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Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?

  
 
pasblues
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


I see people using softboxes with round head vs rectangular head flashes and what could possibly be the difference? Maybe there are differences in the flashes themselves that have nothing to do with the head shape. I'm just not sure if the head shape is just a gimmick to get people to think they need to now have a round head flash...


Mar 07, 2022 at 10:05 AM
jeffbuzz
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


The shape of the head become less evident with greater distance and diffusion. If you're bouncing the light into the back of a softbox with double baffles, the head shape becomes almost irrelevant. If you're pointing the light forward directly through a single diffusion layer you could certainly see evidence of the head shape if your subject is close enough.


Mar 07, 2022 at 12:16 PM
Gozo1
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


Some find the round catchlights from an octabox more pleasing than square or rectangular catchlights as they mimic the results from natural sources, ie the sun. Not personally a big deal to me. Conversely, the rectangular shape will ofter render better highlights in product photography, say, perhaps a wine bottle. Just different tools. Now, those hideous LED ring lights people are using on U-tube, there’s a gimmick…


Mar 07, 2022 at 09:21 PM
JohnSil
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


There is a difference between round and rectangle. In days of old there were mostly rectangle boxes and I've used the heck out of both of them. Today I'm using round but ONLY because they are much more available and most are Rapid so easy to take down and transport for location use.
Round is much heavier and very front heavy and way deeper, making the light much harsher and concentrated at the same power and distance.
I much prefer the rectangular in a studio. The light is narrower and taller being better at full body shots, kinda like a strip box. You need more room for full body in a studio both to get even light, top to bottom on a full body shot and also to get the boxes out of your frame/shots because they are so deep.
With round I find myself feathering a lot more. For a tight shot it won't matter as much.
As to catchlights, there is no right or wrong, it's all a matter of preference or your art. I prefer square over round. To me round has no distinctness and square has a lot more flair and interest.
Mimic the sun? The old masters never painted outside. They used window light. Only churches have round windows!!
Buy what you can afford and fits your shooting style, such as studio or location but use the heck out of it and then decide before you invest in high dollar modifiers. Remember, used well, light is light.
John



Mar 08, 2022 at 02:11 AM
CharleyL
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


Going round gets the manufacturers the chance to sell you more gear.

Although round might be just slightly better, I don't see that it's a good reason to ditch my two year old rectangular speedlites for new. In a few years when what I have starts giving me trouble, I may go round. I have 5 rectangular speedlites that are 2 years old, and many modifiers that fit them. They work fine for me. Why should I replace them and the modifiers for only the small improvement that might exist by going round.

Charley



Mar 08, 2022 at 11:25 AM
anndecrist
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


I love the round heads that have embedded magnets that can hold filters, snoots, diffusers, grids and more! I have the V1 Godox which has those magnets!


Mar 08, 2022 at 11:27 AM
rico
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


Gozo1 wrote:
Some find the round catchlights from an octabox more pleasing than square or rectangular catchlights as they mimic the results from natural sources, ie the sun.

An actual catchlight from the sun is a mere pinprick so the shape is indiscernible. Mathematically, it's equivalent to my 3" fresnel at a distance of 30 feet! Any catchlight that is identifiably circular is as artificial as a rectangular one, being part of the built enviroment. Aesthetically, they can both serve nicely. Windows are rectangular, portholes are circular. Perhaps the subject is sitting in their stateroom on the Titanic!



Profoto MultiSpot fresnel, bare, at 10'



Mar 08, 2022 at 02:51 PM
RDKirk
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


pasblues wrote:
I see people using softboxes with round head vs rectangular head flashes and what could possibly be the difference? Maybe there are differences in the flashes themselves that have nothing to do with the head shape. I'm just not sure if the head shape is just a gimmick to get people to think they need to now have a round head flash...


Okay, so you're talking about a flash within a soft box. If the softbox is effectively diffused, it will not make a difference.

The shape may make a slight difference in the effectiveness of diffusion if that round head takes its own bespoke diffusion attachments (which rectangular heads seldom do).

