Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

Started Dec 11, 2017 | Questions
Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

So deep parabolic umbrellas are not parabolic and softboxes too, but imho profoto deep umbrellas and their copies are mostly paraboliс (they have different focus points for theit inner and outer part though). And imho that's quite nice - you have hard small light and focused soft light in one reflector. I assume that true parabolic reflector will be more effective but silver deep umbrella is very effective even in this form (at least 1 stop more than white deep umbrella of the same size and even more, comparing it to a double diffused octabox of that size). Interesting thing is that you can adjust the harshness of deep white too by moving it in or ought (it changes the hotspot size). Before finding that out I thought that deep white is almost uncontrollable. Who else have any tips with deep "parabolic" umbrellas?

Don89 Senior Member • Posts: 1,612
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

Serjojeee wrote:

So deep parabolic umbrellas are not parabolic and softboxes too, but imho profoto deep umbrellas and their copies are mostly paraboliс (they have different focus points for theit inner and outer part though). And imho that's quite nice - you have hard small light and focused soft light in one reflector. I assume that true parabolic reflector will be more effective but silver deep umbrella is very effective even in this form (at least 1 stop more than white deep umbrella of the same size and even more, comparing it to a double diffused octabox of that size). Interesting thing is that you can adjust the harshness of deep white too by moving it in or ought (it changes the hotspot size). Before finding that out I thought that deep white is almost uncontrollable. Who else have any tips with deep "parabolic" umbrellas?

White will tend to be warmer and softer, silver a harder more contrasty light

my Elinchrom deep also focuses in and out. Practice Feathering and testing your results. I’ll use the deep umbrella with the difuser when I need a fast portable larger light source for a smaller space that a softbox takes up too much space. Elinchrom Strobes have an integrated mount so the strobe is quite central on the umbrella

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Simon Barker Contributing Member • Posts: 837
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?
1

Serjojeee wrote:

So deep parabolic umbrellas are not parabolic and softboxes too, but imho profoto deep umbrellas and their copies are mostly paraboliс (they have different focus points for theit inner and outer part though). And imho that's quite nice - you have hard small light and focused soft light in one reflector. I assume that true parabolic reflector will be more effective but silver deep umbrella is very effective even in this form (at least 1 stop more than white deep umbrella of the same size and even more, comparing it to a double diffused octabox of that size). Interesting thing is that you can adjust the harshness of deep white too by moving it in or ought (it changes the hotspot size). Before finding that out I thought that deep white is almost uncontrollable. Who else have any tips with deep "parabolic" umbrellas?

The manufacturers may get away with butchering language but let's not copy them, 'mostly parabolic' doesn't really make sense.

You can move the light in most modifiers and achieve different results but that won't make them more or less parabolic.

MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,982
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?
1

Serjojeee wrote:

So deep parabolic umbrellas are not parabolic and softboxes too, but imho profoto deep umbrellas and their copies are mostly paraboliс (they have different focus points for theit inner and outer part though).

That’s quite a lot of contradictions I think.

The thing is : if we start to call these umbrellas “parabolic”, then anything goes and everything can claim to be parabolic. We loose the descriptive quality of the term, which, IMO, should be reserved to reflectors which are at least trying. At some point it isn’t quite entirely uninteresting to draw the line, and since some umbrella manufacturers have tried to put together parabolic umbrellas with more success, I don’t think that Profoto even tried to make a parabolic modifier with their deep umbrellas.

Frankly the only reason Profoto calls these “parabolic”, is just because it sounds important, and most people don’t know what it means so they can get away with it. Everyone seems to want a parabolic modifier these days, so that’s what manufacturers pretend they provide, except that they really don’t most of the time.

And imho that's quite nice - you have hard small light and focused soft light in one reflector.

It’s a nice thing to have… but you don’t need a deep silver umbrella at all to have such versatility.

If you want “hard small light and focused soft light in one reflector”, a Paul Buff PLM soft silver can do something to that effect for example, even by the same means, i.e sliding the strobe relative to the umbrella, except that you have to reverse the thinking : soft and narrow beam angle when out, hard and larger beam angle when inside. Red arrows show the spread of the light, blue arrows the effective size of the light. And the shadows are pretty self explanatory I guess :D.

