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Author Topic: What size Softbox  (Read 9365 times)

brianleighty

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What size Softbox
« on: August 22, 2012, 09:00:34 PM »
So I currently have a 580exii and 430 exii and am currently using a gary fong diffuser on each. I'm looking to improve the softness of the light by starting to experiment with a softbox. The one I'm looking at is:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089JYJ1U/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=AL7LHK6Q9LVTS

Some of the reviews mention it only being good for one person. I'd like to be able to use it with groups as well. Will this not work for that due to the angle of light transmission? Thanks.
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What size Softbox
« on: August 22, 2012, 09:00:34 PM »

triggermike

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2012, 10:36:42 PM »
For larger groups with speedlites, use rectangular shaped box, strip box or multiple square (or rectangular) boxes. You can also use shoot-thru umbrellas (multiple if necessary) for groups. Umbrellas are very inexpensive - get a couple and try it out. Use one as a key and one opposite as a fill.

CharlieB

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2012, 11:51:08 PM »
Any box will be a huge help.

I use a 12x16 on camera for weddings.  Have also used 16x20 on camera back in the Hasselblad film days (alas).

The idea of a softbox is twofold.  First, you transform the light from a point source to a more broad source.  Secondly, you're taking the specularity and making it much much less. 

Try a softbox (or two or three....) for table top work.  Amazing stuff there.  Take a regular flash, and use it for macro, and it becomes a more broad source automatically, when placed very close to the subject at high magnification.

The box in your link will give you a huge transformation of the quality of light you're gonna get.  There is really no right or wrong when you're still a good distance from the subject.  Getting close, on large subjects... then you have to worry about big boxes.... similarly when you need an exceptionally broad source.

keithfullermusic

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2012, 12:46:09 AM »
For groups I would think you want bare strobes or shoot through umbrellas.  If you use a softbox, your light will be too focused and you will need quite a few and some more strobes to light everyone up.
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justsomedude

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2012, 01:58:27 AM »
So I currently have a 580exii and 430 exii and am currently using a gary fong diffuser on each. I'm looking to improve the softness of the light by starting to experiment with a softbox. The one I'm looking at is:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089JYJ1U/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=AL7LHK6Q9LVTS

Some of the reviews mention it only being good for one person. I'd like to be able to use it with groups as well. Will this not work for that due to the angle of light transmission? Thanks.

Please don't take this the wrong way (I know everyone takes things personally on the internet), but it sounds as if you need to understand a little more about light before you start buying more gear.  Check this link out for some softbox basics.  I only caution you on your purchase because of my own experience; I've bought tons of gear only to learn later that it wasn't what I needed.  Buy once - buy right.

"Softness" is created by increasing the size of the light source relative to your subject.  This is why bare speedlites, no matter how close they are positioned to your subjects, produce hard shadows.  This is why the sun, a tiny spot in the sky, creates really unflattering light when it is at high angles... the shadows just kill portraits.

So, by increasing the size of the light source relative to your subject, you create a softer light that can "wrap" around body features.  This fills in shadows, and creates gradients from light areas to dark areas, which is that "soft" look everyone comes to know from a softbox.  This is why people are saying your 24" softbox may only be good for one person.  At that size you can only place it so far from your subject before it becomes a point source.  With that dimension you wouldn't get much use out of it beyond a key light for headshots, or maybe a gridded rim/effect light in a full body shot.

As I mentioned, a softbox will end up being a point-source if it's far enough away from your subject.  This is why those on-flash softboxes really don't have a significant effect for shooting event candids.  Going from a 2"x3" bare flash, to a 6"x10" soft box, is still a point source when you're 10'-12' from your subject! 

Now, come full circle to your question about lighting groups of people.  I wouldn't worry about softboxes and instead simply worry about trying to light them evenly.  Large reflective, or even shoot through umbrellas, are good for this kind of work.  Don't get me wrong, you can make softboxes work with groups, but like keithfullermusic pointed out, yer gonna need a few of them.

I do a lot of event work for DU, and two Alien Bee B800s with 42" shoot-thru umbrellas do the trick every time...
2012 August Hood Presentation-41 by Daniels at University of Denver, on Flickr

Setazo

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2012, 03:34:09 AM »
...
I do a lot of event work for DU, and two Alien Bee B800s with 42" shoot-thru umbrellas do the trick every time...

justsomedude, would you mind sharing a link of an example of the umbrellas you mention?
I'm taking some group pictures in about a week, and going to rent some light for it, so I would be very interested in suggestions about how to light them up. Just as the o.p. I have a 580 ii and a 430...
Cheers

justsomedude

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2012, 11:04:43 AM »
...
I do a lot of event work for DU, and two Alien Bee B800s with 42" shoot-thru umbrellas do the trick every time...

justsomedude, would you mind sharing a link of an example of the umbrellas you mention?