The round head makes more of a difference when the flash is used directly. Rectangular heads are usually designed for distance with harsh reflectors and lenses that--at short distance with certain subjects--will be visible. The quality of the light is usually not a factor in the design of rectangular heads. Round heads are almost always designed to give a smoother, less harsh light.



Mar 25, 2022 at 10:38 PM
pasblues
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


I had no idea that round heads would give a smoother, less harsh like light. I wonder if that is also the case with putting a Magsphere on my rectangular head flashes? Or if a Magsphere on a round head flash could create a noticeably less harsh smoother light with said Magsphere modifier? Or softbox ? I wonder if my Paul Buff lights are smoother? Never thought about what a difference a round head would make vs a rectangular head shape.

RDKirk wrote:
Okay, so you're talking about a flash within a soft box. If the softbox is effectively diffused, it will not make a difference.

The shape may make a slight difference in the effectiveness of diffusion if that round head takes its own bespoke diffusion attachments (which rectangular heads seldom do).

The round head makes more of a difference when the flash is used directly. Rectangular heads are usually designed for distance with harsh reflectors and lenses that--at short distance with certain subjects--will be visible. The quality of the light is usually not a factor in the design of rectangular heads. Round
...Show more



Mar 26, 2022 at 09:14 AM
 


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story_teller
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


pasblues wrote:
I had no idea that round heads would give a smoother, less harsh like light. I wonder if that is also the case with putting a Magsphere on my rectangular head flashes? Or if a Magsphere on a round head flash could create a noticeably less harsh smoother light with said Magsphere modifier? Or softbox ? I wonder if my Paul Buff lights are smoother? Never thought about what a difference a round head would make vs a rectangular head shape.


A couple things. First, you have to remember that speedlights have limited power, so putting a diffuser on the flash and then putting it into a double-diffused softbox many not give you much light to work with.

Second, (and I'll probably step on a couple toes here) both round and rectangular softboxes come in different varieties. Some are direct flash and some are bounce flash (like an umbrella). Some softboxes come in reflective silver and some come in white interior. Some are single diffused and some are double diffused. Some of the round softboxes also have a silver reflector similar to a beauty dish. They are all designed to provide softer light by default.

The bottom line is that you can make a rectangular softbox produce softer light than a round softbox and visa versa. It's how you apply them that matters. I can take a 3x2 and feather it across the face for a real soft image and use a 3-foot octa without the internal reflector and make it look much harder. Give a good photographer either one and they can come out with a variety of hard and soft looks.



Mar 27, 2022 at 08:12 AM
pasblues
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


story_teller wrote:
A couple things. First, you have to remember that speedlights have limited power, so putting a diffuser on the flash and then putting it into a double-diffused softbox many not give you much light to work with.

Second, (and I'll probably step on a couple toes here) both round and rectangular softboxes come in different varieties. Some are direct flash and some are bounce flash (like an umbrella). Some softboxes come in reflective silver and some come in white interior. Some are single diffused and some are double diffused. Some of the round softboxes also have a silver reflector similar to
...Show more


Yes, I agree with you. There are so many variables when it comes to lights and modifiers that any kind of statement that a round head flash vs a rectangular head flash would be somehow different - is something I find puzzling. Factors involved are: ambient reading to flash power reading; flash to subject distance; flash placement; single vs multiple flash placement; subject placement vs flash placement; which modifier; flash to modifier surface distance - on and on.

By the time you are putting a light source through modifiers, I don't quite get how that modifier spread would be particularly effected by the shape of the light source head. There's too many other factors effecting how the light is getting bounced around.

Now...out at the edges of the spread - that will be effected by the shape of the modifier if the ambient is relatively underexposed. But, again, there's just a ton of factors involved, like you said.

