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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hi-Tech Studio: The Softbox

The essential light modifier for all genres of professional photography

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Interfit Strip Pro Softbox
For the mobile photographer who needs a very small softbox, LumiQuest has created softbox accessories for your on-camera strobe. The LumiQuest SoftBox (5x7 inches), LumiQuest SoftBox III (8x9 inches) and LumiQuest Mini SoftBox (3.25x4.5 inches) fold down to fit inside the laptop/tablet pocket of your bag, but quickly unfold and attach to your strobe with Velcro® or the optional UltraStrap. An extra diffuser section in the center reduces the flash hot spot to produce even, soft light. The LumiQuest SoftBox has a bottom notch so that it doesn't interfere with the AF or triggering functionality of the strobe. www.lumiquest.com

Just as important as size is the shape of the softbox, which dictates the shape of the light. Square and rectangular softboxes are often used for product shots and fashion photography. Compared to octaboxes, rectangles have a shorter depth and can be positioned into tight spaces more easily. Interfit provides a wide range of rectangular sizes, from a 24x24-inch square to a 55x79-inch rectangle. With flexible aluminum rods and specially treated heat-resistant fabrics, the boxes are made for durable, wide-range use. www.interfitphotographic.com

Fotodiox Pro Softbox, 36-inch Octagon
Octaboxes are most often used for fashion photography, as they provide a large, full-length coverage area, as well as a circular catchlight in the eyes. Along with rectangular softbox options, Fotodiox provides the Fotodiox Pro 36-, 48-, 60- and 70-inch Octagon. The interior dome features pro-grade omni-bounce silver fabric and includes a white baffle for softer lighting. The rotating speed ring can be used with other shaped softboxes, as well. www.fotodioxpro.com

Along with traditional softbox shapes, Dynalite offers the unique 16-sided Grand Softbox. Made from Rimelite grid fabric, it's UV-coated and waterproof, providing color consistency, fade resistance and easy clean-up. The parabolic shape of the softbox sculpts the light all the way around the subject and provides a natural round catchlight for the eye. The Grand Softbox comes in sizes from 35 to 91 inches and can be used with lights up to 650W. www.dynalite.com

The strip softbox has a narrow rectangular shape, allowing light to carve out edges and provide contrast to highlight a particular area of the frame. Bowens offers the Lumiair Strip 100 (29.5x15 inches) and Lumiair Strip 140 (55x15 inches). The reflective interior is color-calibrated and the box design keeps light efficiency in mind. Each softbox includes a main canopy, rear cowell, front diffuser, internal diffuser, support rods and zip-up carrying case. www.bowensusa.com

Broncolor's new line of nine softboxes shows a range of shapes and sizes, from the 2x2-foot The Universal square box to various rectangles, 1x3.9-foot The Strip softbox and 4.9-foot The Ultimate octabox. With colored markings on the tension rods and support rings, assembly is quick and easy. Three different diffusers and grid accessories provide added light control. Using adapters, Broncolor softboxes can be used with flash units from many different companies. hasselbladbron.com

Photoflex's line of softboxes includes rectangular and octagonal shapes for both strobes and continuous lights. The MultiDome is specifically designed to work with strobes and provides some of the most diverse lighting options from a single diffuser due to the softbox interior. With a white interior lining, the softbox features removable gold/silver panels for switching between warm or contrasting light between frames with only one light. The MultiDome also comes with a CircleMask for creating a circular shape on the rectangular form, perfect for portrait catchlights. www.photoflex.com

Profoto Softbox RFi 3-inch Octa (90cm); Westcott Pro 18x42-inch Bruce Dorn Asymmetrical Stripbank
Profoto has two distinct lines of softboxes. With a variety of sizes and shapes, the RFi line for strobe shooting lets you choose an optional speed-ring adapter to make the box compatible with over 20 different flash manufacturers. Each adapter has full rotation and tilt function. The HR (Heat Resistant) line can be used with either flash or continuous light sources. Also available in an array of shapes and sizes, the high-quality fabric endures up to 1000W. Both lines feature soft grids, flat front diffuser and stripmask accessories. profoto.com

With a double layer of heat-shield fabric and tent-style heat release vents, Westcott softboxes are equipped for use with lights up to 1000 watts. These softboxes are available with white or silver interiors in rectangular, octagonal, Stripbank and Asymmetrical Stripbank. Each comes standard with a 5- or 7-year warranty. www.fjwestcott.com

An economical full-kit option that's easy to set up, the CL-SPSBSFT1 Cool Lights 24x24-inch Speed Softbox & Grid is designed specifically for the Cool Lights CL-SFT1 fluorescent continuous light fixture. The softbox reduces setup time by quickly popping open and attaching to the speed ring with tension. Carrying cases, diffusion silk and egg crate are all included. www.coollights.biz


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