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How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?
  
 
pixlepeeper
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I mean compared to a softbox, even a rectangular softbox. I was reading this article http://profoto.com/blog/commercial-photography-2/zhang-jingnas-top-10-fashion-photography-lighting-tools/

and he makes them look very attractive, given they are very easy to set up. But I think how one's studio is makes a difference. For example if the walls are matt black you won't get much unwanted reflections. Mine are not.



Nov 30, 2016 at 10:52 AM
Mark_L
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I've used it in a studio. It is a bit of a beast and yes, the spill is fairly large and you can't grid it obviously.

From Profoto: "The giant parabolic umbrella creates beautiful, even lighting over a very large area."

Despite it's shallowness the PCB extreme silver PLMs are like a beam (64"):




Nov 30, 2016 at 01:30 PM
eSchwab
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I recently bought the interfit 40" white parabolic umbrella ( http://www.adorama.com/PAIUP3WH.html ). Construction is excellent and it does a phenomenal job of controlling the light. Very deep while providing soft white light that is much more controlled than a regular umbrella. Recently I had a shoot and was getting too much spill on the background, and by rotating the light just slightly I was able to keep the same quality of light on the group while essentially blocking off the backdrop.


Nov 30, 2016 at 01:37 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


As Mark_L noticed, the depth of a silver umbrella has nothing to do with spill or illumination area.

But first there are three things to distinguish :
1) the area that's illuminated by the light reflected by the umbrella,
2) the area that's illuminated by the strobe's bare flash tube if it hasn't been properly killed by a spill kill reflector or by other means. Very often people say that umbrellas, even silver ones, have massive spill, while they don't bother to effectively kill the spill from the bare flash tube.
3) the area that's illuminated by the light reflected from the subject (if your subject is a white wall, it will matter).

In the photo below the blue arrow corresponds to 1), the red arrow to 2), and the green arrow to 3).


That's been taken with a Profoto B2 without a spill kill modifier, and with the Cactus umbrella slight forward from the head (hence why you see a streak of light coming from the bare tube). If I had used a flash with an external flash tube and without a spill kill modifier, bare tube illumination would be massive and cover a much wider angle.

1) Regarding silver umbrellas, the size of the area that is illuminated depends on the shape of the umbrella and the directionality of the silver material that's been used. The closer a silver umbrella is to the mathematical definition of a parabola, the tighter it can be focused. And you can have very shallow pseudo-parabolas, such as Paul C Buff silver PLMs. The directionality of the material used also has an influence. Paul Buff used to sell two types of silver umbrellas with different silver materials to provide two modifiers with slightly different characteristics.
Regarding white umbrellas, since white isn't a directional reflective material, the shape of the umbrella matters less, but I'm wondering if deeper umbrellas can be exploited to behave in a slightly more directional way - I'm not sure yet, I haven't been able to directly compare deep white umbrellas vs shallow ones.

2) is solved by making the flash tube invisible from the sides. Most of the time this is done with spill kill reflectors, but there are other means to do this as well. When people (wrongly) say that deeper umbrellas spill less than shallower ones, it's mostly because they don't properly kill the bare flash tube's spill. With some umbrellas's shape and flash tube designs, a spill kill modifier may not be needed.

3) Well that always happens when the subject is quite reflective, regardless of the type of modifier. It's just normal !

Now my opinion on the shape of deep umbrellas :

Regarding silver ones, I think it's a completely dumb idea that clearly stems from people having a very poor understanding of silver umbrellas. With Profoto's deep silver umbrellas you have several problems :

1) the umbrella's shape isn't parabolic at all (it's a marketing BS), meaning that you can't fully illuminate the whole umbrella from the subject's point of view. The result is that instead of buying a 130cm modifier, you've just bought, at best, a 80cm one. Shadows are unnecessarily harder than the umbrella's size would suggest. In addition the light beam can't be as tight as with more parabolic umbrellas, unless you're using one of Profoto's heads with an internal tube.
2) because of their depth, the focal point of the outer area of the umbrella is beyond the sliding runner, where you can't locate a light source. That means that from a subject's point of view that's on axis with the umbrella's shaft, the outer area will never be properly illuminated. Again, that reduces the effective size of the modifier.
3) Most of Profoto's heads have an internal flash tube, meaning that even if you could reach the focal point of the outer area (you can't), their own heads wouldn't be able to illuminate it.
The result is this :

