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

Started 9 months ago | User reviews thread
Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,601
Re: Unique qualities of paras

Nixon Glenn wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Good on ya for doing this kind of careful testing and sharing the results. I'll just add a couple of considerations that seem missing.

First, the "hardness" of light is largely determined by the size of the source as seen from the subject's position. Thus, a large focused para in close can create soft highlight/shadow transitions, despite the collimated nature of the light. I use a 5' Paul C Buff PLM this way for portraits. The light, as you say, does look "sunny", i.e. contrasty, due to the shiny silver surface of my PLM. But, it also looks soft, thanks to the large size of the PLM. This makes a fairly unique look. You don't often see contrasty and soft together, at least not indoors.

Well, it's because there is no perfect parabolic modifiers except if the surface is super smooth and mirror-like.

Of course. But, the cone of light coming out of my (discontinued) Extreme Silver 64" PLM is pretty tight at normal working distances. At 15' from the source, the circle of light only about 7', which enables good control over light reaching the backdrop. I measured the spread and did calculations and measurements, and found that exposure varied only about 1/10 stop between 3' and 6' from the source. Handy! However, if you want to use feathering at the edges of the light, this is not the mod to use, as the falloff is quite abrupt.

With PLM, which is not perfect parabolic, the light not 100% paralel. Some small part of the light is scattered and hit the shadow part which can be seen in photos I posted, where the edge of the shadow is not crisp as if using bare head strobe.

Exactly. Light from the left edge of the mod will still fill in shadows cast by light from the right edge. However, as you point out, because the light is (semi-) collimated, you need a larger mod for this with a para than you would with a scattered/diffused mod. If you've got the space, an 86" soft silver PLM could be a lot of fun, and it's just $69.95. I use the 64" version because my shoots are all on location and conference rooms have low ceilings.

It's still a hard light and not soft at all.

Bigger ones are softer than smaller ones, which is true for all mods. I find my bare 64" Extreme Silver PLM at close range (about 5') yields nice shadow/highlight transitions. Extreme Silver has been discontinued, and Soft Silver would (duh). If you want a flatter, less contrasty look, you can just throw an optional scrim on it. Makes this mod exceptionally versatile. And, it's cheap.

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