Silver surface differences

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,816
Re: Silver surface differences

226Photo wrote:

What is the real difference in the quality of light from those two surfaces?

As already said, beaded silver will scatter light more so than the more mirror-like silver.

This has several implications, some of which have already been discussed here.

I'll add some direct comparisons, with shallow silver umbrellas. Glow's lineup uses a different "beaded silver" material from Paul Buff's PLMs (and the latter has recently changed) and of course they're deep (big implication for the effective width of the light source vs. shallow silver umbrellas) but you'll get the general idea.

Since beaded silver scatters light more, you'll get more light outside of its natural beam angle. You can see in the photos below that while the "soft silver" (in Paul Buff PLM parlance) sends most of its light in a rather tight cone not that much larger than the cone the extreme projects, the surrounding walls are brighter than the "extreme silver" version. This may increase fill a bit depending on the room you're in, and reduces efficiency.

These results presume that you've effectively killed the bare flash tube spill.

A very big difference is how the light source looks like from your subject's point of view. Because these are fabric reflectors they're made of flat panels. Only the centre of the individual panels, half-way between the ribs, is properly oriented to effectively bounce light back towards the subject. On a 16 sided umbrella, this means that you basically get 16 smaller light sources instead of a large one. It still considerably softens the light, but can produce multiple, stepped shadows and significantly change the look of reflective surfaces on your subject. A good beaded silver umbrella would avoid that problem to some extent.

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