Of course, no problem at all!

I use the Westcott 43" shoot-throughs with my Alien Bees.  Product link here:
http://www.amazon.com/Westcott-Optical-White-Collapsible-Umbrella/dp/B00009UTZA

You'll also need some hot-shoe/umbrella adapters for your stands and lights.  Check these out:
http://www.amazon.com/Calumet-Umbrella-Adapter-Shoe-Mount/dp/B000TL3IPY

Here's my basic group/photobooth setup.  Just two lights at 45-degree angles to the group:

setup by akphotodenver, on Flickr

Just pretend my Alien Bees are your 580 and 430 flashes.  You will probably need to reduce the output on your 580 to keep the light equal.   Also, ignore the second set of flashes in that photo (closer to the backdrop).  Those are just for lighting the paper to get a white background.

Remember, the good thing about shoot-through umbrellas is that they just spray light everywhere.  But the bad thing about shoot through umbrellas is that they spray light everywhere.  :)  So if you have really bright colored walls, just be aware of color casts.

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2012, 11:04:43 AM »

awinphoto

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2012, 11:27:40 AM »
Just a few rules of thumb... the bigger the softbox you have, the wider you will have to set the flash to fill light evenly into the softbox...  That in itself will weaken the flash and then the softbox kills light power even more...  I've used 20"x 20" softboxes with speedlights before with success but power does suffer...  That means more power needed per flash which means slightly longer recharges which means more batteries used...  I've seen people use large 3'x4' softboxes if not bigger strip banks, but they have those puppies at full power and even at that, they have the softbox as close to outside of camera frame as they can get... I've personally outgrew the speedlights and replaced them with studio lighting which opens the doors to much bigger softboxes and lighting scenarios, but in the end, the bigger the softbox the better, but with such small lightsources, dont expect miracles. 
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Chuck Alaimo

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2012, 11:43:16 AM »
agreeing with all thats being said here.  I went through the same issues before I finally said to myself if i want that soft light its time to buy Alien Bees.  the cost of buying softboxes for speedlights versus the gain was prohibitive. 


Where are you shooting?  If your thinking outdoors umbrella's will become windsails!!!!
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awinphoto

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2012, 12:08:18 PM »
agreeing with all thats being said here.  I went through the same issues before I finally said to myself if i want that soft light its time to buy Alien Bees.  the cost of buying softboxes for speedlights versus the gain was prohibitive. 


Where are you shooting?  If your thinking outdoors umbrella's will become windsails!!!!

I concur...  Personally I got the alien bee's big brother, the white lightnings, but both are incredible flashes...  After 1 photo shoot with the WL's, i couldn't believe I didn't get them sooner...  and shoot, a well equipped WL and alien bee is still cheaper than the 600ex...  granted you dont get TTL or auto flash or radio control, but you get must more better/consistent/fuller light source... 

p.s. outdoors anything can become windsails, umbrellas, softboxes, reflectors (especially reflectors), panels...  this is when lightstands with anchors or sandbags become your best friend. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

Chuck Alaimo

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2012, 12:23:50 PM »
agreeing with all thats being said here.  I went through the same issues before I finally said to myself if i want that soft light its time to buy Alien Bees.  the cost of buying softboxes for speedlights versus the gain was prohibitive. 


Where are you shooting?  If your thinking outdoors umbrella's will become windsails!!!!

I concur...  Personally I got the alien bee's big brother, the white lightnings, but both are incredible flashes...  After 1 photo shoot with the WL's, i couldn't believe I didn't get them sooner...  and shoot, a well equipped WL and alien bee is still cheaper than the 600ex...  granted you dont get TTL or auto flash or radio control, but you get must more better/consistent/fuller light source... 

p.s. outdoors anything can become windsails, umbrellas, softboxes, reflectors (especially reflectors), panels...  this is when lightstands with anchors or sandbags become your best friend.

WL's are quite nice!...as are the Einsteins...Either way, you can get an AB 800 with lightstand and external power supply for less than a 600ex, or if external power isn't needed, you can get a light plus stand plus a modifyer or 2 for same cost or less than a speedlight...

I currently still have 2 speedlights that I use when travling light is necessary (if your hiking around a park and want extra light, it's much easier to just bring the 2 stands than to lug around another big bag...lol)
Owns 5Dmkiii, 6D, 16-35mm, 24mm 1.4, 70-200mm 2.8, 50mm 1.4, 85 mm 1.8, 100mm 2.8 macro, 1-600RT, 2 430 EX's, 1 video light

pdirestajr

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2012, 12:34:16 PM »
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awinphoto

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2012, 02:55:40 PM »
agreeing with all thats being said here.  I went through the same issues before I finally said to myself if i want that soft light its time to buy Alien Bees.  the cost of buying softboxes for speedlights versus the gain was prohibitive. 