You can have even more fun. You can have hard and narrow beam angle (by choking the light from an “out” positon with a narrower umbrella reflector, illuminating only the centre of the umbrella), soft and larger beam angle (just put on the diffusion cloth), etc.

If I wanted a light which I can adjust in terms of hardness / softness, I’d actually rather reach for the shallower version. In my experience with deep silver umbrellas, I have found the range of situations within which it was effectively possible to convincingly light the outer area from the subject’s point of view to be pretty narrow. Most of the time it would require the umbrella to be quite a bit larger than the subject and very very close, because, unfortunately, if one wants the outer area to send light in a parallel beam, the light source should be basically where the sliding runner is, as the outer panels aren’t in the proper orientation to do so when the light is just in front of it. And with Elinchrom’s deep umbrellas, which are even more curved, it’s beyond. And of course that requires an omnidirectional flash tube, which isn’t always a given these days :D. And anyway, why go through all that trouble when there already is something that can do that pretty well ?

In addition, you talked earlier about the “beauty dish” look (at least in terms of how the modifier looks from the subject's POV), ie that when you’re in a situation where the outer are is lit, the centre is obscured. But that’s also a little bit too easy for me to replicate that look with a shallower silver umbrella :

Albeit in a way that I will fully admit is a bit more DIY intensive (cardboard and a pair of scissors is needed) and much more importantly quite inefficient in terms of power.

On the plus side tough you're less tied to a specific distance to your subject to get that effect since the head can continue to move freely to adapt to your subject's distance.

I assume that true parabolic reflector will be more effective but silver deep umbrella is very effective even in this form (at least 1 stop more than white deep umbrella of the same size and even more, comparing it to a double diffused octabox of that size).

If you strike only the central part of most current deep silver umbrellas (let’s say with a Profoto head with a recessed tube) with the head in the right position it’s very efficient indeed.

I haven’t specifically evaluated a deep silver umbrella in that regard, but the Cactus silver umbrella below, an imperfect paraboloid, is 2 stops more efficient than the B2’s bare head in the context of that comparison :

Which is to be expected given how it’s able to concentrate the light.

Interesting thing is that you can adjust the harshness of deep white too by moving it in or ought (it changes the hotspot size). Before finding that out I thought that deep white is almost uncontrollable.

It’s one thing that I like too about deep white umbrellas, although the range of adjustment is quite moderate. Also, I think that it’s easier to evenly light them with a strobe with a recessed tube, without requiring a spill kill reflector (no need to positon the strobe beyond the umbrella’s rim). Personally I prefer to use deep white umbrellas over shallow white ones.

Don89 Senior Member • Posts: 1,612
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?
1

The industry is cyclical   Next will be the beautiful ways like 30-50 years ago

nice 16” dish and barn doors   Just gorgeous   The shadow you get with barndoors cannot be done any other way

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Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

The author of the topic named it "parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice", and reality is that none of the "parabolic" softboxes are parabolic, and deep umbrellas are not parabolic, but from a mathematical point of view there are no true parabolic photo gear. Some are closer to the definition, some are not even close. I don't care. There are more interesting stuff with parabolic parralel light reflector ideas out there. Googled the theoretical part a bit. And deep silver umbrella have a mathematical explanation I supppose. As a photographer I see that there are two focus points for parabolical inner and outer parts of my deep umbrella. Like two parabolic reflectors merged together. And i see problems with it too - the head must be omnidirectional and it must be near ribs to use outer part of the umbrella. The problem with the "full in" position is - tungsteen modelling light will burn ribs, and - the umbrella is limited in horisontal positioning with the stand. The first problem is only solved fith led modelling light. The second - a boom, or just angle it a bit, but that's limiting. Or both problems can be solved with something closer to PLM umbrella (in Russia Saint-Pete they are not availiable, otherwise soft silver will be nice), but that thing will have light of a different kind. My next purchase

Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

In addition, you talked earlier about the “beauty dish” look (at least in terms of how the modifier looks from the subject's POV), ie that when you’re in a situation where the outer are is lit, the centre is obscured. But that’s also a little bit too easy for me to replicate that look with a shallower silver umbrella :

Albeit in a way that I will fully admit is a bit more DIY intensive (cardboard and a pair of scissors is needed) and much more importantly quite inefficient in terms of power.

