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Author Topic: Help with choosing a soft box  (Read 5049 times)

Slashp

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Help with choosing a soft box
« on: December 06, 2012, 01:37:39 PM »
Hi all,

I want to go to the next step with portrait photography (indoor or outdoor) and I am about to buy my first lightning gear:

- Canon Speedlite 430 ExII
- ETTL trigger yn622c (http://flashhavoc.com/yn622c_review/)

The two additional things that I want are a light stand and a softbox (no umbrella) for the Speedlite. There are so many different models on internet that it is difficult to choose. Any experience with some good ones (not too expensive...) ?

The ones that look interesting so far:
- Westcott Apollo 28" http://www.adorama.com/WEARF.html?utm_term=Other&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=Other&utm_source=rflaid63799
A bit too expensive for me

- Fotodiox Pro 24x36" Umbrella Softbox http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Umbrella-Softbox-Speedlite-600EX-RT/dp/B008CBCWIC/ref=sr_1_23?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354681051&sr=1-23&keywords=softbox+speedlite+kit

- CowboyStudio Pro 20-Inch x 20-Inch http://www.amazon.com/CowboyStudio-20-Inch-Quick-Speedlite-Softbox/dp/B00ACR9X9U/ref=sr_1_61?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354818910&sr=1-61&keywords=softbox+speedlite+kit

Any advice or any other suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you,
John
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Help with choosing a soft box
« on: December 06, 2012, 01:37:39 PM »

Ewinter

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 03:42:31 PM »
Hi there! controlling the light is one of those aspects where photography really starts getting interesting.
As someone once pointed out to me, a Hasselblad is no different to a point and shoot if you're in a pitch dark room. His advice was to get the light right, then the lens then the camera.

Anyway, as for softboxes, I see you've gone with umbrella types for the most part. They are SO much less hassle than conventional softboxes. what kind of portraits are you going to be doing?

Slashp

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 04:12:00 PM »
I will do mostly my family and kids indoor (but will also use the flash as a fill light outdoors)

John
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unfocused

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 05:53:44 PM »
Check used items on eBay. Many people seem to buy softboxes, use them for awhile and then sell them.
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 07:26:29 PM »
Many people seem to buy softboxes, use them for awhile and then sell them.

Others buy some, use them for a while, and then buy more.  :P
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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 07:44:59 PM »
Many people seem to buy softboxes, use them for awhile and then sell them.

Others buy some, use them for a while, and then buy more.  :P
+ 2...

I currently have 3 softboxes

http://www.amazon.com/Fotodiox-Flash-2436-Ca-Diffuser-Speedring-Speedlite/dp/B005ODJF4U/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1354840770&sr=1-5&keywords=fotodiox+softbox+speedlight


This is the brand I bought, super easy to setup, fold and unfold, it uses a structure system like an umbrella, it has an inner diffuser and the cost is relatively low.

I have a 24x36, a 12x56 and a 36 octobox,  :D
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 08:01:25 PM by Cptn Rigo »
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lucuias

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 08:05:07 PM »
Kids indoor 1 430exII may be enough,but if whole family with consist of more than 7-8 people.I afraid you may need 2 flash light.
Besides,softbox at the size of 40x40cm does cut down the power of our flash light by around 1 stop.The larger the softbox the greater the light lost but it does improves the quality of light.

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 08:05:07 PM »

agierke

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 08:22:32 PM »
westcott makes some really good products for the price points. they are my preferred light modifiers. yes...there are better out there (plumes) but you will pay an arm and a leg for them. i have found that other brands that are cheaper than westcott tend to suffer in quality and functionality.

on a side note, its not quite a softbox but Photek's Softlighter series is just about the most versatile modifier out there and very affordable. they can break down with heavy use but they are so cheap for the versatility that they offer that its a must have for every photographer i know. i have all three sizes (36", 46", and 60") and plan on buying a second set soon.
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ChilledXpress

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 09:55:29 PM »
Lastolite rocks but the price of entry cause some to choke... they are choice though. After using them they put others to shame, are built to last and worht every penny.