Where are you shooting?  If your thinking outdoors umbrella's will become windsails!!!!

I concur...  Personally I got the alien bee's big brother, the white lightnings, but both are incredible flashes...  After 1 photo shoot with the WL's, i couldn't believe I didn't get them sooner...  and shoot, a well equipped WL and alien bee is still cheaper than the 600ex...  granted you dont get TTL or auto flash or radio control, but you get must more better/consistent/fuller light source... 

p.s. outdoors anything can become windsails, umbrellas, softboxes, reflectors (especially reflectors), panels...  this is when lightstands with anchors or sandbags become your best friend.

WL's are quite nice!...as are the Einsteins...Either way, you can get an AB 800 with lightstand and external power supply for less than a 600ex, or if external power isn't needed, you can get a light plus stand plus a modifyer or 2 for same cost or less than a speedlight...

I currently still have 2 speedlights that I use when travling light is necessary (if your hiking around a park and want extra light, it's much easier to just bring the 2 stands than to lug around another big bag...lol)

Fully agree... speedlights will always have their place... afterall it's hard to get an assistant to run down the isle with a strobehead trying to keep up with the bride as she enters... not to mention power cords, etc... haha.  Speedlights do offer convenience and portability, but as with all things, it does come with it's compromises...  but as we came to our conclusions... for softbox and or studio/controlled lighting situations, it's best left with a studio strobe. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2012, 02:55:40 PM »

keithfullermusic

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2012, 03:10:06 PM »
If money isn't an issue I think speedlights are the hands down winner.  You can always put a couple of them together and use them as one light.  This way get the portability of the speedlight, ettl, maunal control, all from the camera, and the power of the studio lights.  But this type of set up might mean your kids aren't going to college.
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brianleighty

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2012, 08:42:27 PM »
So I currently have a 580exii and 430 exii and am currently using a gary fong diffuser on each. I'm looking to improve the softness of the light by starting to experiment with a softbox. The one I'm looking at is:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0089JYJ1U/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=AL7LHK6Q9LVTS

Some of the reviews mention it only being good for one person. I'd like to be able to use it with groups as well. Will this not work for that due to the angle of light transmission? Thanks.

Please don't take this the wrong way (I know everyone takes things personally on the internet), but it sounds as if you need to understand a little more about light before you start buying more gear.  Check this link out for some softbox basics.  I only caution you on your purchase because of my own experience; I've bought tons of gear only to learn later that it wasn't what I needed.  Buy once - buy right.

"Softness" is created by increasing the size of the light source relative to your subject.  This is why bare speedlites, no matter how close they are positioned to your subjects, produce hard shadows.  This is why the sun, a tiny spot in the sky, creates really unflattering light when it is at high angles... the shadows just kill portraits.

So, by increasing the size of the light source relative to your subject, you create a softer light that can "wrap" around body features.  This fills in shadows, and creates gradients from light areas to dark areas, which is that "soft" look everyone comes to know from a softbox.  This is why people are saying your 24" softbox may only be good for one person.  At that size you can only place it so far from your subject before it becomes a point source.  With that dimension you wouldn't get much use out of it beyond a key light for headshots, or maybe a gridded rim/effect light in a full body shot.

As I mentioned, a softbox will end up being a point-source if it's far enough away from your subject.  This is why those on-flash softboxes really don't have a significant effect for shooting event candids.  Going from a 2"x3" bare flash, to a 6"x10" soft box, is still a point source when you're 10'-12' from your subject! 

Now, come full circle to your question about lighting groups of people.  I wouldn't worry about softboxes and instead simply worry about trying to light them evenly.  Large reflective, or even shoot through umbrellas, are good for this kind of work.  Don't get me wrong, you can make softboxes work with groups, but like keithfullermusic pointed out, yer gonna need a few of them.

I do a lot of event work for DU, and two Alien Bee B800s with 42" shoot-thru umbrellas do the trick every time...
2012 August Hood Presentation-41 by Daniels at University of Denver, on Flickr
Thanks justsomedude. No offense taken. I understand the whole principle between light softness and distance and size. I'm fairly new to flashes but went to school for video and so the same principles apply for most things including this. The reason I was asking was I wasn't sure if there was an issue with the angle of the box not being wide enough. So it sounds like just about any box will work, I just might have to put it back further (which I understand hardens the light, but it'll still obviously be bigger than my gary fong on camera thus it'll still be an upgrade).
Canon 5D Mark II, 50D, XSi, 24-105L IS, Sigma 35 1.4, Canon 40 2.8, Canon 35 2.0, Sigma 10-20, Tamron 17-50, Canon 50 1.8, 580 EXII, 430 EXII

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Re: What size Softbox
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2012, 08:42:27 PM »