On the plus side tough you're less tied to a specific distance to your subject to get that effect since the head can continue to move freely to adapt to your subject's distance.

The interesting thing is that with full in positioin the inner part works too, but is in defocused position. And when the outer part is focused, the inner part is defocused. And in-between it's almost a ringlight with two semi-defocused parabaloids from inner and outer part of that ringlight. So it's 3 in 1 ))) Can't whait to use this insight )))

itsDing
itsDing Senior Member • Posts: 2,458
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

I seem to remember seeing a studio in the 70's  which had flat reflectors, opening and closing like umbrellas. I think the brand name was Reflectasol. Anyone know how they were used?

MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,982
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

Serjojeee wrote:

And deep silver umbrella have a mathematical explanation I supppose.

Profoto first released the XL version in both white and silver, I believe around 2012. My guess is that :

- regarding the white one, they quickly realised that it proved advantageous with their recessed flash tube lights as it can be more evenly illuminated when the light source is positioned at the rim of the umbrella than a shallower umbrella, meaning that a spill kill reflector is unnecessary with these lights, which is a good thing since with the D1/D2/B1 design you can't really use a reflector when the umbrella is mounted. Personally I'm glad that deep white umbrellas exist - or annoyed by Profoto's insistance on recessed flash tubes, depends on your point of view I guess :D.

- regarding the silver one, they also noticed that with these recessed flash tube lights you get a range of beam angle adjustments that's more extensive than with other umbrellas (including the PLMs). But I think that they focused way too much on beam angle variation at the detriment of so many other factors affecting light quality, which either they didn't notice, or didn't care about.

In Europe people went straight from 8 sided pebbled silver umbrellas with steel ribs to deep silver umbrellas with an extreme silver finish, so it's no surprise that Profoto's marketing had an easy time to make us associate with the deeper shape a lot of advantages, which in reality are demonstrably uncorrelated for the most part. Outside of the US only a few brands sold PLM copies, most of which were poorly designed and made by people who don't quite understand what they're doing (poor tension between the ribs is a tell-tale sign IMO). And then you compound that with the complete absence of any video on youtube about umbrella / spill kill reflectors or the scarcity of articles on the subject, and you get a deep umbrella craze.

On the other hand, if you're interested in buying Profoto's deep umbrellas, just don't. Buy Jinbei's, or Interfit's, or possibly even other brands. We aren't talking about copies here. They are basically the exact same umbrellas, made with the same parts and materials, and possibly even made in the same factory or one nearby. Other brands have tried to differentiate their deep silver umbrellas from Profoto's / Jinbei's / Interfit's (at least Elinchrom, Broncolor, which I have manipulated, and Westcott - which I haven't manipulated - according to them in this thread), but the former three will provide the exact same light and build quality IMO with only marginal operational differences in terms of protective sleeve for exemple.

Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Parabolic softbox/umbrella in practice?

I think that with deep silver "parabolic" umbrellas the spill kill is not a good idea, and with deep white - it is. But they are completely different beasts - silver is very directional, white gives almost the same ev in 120° from the axis of the shaft. And white is super easy to work with - just open it and you are done, the model can move a lot and the qulity of light will be almost the same. A different state of mind and almost none feathering ability. I think that white is a good big modifier and spills are not bothering you that much when it's far away from your "shot".

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,688
Great for group portraits.
1

vett93 wrote:

I have seen lots of YouTube videos explaining the benefits of parabolic softboxes and umbrellas. My takeaway from them is that they would yield more focused light and the light has less spray.

In practice, do you see enough differences to justify buying them when you already have regular ones?

Absolutely. They are very different animals. If you need to keep light off the background, use a parabolic (or a softbox/octa with a grid). If you need the same exposure on someone close to the light and someone farther away, use a parabolic. I love my parabolic for small group portraits, because I can position it off-axis and still get almost exactly the same exposure on the left and right sides of the group. With a regular umbrella, the light fall-off with distance yields much less exposure on the side of the group that's farther from the light.

