Lighting: Softbox Lighting Vesres Umbrella Lights - What works best for digital?

Discussion in 'Photography' started by - \(James\), Aug 18, 2004.

  1. - \(James\)

    D.R. Guest

    Well, let's recap shall we?. The original poster asked:
    "What are the pros and cons of continuous Soft-Box Lighting Verses Umbrella

    You answer to the question was:
    "Light is light regardless of if there's a sensor or film in the back of your

    The person was asking a question about softbox lighting vs umbrella lighting.
    Not digital vs film cameras. It's just like someone asking "which tastes better,
    chocolate and vanila" to which you reply "flavor is flavor regardless of whether
    it is cold or heated".

    .....unless of course, you really don't see any difference at all between the
    light from soft-box and light from umbrella lights? Then I am mistaken. Pro
    photographers seem to think that there is a difference.

    A response to your post stated the light does in fact vary, eg infrared. To
    which you replied:
    "Who said anything about infrared?"

    Hmmm.... who said anything about digital vs film? Oh wait...
    D.R., Aug 21, 2004
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  2. - \(James\)

    brian Guest

    I have only a limited knowledge of the use of umberella's, I would have
    expected the umberella to deliver a harsher light, although I have to admit
    to not having used them more than a very few times, I was taught on
    softboxes and so tend to preference them, so I must stand corrected, My bad.
    And thank you for enightening me on the use of the humble brolly, I will
    have to rethink my approach to them and do a wee bit of experimentation.

    brian, Aug 21, 2004
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  3. - \(James\)

    Hunt Guest

    The determining factors, given that all other variables are equal, i.e.
    output, distance to subject, etc. are the shape and type of reflector on the
    instrument firing into the umbrella, and the surface of the inside of the
    lightbox v the surface of the umbrella. I alluded to an increase in harshness
    (not in negative terms, it just being harder, in an earlier post). This was
    partially in error, as I should have said that with MY umbrellas v my various
    softboxes, the light was more harsh. That setup was for Speedotron 4800ws
    strobes, using the polished 7" dish into bright-white umbrellas, vs my white-
    inside softboxes. Often, I'll even soften the softboxes by placing a
    translucent white baffle inside. As the softbox is illuminated by essentially
    a "bare bulb," they produce softer light. However, it is certainly imaginable
    that one could have a white coated dish on the umbrella's instrument, and a
    white umbrella reflective surface, that would be softer, than a bright foil
    lined softbox. I should not have made so broad a statement, as I was only
    speaking of my specific equipment - sorry.

    Hunt, Aug 21, 2004
  4. The principles of light are the same regardless whether it's coming
    from the sun, an umbrella, a soffbox, or a parabolic. It doesn't
    matter if it's the side of a mountain or somebody's face. if you
    understand the principles you can competantly photograph anything.
    I've probably forgotten more than you know.
    Randall Ainsworth, Aug 21, 2004
  5. - \(James\)

    brian Guest

    So, basically you are saying that there is no need to have variable shutter
    speeds or apertures, or studio lights or softboxes or flashguns, because all
    light is the same? so all we need is a big box with a hole and hey presto a
    perfect image will be produced, even the most amature of photographer knows
    that light can differ, not only from day to day, but minute to minuite, even
    second to second, place to place light is not constant and we have to
    compensate or even produce our own form of light to get the effects we want.
    maybe for everyday, non photograpic light, "light is light", but not for our
    Photography is also known as "painting with light", that means that there
    must be different forms of light or we would produce a photograph that was
    simply white all over.
    I have seen almost every post you have sent and judging form your answers to
    questions asked , I would agree that you have probably forgotten evertything
    that you have learned, Oh wait, you didnt learn anything , you were born all
    knowing, sorry, I forgot

    brian, Aug 21, 2004
  6. - \(James\)

    BillB Guest

    That much is true, but if you wanted to be at least marginally
    helpful instead of playing your usual effete supercilious snob, you
    might have pointed out that film and digital sensors don't have
    completely overlapping sets of properties (such as spectral
    sensitivities) and how that might occasionally affect the choice of
    light that should be used to avoid undesired effects. With B&W a
    photographer might want to minimize or exaggerate skin tone, blood
    vessels, etc. by choosing film especially sensitive to either IR or
    UV. In your world, digital cameras must have the same capability,
    since "light is light". But if they do, you won't find replaceable
    sensors for digital cameras in the local photo shop, you might have
    to place a call to NASA instead.

