umbrella or softbox for travelling?

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions
littlegrumpy
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umbrella or softbox for travelling?
Apr 11, 2013

hi,
for my next travels i want to take some lighting equipment with me. i would be interested to hear what people's experiences are regarding the use of umbrellas versus softboxes.
i assume softboxes are more sturdy and withstand wind a little bit better, on the other hand, umbrellas are easier to carry.
what are your experiences, and what equipment do you take with you on outdoor shoots?
i am also particularly interested in the practicalities of carrying that equipment around when travelling. can you take the softboxes/umbrellas and light stands onboard a plane as hand luggage etc...
(in my case i am talking about an ezybox hotshoe 24' softbox and a small umbrella)
thanks,
markus

LeoG
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 11, 2013

I have pick up the new westcott rapid box 26"

It's quick and easy. Folds like a umbrella and 26" give good coverage

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Luke Kaven
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 11, 2013

Among several options, the Photek Softlighter gives you some of the best of both worlds, and travels very well.

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hotdog321
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 11, 2013

I like softboxes in the studio, but umbrellas in the field. It takes about five seconds to set up or tear down an umbrella, plus I just stuff it in with the stands. If outdoors, I do anchor the stand, but you have to do that with a softbox, too.

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Sailor Blue
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 12, 2013

Another umbrella opening softbox for hot-shoe flash that is getting good reviews is from B&H.

Impact Quikbox Softbox (24 x 24") EBO-0602424 B&H Photo

Impact Quikbox Softbox Kit (24 x 24") B&H Photo Video

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diyphotographystuff
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to Sailor Blue, Apr 12, 2013

I don't take light diffusers with me when I travel, I think that opening studio equipment in a church will kill spontaneous images...

However, if you want to take something with you, I'd get a cheap (but great) eBay stuff, like those:

<a target="_blank" href="http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=9&pub=5575021400&toolid=10001&campid=5337310915&customid=1&icep_uq=umbrella+softbox&icep_sellerId=&icep_ex_kw=&icep_sortBy=12&icep_catId=&icep_minPrice=&icep_maxPrice=&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg">umbrella softbox</a><img style="text-decoration:none;border:0;padding:0;margin:0;" src="http://rover.ebay.com/roverimp/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?ff3=9&pub=5575021400&toolid=10001&campid=5337310915&customid=1&uq=umbrella+softbox&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]">

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littlegrumpy
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to diyphotographystuff, Apr 12, 2013

thanks for the replies so far.
yes, i know, using lighting equipment wlll be a different approach than taking spontaneous photos. and it might most likely involve some "assistant" who holds the light stand etc... so it will complicate things quite a bit.
it is an experiment and new challenge, i haven't done that before. but on my last trip (to ethiopia) i had many occasions where i would have needed additional (articifial) light.
i already bought some equipment (the lastolite ezybox hotshoe, and a lumopro umbrella), and only after i bought it, i found out that there are softboxes that fold much smaller than the one i bought. ;-(
i might return the softbox and replace it with something else... not sure yet.

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RudivanS
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to hotdog321, Apr 12, 2013

hotdog321 wrote:

I like softboxes in the studio, but umbrellas in the field. It takes about five seconds to set up or tear down an umbrella, plus I just stuff it in with the stands. If outdoors, I do anchor the stand, but you have to do that with a softbox, too.

Yes, I would agree. Transporting, setting up and packing up = hassel. Umbrellas the way to go.

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Harald10
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iPad as e-Bible?
In reply to hotdog321, Apr 12, 2013

The church is adopting new technologies: iPad as e-Bible What's next... e-Church or iChurch ?

Nice set of pictures!

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hotdog321
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In reply to Harald10, Apr 12, 2013

Thanks! High-tech was the topic of the story for The Lutheran Magazine. Fun assignment!

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chasg
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 15, 2013

Personally, I'd prefer a "softbox-like" light source vs. a brolly. I like the control and efficiency. Either a softlighter (or the lastolite version, which is easier for us to get here in the UK) or an actual softbox. I have two of the ezybox's but, for packing purposes, I think I'd prefer one of the softbox types that fold like an umbrella (I have a no-name one, but it's 150cm in diameter when open and quite chunky, a bit hard to hump in to the bush!).