The Cactus is a poor knock off of Paul Buff's PLM design with a lot of mistakes made in its design and manufacturing. But since Paul Buff has discontinued most of the silver PLM lineup, that's the best approximation I could find - and at least its design principle makes sense, unlike Profoto's.

Frankly, stay clear off Profoto's deep silver umbrellas. They're a dumb idea, and worse, a very expensive dumb idea. A 100cm Paul Buff silver PLM will give you a softer light than a 130cm Profoto deep silver umbrella and won't spill any more.

Regarding white ones, I may form a different opinion and actually prefer the deeper ones, but I need to do more comparative tests to be sure.



Nov 30, 2016 at 02:14 PM
pixlepeeper
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


Thanks @MayaTlab that helps a lot. Do you think a PCB foldable octabox would be a better choice than their PLM umbrellas in terms of getting more precise lighting?


Nov 30, 2016 at 02:40 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I haven't tried their octabox and more importantly their grids. I don't think I have made enough direct comparisons between silver umbrellas vs gridded octaboxes in general to be able to have an enlightened opinion. A softbox without a grid will send light in a wide angle. A grid will tighten the beam, but grids specifications are difficult to obtain and I'm not sure about their reliability.

Since you can't grid their white umbrellas though, it's pretty obvious that a gridded octa will have a tighter beam than PCB's white PLMs.

However, things I know for sure :
- Silver umbrellas can be a lot, lote more efficient than softboxes. Easily two stops, if not more efficient.
- Silver umbrellas with a very directional silver material, such as PCB's extreme silver PLMs (which aren't sold anymore), will exhibit a bicyle wheel pattern that you can see on the Cactus above. This Bicycle wheel pattern will create multiple, "stepped" shadows and will appear in the subject's eyes, which may or may not be detrimental to the picture quality. It's one of their main drawback in my opinion. Example here :

- PCB's soft silver umbrella (which unfortunately is only sold in 64-inch size from now on) might be the only pseudo-parabolic umbrella on the market that shouldn't exhibit such a bicycle wheel pattern, or at least not strongly so. More details here : https://www.paulcbuff.com/plm-competitor.php
I haven't been able to use it personally, but that may come soon.
because it uses a softer, more diffuse silver material, it isn't as directional as others, particularly the "extreme" silver version, and will throw light in a wider pattern. My guess is that it's still quite tight, but it's just a guess.
- Softboxes or white umbrellas will not exhibit multiple shadows.
- Octaboxes have, well, an octagon shape, which you may not like in your subject's eyes. Some softboxes have more sides, such as SMDV's, and are rounder as a result. You may dislike seeing grids in your subject's eyes as well. Some octaboxes have a circular mask at the front.
- The evenness of the modifier's illumination from the subject's POV has a strong correlation with light quality. For example, a Profoto B2 sends most of its light forward, meaning that even with a white umbrella, the centre of the umbrella may be significantly brighter than the outer part. This makes the light harder. A solution in that particular case is to push the umbrella further out from the B2 - but then you'll need to kill the bare bulb spill. It's one of those situations where a deep white umbrella might be better than a shallow one (but the silver ones are still stupid). In the same vein most softboxes will have several layers of diffusion, or more rarely an internal deflector, to even out the illumination, and you can add or remove them to get the light that you want.



Nov 30, 2016 at 03:12 PM
Mark_L
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


MayaTlab wrote:
- Silver umbrellas with a very directional silver material, such as PCB's extreme silver PLMs (which aren't sold anymore), will exhibit a bicyle wheel pattern that you can see on the Cactus above. This Bicycle wheel pattern will create multiple, "stepped" shadows and will appear in the subject's eyes, which may or may not be detrimental to the picture quality. It's one of their main drawback in my opinion.


