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what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?
  
 
jzucker
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


I have a white, shoot-through and a soft-silver. The soft-silver I've used hundreds of times and it's on its last legs. Unfortunately, buff no longer makes it. What is a decent replacement?


Jan 23, 2017 at 07:13 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


The answer depends on why you like using the soft silver PLM.

But if you use it because you think that it's a great compromise between the narrow angle of an extreme silver PLM or other pseudo-parabolic silver umbrella, which all suffer from multiple shadows projections, and the 150 or more angle of a white umbrella, which doesn't suffer from multiple shadows projections, then the answer is simple : there is absolutely no alternative.

The soft silver PLM is the only silver umbrella I tried that sends light in a somewhat focused, narrow-ish angle, and yet doesn't suffer too much from multiple shadow projection. It's the only silver umbrella that I've tried that has a somewhat even illumination when looking at it from the point of view of a subject that's on axis with the umbrella. The photo below compares a Profoto Deep Silver S, a Cotswoldphoto 100cm (basically a poor copy of the extreme silver), a white umbrella, and a PLM soft silver 51inch, with a Profoto B2 head (which illumination isn't entirely representative of strobes with an exposed tube when associated with umbrellas). The latter is the only silver umbrella I've tried that doesn't exhibit the "bicycle wheel" illumination pattern the others have.

At this rate and given the industry's idiotic move towards deep silver umbrellas (which make no sense whatsoever for plenty of reasons), your best bet is either to find another one used in good condition, or to find a way to persuade Paul Buff to resume production of the 51 and 86 inches soft silver PLMs.





Jan 23, 2017 at 08:22 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


i use mine for fill light behind me and about 10-12 feet from the subject. Not sure what you mean by multiple shadow projections though.

Westcott makes one, have you tried it? Reviews are mixed. Seems like the construction is not that great but then again, you can say that about the buff as well...



Jan 23, 2017 at 08:34 PM
rscheffler
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


Is it worth spraying a matte clear coat on a highly reflective silver surface? I guess a problem will be durability. I also have a couple 86" PLM soft silver and will try to be extra careful with them now... I only use them indoors as it is. Should have picked them up while on clearance. I'm also unhappy PCB eliminated the short-rod version with adapter cage.


Jan 24, 2017 at 02:23 AM
bgateb760
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


rscheffler wrote:
Is it worth spraying a matte clear coat on a highly reflective silver surface?


that seems like a really bad idea



Jan 24, 2017 at 05:35 AM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


jzucker wrote:
i use mine for fill light behind me and about 10-12 feet from the subject. Not sure what you mean by multiple shadow projections though.

Westcott makes one, have you tried it? Reviews are mixed. Seems like the construction is not that great but then again, you can say that about the buff as well...


A good example of the multiple shadows issue, with a PLM extreme silver
:

Source :
http://foto-ois-kiva.blogspot.fr/2012/01/testing-parabolic-umbrellas.html
It is directly caused by the uneven illumination of most silver umbrellas, most of the time in a bicycle wheel pattern (as seen on the Cotswoldphoto picture above).
The soft silver PLM is the only silver umbrella I tried that significantly reduces this problem without spreading light everywhere.

I haven't tried the Westcott, but unless it has been improved since Paul Buff conducted these tests, it isn't a match for the soft silver in that regard :
https://www.paulcbuff.com/plm-competitor.php

However, since you mostly use it as fill, it means you won't see shadows that much with this light source, and therefore it may actually be just what you're looking for.

The PLM's construction may not be that resistant, but its canopy is the only one I've seen on a silver umbrella where there is proper tension of the fabric between the ribs, which is quite important for silver pseudo-parabolic umbrellas.



Jan 24, 2017 at 10:06 AM
sharpblur
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


Soft silver PLM is a holy grail umbrella. I asked PCB why they stopped selling them and they said they were not selling many. Mind-blowing considering price and quality. I have all three sizes and I wish I had backup for each. Please post if you find anything that is nearly as good.


Jan 24, 2017 at 01:07 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


sharpblur wrote:
Soft silver PLM is a holy grail umbrella. I asked PCB why they stopped selling them and they said they were not selling many. Mind-blowing considering price and quality. I have all three sizes and I wish I had backup for each. Please post if you find anything that is nearly as good.


I don't think they did a particularly good job at explaining their qualities and marketing these PLMs.

Now thanks to Profoto's (and others) horrible marketing BS machine everyone believes that deep = parabolic = narrow beam angle, which is factually completely wrong, and people still believe that by buying a 160cm deep silver umbrella, they get a 160cm modifier, while in fact, because of the non-parabolic shape of deep umbrellas and the sliding runner being in the way, what they get is, at best, a very unevenly lit 100cm modifier from the POV of a subject that is on axis.

Also, they were only sold in the US. Here in Europe we didn't get a lot of time to familiarise us with pseudo-parabolic umbrellas like the PLM, and the only ones we could buy were poorly designed and manufactured copies, before we were struck by Profoto's might and their deep silver umbrellas.

I have found some silver umbrellas that can be somewhat decent replacements for the extreme silver version (but still nowhere near as good as PCB's), and their numbers are dwindling because of the deep silver umbrella craze, but the soft silver ? Still nada.



