Deeppara90 "Parabolic reflector" and central focusing pole thoughts and mini review

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Scrollop Contributing Member • Posts: 772
Deeppara90 "Parabolic reflector" and central focusing pole thoughts and mini review
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I bought this "Deep parabolic" reflector on sale, decided to test it out to compare it to other modifiers, and am sharing the results to anyone who is interested (it's long and maybe pointless).

"Parabolic" reflectors have been discussed here before:

Glow 28" deep parabolic softbox

Godox P120L -
A long discussion , including a good description by MayaTlab0

The conclusions are typically that there is no such thing as a true parabolic reflector for photography, though they can be very versatile and useful (especially for edgier fashion looks that have more definition that beauty dishes).

I can imagine that a "perfect" parabola shaped reflector wouldn't be that useful for photography - the light would be very hard (similar to light from the sun, also essentially parallel rays) (Karl Taylor, who uses 3 Broncolor Paras, usually doesn't use them "focused" due to the harder quality of the light, but slightly defocused), and, instead, the current models available (including these "deep parabolic reflectors") may be more useful for photographers (so no need to criticize these for not being "perfect" parabolas, though one could criticize the manufacturers for using incorrect terms and confusing buyers).

They can be expensive:

https://www.parabolixlight.com/product-page/parabolix-35-reflector $399

http://www.brieselichttechnik.de/en/tungsten/products-overview/focus/focus-85.html POA - I think it's over $6000 (can't find an accurate price)

https://www.adorama.com/bcb3348200.html $2000 reflector only

The Deeppara90 appears to be the Godox Godox P90L 35" Deep Parabolic Softbox. It usually sells for around £260 (I bought it on sale).

The construction of the softbox appears robust. Assembly can take a bit of time if the rods escape the ringlets within the reflector (though one would make that mistake once, I'd say). The 16 rods click into place and are otherwise quite quick (a couple of minutes).

The central pole and bracket are of good quality, thought there is a bit of movement when assembled on a stand where the mount is attached to the bracket.

A major design issue of the central pole/bracket, is that the focusing rod only allows the light to move aprox 20cm from the apex of the reflector. When viewing videos of the para 88 in use, the light is able to be moved quite close to the apex - closer to the theoretical focal point of the reflector. Here's a calculator to calculate the focal distance for a parabola.

Luckily, the back of the focusing rod can be screwed off, then two screws can be removed from the movable rod and the light can then be moved to within 10 cm of the apex.

AD600 remote head on the central pole in an extended ("defocused") position.

AD600 head on the modified central pole in a fully retracted position.

The deeppara90 appears to approximate a parabola near the apex.

Did they make it "deeper" intentionally to create specific light patterns for certain looks, or because it's difficult to design a closer approximation to a parabola (not that that is necessarily an ideal for practical photography)?

My purpose here is to give light pattern examples of this reflector compared to others in use for anyone considering purchasing it.

Karl Taylor has a useful 1.5 hour tutorial on "parabolic reflectors", specifically the Broncolor Para range. He swears by them over softboxes and beauty dishes for his type of fashion work.

Following are photos of the deeppara90 in use in different configurations, compared to softboxes and a beauty dish.

The stand is 225cm from the wall. Strobe is an AD600, using the remote head.

Light meter used (at the center of the painting) to change the strobe power to achieve F4 at a constant 1/250 ISO 100.

1. deeppara90, light as close as possible to "apex", aprox 10cm, Strobe power at 1/64. Compare with the broncolor para 88, below.

2. Aprox 12cm from the apex, strobe at 1/64 +0.3

3. aprox 15cm from apex, strobe at 1/32

4. 18cm, 1/32 + 0.7

5. 23cm, 1/32 + 0.7

6. 27cm, 1/16

7. 32cm, 1/16 + 0.3

8. 42cm, 1/16 + 0.7

9. 51cm, 1/16 + 0.7

A. Screen capture from a Karl Taylor video: Broncolor para 88 "focused"

B. Screen capture from a Karl Taylor video: Broncolor para 88 "defocused"

C. Screen capture from a Karl Taylor video: Broncolor para 88 "defocused" more

10- Deeppara90 not reversed (ie. mounted "normally" with the AD600 facing the wall at 1/256 +0.7

