After I purchased my flashes I knew I was going to need some kind of modifiers to adjust the really harsh light typical of speedlights, but I wasn’t sure what was going to be my first modifier. A lot of blogs recommended various types of umbrellas but I always liked the softbox look a bit more (it’s hard to argue with the practicality that an umbrella provides, though). Unfortunately finding softboxes that also work with speedlights and are affordable can sometimes be a bit difficult (usually I found the box but no bracket or the bracket but no box and combining them often got a bit pricey) but I did come across umbrella softboxes on a few lighting websites that seemed to deliver the quality of light I was after. Once I settled on these hybrid softbox/umbrellas, I went on the hunt for a reputable eBay seller that also offered them at a fair price (I paid approx. €20/piece for mine) and chose Lightupfoto (they also have a large selection of other modifiers to choose from). I was really worried about the quality, though, because they were selling for so cheap and even came with free shipping, but I figured what the hell – they’re not that expensive and the seller has good reviews for all of their products. The only hitch with buying them affordably on eBay is that they come from China (what doesn’t?) and shipping could take up to 4-6 weeks. Shipping was more often than not free but still… that’s a long time to wait. Again, to hell with it. I went ahead and purchased two of the biggest softboxes that were available, namely the 60cm x 90cm model.
Today, I came home from my friends’ new hair salon and we were talking about doing a bit of photo business together and I mentioned that I wouldn’t really be able to do anything until my umbrellas arrived. Quite the bit of irony because when I came home they were ready and waiting to be unpacked! The original estimated delivery date was between 22 April and14 May, which was more or less in line with what the seller said on the product’s page but they actually arrived early!
My worries, however, were entirely unfounded – the softboxes are built quite well, especially given the price. There are certainly more expensive models out there that I am sure are built to a higher degree of quality, but these are more than satisfactory. Each umbrella comes with its own little bag and they fold up to be quite compact. The white diffuser that stretches across the front is also well done. None of it feels cheap, either (well, the bags are a bit cheaply made…). I’ve held professional-grade stuff before, though, and you can certainly tell the difference but these are just fine and the light in the few test shots I made is great – nice and soft just like I wanted. First impressions are key and these have done a very good job of impressing me. There are a few more photos over on the product page I linked to above and they match exactly what I got in the mail.
The shot above is what my lighting setup currently looks like (excuse the crooked lines, my apartment is quite old and nothing is really straight anymore). I have three Wallimex stands of varying height, three umbrella brackets that I bought in the USA from B&H and three Yongnuo 560III flashes. Not a bad beginner setup, especially since I can control it all wirelessly. The shot below is of my unmodified 560III with the two softboxes firing on it – I am absolutely in love with this soft light. I wish my fiance was feeling healthier so I could have a human model to stand in for me!
EDIT: The photo below is an example of the quality of light that the softbox throws out. There are plenty of reviews on Yongnuo flashes out there, I don’t think I need to add to the noise, but the light from the box is really soft. I did a few shots where I held the camera in front of me and made a few quick shots like that from different angles and they all came out nicely. Not posting those photos, though…