Softbox review

During the last PI-Fair I incidentally found “Photoflex“, a well-known brand on the market of professional photography equipment.PHOTOFLEX manufactures, among other things, speed-flash units for all brands of cameras. They are particularly known for their softboxes, roadflags and umbrellas. EYES On Media (importer for Photoflex in the Netherlands)) gave us several devices to test: a Halfdome 39×140 cm, an Octodome 139cm and a silver umbrella of 180 cm. Yes, that’s right: a 180 cm umbrella. An umbrella to diffuse light

180 cm

Photoflex Umbrella

I never was a big fan of umbrellas. At workshops and courses I used to tell my audience that they were only good for when it’s raining. However, having worked with this 180cm monster umbrella really has made me a convert. With an umbrella of that size, it’s as if you have a huge sun behind you. When you want to shoot a group of people or a model into certain scene, all you have to do is unfold the umbrella and the entire scene is more distinctively lighted up. Needless to say, the lightspread you get from an umbrella this size is enormous. The outside of the umbrella is black and the inner part is silver, rendering the light beautifully soft, which gradually fades towards the periphery of you scene. It’s as if the light diffuses to the outer perimeter, comparable to a graduated filter, which gives a nice effect on the whole picture.

Aiki

Aiki

By using a silver reflective layer you get a few more notches of brightness than using a white one. At approximately €108 it certainly is a good buy, considering quality and in comparison to similar brands. The stiffeners are made out of fiberglass, which is very flexible and strong. Octodome and Halfdome (Striplight) most flash manufacturers produce softboxes that only fit their own flash devices. Usually there are adaptors to make the softboxes compatible with any other brand. While Photoflex makes their own flashes, their softboxes are compatible with all brands. I, myself, connected a Halfdome Medium (Striplight) and a Octodome Medium to my Elinchrom flashes to test this out. Let us start with the Halfdome Medium; it comes with both an indoor and outdoor diffuser plus a mask for reducing the lightspread towards the outer edges.The quality of the fabric is very solid. The seams of the material allow for no light leaking through at all. Assembly of the softboxes is quick and easy; by means of a patented system, the stiffeners are attached on the outside of the softbox.

Halfdome 130 cm

Halfdome 130 cm

Octodome 150 cm

Octodome 150 cm

The same goes for the Octodome, which is available in a heat-resistant version to allow for continuous lighting, which is ideal for filming. Many other brands of softboxes can’t endure the sustained heat from these light sources, causing the material to burn or the seams to fall apart, resulting in light leaking everywhere. The inexpensive Chinese brands of softboxes usually tend to have such problems, which occur even when not fully heated. Many a photographer probably thinks that a softbox is a softbox, no matter what brand, but that is definitely not true. I always work with Elinchrom and therefore am used to a certain level of quality. The same goes for the Photoflex softboxes. Octodome is 150 cm and gives a brilliant soft light with a good contrast. The inner side can be fitted with a gold reflection, a standard option included in the package, though you should be aware that the golden hue won’t dominate. Set your camera to natural colours otherwise it gets too much. By assembling and disassembling the softboxes you will get the hang of things and then it becomes very easy for you to set it up. The combination of Striplight and Octodome is ideal for making portraits, for groups, glamour, lingerie, product and fashion photography. Certainly, the large Octodome gives an especially beautiful soft light rich that is full in contrast, because the light seems to come out as if in a semi-circle, draping the model and giving the whole a nice effect.

Glamour setup

Glamour setup

Octodome & Halfdome

Octodome & Halfdome

The Striplight hangs above the model lengthwise in order to accentuate her/his figure. The Octodome provides light that accentuates the face and shoulders. It is also possible to work with a Hairlight or a Rimlight, but we will explore that subject next time, when we fit the softboxes with Grids. Photoflex also makes these Grids and at a fraction of the cost of similar ones from Chimera and Lighttools. For more information about these products, first check out the Photoflex website and if you want to order, go to the EYES ON MEDIA website.