Silver surface differences

Started 2 months ago | Questions
226Photo Regular Member • Posts: 159
Silver surface differences

I was looking at the Glow 65 inch reflective umbrella since it has an available diffuser. It is available in silver and a beaded silver. What is the real difference in the quality of light from those two surfaces?

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tugwilson Senior Member • Posts: 1,361
Re: Silver surface differences
1

A beaded silver surface will scatter the light hitting it. That will produce a diffused light which is softer than the light reflected from a smooth silver lining.  If you are going to put diffusion on front of the the brolly then it makes sense to use the beaded version.

john isaacs Veteran Member • Posts: 3,547
Re: Silver surface differences
1

226Photo wrote:

I was looking at the Glow 65 inch reflective umbrella since it has an available diffuser. It is available in silver and a beaded silver. What is the real difference in the quality of light from those two surfaces?

I have a few silver surface reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes; occasionally they will decide to suddenly delaminate and leave silver flakes everywhere.  I have to toss them out.

I prefer my white reflectors; they last for decades.  In fact, they "warm" with age.

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stevevuoso Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Silver surface differences

As far as diffusion goes, the pebbled silver texture is in between a smooth white finish and a smooth silver finish.

Sailor Blue
Sailor Blue Forum Pro • Posts: 14,741
Re: Silver surface differences

The more you diffuse the light inside the softbox the more evenly lit the front diffuser and the more evenly lit the area that you are trying to light.

White diffuses light the most.  Pebbled silver and matte silver are close to each other in how much they diffuse light but if the pebbled silver is also matte that would diffuse light more than a smooth matte silver surface.  A shiny silver lining would diffuse light the least.

All these need double diffusion to maximum the evenness of the light output.

The reason for using silver linings is that they are a little bit more efficient than white linings, i.e. you get a small amount more light out of the softbox at a given strobe power.

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MayaTlab0
MayaTlab0 Senior Member • Posts: 2,816
Re: Silver surface differences

226Photo wrote:

What is the real difference in the quality of light from those two surfaces?

As already said, beaded silver will scatter light more so than the more mirror-like silver.

This has several implications, some of which have already been discussed here.

I'll add some direct comparisons, with shallow silver umbrellas. Glow's lineup uses a different "beaded silver" material from Paul Buff's PLMs (and the latter has recently changed) and of course they're deep (big implication for the effective width of the light source vs. shallow silver umbrellas) but you'll get the general idea.

Since beaded silver scatters light more, you'll get more light outside of its natural beam angle. You can see in the photos below that while the "soft silver" (in Paul Buff PLM parlance) sends most of its light in a rather tight cone not that much larger than the cone the extreme projects, the surrounding walls are brighter than the "extreme silver" version. This may increase fill a bit depending on the room you're in, and reduces efficiency.

These results presume that you've effectively killed the bare flash tube spill.

A very big difference is how the light source looks like from your subject's point of view. Because these are fabric reflectors they're made of flat panels. Only the centre of the individual panels, half-way between the ribs, is properly oriented to effectively bounce light back towards the subject. On a 16 sided umbrella, this means that you basically get 16 smaller light sources instead of a large one. It still considerably softens the light, but can produce multiple, stepped shadows and significantly change the look of reflective surfaces on your subject. A good beaded silver umbrella would avoid that problem to some extent.

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