Light Modifier Quality
/forum/topic/1165162/0



iseeq4life
Registered: Jan 27, 2012
Total Posts: 57
Country: Canada

How much variability are there in terms of objective quality of the pictures taken when using different brands of modifiers.

Since there are not standardize tests or an abundance of reviews of light modifiers I want to hear people's experience that has tried multiple brands.

Do you spend top dollar on Elinchrom boxes because the light output is obviously superior?



BrianO
Registered: Aug 21, 2008
Total Posts: 8454
Country: United States

iseeq4life wrote: How much variability are there in terms of objective quality of the pictures taken when using different brands of modifiers. ...Do you spend top dollar on Elinchrom boxes because the light output is obviously superior?

I don't think there's much difference in how the light looks on the subject as far as one brand over another; that's more a function of the size and type of modifier.

Where brand comparisons come into play is more in the construction quality of the various brands, and how well they attach to a particular light source. Also, some brands have modifiers that others don't (yet...there's much copying in that regard).

Is there some difference? Sure. Better brands may have purer whites in their fabrics, or better shapes to their parabolas; but mostly the light from one 45" umbrella looks like the light from another, and light from Profoto soft box looks about the same as light from an Interfit soft box...if the light source is the same.



Waki
Registered: Jan 02, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

All lights are the same, all modifiers are the same....it's silly how everyone builds the same thing.



RustyBug
Registered: Feb 02, 2009
Total Posts: 11961
Country: United States

On one end of the spectrum ... you have gadgets and adapters to try and find a universal & cheap way to achieve a given objective.

On the other end, you have OEM with a dedicated line of accessories.

Many talented individuals have touted their ability to use either to produce their desired results. But, what can be a varying factor is the amount of time they invest into setup, how infrequent / frequent they change their setup, the frustration they incur, the longevity / durability of the product, or the system compatibility.

I realize that this doesn't directly answer your question @ "light output is obviously superior". But, to that point, I'd suggest that as you move from the more simple light shaping modifiers like umbrellas to more complex designs like beauty dish and parabolics, the differences can become a bit more pronounced at hot spots, etc.

That being said ... my latest issue with third party modifiers is a grid that I'm having to "clamp in place" so it doesn't fall out when using it pointing straight down. The designed retaining clips work like a champ for "normal" use ... but, "Uh-Oh" when using at "extreme angles" and the grid starts to fall out on your subject as you are positioning your light.

Sure, there are plenty of options to choose from and some good third party products ... but like most things, "There is no free lunch." & "You get what you pay for." ... whether it be OEM or third party.

IMO, it is somewhat like asking if Grandma needs to spend the money for a Hummer or a Hyundai when she wants to get a new SUV ... depends if she's hauling her groceries three blocks from Wal-Mart or she's headed to Canyon de Chelly. Fit for purpose has its bearing as well.



visualist
Registered: Jan 09, 2010
Total Posts: 83
Country: Switzerland

While this PDF won't answer your question, you might find it interessting

http://www.visualpursuit.de/tutorials/lichtformervergleich/



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1526
Country: United States

Some softboxes are also more even if you take a light meter and measure all the way around. It probably is slightly visible if you're in close, but the size of the modifier probably drowns it out in most situations (I haven't seen much of a difference between an uber expensive Plume softbox vs. the PCB ones...same light emissions panel size)...



Gregg Heckler
Registered: Aug 07, 2005
Total Posts: 1716
Country: United States

"All lights are the same, all modifiers are the same....it's silly how everyone builds the same thing."

You seriously believe that? Nothing could be further from the truth. Do you think all cars, computers, boas, toys, whatever are the same, they do they same thing?

Not only does the quality of modifiers effect the final output they vary in quality of materials, weight, ease of use, uniformity of coverage, light output, etc. Buy a cheap modifier some time and see how long that white front diffuser stays white or how uniform the color id from one box to another. Or how many cheap rods you break, or the knock-off Velcro tears, shreds, etc.



Waki
Registered: Jan 02, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

The all lights and modifiers being the same was a joke but it is what many on this forum and other forums would say. You are right, nothing is further from the truth but folks with a $50 soft box will argue its the same as a $500 soft box in terms of light produced.

I shot a 7 hr session yesterday for a local agency and only had my lights at one station. I was asked to shoot for another photographer using his lights, ones I had never heard of with soft boxes I had never heard of. Big big difference in output, color and diffusion of the light. I used another station later set up close or the same but with a Larson 4x6 soft box. It was so soft by comparison. But different light, design, etc. I like my lights, my modifiers, my set. I just don't see all of it being the same. Neither do the clients or my camera. Towards the end of the day the client sent models to my station almost 100% and I was pretty busy. Just sayin.



kenyee
Registered: Jul 08, 2008
Total Posts: 1526
Country: United States

Waki wrote:
I shot a 7 hr session yesterday for a local agency and only had my lights at one station. I was asked to shoot for another photographer using his lights, ones I had never heard of with soft boxes I had never heard of. Big big difference in output, color and diffusion of the light. I used another station later set up close or the same but with a Larson 4x6 soft box. It was so soft by comparison. But different light, design, etc.


Out of curiosity, do you have photos from the different setups w/ the same sized softboxes and different results?
One this I do notice w/ softboxes is some have deeper lips than others, so they'll cut spill a lot more...less lip = more spill = softer result...



Deezie
Registered: Mar 07, 2005
Total Posts: 1424
Country: United States

I've never used very cheap modifiers, but as softboxes go, I don't see any difference between the Profoto, Photoflex and Chimera modifiers that I own. The difference I see lies in the execution of the lighting in terms of distance, angle, height, light levels etc.



Waki
Registered: Jan 02, 2012
Total Posts: 170
Country: United States

For me the difference is in light output, and the evenness of the light across the soft box. Yesterday's big issue was hot spots. All diffusers aren't created equally. I use soft boxes from Elinchrom, Chimera, and Photoflex too and really don't have a problem with hot spots when used in the same manner. Maybe it's the lights or the lights and the soft boxes used together, or just the modifiers but it was a problem, especially given the need for the machine gun style of shooting required for the event.

I really had little control over the other set ups other than the ability to feather a modifier here and there. Adjust the output, etc. They were for the most part pretty standard set ups, nothing radical. About what you see in any lighting book.