Jan 24, 2017 at 01:31 PM
neoshazam
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


I've really been working the 86" extreme silver with diffuser and love it. I'd probably cry if both bit the dust ( I have multiples of the 47" and 1 64" as well , all with cages too).

rscheffler wrote:
I also have a couple 86" PLM soft silver and will try to be extra careful with them now... I only use them indoors as it is. Should have picked them up while on clearance. I'm also unhappy PCB eliminated the short-rod version with adapter cage.


Agreed.



Jan 25, 2017 at 02:38 AM
jzucker
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


How do the extreme silver replacements work with the diffusion fabric in front? Can I get the results I'm looking for using it for fill light?

MayaTlab wrote:
I don't think they did a particularly good job at explaining their qualities and marketing these PLMs.

Now thanks to Profoto's (and others) horrible marketing BS machine everyone believes that deep = parabolic = narrow beam angle, which is factually completely wrong, and people still believe that by buying a 160cm deep silver umbrella, they get a 160cm modifier, while in fact, because of the non-parabolic shape of deep umbrellas and the sliding runner being in the way, what they get is, at best, a very unevenly lit 100cm modifier from the POV of a subject that is on axis.

Also,
...Show more




Jan 25, 2017 at 02:17 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



jzucker
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


and the other question is whether I'd be better off using a 64" white, shoot-through umbrella for fill light / density light applications? My concern there is that I shoot in a very small studio so that might give me additional light coming off the walls on either side...


Jan 25, 2017 at 02:20 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


jzucker wrote:
How do the extreme silver replacements work with the diffusion fabric in front? Can I get the results I'm looking for using it for fill light?



They work like an octabox, the diffusion material considerably widens the beam angle. They will spread light similarly to a white umbrella, and because they will exhibit a strong bicycle wheel pattern, even through the diffusion material, illumination won't be homogenous (the soft silver is the only silver umbrella that has a somewhat even illumination pattern with a diffusion screen).

But as I said, since you're using these giant silver umbrellas for fill light, uneven illumination may not be a problem. The Westcott without any diffusion material, or other silver umbrellas of this kind could prove a decent replacement in your situation, and will have a somewhat similar beam angle as your previous soft silver. Maybe you could try that first ?



Jan 25, 2017 at 02:40 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


I was all set to try the westcott but according to the reviews , they seem to be poorly made. Lots of issues with them falling apart. Fotodiox also makes a 7 footer. It's possibly the same or similar to the westcott?

MayaTlab wrote:
They work like an octabox, the diffusion material considerably widens the beam angle. They will spread light similarly to a white umbrella, and because they will exhibit a strong bicycle wheel pattern, even through the diffusion material, illumination won't be homogenous (the soft silver is the only silver umbrella that has a somewhat even illumination pattern with a diffusion screen).

But as I said, since you're using these giant silver umbrellas for fill light, uneven illumination may not be a problem. The Westcott without any diffusion material, or other silver umbrellas of this kind could prove a decent replacement in
...Show more




Jan 25, 2017 at 02:54 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


jzucker wrote:
I was all set to try the westcott but according to the reviews , they seem to be poorly made. Lots of issues with them falling apart. Fotodiox also makes a 7 footer. It's possibly the same or similar to the westcott?



No idea. Most if not all umbrellas, including Paul Buff's ones, are made in China to some or all degree. Sometimes only the printed brand changes (I could put under your nose a Profoto and a Jinbei deep silver umbrellas and you simply wouldn't be able to pinpoint any external difference, at all), other times umbrellas are made to spec for a specific manufacturer with specific processes, QC and requirements (Paul Buff umbrellas definitely belong to that category, in many ways they are significantly different from other umbrellas).

So the exact same umbrella made in the same factory can be sold under different brands, or the same factory can make umbrellas differently, according to different requirements, or two factories can produce the exact same umbrella, etc...

Don't expect any of them to be as well designed as Paul Buff's ones though. Paul Buff is the only manufacturer I know of who got silver umbrellas quite right.

Right now there is an 86" soft silver on sale on Ebay, but I am not sure it's got the mounting mechanism you're looking for (apparently this one is with the 7mm shaft) : http://www.ebay.com/itm/Paul-C-Buff-86-Soft-Silver-PLM-Umbrella-7mm-Shaft-White-Diffusion-Fabric-EUC-/322401599351?hash=item4b10a1ff77:g:jsoAAOSwt5hYiCEI



Jan 25, 2017 at 03:18 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


$125 + $28 shipping seems a bit steep to me.


Jan 25, 2017 at 04:06 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


Agreed . The prices that I've seen on PCB's silver umbrellas on Ebay seem to have taken into account that they have been discontinued.


Jan 25, 2017 at 04:10 PM
Deezie
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


I've used a beauty dish (white, not silver) as a fill light for many years now. Works wonderfully.


Jan 25, 2017 at 04:21 PM
jzucker
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


Deezie wrote:
I've used a beauty dish (white, not silver) as a fill light for many years now. Works wonderfully.


I tried that once and got huge shadows with me standing 5 feet in front of it. If you can get it 20 feet behind you, i could see it assuming you have 1000WS of power!



Jan 25, 2017 at 04:33 PM
bgateb760
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


am I missing something? Soft silver still appears on PCB's website, but the Extreme silver ones havent been on there for a while

I just got rid of my entire PCB kit and had 2 51" and an 86" extreme silver as part of the kit.

EDIT: ah, looks like it's [soft silver] only made in 64" now



Jan 25, 2017 at 09:16 PM
MayaTlab
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · what do I replace my 86" Buff PLM with?


Yep, that's the problem .


Jan 25, 2017 at 09:38 PM
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