White Versus Silver Umbrellas

Started Jul 13, 2010 | Discussions
vidrazor Regular Member • Posts: 207
White Versus Silver Umbrellas

I'm curious about opinions here between these two. I'm leaning more towards a white unit like this:
http://www.adorama.com/LTU42W.html

It seems to me you can get a similar lighting to the Softlighter:
http://www.adorama.com/PTSL407.html

Although it may be a bit more focused than the Softlighter. I know they'll be more light loss than a silver unit, but if someone was going for the likes of a Softlighter, I would imagine you'd lose even more light with one of those than a white umbrella. So this strikes me as a compromise.

I'd be interested in anyone's experiences and opinions with any of these types, thanks.

Gene L. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,788
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

vidrazor wrote:

Although it may be a bit more focused than the Softlighter. I know they'll be more light loss than a silver unit, but if someone was going for the likes of a Softlighter, I would imagine you'd lose even more light with one of those than a white umbrella. So this strikes me as a compromise.

I'd be interested in anyone's experiences and opinions with any of these types, thanks.

Diffusion refers to the evenness (smoothness) of light over the projecting surface. Softness refers to the effect on shadows, hard or soft, and is affected by the size of the light source relative to the subject.
http://studiography.blogspot.com/2009/04/quality-of-light-part-2-hard-light.html

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2009/04/in-this-next-diagram-i-have-increased.html

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2009/04/quality-of-light-part-4-effective-size.html

The reflective surface of a silver umbrella gives more direct reflection causing a less diffused light compared to the diffuse reflection from a white umbrella. The softness will be similar, but the light will not be as even, kind of like smooth water compared to rippled water. You use a silver umbrella for its light quality, the higher efficiency is only a secondary consideration.

I recommend against the umbrella you referenced, as it is only a bounce umbrella. If getting an umbrella, I suggest either a shoot-through or a convertible, which can do both bounce and shoot-through.

The Softlighter is even better, as it configures for bounce, shoot-through, or as a softbox umbrella. It has a split shaft that allows you to shove a monolight right up into it and not have the shaft sticking out dangerously (I nearly poked an eye with an umbrella shaft sticking).

When used as an umbrella, bounced or shoot-through, the light from the Softlighter is the same as any other similarly sized umbrella. I see no appreciable difference between my 46" Softlighter and my 45" Photoflex convertible umbrella in terms of light quality for those configurations. However, when configured as a softbox umbrella the Softlighter adds a great deal of spill control that is very similar to a softbox. Bonus in that the Softlighter has 10 ribs, so gives a more rounded catch light.

To be honest, I use my Softlighter as a shoot-through more often than as a softbox umbrella because I love the non-linear light (feathered). The reason I use the Softlighter instead of the Photoflex is because of the split shaft, which I consider almost worth the extra cost just for that. The Softlighter comes with silver and gold inserts that I have never used.

BTW, if you are using a portable flash and desire extreme portability, you might instead consider the Westcott compact umbrella. It comes as a shoot-through or a convertible. I bought the convertible to use in my mini lighting kit, but nearly always use it as a shoot-through.

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2010/03/whats-in-bag-westcott-43-inch-compact.html

And if you need a stand, this one is a real winner.

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2010/03/whats-in-bag-westcott-43-inch-compact.html

-Gene L.
http://www.ttl-biz.com
http://www.studiography.blogspot.com

 Gene L.'s gear list:Gene L.'s gear list
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Quantum Help Senior Member • Posts: 1,666
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

Gene L gave you good advice. Just keep in mind that a highly reflective fabric, regardless of the color will give you a harsher light.

Use a soft white fabric. You can shoot through for a more directional light, or bounce off the umbrella for a much softer light.

The larger the umbrella, the softer the light.

If you are going to do portraits, use a soft white fabric. If you are going to do a character study, then go for a harder white or silver umbrella.

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lumigraphics Veteran Member • Posts: 3,320
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

Another way to alter hard vs. soft is to vary the distance. The further away the light source, the harder the shadows. I prefer shoot-through umbrellas and brolly-boxes to softboxes, and if I want light focused I'll use a grid.

Gene L. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,788
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

lumigraphics wrote:

Another way to alter hard vs. soft is to vary the distance. The further away the light source, the harder the shadows...

I had meant to mention that in my previous post. Here is an article that explains how distance alters the effective size of a light source.

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2009/04/quality-of-light-part-4-effective-size.html

-Gene L.
http://www.ttl-biz.com
http://www.studiography.blogspot.com

 Gene L.'s gear list:Gene L.'s gear list
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dexphoto Forum Member • Posts: 83
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

Which would you use to light a group of gymnasts in outfits that "sparkle"? White or Silver?

I'm looking to buy two for a group of 10-12 girls in fancy leotards. Any hints?

-- hide signature --

[pat]

OP vidrazor Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: White Versus Silver Umbrellas

Thanks for your replies. I thought about having a removable back, but someone gave me a smaller pair of white shoot-throughs so I wasn't worrying too much about it. I had found this:
http://www.adorama.com/LTU40BC.html

And was considering that. By the way Gene, your link to a stand was merely a link to the umbrella article again.

Ultimately I think I'd rather have the white over the silver umbrella.

Gene L. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,788
Correction: Link to Light Stand

My previous post had a cut & paste error. Here is the link to the LumoPro LT-604 compact Light Stand

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2010/03/whats-in-bag-lumopro-lt604-light-stand.html

-Gene L.
http://www.ttl-biz.com
http://www.studiography.blogspot.com

 Gene L.'s gear list:Gene L.'s gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 60Da Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM +3 more
Gene L. Veteran Member • Posts: 3,788
Cut & paste error

vidrazor wrote:

...I thought about having a removable back, but someone gave me a smaller pair of white shoot-throughs so I wasn't worrying too much about it. I had found this:
http://www.adorama.com/LTU40BC.html

That looks like it would do the trick.

And was considering that. By the way Gene, your link to a stand was merely a link to the umbrella article again.

Oops, a cut & paste error. Here is the correct link to the LumoPro LT-604 compact Light Stand

http://studiography.blogspot.com/2010/03/whats-in-bag-lumopro-lt604-light-stand.html

Ultimately I think I'd rather have the white over the silver umbrella.

A better choice for most applications to be sure. Especially since you cannot shoot through a silver umbrella.

-Gene L.
http://www.ttl-biz.com
http://www.studiography.blogspot.com

 Gene L.'s gear list:Gene L.'s gear list
Canon EOS 60D Canon EOS 60Da Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM +3 more
OP vidrazor Regular Member • Posts: 207
Re: Correction: Link to Light Stand

Thanks Gene. That's a nice blog you have over there too.

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