This is with an undiffused parabolic umbrella. When you add diffusion to it, these properties disappear, and it behaves like a regular softbox, because the light is no longer focused.

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Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Great for group portraits.

If you need the same exposure on someone close to the light and someone farther away, use a parabolic. I love my parabolic for small group portraits, because I can position it off-axis and still get almost exactly the same exposure on the left and right sides of the group. With a regular umbrella, the light fall-off with distance yields much less exposure on the side of the group that's farther from the light.

That's an interesting idea!

Sympa Senior Member • Posts: 2,459
Depth really shouldn't matter
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The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number. A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash. Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

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Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,688
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Sympa wrote:

The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number. A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash.

Do you have a source for this claim? I find it hard to believe that this is true if you are using a reflector to focus the light so that all of it hits the interior of the parabola and doesn’t spill outside it.

Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

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Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Sympa wrote:

The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number. A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash.

Do you have a source for this claim? I find it hard to believe that this is true if you are using a reflector to focus the light so that all of it hits the interior of the parabola and doesn’t spill outside it.

Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

There always will be some spill, otherwise there will be some shading of the reflector in focused position. So from my point of view that statement is correct.

Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 12,688
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Serjojeee wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Sympa wrote:

The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number. A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash.

Do you have a source for this claim? I find it hard to believe that this is true if you are using a reflector to focus the light so that all of it hits the interior of the parabola and doesn’t spill outside it.

Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

There always will be some spill, otherwise there will be some shading of the reflector in focused position. So from my point of view that statement is correct.

I have no idea what this statement is supposed to mean.

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Ellis Vener
MOD Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,913
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Sympa wrote:

The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number.

Reading that simple sentence, a phrase came to mind; baffling with b_llssh_t.

A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash.

Absolutely untrue and it's an easily disprovable claim. It might, if the source of the light is a the focus point of the parabola, concentrate the reflected light in a narrower area, but  that is completely separate from  the efficiency of the reflector.

Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

The width of a beam or the area illuminated by the light  is very definitely one of the defining qualities of a light source...and completely different from the quantity of light.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

Yet another spurious claim.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

Again no, unless you are using an ellipsodial spotlight. Not even a Fresnel lens spot light will do that.

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Ellis Vener
MOD Ellis Vener Forum Pro • Posts: 13,913
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Serjojeee wrote:

There always will be some spill, otherwise there will be some shading of the reflector in focused position. So from my point of view that statement is correct.

Which proves that your point of view about how light works  are just a collection of  your very personal untested opinions, because if you had actually tested tested them  in ways which can be be independently verified by others, you'd quickly find out that they have no connection with reality.

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Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Ellis Vener wrote:

Serjojeee wrote:

There always will be some spill, otherwise there will be some shading of the reflector in focused position. So from my point of view that statement is correct.

Which proves that your point of view about how light works are just a collection of your very personal untested opinions, because if you had actually tested tested them in ways which can be be independently verified by others, you'd quickly find out that they have no connection with reality.

That's a statement from the user point of view. Just try it for yourself  ByBthe way I don't find thay spill much of a problem.

Serjojeee Senior Member • Posts: 1,335
Re: Depth really shouldn't matter

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Serjojeee wrote:

Jacques Cornell wrote:

Sympa wrote:

The depth of a parabolic reflector is its f/number. A deeper reflector will use more light from the flash.

Do you have a source for this claim? I find it hard to believe that this is true if you are using a reflector to focus the light so that all of it hits the interior of the parabola and doesn’t spill outside it.

Which is good but doesn't affect the quality of the light, only the quantity.

A deep reflector is more difficult to shape correctly than a shallow one.

There must be some kind of diffuser or dlurring in the system, or you will get an image of the flash tube projected on the subject. This can be a matter flash head cover, a beaded reflector, or a defocusing.

There always will be some spill, otherwise there will be some shading of the reflector in focused position. So from my point of view that statement is correct.

I have no idea what this statement is supposed to mean.

It meame that you need different spill kills for different focus positions.

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