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Archive 2012 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?
  
 
no_surrender
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p.1 #1 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


What is the difference between a traditional square/rectangle softbox and an octa? I honestly don't understand the benefit of one over the other. Both can be used to control light, right? What makes you choose one over the other? To me, newb, an octa looks like an umbrella with a diffusion panel over it, but with recessed edges like a softbox.

Sorry for the dumb question, I just don't get it.

Thanks - Kevin

Edited on Sep 20, 2012 at 12:15 PM · View previous versions



Sep 20, 2012 at 09:53 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Well ... actually it sounds like you do "get it".

Umbrella's spread light to make the source "larger" but have difficulty with spill control.
Softboxes that are recessed offer a diffused light with better spill control

The octa (never used one) is a hybrid that gives a large source, with diffusion and some spill control.




Sep 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #3 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Thanks RustyBug. Hopefully some users of these different modifiers can help shed some more light (couldn't resist) on using the octa as opposed to a giant sb.

Advantages/Disadvantages?



Sep 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM
alohadave
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p.1 #4 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Assuming that the softbox and the octa are similar sizes, the biggest difference will be in the catchlight in the eyes.

Besides that, you develop a preference for different modifiers as you use them, even when the light they put out is similar.



Sep 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM
AlphaValues
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p.1 #5 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Here's a video that reiterates RustyBug's comments:
Slanted Lens: Understanding Octas



Sep 20, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Caleb Williams
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p.1 #6 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


I don't have a ton of experience with Octaboxes, but from what I've seen, they also create a more circular light, such as an umbrella, and I've seen them used a lot in butterfly-style lighting.


Sep 20, 2012 at 08:49 PM
colinm
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p.1 #7 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


alohadave wrote:
Assuming that the softbox and the octa are similar sizes, the biggest difference will be in the catchlight in the eyes.


This right here. Some people hate rectangular catchlights and won't use anything but beauty dishes, reflectors, and octas. I've worked with guys who won't even use a Scrim Jim because it makes a (very faint) rectangular catchlight. Gotta break out the 52" LiteDiscs.

The actual light produced by similarly-sized softboxes and octaboxes is largely the same for most purposes, but you'll always know by the eyes (or the reflective surface).



Sep 20, 2012 at 09:41 PM
hugowolf
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p.1 #8 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


colinm wrote:
This right here. Some people hate rectangular catchlights and won't use anything but beauty dishes, reflectors, and octas. I've worked with guys who won't even use a Scrim Jim because it makes a (very faint) rectangular catchlight. Gotta break out the 52" LiteDiscs.

The actual light produced by similarly-sized softboxes and octaboxes is largely the same for most purposes, but you'll always know by the eyes (or the reflective surface).

I have always found it rather strange that rectangular catchlights are seen be some as Ďartificialí for images that are obviously set indoors where the natural light source would be one or more windows. There are non-rectangular windows, but they are rare.

Brian A



Sep 21, 2012 at 12:03 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #9 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


hugowolf wrote:
I have always found it rather strange that rectangular catchlights are seen be some as Ďartificialí for images that are obviously set indoors where the natural light source would be one or more windows. There are non-rectangular windows, but they are rare.


It has to do with the psychology of perception. If the window isn't visible in the scene the brain doesn't latch onto the indoor/outdoor aspect unless one consciously thinks about it (which we photographers often do). Even if the window is visible, most people won't automatically equate catchlight shape to light source; the shape of the eye's orbit, iris, and pupil will dominate, along with the roundish shape of the face.

So, to many people, round catchlights in round eyes look more "natural" than square catchlights.



Sep 21, 2012 at 05:25 AM
rico
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p.1 #10 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


A small, round catchlight looks natural because it evokes the sun - never mind that such a low-altitude sun is a much warmer color temperature than we typically use in studio. Beyond that special case, I find all studio catchlights look fake, especially the big ones. Umbrella spokes, featureless polygons, beauty dishes with various central deflectors. The best catchlights are those outdoors but, then, you're outdoors (and color purity goes to hell). I want to experiment with a big SB at close range where a scenic transparency (monochromatic) is stuck on front. The best catchlights I saw from a stock item are those from the PCB Moon Unit w/ the mask set.

Ref:
http://www.paulcbuff.com/mu30-masks.php



Sep 21, 2012 at 06:57 AM
 

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RustyBug
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p.1 #11 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


rico wrote:
A small, round catchlight looks natural because it evokes the sun.

+1

Those BIG catchlights remind me of "Fashion" (which is okay for a fashion look) ... not natural ... and I HATE seeing umbrella spokes.

So, it does come down somewhat to preference ... and what are you trying to convey in the image @ natural vs. fashion, etc. I think for a lot of people BIGGER & SOFTER is easier & quicker, painting the subject with a giant splash of light ... kinda like how easy it is to shoot on an overcast day with the REALLY BIG softbox overhead.



Sep 21, 2012 at 12:51 PM
ScooberJake
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p.1 #12 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Another point: most octas I have seen are based on an umbrella frame. To me they are easier to set up, and for those of us who shoot mostly on location that tends to trump catchlight shape!


Sep 21, 2012 at 02:45 PM
hugowolf
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p.1 #13 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


If an image is obviously set indoors: there are walls, furniture, etc, then I think it somewhat deluded to think of round catchlights as being natural. There doesnít have to be a window in the frame, indeed if there where, then it would be unlikely that the catchlight came from that window.

And, I donít think the general punter gives a hoot about the shape of catchlights, it is more of a misplaced photographer thing. The sort of thing that lost me points in school critiques.