11. 120cm Bare octabox with no diffusion panels fitted (AD600 head facing the wall at 1/32 + 0.7 (F4)

12. 90cmx60cm Bare softbox (no diffusion panels) vertical position with the AD600 head at 1/32+0.7

13. 55cm white beauty dish at 225cm from the wall, AD600 head at 1/16 0.3

14. 13. 55cm white beauty dish at 127cm from the wall, AD600 head at 1/32

15. 13. 55cm whte beauty dish WITH GRID at 225cm from the wall, AD600 head at 1/8 + 0.7

16. 120cm Bare octabox with the AD600 head reverse mounted (using the pole and bracket from the deeppara90), fully in, aprox 9cm, AD600 head at 1/16 + 0.3

17. As per 16, though at 19cm from the apex of the octabox, 1/32 + 0.3

18. as per 17. though at 28cm, 1/32 +0.3

The beauty dish plus grid gives the most similar appearance (on the wall) to the "focused" deeppara90. It would be interesting to compare the use of these two on live subjects, of course (the final purpose of this long comparison, which I haven't done yet), though if we assume that the deeppara90 produces a proportion of parallel light beams near the centre of the light (as seen before), is it similar for the beauty dish and grid? Likely not (as the grid is removing rays that are more scattered, so, theoretically, not many of the rays may be parallel, just at the right angle to pass through the grid - though please correct me if this is incorrect). The most important test is how they compare on people, and how they dfine shadow falloff/contouring etc.

Also, to achieve the same aperture centrally, the beauty dish and grid requires approx 2.3 stops more power than the deeppara90 focused (and the falloff is wider with the deeppara90).

In Karl Taylors tutorial he gives an example of a pair of sunglasses that he photographed for a client with a Broncolor Para:

He emphasises the double shadow seen of the arms of the glasses, which spreads out as the reflector is defocused.

Broncolor Para focused from photo left; a bit difficult to see the sharp double shadow.

Broncolor para defocused, from photo left. THe shadow is spread out.

I've tried to duplicate this effect as below (even though it may be ridiculous to compare a £200 modifier to a £4000 modifier and that this test may not mean anything).

1. Beauty dish with grid from photo left; Double shadow of the glasses' arm; AD600 head at 1/64 +0.7

2. Deeppara90 "focused" at 10cm producing a simialar effect (a bnit further away and slightly different height as I had to tinker as it's much larger than a beauty dish)' AD600 head at 1/256 + 0.7

3. Deeppara90 at around 15cm 1/128 + 0.3

4. Deeppara90 at 32cm 1/64 +0.3

5. Deeppara90 at 43cm from the apex, 1/64

This specific effect is similar for the beauty dish and "focused" deeppara90, and the "defocused" deeppara90 effect is in the same ballpark to that of the Broncolor, I would say.

I'm not claiming, of course, that the deeppara90 is a true parabolic reflector (there aren't any, as per the previous discussions), and also that it's in the same league of quality of light as the expensive versions, however, it does seem to be an interesting modifier (even without testing its uses as a softbox).

From what I've found in my limited, sterile, non-scientific scenarios, my beauty dish with grid gives the most similar light falloff on the wall to the "focused" (I know it's not really focused) deeppara90 - it appears that the beauty dish has a more tightly definied main light pattern, with the deeppara90 having falloff that falls further, however the central area is brighter than that of the beauty dish and it uses 2 stops less power for the same central f stop.

Need to use it and compare it on live subjects, of course, as everything I've written here is more theoretical than practical, though it's a start.

From what I've seen, it seems that this modifier may be interesting to use in scenarios where you need more directional light, that it may sculpt features more than other modifiers (one or the reasons Karl Taylor preferred paras, not that this is quite the same), and that being able to defocus it may provide versatility (that I need to experiment with).

I haven't used it enough to give it a rating but am forced to so am recording an arbitrary 3.5 stars.

This post is likely full of holes, though I hope that it gives some information for people interested in the product.

Scrollop's score
3.5
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