    Your messages here make a strong case for that. Unfortunately,
    what really sets you apart from others in this newsgroup are the
    things you've never learned.
    BillB, Aug 21, 2004
  7. - \(James\)

    dadiOH Guest

    Magnitude/intensity of light has zero effect on hard/soft shadows. The only
    thing important is the size of the light source relative to the subject
    (same thing for specular reflections). For that reason. a softbox and
    umbrella will give identical results assuming that they are the same size
    and that the source is properly placed in each to evenly illuminate the
    umbrella/diffuser. The primary difference umbrella/softbox is that the
    umbrella, being curved, can be feathered more with less reduction in
    effective light output.
    Adding background light will not soften shadows thereon.
    All true
    Maybe he didn't know because it wasn't correct. Or maybe not...there are
    precious few people in the biz that *do* understand it. *REALLY* understand
    it. Off the top of my head, I can only recall three that I have known who
    do...Bill Norman, Mardick Balli and a West Coast photographer who went to
    work for Kodak and whose name I can't recall.


    dadiOH's dandies v3.0...
    ....a help file of info about MP3s, recording from
    LP/cassette and tips & tricks on this and that.
    Get it at
    dadiOH, Aug 21, 2004
  8. What is with the stick up your ass?
    Randall Ainsworth, Aug 21, 2004
  9. I'm doing the same thing with digital that I did for many years with
    film. It's a little memory stick now instead of a roll of film, but
    the rest is pretty much the same.
    Sorry...I forgot that *you* had all the answers.
    Randall Ainsworth, Aug 21, 2004

  10. There is nothing to stand corrected on. Opinions vary greatly, with the
    debate likely very irrelevant since there are so many options available and
    few would ever use the two (umbrellas and softboxes) exactly the same way.
    In general, the main advantages of an umbrella are lower costs, easier
    portability, and wider light spread. In general, the main advantages of the
    softbox are better light control, softness with larger sizes, and more
    effective use of flash output. Of course, now anyone reading could easily
    find exceptions to everything just said. Regardless, in the right hands,
    with the right subjects, both will deliver good results - which is why both
    are so commonly used.

    Dwight Stewart, Aug 22, 2004
  11. - \(James\)

    BillB Guest

    Right. Light is light, cameras are cameras and film is film, even
    when it's digital. And if you believe that then you don't even know
    your limitations. And believing that, why do you speak so harshly
    and condescendingly to novices that don't own equipment that meets
    your standards of quality, fit and finish? A true artist can
    produce better pictures with an inexpensive camera than you or I
    using equipment costing 10 times as much. Consider that the next
    time you insult someone for using a camera with an inferior
    pedigree. After all, a camera is a camera. Except when you choose
    to think otherwise.

    Nobody has all the anwsers. But I do try to avoid calling names
    (such as "moron", "idiot", etc.) even when it would appear to be
    warranted. Although I wouldn't put money on it, you didn't do that
    in your reply here, so perhaps you're learning. I also try to avoid
    correcting spelling, grammar and such, but I'll make an exception
    here. In your last "Sorry..." line you should have used "have"
    instead of the "had" which completely changes what I think was your
    intended meaning. Some cold night this coming winter, curl up with
    a good book, such as "A Christmas Carol". It may lower your Scrooge
    BillB, Aug 22, 2004
  12. - \(James\)

    brian Guest

    there is nothing wrong with the stick up my ass, its the shit in your brains
    thats the problem
    Uh-huh indeed

    brian, Aug 22, 2004
  13. - \(James\)

    brian Guest


    brian, Aug 22, 2004
  14. - \(James\)

    brian Guest

    I just got out on bail after the grammar police lifted me the other day for
    using *your* instead of *you're*, randall was kindle enough to pint out my
    dissasteroos mistakey, I ul besure to not making the sam mistap
    agine.........ah shit here they come again , and this time they have a big
    stick, looks just like the one Randall saw up my ass when he was sniffing my
    Randall makes scrooge look like shirley temple
    brian, Aug 22, 2004
  15. - \(James\)

    brian Guest

    I agree with the portable bit, my softboxes have to be dismantled to take
    anywhere, which is time consuming at both ends of the job, brollies have
    them beat there for sure, but I had never considered that brollies could
    produce the same lighting effect as softboxes, I only used them in my early
    work and wasn't happy with the results, but I am now going to blow off the
    dust and give them another try.

    brian, Aug 22, 2004
  16. - \(James\)

    BillB Guest

    Ya best use my one-size-fitzall replacement cuz if'n ya don't, yer
    gonna go t'hail if'n ya don't change yer ways. Arrrrh, matey!
    BillB, Aug 22, 2004
  17. - \(James\)

    brian Guest


    brian, Aug 22, 2004
  18. My cordless keyboard does that whenever it needs new batteries :))

    Dennis Bradley, Aug 22, 2004
  19. - \(James\)

    Smitty Guest

    I'm hopping soon that "hot" lights will be available as "cool" lights using
    LED technology. Anything on the horizon?
    Smitty, Aug 24, 2004
  20. - \(James\)

    RSD99 Guest

    "Smitty" asked:
    I'm hopping soon that "hot" lights will be available as "cool" lights using
    LED technology. Anything on the horizon?

    Great idea ... but "not there yet." Probably a dozen years out ... maybe.

    The first of the LED technology is now available in flashlights ... and the "White" is
    really quite blue. Additionally, the "power" is no where near enough to even think about
    replacing photofloods, or HMI, or electronic flash, or whatever
    RSD99, Aug 24, 2004
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