Yeah I've seen stepping in the shadows and that is the main reason I don't use it that much for any close-up work. Very directional and efficient (only 1/3 of a stop loss) without being hard.



Nov 30, 2016 at 04:06 PM
rico
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I don't understood the craze for parabolic profiles and silver umbrellas. The exception is efficient projection for reflective purpose, but most people are illuminating their subjects directly with this stuff. Ugly!


Dec 01, 2016 at 12:14 AM
Oscarsmadness
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I understand the idea of the parabolic reflector, but the parabolic umbrella escapes me for all the reasons already mentioned. I have one, such umbrella, but I use it like any other umbrella (because it's just an umbrella).


Dec 01, 2016 at 04:55 AM
rico
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


Profoto's NarrowBeam parabolic dish beaming from the left: that it generates a horrible double-shadow is irrelevant when bouncing off the white reflector. The SB acts to flag the parabolic from the subject.





Dec 01, 2016 at 05:08 AM
 

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Mark_L
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


rico wrote:
I don't understood the craze for parabolic profiles and silver umbrellas. The exception is efficient projection for reflective purpose, but most people are illuminating their subjects directly with this stuff. Ugly!


Have you used one?

You get a very efficient, very well controlled, soft light (they are typically large). There is also no real hotspot either because the strobe fires backwards into it.

I was hoping I had some studio shots with it to hand but:






Dec 01, 2016 at 10:31 AM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


Oscarsmadness wrote:
I understand the idea of the parabolic reflector, but the parabolic umbrella escapes me for all the reasons already mentioned. I have one, such umbrella, but I use it like any other umbrella (because it's just an umbrella).


Personally I really enjoy using them, particularly when power is a bit lacking (Profoto B2) or a precise beam that's still quite softish is required - but they indeed have some noticeable drawbacks. I don't use them when the multiple shadows issue will appear in the picture, I find that incredibly ugly.

Supposedly the soft silver PLM should correct to some degree the multiple shadows issue that's present with all other pseudo-parabolic umbrellas and may be a good compromise in situations where they may ruin a photo. I'll try one soon.

However, most so called "parabolic" umbrellas bar Paul Buff ones are just poorly designed and manufactured. All of the deep ones are stupid, and most of the shallower ones aren't very well made by people who don't understand what they are doing. The Cactus, for example, doesn't have a particularly "extreme"-like silver material, but it still shows the bicycle wheel effect because the canopy isn't tensioned well enough between the ribs (and because of that, you also loose precision and efficiency). I tried their larger one, the 150cm version, and it was so bad I returned it. So I think that some of our bad impressions are due to poor engineering and manufacturing instead of a poor design principle per se.

What I find really sad, in the end, is that the combination of poor knock offs and Profoto's marketing bullshit (that deep = parabolic, which is just wrong) has completely tainted people's understanding and impressions of these modifiers instead of pushing the industry to elevate the quality of the idea's execution.



Dec 01, 2016 at 01:46 PM
pixlepeeper
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I like the light on the model's hair mimics early morning sunlight.


Dec 01, 2016 at 01:52 PM
rico
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


I think Maya is ready for a Briese parabolic.


Dec 01, 2016 at 02:26 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


rico wrote:
I think Maya is ready for a Briese parabolic.


Haha, well, not exactly, because of Profoto's obsession with internal flash tubes . And hem... well, because of the wallet...

But I'll definitely make it a personal crusade to get proper silver umbrellas (which will probably be just as effective as the actual crusades). Infidels, here I come !



