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Thread: Softbox comparison please - need knowledge to make decision

  1. #1
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    Softbox comparison please - need knowledge to make decision

    I want a softbox for use in my lounge room studio to take half to full length portraits of one model.

    So I'm looking around and since I have Paul C Buff Alien Bees it make sense for me to look at their products first.

    Here is the link to their range of softboxes, available from their Australian outlet in Queensland...

    http://paulcbuff.com.au/cms/index.ph...id=25&Itemid=1

    I'm interested in the Giant Soft. I think I should be able to take a nice full length portrait with feathered light and intend masking it for half length or thereby converting it into a smaller softbox or maybe even a strip box. Will this be effective?

    The main reason I am asking this is that this range of softboxes is different to the ones I have seen. They are collapsible - a new idea I think. They open like an umbrella. They appear a lot shallower than others I have seen and I am wondering if their shallowness is a deficit or whether it doesn't matter.

    Your knowledge may be just what I need to make a good decision.
    Last edited by mal from cessnock; 19-04-2011 at 8:08pm. Reason: after
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    Cheers, Mal

    crafthouse images - my Flickr

    Canon EOS 5DM3, 7D and a modest collection of "L" goodies

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    Hi, I own the medium PCB softbox, and I have shot quite a few models with it. I like the light and the ease of erecting and collapsing it as I don't have an area I can leave setup all the time as a studio. I find the light from it is amazing and have received many comments in feedback to that effect. The rule with a softbox is that it can't be further than 2 times it's diagonal, so knowing that the only real difference in light is if you take it further than that. Obviously a larger box can be moved further away using that rule. The other benefit in a much larger box is the quality of the wrapping light, but that is more the size and not shape, especially if you ensure you include the middle baffle (whatever it's called).

    I really like mine as it gives me 3 distinctly different lighting effects all depending on the material attached and am really liking the results with only the middle baffle and leaving of the outside skin.

    I think you could do a lot worse even with more expensive products and for a lounge room studio, these are excellent. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.

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    Allann, thanks a lot for your comments. Can you go further and tell me whether my desire to buy the GIANT one and mask it when I need a medium or a strip softbox. Is it fair (or workable) to compromise like this?

    Thanks again...

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    When it comes to light, the way you manipulate it to gain you the desired effect comes from practice and the knowledge of how your particular combination works and position it is placed with respect to your subject. Much like your camera and lens combo, you need to learn their sweet spots etc. For example, positioning the model close to a large softbox leading edge will produce a totally different look to the middle and trailing edges. Two people can own exactly the same combo and produce vastly different work. The main benefit of a really large softbox is the quality of the wrapping light, so reducing that will definitely change that, but in what way I couldn't say.
    That said, I have used flags, and positioned the models at different spots along the light creating different fall-off and contrast effects. It may work but they are designed to bounce light in a specific way, i suppose it could be like using a large flag in a way, but I think you would struggle to feather the light, to one specifically designed for that purpose. I suppose it's a little like the old saying, you can use a screwdriver like a chisel, but it won't give you the same quality work.

    A stripbox, octabox, or softbox will all give you light on the model, it's the WAY that they do it that makes each useful for different scenarios.

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    Just had a comprehensive look at your Smugmug and Blog - nice work. Couple of special ones there - love the ?finches (I'm not up on my bird names), a particularly good one of a ship wreck, up close and with wide angle and the one of the group of soldiers on the hill taken from ground level right - a classic pose. I didn't notice any Blog comments. Two of my daughters have just started blogs and it seems family and one close friend are the only ones to read their devoted efforts - here's one for you checkout if that be your want - http://onpassionandorangecordial.blogspot.com/

    Thank you for taking the time to provide such a comprehensive response - I get it now and thanks to you I am able to make a much better buying decision. Thanks Allan.

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    No probs, I'm still a complete novice when it comes to setting up the lights, and manage to get a few keepers, but every time I "play" teaches me something new. Studio lighting has definitely given me a new insight into how light behaves and is translating to approaching "natural" light portraiture differently too. When I first started photography, people kept telling me not to shoot into the sun, but my fav portraits use the sun as a hair light from behind! It is after all a VERY SMALL light source.

    Re the Blog, I haven't really done much with it, and to my knowledge have no followers so it'll be removed soon as I don't really have the time to dedicate to it.

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