TrumpetPower!

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 10:52:50 PM »
Considering you're going to be going through the hassle of setting up softboxes on stands, I would strongly recommend that you should go with a studio flash setup instead of a hotshoe flash. You'll get a hell of a lot more bang for your buck.

Hotshoe flashes are great for what they're designed to do, which is to be something that you can mount on top of the camera. But you pay a premium for that type of miniaturization, in terms of both performance and price.

A Paul C. Buff Alien Bees B800 costs about as much as that 430 EX II, and it puts out so much more light that it's not even funny. The Buff Einstein flash, their flagship model, is cheaper than the 580 EX II and is ludicrously far superior in every way except that you can't stick it on top of your camera.

Don't fret too much if you're going to be shooting at locations without power. There are battery packs for most studio flashes. Buff sells the Vagabond which is good for hundreds, if not thousands, of pops with the type of setup you're describing on a single charge.

I'll also note that softboxes only work their magic when they're so close to the subject that you're having trouble figuring out how to shoot around them. It's a geometry thing...a 2' softbox is going to have to be no more than 2' away from the subject to be truly effective, preferably less, and it's not going to light up more than the person's face. a 2' softbox at the photographer's position of a 10' working distance isn't going to be significantly different from on-camera flash. A 5' softbox 5' away from the subject is going to be as effective as a 2' softbox 2' away, but it'll light up the whole person...and you can put that 5' softbox 3' away and get some amazing soft and even light wrapping all the way 'round your subject.

Even better?

Buff sells parabolic reflectors...basically high-tech umbrellas. And they go from 4' across to over 7' across, and they make diffusers for them that make the light very similar to a softbox....

Cheers,

b&

pwp

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2012, 12:35:30 AM »
You might consider something with more get-up-and-go than a 430EX for what you're proposing. Punching a little 430 through a softbox or umbrella won't leave you with much useful output, especially outdoors. And your recycle times will be uncomfortably long. The 430 has an output of 30-40w/s, the 580 is around 60-65w/s.

For outdoor portraits in sunlight I often need to crank up my PCB Einsteins http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php up close to their maximum output of 640w/s. Einsteins are great but if you have severe budget restrictions, the PCB Alien Bees might be worth a look http://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php. Skip straight past the lower powered models and go straight to the B1600. For working on location, PCB has extraordinary value battery packs http://www.paulcbuff.com/vagabond.php For umbrella/softbox check out the PLM's http://www.paulcbuff.com/plm.php.

The 430EX is a decent little flash but I think your expectations of what it is capable of are somewhat out of reality. If your are serious about the business you're starting up, do it properly and turn up to your shoots with equipment that will do the job. Even a 580EXII or 600 EX-RT will struggle in sunlight unless you are up very close to your subject...and that's without a modifier.

For portrait work it's important to get a flow going with your subject, and to have the capacity to shoot immediately without that mood-smashing wait while your flash recycles. Speedlight = slow.

You'll need a speedlight, and should have one...but be 100% aware of its limitations.

-PW


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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2012, 01:27:54 AM »
For speedlites check out the lastolite stuff.

Slashp

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 01:58:28 AM »
Considering you're going to be going through the hassle of setting up softboxes on stands, I would strongly recommend that you should go with a studio flash setup instead of a hotshoe flash. You'll get a hell of a lot more bang for your buck.

Hotshoe flashes are great for what they're designed to do, which is to be something that you can mount on top of the camera. But you pay a premium for that type of miniaturization, in terms of both performance and price.

A Paul C. Buff Alien Bees B800 costs about as much as that 430 EX II, and it puts out so much more light that it's not even funny. The Buff Einstein flash, their flagship model, is cheaper than the 580 EX II and is ludicrously far superior in every way except that you can't stick it on top of your camera.

Don't fret too much if you're going to be shooting at locations without power. There are battery packs for most studio flashes. Buff sells the Vagabond which is good for hundreds, if not thousands, of pops with the type of setup you're describing on a single charge.

