Difference between umbrella and softbox
Umbrellas vs Softbox:
When it comes to portrait photography lighting, many new portrait photographers are not aware of the differences between using an umbrella and using a light box. These novice portrait photographers are under the impression that light boxes somehow function with some magic portrait lighting quality that umbrellas do not. Therefore, this article presents the differences between using umbrellas and using light boxes when it comes to lighting for portrait photography.
What is Umbrella?
An umbrella will almost certainly be ones first light mod. (It is included in the jump starter kits we linked to before.) If the flash as a very brief-but-powerful flashlight and like a flashlight the business end of the flash is only about two square inches in area. The umbrella’s distinct advantage is portability and mobility. There are also different types of umbrellas. A shoot-through is a translucent white umbrella, which the light shoots through and onto the subject. The umbrella shaft is pointed away from the subject, thereby reducing any chances of it accidentally injuring the subject. The other type is a reflective umbrella, where the light shoots into, and then bounces back onto the subject. This type of umbrella inevitably has its shaft pointing at the subject, so the photographer can’t really go in as close as a shoot-through umbrella would allow. The closer the photographer gets to the subject, the softer the light. As the light wraps around the subject, it reduces harsh shadows. A white umbrella is normally best to use for indoor photography. This needs to be open when using it to achieve a softer glow. To use it, the photographer has to shoot light directly through the umbrella for a softer appearance. The black/silver umbrella, on the other hand, is utilized to brighten the subject. This is not just pure black as it’s a combination of black on the outside and silver on the inside. What one does with this type of umbrella is direct light on the silver or inner part of the tool so that it brightens the subject. Take note that despite light directed on the subject, the umbrella helps in preventing a washed out image. For a brighter image, the best technique is to use a combination of the white and black/silver umbrella. This will enable to eliminate the shadow and make the subject look glowing.
What is softbox?
A softbox is a box that fits over a flash head or tungsten lamp made of black sides, with white, gold or silver interior and a translucent front where light passes through. A softbox is most popular for it’s soft, even light. Softboxes are used heavily in portrait photography and many other types of commercial photography. The light that comes from a softbox is directional and diffused making it a light that is easy to control. The Softbox eliminates hot spots and evenly distributes the light as well (see photos below). Accessory grids can be attached to the front of the softbox to keep light from spilling onto unwanted areas of the scene. Softboxes come in various sizes for different lighting circumstances. The larger the light source is relative to the subject, the softer the light will be. In addition, the closer a softbox is to the subject, the softer the light will be. For this reason, small softboxes are typically used for small object photography or for dramatic lighting of larger objects. Larger softboxes are most often used for people photography. A soft box can be used with either flash or continuous light sources such as fluorescent lamps or “hot lights” such as quartz halogen bulbs or tungsten bulbs. If soft box lights are used with “hot” light sources, the user must be sure the soft box is heat rated for the wattage of the light it is attached to in order to avoid fire hazard.
What is the difference between Softbox and Umbrella?
Both umbrella and Softbox have their own features and are both used by artists in their studios as neither is a perfect foil for all lighting requirements. One thing is for sure; umbrella is a lot inexpensive and easier to carry and set up than Softbox. Just get hold of a light stand and an umbrella holder to make up the unit and you are ready with a light modifier that costs less than $50. Not only is umbrella very flexible, it spreads light uniformly. Because of its spread, umbrella is great for group portraits. Umbrellas throw light in all directions, and you cannot hope to control it. However, they are so simple, cheap and portable that one cannot resist the charm of an umbrella. A softbox produces a beautiful diffused light but is more directional in nature. A softbox is much easier to feather light onto or off of a subject or area of environment. Umbrellas are also the most difficult to control and produce the most spill. If you use too much light with them, unlike with softboxes, you will wash out some elements of your photos. Also, if you are not extremely careful, you will get a small black centre in the catch light in your subject’s eyes. However, softboxes are the most expensive option. In most cases, they are also hard to setup (especially when compared to umbrellas and brolly boxes), making use of them on location difficult. Quick setup softboxes are available, but the standard assembly softboxes offer you more versatility.
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