I enjoy shooting with small flashes because it's just easier to travel with and set up. I can practically pull a three piece lighting kit out of a backpack. The problem you'll run into with small flashes is trying to diffuse it with light modifiers. Softboxes are a popular choice for portrait and beauty photographers, but normally you need to decide on the proper speedring - Broncolor, Elinchrom, Bowens, Calumet, Alien Bees? The list goes on and on. The Westcott Apollo Orb octagon softbox (above) is perfect for portable flashes (speedlites), but can also be used with larger studio strobes without speedring adapters. The umbrella-like design sets up quick and is easier for Photographers who travel and need to shoot on location. A slit in the bottom of the softbox allows the stand to be placed through the center covering the entire flash unit. Unfortunately besides being too big at 43" inches, the $130 dollar softbox is also out of stock.
32" Umbrella Softbox for Portable Speedlite Flash
Searching around for the equivalent, I happened upon one company making a smaller (similar) design at about 32" and obviously only runs for one quarter of the Apollo price. Needless to say, i'm already all over it and ordered myself a few pieces. (light stand and flash bracket not included). Remember that once you have your flashes tucked away, in order to fire them off, you'll need at least a good cheap set of wireless triggers like the Yongnuo RF-603s (found here). There are also rectangular versions of this speedlite softbox, that also opens up just as easy as an umbrella.
Umbrella Softbox Brolly Reflector
You can find these clever Octagon softboxes following the link (click here).
Octagon Umbrella Softbox for Portable Studio Flash
Just left this comment on a newer post about octagon-shaped softboxes, but I was looking for this post, so I'll repost my comment here:
"I picked up on of these 80cm octagon umbrellas and it looked great at first. We were on a shoot on Friday and I actually hand-held it with a z96 inside, worked great. After we were done with it, I noticed to my great disappointment that two of the ribs were significantly bent. I tried to bend them back, but quickly realized that the thin metal of the ribs was now permanently fatigued and beyond repair. I realize that at $30 a pop, we’re not talking about the greatest quality here, but I certainly didn’t expect a major failure without cause. Pretty disappointed!"
Quick Octagon Softbox » CheesyCam
Mine just arrived. My intention was to try it with my ePhoto 500 LED Panel. It works, with a caveat. The fixture itself blocks about a third of the surface of the diffuser. There's also no built in way to mount the umbrella to the fixture or light stand, but I was able to attach it with a simple pressure clip. Compared to the Coollight softbox it's much more diffused, since it's bounced. Another drawback is that if you want to adjust the light in any way, you have to remove the difusion to get to it. But for $30 it's a pretty good deal. I wish they made one even bigger.
anyone try these with multi cfl continuous lights?
you rock dude. thanks a million.
@Michael - If you want to practice indoor studio type photography a basic three light kit would do fine. Alienbees are awesome little lights and powerful, but they run a little high for most people. Calumet has some inexpensive starter kits like the Genesis stuff or (Calumet Brand) Travel Light Kits.
When shopping for lights, you should be familiar with some features. The better lights can recharge faster, have options to dial in power, have consistent color with each flash burst, options for wireless triggers, options for external battery packs (out in the field), speed rings for future light modifiers like softboxes, beauty dishes, etc. Unless you're doing some crazy big stuff, a small 375watt head is pretty strong. The larger 750watt heads are heavier to travel with, and you won't always use them at that full power setting.
The Alien Bees stuff has plenty of options to upgrade modifiers, battery packs, and consistent color, which is why they would cost more. You might also want to learn about small flashes like Speedlites. You can do a lot with it, if you learn them. Strobist has excellent information on off camera flash photography stuff.
Em, as someone who has never dabbled in photography (but would like to), what's a great beginners setup for a lighting kit?
I was looking for something like this, and I can use it with bulb holders for CFL's for video shooting as well! Excellent.
I'm gunna try. for thirty bucks. its worth the attempt.
You need to link to ones made with grids with some information that might be useful like baffles and grid degree.
Does anybody think that this would work for the 500 LED lights? I need a softener or difusion for the 500leds. Any suggestions?
I have played with both since my sister has them in her shop. The Apollo are much much deeper, and push out a more direct light, as per the ebay versions are a bit wider so the light spreads more.
Not a bad price for what it can do.
wow. that's uber conveiant. just got a 70x70 square for
$30 bucks. I'm gunna attach my 270 led light to it.