At a banquet events, I find nothing wrong with multiple catchlights. I donít find multiple catchlights that attractive, but I certainly donít find them unrealistic.

My current studio space has fifteen foot windows facing north, I rarely shoot indoors with natural light, But if I did, there would be great big rectangular catchlights; as natural as you could get.

Brian A


Edited on Sep 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM · View previous versions



Sep 22, 2012 at 01:28 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #14 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Thanks everyone for the replies. Looks like majority vote goes with size and shape of the catchlights. I have to agree, I prefer round catchlights to square ones but only after making sure the quality of light looks good whether it's being blended with ambient outdoors or 100% flash in the studio.

AlphaValues wrote:
Here's a video that reiterates RustyBug's comments:
Slanted Lens: Understanding Octas


Thanks AlphaValues, this video helped a lot!

rico wrote:
A small, round catchlight looks natural because it evokes the sun - never mind that such a low-altitude sun is a much warmer color temperature than we typically use in studio. Beyond that special case, I find all studio catchlights look fake, especially the big ones. Umbrella spokes, featureless polygons, beauty dishes with various central deflectors. The best catchlights are those outdoors but, then, you're outdoors (and color purity goes to hell). I want to experiment with a big SB at close range where a scenic transparency (monochromatic) is stuck on front. The best catchlights I saw from a
...Show more

As far as color temp in studio, couldn't we just use a custom WB, shoot in RAW, and tweak from there?

I'm going to have to start looking for umbrella spokes, not sure if I've ever noticed them before in the catchlights. PCB has examples on his site of what some of the different manufacturer umbrellas produce, but the umbrella itself is pictured, not the catchlight. I assume the picture though is pretty much what the catchlight will look like. Adding a diffusion panel to the front of the umbrella should help eliminate the spokes, right? I realize you'll lose at least one stop of light here, but hey...minimizes the spokes.

Those PCB moon units are pretty cool, but wondering if they would see any use after the initial first couple shoots? The industry standard doesn't exactly include star shaped catchlights...


RustyBug wrote:
+1

Those BIG catchlights remind me of "Fashion" (which is okay for a fashion look) ... not natural ... and I HATE seeing umbrella spokes.

So, it does come down somewhat to preference ... and what are you trying to convey in the image @ natural vs. fashion, etc. I think for a lot of people BIGGER & SOFTER is easier & quicker, painting the subject with a giant splash of light ... kinda like how easy it is to shoot on an overcast day with the REALLY BIG softbox overhead.


I agree, but what I learned from the video by Slanted Lens is that the size of the modifier just increases the quality of light by helping it wrap around the subject, not so much giving 'more' light. The video demonstrated how each size, small to large, all produced the same area of light. The difference was in the shadows on and behind the subject.



Thanks again everyone! I learn something every single time I log into FM!!

Kevin



Sep 22, 2012 at 01:39 AM
no_surrender
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p.1 #15 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


hugowolf wrote:
If an image is obviously set indoors: there are walls, furniture, etc, then I think it somewhat deluded to think of round catchlights as being natural. There doesnít have to be a window in the frame, indeed if there where, then it would be unlikely that the catchlight came from that window.

And, I donít think the general punter gives a hoot about the shape of catchlights, it is more of a misplaced photographer thing. The sort of thing that lost me points in school critiques.

At a banquet event, I find nothing wrong with multiple catchlights. I donít find multiple catchlights
...Show more


Good point Brian, thanks for sharing. Never thought about it that way, but I haven't been to photography school yet. Hoping once I move to Italy I can find an art school and take some classes...with English speaking instructors since I don't speak Italian....yet.

Kevin



Sep 22, 2012 at 01:42 AM
rico
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p.1 #16 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


Thoughtful post by Brian. Especially concerning multiple catchlights, I have seen examples that were quite attractive and, no, I'm not referring to those ringlights made with 20 bulbs.


Sep 22, 2012 at 07:56 AM
hugowolf
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p.1 #17 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


If anyone is interested in seeing blatantly obvious brolly spoke reflections, then look at any of the camera or lens reviews at DPReview

For example: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canon-eos-6d/

Brian A



Sep 22, 2012 at 04:38 PM
no_surrender
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p.1 #18 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


hugowolf wrote:
If anyone is interested in seeing blatantly obvious brolly spoke reflections, then look at any of the camera or lens reviews at DPReview

For example: http://www.dpreview.com/previews/canon-eos-6d/

Brian A


Are the spokes as obvious in the catchlights of eyes?



Sep 22, 2012 at 11:13 PM
wilt
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p.1 #19 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


no_surrender wrote:
Looks like majority vote goes with size and shape of the catchlights. I have to agree, I prefer round catchlights to square ones but only after making sure the quality of light looks good whether it's being blended with ambient outdoors or 100% flash in the studio.



Ok natural is round, window is rectangular. If you look closely in catchlights, one can easily see 8 flat sided segments in an octabox...When used at close range the octagonal shape is clearly visible in the catch light and only appears round once there is enough distance for the size of the catchlight to be reduced enough to have a round appearance from that distance.

I frankly have never seen natural light sources nor windows that were octagonal



Sep 23, 2012 at 02:00 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #20 · Newb question: Difference in modifiers?


no_surrender wrote:
Are the spokes as obvious in the catchlights of eyes?


Not quite as obvious, because the natural structure of the iris masks it a bit, but it can be visible if one looks for it. Considering how long umbrellas have been used by portrait photographers, it must not be an issue that many are worried about.



Sep 23, 2012 at 02:16 AM
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