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umbrella type light modifiers
Old 08-02-2007, 11:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I have really been straining myself over what to buy for light modifiers. I've thought abot a medium and small Chimera shallow type boxes but wonder how much better the light would be over the super pro's or a photoflex white box. I also thought about a 45 inch umbrella, or other brella type units, such as a brolly or an octobox. I know one need various tools to do various jobs.

I, myself have four small white umbrellas to light BG with, due to space restrictions. I bought two 36" (I think) to light bg's in a wider room then where I've been shooting (and being less the extra lights I had available to me). Outside of those, I have a 22" strip and a 40 some odd strip. and some honeycomb grids for the AB reflectors.

I understand the umbrellas are going to have a hotspot and falloff to the edges. I'm kind of interested in the Westscott Master's Brush umbrella, which has a silver center and white middle and a black border. but I don't know if this is going to be too specular. And I don't know much about brollies and what kind of light they throw.

also don't know what the advantage is of an octobox over a square one. If anyone is willing to give me a clue here, i sure would appreciate it.
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Re: umbrella type light modifiers
Old 08-03-2007, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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A brolly box is essentially a shoot-through umbrella. It is, however, more efficient than an umbrella because the back is closed. The inside of the closed back is either white or silver so that it redirects any light hitting it back through the front. Being essentially a shoot-through umbrella, it throws light in a wide, generally undirected pattern. If you've ever used a shoot-through umbrella in conjunction with the standard (generally a 7") reflector that comes with most heads then you've seen what a brolly box gives you.

Umbrellas, especially when used as a bounce, actually throw pretty even lighting over a broad area. The Westcott Master's Brush umbrella is an exception. It is designed to fall off rapidly from center to edge, allowing you more control over where you project your light.

The differences between the Chimera Super Pro and Super Pro Shallow boxes are subtle. Chimera will tell you that the Shallow boxes sacrifice a little bit of light quality and evenness in order to make a shallower box - useful in tight locations. Fundamentally, if you look at the profile of a regular softbox, the construction forms a parabolic shape. That parabolic shape is what contributes greatly to the efficiency, evenness, and softness of the box. The shallow box compromises that parabolic shape. All of that being said, you'd most likely have to shoot with the two boxes side-by-side in order to tell the difference.

The biggest difference between an octagonal box and a rectangular box of similar size is the shape of the light source. You get round or square highlights on reflective surfaces and round or square catch lights in a person's eyes. From a surface area standpoint, a 5' octagonal box (~19.5 square feet) sits between a 3'x4' rectangular box (12 sq ft.) and a 4'x6' rectangular box (24 sq ft.). I wouldn't say that one type is inherently advantageous over the other.

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