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  1. #1

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    I use shoot through umbrellas frequently and have yet to find a reason to go the softbox route. I can see certain advantages to a softbox such as easier control of light and especially less problem with lens flare, but they are far less portable and much more expensive. Are there other positive qualities that I am missing?

    I am an amatuer that already has more lighting equipment than can be justified, but softboxes are recommended so frequentlty compared to umbrellas that I can't help thinking I am missing something in the quality of the light. That is besides square catchlights and controll.

  2. #2
    Ed Sukach's Avatar
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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (BobF @ Mar 13 2003, 04:54 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I use shoot through umbrellas frequently and have yet to find a reason to go the softbox route.&nbsp; I can see certain advantages to a softbox such as easier control of light and especially less problem with lens flare, but they are far less portable and much more expensive.&nbsp; Are there other positive qualities that I am missing?

    I am&nbsp; an amatuer that already has more lighting equipment than can be justified,&nbsp; but softboxes are recommended so frequentlty compared to umbrellas that I can&#39;t help thinking I am missing something in the quality of the light.&nbsp; That is besides square catchlights and controll.</td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    The light from a softbox is, generally, more even and "softer". Whether or not that is important enough to justify their price and, as you say, lack of portability, is a question only the photographer can answer.

    I use both ... most often I&#39;ll use the sotboxes in the studio, and umbrellas on location.

    One way to get an idea of their application is to study the fashion photographs in magazines like Vouge, Elle, Cosmo, etc. (I only have access to those when I get my haircut with my wife - we&#39;ve had the same woman do our hair for one hell of a long time).

    It has been said that the most difficult thing to photograph is a plain spherical silvered Christmas tree ornament - due to the fact that *everything* will be reflected.
    The human eye has the same characteristic - and one can usually determine the type of lighting - softbox, umbrella, window light - and get some idea of the direction of the lighting from the reflection in the model&#39;s eyes (a.k.a. "catchlights).

    A very common setup there is a single *large* square softbox, with the camera directly in front of it. I&#39;ve even seen "catchlights" that show the photographer AT the camera.

    Even in the most elaborate setups, the use of umbrellas is NOT uncommon.

    The only drawback to paying attention to these magazines is trying to avoid the stares of those around you ...
    Carpe erratum!!

    Ed Sukach, FFP.

  3. #3

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    This is a great question. And one I would hope Michael McBlane would jump in on.

    I have both, and use both, and honestly cannot tell the difference. I even studied magazines, looking at the catchlights in the eye to see which was used, and still couldn&#39;t really see too much of a difference.

    And is shooting directly in front of a large soft box really that simple? You don&#39;t cast a shadow of any kind on the subject?

    dgh
    David G Hall

  4. #4

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    my two cents are:
    - Umbrellas are faster to set up on location and more convenient to transport
    - The reflections of umbrellas in the eyes of a portraitured are somewhat unlovely. Generally, a softbox is the better choice, if the light source is visible somehow.

  5. #5

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    Well,

    you can&#39;t exactly hook up grids, louvers, baffles, flags, gobos, etc on an umbrella. But, an umbrella is best for smaller spaces.

    I use 2 60" softboxes, left to right @ 45deg angles, and a large umbrella over my head/camera for fill sometimes. That provides a really soft light for massive fill. And, it doesn&#39;t make me have to bounce off of ceilings/walls.

    Of course, you could always shoot through an umbrella and get a softer light...

    But, the Westcott Halos are really cool. Kinda like a hybrid between a softbox and an umbrella, AND, they use less space than both&#33;

    Plus, an umbrella doesn&#39;t work for a hairlight/rim light.

    My next purchase...a 7&#39; Octabank softbox. Great because the monolight goes in it. So an Elinchrom Style 1200 is coming with it&#33;

  6. #6

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    BTW, I use a circle mask on my large softboxes because I hate the octagontal catchlights from umbrellas and the square catchlights from softboxes. But, then again, I&#39;m also severely anal about single catchlights...

  7. #7

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    Doc,

    The octobank...that&#39;s what Annie Liebowitz uses, right? Except with more power than a 1200 watt mono.

    dgh
    David G Hall

  8. #8

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    I&#39;ve always thought of softboxes as north facing windows that you can move around. They emit a nice diffuse light that covers a lot. Pretty handy. Umbrellas are similar but smaller and more portable. Each tool has a place....
    Official Photo.net Villain
    ----------------------
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]DaVinci never wrote an artist's statement...[/FONT]

  9. #9
    glbeas's Avatar
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    Another thing I like about a softbox is it doesn&#39;t spill light all over the studio area so I can have a bit more control over the shadow depth when I want it. Plus its easier to keep the backdrop as dark as you want when you want it.
    Gary Beasley

  10. #10

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (David Hall @ Mar 14 2003, 05:57 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> Doc,

    The octobank...that&#39;s what Annie Liebowitz uses, right? Except with more power than a 1200 watt mono.

    dgh </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    I&#39;m not sure if that&#39;s what she uses, I&#39;ve never really been much of a fan of hers...but, the Elinchrom 1200 is a really powerful light. Not like the "white lightning ultra-craps" or some cheap, overrated junk. Plus, the octabanks are very efficient when it comes to using every bit of power thrown at them.

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