Dec 01, 2016 at 02:46 PM
pixlepeeper
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


From what I see on B&H Profoto doesn not say their umbrella is parabolic. Impact has a similar umbrella for much cheeper: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1166160-REG/impact_uds_xl_65_x_large_deep_silver_umbrella.html


Dec 02, 2016 at 02:31 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


pixlepeeper wrote:
From what I see on B&H Profoto doesn not say their umbrella is parabolic. Impact has a similar umbrella for much cheeper: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1166160-REG/impact_uds_xl_65_x_large_deep_silver_umbrella.html


They do on their own website :
http://profoto.com/uk/products/light-shaping-tools-modular-light-shapers-for-profoto-heads-monolights/item/umbrella-deep-silver-s

"Small yet Deep and Parabolic Umbrella

Profoto Umbrella Deep S is unique in that it is small and lightweight yet deep and parabolically shaped. The deeper shape gives the photographer better control of the light spread."

The latter sentence's causal relationship is demonstrably wrong with silver umbrellas.

Here in France Profoto could actually be sued for misleading marketing.

Jinbei and Interfit sell deep umbrellas as well, and Broncolor introduced the Focus 110 (Which shape I don't like, but which manufacturing might actually be worth the cost - it's beautifully made, contrary to Profoto's).



Dec 02, 2016 at 03:33 PM
Eyvind Ness
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


Good illustrations! I also find the marketing speak of Profoto frustrating. But doesn't the glass dome make a difference here?

http://profoto.com/uk/products/accessories/item/glass-cover-d1-frosted



Dec 05, 2016 at 02:09 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


It will not significantly improve umbrella illumination from the subject's point of view since the main issue with deep silver umbrellas is their shape, not the light source. If you wanted to fully illuminate their outer area from an on axis subject's point of view, you would need to position the light source beyond the sliding runner - which is impossible. Of course, if you could, then Profoto's problem would be that the majority of the strobes that they sell wouldn't be able to send light backwards towards the outer area of the umbrella.

In addition, silver umbrellas with a very directional material, like the ones from Profoto or Paul Buff's PLM, behave like silver foldable reflectors, i.e. the light reflected moves if the light source moves. So what's important isn't just to be able to hit the entire reflector with light, but to hit it entirely from a specific location. If your umbrella isn't close to parabola, and uses a very directional material, unfortunately that means that there isn't a single focal point but several, which, again, will make it impossible to fully illuminate the umbrella from an on-axis subject's point of view.

The picture below is a SUPER GROSS and absolutely not mathematically accurate representation of reality (you'll have to ask someone else for the maths), but maybe should help explaining the problem. With my deep silver umbrella, I was actually able to illuminate the outer area (red arrow) from the subject's point of view, but only if the subject was basically touching the umbrella shaft or very close, which is impractical obviously. With a flash head with an internal flash tube, the red arrow simply won't exist (in fact, with heads with an internal flash tube, you could basically take a pair of scissors, cut the outer area of a deep silver umbrella, and kill the additional bare flash tube spill with a spill kill reflector, and you'd get nearly the same light ).



What the dome will do though, is :
1) send some light towards the outer part of the umbrella (not as much as a bare flash tube), but since it won't send light from a deep enough position within the umbrella, this light will not be reflected towards the subject. The outer area of the umbrella will still remain mostly dark from an on axis subject's point of view. This will, though, increase the area lit by the umbrella, and it will actually be less focused than a shallower, but closer to a paraboloid, silver umbrella.
2) sends some direct, hard light towards the scene as soon as the umbrella isn't fully on axis with your subject, and since you can't use Profoto's own adjustable spill kill reflectors when you mount an umbrella on their D1/D2/B1, you won't be able to effectively kill the glass dome spill. Their spill kill reflector specifically made for the D1/D2/B1 isn't really adjustable and won't help much with the dome.

Edited on Dec 05, 2016 at 03:44 PM · View previous versions



Dec 05, 2016 at 03:28 PM
Deezie
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · How bad is light spill from a deep reflective umbrella?


Instead of pointing the light on the subject, you can feather the light onto the subject, and then use flags to block out unwanted light. Shaping the light is essential to getting the desired effect.


Dec 05, 2016 at 03:39 PM
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