Parabolic reflectors in the studio

Started Jan 21, 2018 | Discussions thread
OP Serjojeee Contributing Member • Posts: 908
Re: Parabolic reflectors in the studio

MayaTlab0 wrote:

Serjojeee wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

Serjojeee wrote:

Sailor Blue wrote:

There was an extensive discussion about parabolic reflectors only a month ago. You should take the time to read through it.

DPReview - Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

Thanks, I've read that already. That was kinda scientific theoretical discussion and I wanted some feedback from users. And as I see there are none of them here)

The PCB PLMs are about as close to a true umbrella type parabolic reflector as you can find. I suggest you ask your question on the PCB Technical Forum.

Paul C. Buff, Inc. Technical Forum

PCB umbrellas are not sold in russia, so I'm mostly speaking about broncolor/briese big brothers...

Walimex imports PCB products to Europe, but it is a distribution channel that isn't officially recognised by PCB. They don't ship to Russia, but perhaps them being in the EU could help for importation. You can also use freight forwarders, but the whole process is a major PITA.

But anyway the soft silver PLM is quite a different animal from current deep silver umbrellas, if only because of the material used. Light quality is quite different honestly.

The extreme silver is more comparable, but is no longer manufactured. Another alternative : Cotswoldphoto, on Ebay. But they no longer ship to France, so I don't know if they do to Russia. Cactus silver umbrellas and Phottix para-pro umbrellas shift WB too much to be recommended IMO.

In general pseudo-parabolic umbrellas are a dying breed. PCB used to sell six models (3 sizes in 2 materials), now down to 2 only (in 1 material, soft silver), and no one else has copied them quite as excellently. So IMO it's a good idea to prepare for their eventual extinction and find appropriate solutions with deep silver umbrellas :D.

Broncolor / Briese modifiers are a completely different class of modifiers for various reasons. Personally I don't call them umbrellas, but opinions differ on the correct terminology. Way more versatile than cheap umbrellas, a lot more useful in their defocused positions, way better build quality, a lot heavier, more setup-heavy.

Hi there!

Who regularly use parabolic reflectors and umbrellas in the studio?

There is debate regarding if a PCB PLM soft silver can be called parabolic, as its material scatters light a little bit, but that's what I use most of the time. I don't have (yet) a studio but don't shoot much in exteriors as well.

What's your setup - are you using them mostly as one light, or main light,

Both. Very often as one light, with reflectors. One of the reasons I like materials that scatter light a little bit with these modifiers is that they provide a bit more light to the sides for reflectors to actually work.

at a distance or close enough to the model?

Both. As you probably already know that means changing the strobe to umbrella distance as subject to umbrella distance changes.

How are you dealing with the spill

With... *rolling drums* a spill kill reflector (if applicable - since I use Profoto's lights with a recessed tube it isn't required most of the time) !

, a hotspot, if you bring your umbrellas to the studio? Here in SPb studios mostly use Hensel and Profoto monoblocks. My profoto copy deep umbrellas prefer deep mount in the Hensel for it's open flash tube design but spill is a problem in colored rooms.

If you want to both light the outside of a deep silver umbrella by shoving a flash head with a reasonably exposed flash tube close to the sliding runner, and kill bare flash tube spill, it isn't exactly easy, isn't it ? Most brands' umbrella / spill kill reflectors were designed for the sort of umbrellas available decades ago, not the more modern breed of 16-sided ones with fibreglass rods. One of the many reasons why I'm very critical of the deep silver umbrella concept. Have you tried using a bit of cinefoil ?

Broncolor heads on their own paras have a similar problem. In some positions you can have a bit of bare flash tube side spill. It's less a problem with Profoto's Pro / Acute heads because of the mount. When assisting I've seen or used several solutions if that proved a problem (not that often as usually Broncolor para = big studio and packs with plenty of power to spare). One of them was to flag the flash tube just right with cinefoil.

Not mentioned here so far is how these modifiers interact with diffusion covers. It's a combo I frequently use with the soft silver PLM as it behaves pretty much like an octabox, only more efficient (since only one diffusion layer is required to evenly light it).

PCB PLM + diffusion cover

There are numerous silver parabolic imported from China. None of them are using soft silver material. And my copy of profoto deep silver 51" is giving me nice light with open tube as close to the ribs as possible. Deep mount kills most of the spill and the inner part of the umbrella is defocused in this position. So it's something like Broncoloc 133 para in defocused position. And I'm starting to think that I need 65" for full body work. And I think that I should move to better studios with Broncolor paras to test them ) So here I'm mostly for some tips from users. Thanks for your reply! And imho true parabolic reflectors are too hard for photography - both briese and broncolor are scattering the light very much, from true parabolic reflector you'll see the light only from one point of the reflector and both of those are not even close to that. Therefore I don't care about the naming but care for the light quality.

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