My next purchase is going to be one of these beauties:

http://www.lightech-photography.com/en/prodotti/bank90x1202012-08-09-13-41-08-12012-09-13-13-28-53-29-detail.html

They're made using the same materials and techniques used to make technical mountaineering tents. When folded down, the largest octa is only as large as a hardcover book, and about the same weight. Pricey, but well worth it for that beautifully lit beautiful light

To illustrate the look, I point you to a google image search on "Joey L + Africa" (just the african stuff, any naked chicks or other erroneous results aren't what I'm talking about). He was using a big octa and powerful lights to get this look but, if you can get your subjects in to open shade, then a speedlight should give you enough power to get some nice modeling.

For travelling light stands, I always bring Manfrotto nanos (many copies out there too). Small, light(ish), and go up surprisingly high. I've carried them on to planes several times in the past.

You didn't ask, but for lights in the field, I've used speedlights (singles, and groups of three into one modifier to get power and high speed), Bowens monoblocs with TravelPacks, and Elinchrom Quadras, but I'm seriously thinking of investing in some Lencarta Li-on packs. Surprisingly versatile, I'm embarrassed to have written them off in the past (I had a chance for some hands-on testing recently).

Cheers!

Chas

littlegrumpy wrote:

hi,
for my next travels i want to take some lighting equipment with me. i would be interested to hear what people's experiences are regarding the use of umbrellas versus softboxes.
i assume softboxes are more sturdy and withstand wind a little bit better, on the other hand, umbrellas are easier to carry.
what are your experiences, and what equipment do you take with you on outdoor shoots?
i am also particularly interested in the practicalities of carrying that equipment around when travelling. can you take the softboxes/umbrellas and light stands onboard a plane as hand luggage etc...
(in my case i am talking about an ezybox hotshoe 24' softbox and a small umbrella)
thanks,
markus

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to chasg, Apr 18, 2013

I travelled with 2 double fold westcott brolly's, 2 x http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/612771-REG/Manfrotto_5001B_5001B_Nano_Black_Light.html
 and the same Ezy box.

Your remarks about the Ezybox has me telling you: LEARN HOW TO FOLD THE EZYBOX!!
FYI the Ezybox can fold REAL small and used to come with a small bag. People couldn't fold it properly and lastolite was bombarded with complaints, so they just issued it with a bigger bag.. 
Google it and Im sure you will find instructions or on youtube... The Ezy box is the perfect travellers soft box (for its opened size) 
If I remember off the top of my head, I think you close it down so you have an inverted triangle in front of you as you would to put it in its bag, then get the two points that make up the widest part of the triangle in each hand, start to bring them together like closing a book and halfway through this twist the corners intowards you, allowing them to twist and fold in on each other. Its a bit nerve wracking at first but persevere..

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Genes Pentax
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 18, 2013
If you prefer softbox light, check out Diffuser-60 and Diffuser-50 from SMDV.  The setup and take down is as quick as folding up an umbrella.  It's sturdier and gives better/softer light than an umbrella.  Carrying case makes it easy to carry around.  Super convenient.  Been using it for a few months now and they got some good reviews as well. If you prefer something even smaller, they have 40cm size also which I'm seriously considering getting for use around the house while chasing kids. 

http://www.amazon.com/Speedbox-Diffuser-50-Professional-Hexagonal-Speedlight/dp/B00AA5AWDU/ref=pd_sim_p_4

http://www.amazon.com/Speedbox-Diffuser-60-Professional-Hexagonal-Speedlight/dp/B00AA5LPT0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366256206&sr=8-1&keywords=diffuser-60

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littlegrumpy
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to Clueless Wanderer, Apr 19, 2013

thanks, chasg and clueless wanderer, for the replies. really helpful.
good to hear that i can fold the ezybox much smaller than they officially say. will try it out!!
so i can basically do what is shown in this video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=5_TTzab7DEI
how big are the chances that i will break my softbox??

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berni29
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 20, 2013

Hi

I am going to Israel on Sunday and travelling light. I am taking an Orbis ringflash for situations where I cannot bounce or need fill flash outdoors. Very simple and robust. What do you all think? I have an OMD and FL600r so can take it off camera and hold at arms length or stick it on my small tripod if necessary also.

