Best Octa or softboxes for Ad400

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 15,527
Re: Best Octa or softboxes for Ad400

The general guidelines for portraiture is that the diffuse source of light should be as large as or larger than the subject and for the best combination of softness and light falloff across the subject the light should be used at distances between 1 and 2 times the diameter or diagonal of the diffuser.

I like the light to be a bit harder on full length portraits, which shows up smaller details better than soft light so the image details look a bit sharper.

A diffuser in the 40" to 48" range works well for everything from a head shot to a full length portrait for me. I have 40" softboxes and 43" white umbrellas that I use for almost everything.

If I was only doing head shots I would switch to the 24" softboxs I have since they are smaller and lighter, so easier to move around.

The Aputure light dome 2 is fine for waist up to head shots but a bit too small for mid thigh to full length.

If you are doing butterfly lighting then you don't even want a softbox, you want a real beauty dish that is made to work with your brand of light. Beauty boxes are fussy. Use the same beauty dish on two different brands of lights and you can get totally different results because of the type and/or position of the flash tube.

Note that none of those umbrella opening beauty dishes will give you light that matches that from a real metal beauty dish. Some do come fairly close except for the catchlight showing the umbrella ribs, but they are the hexadecaboxes with the right shape, such as the one from Westcott. The octabox beauty dishes are just silvered or white umbrellas.

Asking what is the best softbox is like asking what is the best type of food. There is no correct answer.

In general you want one that is big enough and will last a long time. A softbox with a recessed front diffuser will give you less light spread to the sides, so less stray light. A softbox with a grid gives you even more light control. An umbrella opening softbox is larger and heavier than a rod and speedring softbox but it is a whole lot easier to open and close. A simple 43" white umbrella with a removable black backing is the cheapest and most versatile light diffuser.

Without knowing what country you reside in it is hard to do more than give you general answers to what brands are best.  I'll list some available in many countries and some from the USA.

The big brands like Westcott, Prophoto, Lastolite, etc. produce high quality softboxes but they are not cheap.

Budget prices softboxes are generally made in China and sold under several names. Adorama, for instance, has a series of rebranded softboxes they sell under their Glow house brand. B&H has Impact.

Godox, Selens, Glow, Impact, and Cheetah Stand are reasonable quality budget brands sold in the USA.

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