I'll also note that softboxes only work their magic when they're so close to the subject that you're having trouble figuring out how to shoot around them. It's a geometry thing...a 2' softbox is going to have to be no more than 2' away from the subject to be truly effective, preferably less, and it's not going to light up more than the person's face. a 2' softbox at the photographer's position of a 10' working distance isn't going to be significantly different from on-camera flash. A 5' softbox 5' away from the subject is going to be as effective as a 2' softbox 2' away, but it'll light up the whole person...and you can put that 5' softbox 3' away and get some amazing soft and even light wrapping all the way 'round your subject.

Even better?

Buff sells parabolic reflectors...basically high-tech umbrellas. And they go from 4' across to over 7' across, and they make diffusers for them that make the light very similar to a softbox....

Cheers,

b&

You might consider something with more get-up-and-go than a 430EX for what you're proposing. Punching a little 430 through a softbox or umbrella won't leave you with much useful output, especially outdoors. And your recycle times will be uncomfortably long. The 430 has an output of 30-40w/s, the 580 is around 60-65w/s.

For outdoor portraits in sunlight I often need to crank up my PCB Einsteins http://www.paulcbuff.com/e640.php up close to their maximum output of 640w/s. Einsteins are great but if you have severe budget restrictions, the PCB Alien Bees might be worth a look http://www.paulcbuff.com/alienbees.php. Skip straight past the lower powered models and go straight to the B1600. For working on location, PCB has extraordinary value battery packs http://www.paulcbuff.com/vagabond.php For umbrella/softbox check out the PLM's http://www.paulcbuff.com/plm.php.

The 430EX is a decent little flash but I think your expectations of what it is capable of are somewhat out of reality. If your are serious about the business you're starting up, do it properly and turn up to your shoots with equipment that will do the job. Even a 580EXII or 600 EX-RT will struggle in sunlight unless you are up very close to your subject...and that's without a modifier.

For portrait work it's important to get a flow going with your subject, and to have the capacity to shoot immediately without that mood-smashing wait while your flash recycles. Speedlight = slow.

You'll need a speedlight, and should have one...but be 100% aware of its limitations.

-PW



Thank you both for your feedback. Just to refine a bit, all this is not about opening a business at all but just getting a foot into lighting (which is new for me) to take better pictures of my 2 kids. I wanted to start with a 430 Ex because it is quite cheap and I know that if I move further into lighting, it will always be useful to have a portable flash for rim or as a background light.

Alien bees look great but I won't be able to use them outdoors since I already carry all the baby gear when I go out (stroller, diapers, ... ;) ). Moving forward when I master a single flash, I may add more lights but it's always a tradeoff between buying more lenses, lights, ND filter,...

John
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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2012, 01:58:28 AM »

pwp

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2012, 04:14:20 AM »
Thank you both for your feedback. Just to refine a bit, all this is not about opening a business at all but just getting a foot into lighting (which is new for me) to take better pictures of my 2 kids. I wanted to start with a 430 Ex because it is quite cheap and I know that if I move further into lighting, it will always be useful to have a portable flash for rim or as a background light.
John
OK I get the picture... Just get the 430 or a pre-owned 580 and an on-camera modifier like the Demb FlipIt http://www.dembflashproducts.com/ Skillfully used fill-flash can have great effect, but not at all obvious as a flash shot. There are good numbers of 580EXII flashes on the used market as people upgrade to 600 EX-RT. I recently got an as-new 580EXII for way less than a new 430. Drill into the Speedlights CR threads and learn a lot. http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?board=58.0 Then shoot a lot. There's no better teacher than experience.

-PW

angox

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 04:54:35 AM »
I am using Lastolite Ezybox 24 inch, and so far it's been a satisfactory experience with it. I bought it as a kit - the softbox comes with a bracket to attach your flash, stand (manfrotto), swivel head (I think it's also Manfrotto, not sure though), and an extension handle (thought this is rather too short IMO).

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Re: Help with choosing a soft box
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2012, 04:54:35 AM »