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TristatePhoto
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 20, 2013

If you're traveling just use bare flash on a light stand or on camera for bounce flash while indoors.

I wouldn't bother with the EZbox (which I do have) unless I had an assistant to hold it while I'm shooting.

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to littlegrumpy, Apr 21, 2013

littlegrumpy wrote:

thanks, chasg and clueless wanderer, for the replies. really helpful.
good to hear that i can fold the ezybox much smaller than they officially say. will try it out!!
so i can basically do what is shown in this video?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=5_TTzab7DEI
how big are the chances that i will break my softbox??

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www.markusdrayss.com

Yeah man, you got it right (you tube)
Its all about restistance. It will resist you a little, show it who's boss But if its resisting you hard, don't force too much. Personally, I have found that the extreeme fold can twist the ribs inside the material of the wings/leading edge, but are easily coaxed back. To try and improve longevity of the Ezybox I make sure I always fold it the same way each time, using the logo badge as reference to the orientation ..

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chasg
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to Clueless Wanderer, Apr 21, 2013

Clueless, you've made a very poor assumption, I'm afraid. I'm glad that  you've figured out how to fold your Ezyboxes and feel the need to evangelize this fact, but my ezyboxes are the first generation (they only came in one size at that time), and are too small to fold further (I have a studio full of Lastolite kit, I'm well aware of how to fold it). My mistake in not making that clear to OP (apologies, OP).

I find the double-fold westcott brollies to be poorly made (I have 2): every time I fold them, the tips come off the spars, it's a huge pain to have to put them back on again every time. I'm curious, do you have this issue yourself? I like their compact size, but I would not buy again.

Chas

Clueless Wanderer wrote:

I travelled with 2 double fold westcott brolly's, 2 x http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/612771-REG/Manfrotto_5001B_5001B_Nano_Black_Light.html
 and the same Ezy box.

Your remarks about the Ezybox has me telling you: LEARN HOW TO FOLD THE EZYBOX!!
FYI the Ezybox can fold REAL small and used to come with a small bag. People couldn't fold it properly and lastolite was bombarded with complaints, so they just issued it with a bigger bag.. 
Google it and Im sure you will find instructions or on youtube... The Ezy box is the perfect travellers soft box (for its opened size) 
If I remember off the top of my head, I think you close it down so you have an inverted triangle in front of you as you would to put it in its bag, then get the two points that make up the widest part of the triangle in each hand, start to bring them together like closing a book and halfway through this twist the corners intowards you, allowing them to twist and fold in on each other. Its a bit nerve wracking at first but persevere..

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to berni29, Apr 21, 2013

berni29 wrote:

Hi

I am going to Israel on Sunday and travelling light. I am taking an Orbis ringflash for situations where I cannot bounce or need fill flash outdoors. Very simple and robust. What do you all think? I have an OMD and FL600r so can take it off camera and hold at arms length or stick it on my small tripod if necessary also.

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Berni29
OMD, + Pana 20mm & 14-45mm Oly 45mm (prev GH1, E30, E510, E1, E300)

Personally I wouldn't take my orbis travelling, I hate how many stops of light it eat's (-3.6). If I was to take it travelling I would have it on a bracket fitted to the camera making for a single package..

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Clueless Wanderer
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Re: umbrella or softbox for travelling?
In reply to chasg, Apr 21, 2013

chasg wrote:

Clueless, you've made a very poor assumption, I'm afraid. I'm glad that  you've figured out how to fold your Ezyboxes and feel the need to evangelize this fact, but my ezyboxes are the first generation (they only came in one size at that time), and are too small to fold further (I have a studio full of Lastolite kit, I'm well aware of how to fold it). My mistake in not making that clear to OP (apologies, OP).

I find the double-fold westcott brollies to be poorly made (I have 2): every time I fold them, the tips come off the spars, it's a huge pain to have to put them back on again every time. I'm curious, do you have this issue yourself? I like their compact size, but I would not buy again.

Chas

Evangelise? A question was posted and I gave my opinon.. 
I havn't had any problems with the double folds, however I have had to glue back in the center post on the Westcott Mega JS Apollo 50" soft box..  Maybe I should evangelise about how not to travel with that one

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