlight" light. For portrait use, more for head and shoulders, and perhaps a bit more, I use a larger Ezybox, 24 inch I believe. The Ezyboxes are a bit expensive than generic or economy brand stuff on Amazon or ebay, but I have used the Ezyboxes for several years and they have stood up well. Somewhat overpriced, but I have learned that spending a little more up front usually is worth it.

Good luck with your choice! Please let me know if you have any questions.

---------- Post added 07-06-15 at 05:19 AM ----------

Also, I have the Westcott Apollo. Good light, but very fiddley and somewhat flimsy. The Ezyboxes are superior in build and ease of use.

Last edited by candgpics; 07-06-2015 at 03:30 PM.
07-06-2015, 04:49 AM   #3
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Yes the Ezybox's are expensive but are a good long term investment, you could look at buying the Ezybox ring mount you can mount a full size Ezybox on the front and have a flash gun behind at the back, when you move up to a full studio head the softbox will fit on using the correct adaptor ring, clip on flash guns can work well with softboxe's but you pay a lot in battery's and a burn out if you do not remember to turn them off, after each round of shooting.
07-06-2015, 06:18 AM   #4
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A small flash like yours might have trouble fully lighting a softbox, because of the two baffles they usually include. Still, with a proper flash mount ("speed ring" usually) you'll have no trouble actually aligning it.

If you want good but inexpensive, the best balance I've found is Fotodiox. The softboxes are very wall made, and the EZ-Pro line is extremely easy to assemble. That would be my recommendation. Westcott is also quite good. Products from the likes of Paul Buff and others are excellent but much more expensive, maybe too much for your taste.

07-06-2015, 06:22 AM   #5
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The larger the better is the general rule for off camera lighting (softer shadows). I ended up using Ebay umbrella softboxes. I like them better than regular umbrellas, as they have less light loss to the surroundings. 109cm 43" Umbrella Softbox Soft Box brolly Reflector for Studio Flash Strobe | eBay




Here is a DIY flash holder I made for mine to help lessen the stress on the flash trigger joints.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/62-do-yourself/106596-diy-horizontal-flas...ht-stands.html


Example: Two umbrella softboxes with a couple of old Sunpak 333 flashes set on manual.


Tim

Last edited by atupdate; 07-06-2015 at 10:27 AM.
07-06-2015, 09:48 AM   #6
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The limitations of flash umbrellas are:

1-more difficult to access the flash to change settings (less of a problem with a Godox, Yongnuo or Cactus flash with remote control)
2-difficult, sometimes impossible to tilt at strong angles because of the way the shaft enters the umbrella
3-the quality of the light is between an umbrella and a true softbox (by quality, I'm not passing judgment, maybe "appearance" of "texture" would be a better word)

It's still a useful design for some situations.
07-06-2015, 10:37 AM - 1 Like   #7
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Umbrellas make a great, general-purpose light modifier for soft, even light. But the big limitation is that you cannot aim and direct light at a specific area without it spilling elsewhere. In some situation, this may not be a problem, but in other situations, it is a real headache. Softboxes give you much better control in such situations. And if you add a grid to your softbox, you have even more control.

But for someone starting out, it's hard to beat the value and utility of an umbrella.
07-07-2015, 01:08 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by treue_photo Quote
I was looking soft boxes on the smaller side, cheap but decent in quality.
I like softboxes with internal flash mounting as they allow mounting multiple speedlights in one box, which seems particularly important in your case.

They also offer some protection against first raindrops or a stand toppling over as the box will cushion the fall of the flashes.

It is true that they have a very limited range for tilting down, but one can address that by using a (DIY) boom arm.

BTW, I wouldn't bother with small modifiers. They hardly provide any advantage over a bare flash unless you get them very close to the subject.

07-07-2015, 07:50 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by candgpics Quote
Hi. Over the years I have tried several softboxes. In my home studio and on location I typically use Paul Buff softboxes with an Einstein or my Alien Bees (800s).

For use with my Metz flashes I often use on location two lastolite "speedlight" softboxes.
The Buff units are my favorites, too.

I have tried a number of smaller softboxes for speedlights, and have found them either too weak or not soft. I have built a bracket which lines a cluster of speedlights up in an umbrella, and that works pretty well, but about the best light modifier I have found for a speedlight is the Graslon Prodigy. It is far from a softbox, but it gets the best out of the small strobe.
07-16-2015, 06:49 AM   #10
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I've been using a Lumiquest softbox on my Metz 48 for a few years and I'm quite satisfied with the results. It attaches to the flash with a velcro strap which you leave on the flash, making it quite easy to take on and off and it can adapt to just about any flash out there although the AF200 looks pretty small. I think I paid around $30 for it at the time. Softboxes/Diffusion Devices - LumiQuest
07-16-2015, 11:30 AM   #11
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I have some smaller Photoflex softboxes that I like (but I'm not sure whether the brand is still in business). A photographer friend of mine who does a lot of portrait work outside (and needs a very portable set-up) likes Impact.
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