In photo studios and film sets, softboxes and umbrellas are widely used as the most preferred types of light modifiers. Their primary purpose is to soften harsh light and provide improved control over its placement. Different modifiers variants allow for the inclusion of supplementary elements, such as grids, depending on their specific design.
Light modifiers vary in their intended use and the effects they produce. Some are specifically designed for studio lights, while others are better suited for camera flashes. There are also modifiers dedicated to working with photographic fluorescent lights. Choosing the appropriate modifier is a personal decision that depends on your lighting equipment and the specific characteristics of your workspace.
Softboxes enable you to concentrate and aim light directly onto the subject being photographed, resulting in a gentle and natural lighting effect. With their compact construction, they minimize light loss, and the inner surface is lined with a reflective material in either silver or white. The presence of hook and loop fastener along the edges of the modifier permits easy attachment of additional elements such as a diffuser or a honeycomb grid.
Softboxes can be easily mounted onto flashes and lights with a Bowens mount. If needed, they can also be used with on-camera flashes by utilizing a suitable adapter.
Softboxes can also be found that are designed to work with light bulbs and photographic fluorescent lamps featuring an E27 thread. These softboxes often come with integrated sockets for one, four, or five light bulbs.
Photographic umbrellas can be categorized into two main types:
diffusing, which are designed to soften the light, and reflecting, which provide more contrasting and sharp effects, highlighting the details and structure of the subject being photographed.
Using umbrellas enables the illumination of even wide areas. Unlike compact softboxes, umbrella-modified light covers a larger area, although compensating for light losses requires a higher light power to achieve proper exposure.
Thanks to their versatile design and easy assembly, photo umbrellas are compatible with nearly all types of lighting setups.