I will say that I'm shocked at how powerful some flashes are. I have a couple of Sony 60RM's and they can light up a group of 100 from a balcony - granted a higher ISO but the flash will handle it easily. Sure, I could bring the Buff X3200s and make a huge production out of it. Maybe that will be the assignment one day. But when I get 2 seconds notice that "Oh, BTW, we are doing a big group shot of the entire 100-person choir NOW" - I just pointed the 60RM at the group and blasted it direct. That accomplished getting all their faces lit up - and no one stopped me and said "Wait...is that flash head round or rectangular?"






Mar 27, 2022 at 09:36 AM
pasblues
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


I know this particular photographer is too far into history for most of today's photographers, but I have several videos from lighting master Dean Collins. His instructional videos are some of the best and most detailed I've ever seen. Of course, he was shooting film and precision was ever more critical then - polaroids being the test medium of choice back then.

He was also - as far as I know - the inventor of the light panels - of which I still have several. The variation in lighting that can be done with panels is mind-blowing. It took the relatively limited softbox model to a whole 'nother level.

Modifiers are huge factor in the quality of lighting that can be designed.

I think another person here mentioned that some of what happened when round head flashes were introduced was to create another product for people to buy.

To some degree, I think of things like "How much wetter do you get jumping into the center of a round pool of water vs. a rectangular pool?" I mean, sometimes it doesn't make a lot of sense to believe that a round-headed flash somehow creates a light on the subject that is different once you have the subject in the center of the pool of light and/or the light is getting bounced around inside a modifier.

I hope that makes some sense.

Other thoughts:



Round head vs rectangular head flash



Mar 27, 2022 at 10:09 AM
pasblues
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


To address the statement: "First, you have to remember that speedlights have limited power, so putting a diffuser on the flash and then putting it into a double-diffused softbox many not give you much light to work with" - what another statement might be is: "Are third party flashes as consistent as the most high-quality flash options?"

One reviewer I trust (BH) actually tested two high quality lights - one a Canon 600EX-RTII and the other a Profoto system. He found that - although they stated their numbers differently (Canon in Guide Number and Profoto in watt seconds) that they both consistently measured exactly the same every time when measured with a flash meter.

However, with third party flashes, there was inconsistency. The real test is the target reading.

As for which light to choose, it depends on what you want to light up and how. But in the example discussed in this video, the two high quality lights tested gave the same target reading - one having a Guide number of 60 and the other a watt second rating of 250. So, the inference is that a guide number of 60 could likely equate (given the same test circumstances) of 250 watt seconds. That's before introducing any modifiers.

One thing that wasn't mentioned was that the Canon flash COULD improve on its recycle time if a battery pack was attached to it - but that's a bit of a digression. The Profoto may have a recycle time advantage because of the attached battery pack, so I wanted to mention that. In the past, I've used battery packs with Canon flashes at longer events and it was helpful. So, just FYI.

Anyway, here's a video from an expert on the Guide number vs watt second topic

The thing I have to agree with him on - because I am an event shooter where fluidity and movement is often the biggest demand, as opposed to static studio work - the portability of high quality speed lights is something I feel like is a critical part of my kit.

Even though I have a platter of choices with regard to more powerful studio lights, lugging those around would be highly impractical - and unnecessary - for ME in most circumstances.




Mar 27, 2022 at 10:38 AM
story_teller
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


Unfortunately, the "expert" in the video didn't take into account the internal design of the B2 strobe vs the Canon speedlight. The beam angle for the B2 is wider in order to fill up a softbox and the speedlight is usually designed with a much narrower beam angle (and not designed to scatter light in a softbox). The diffusion on the front of the B2 (also cuts down the amount of light) further diffuses/scatters the light more completely into a modifier. The Canon speedlight didn't have any diffusion. To be more accurate the expert should have removed the diffuser on the B2 and put a metal reflector on the it. If he did he would have gotten at least 2 stops more light on the meter. That would have been a much more accurate comparison.

While he did provide some other good content, his test was definitely flawed and misleading.



Mar 29, 2022 at 09:20 AM
sceptic
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


This video, although not directly intended to, shows the difference between a square and a round flash head. Granted, it does not include large modifiers (as discussed above), but I still think it is relevant for this discussion.
https://youtu.be/r7Fp3SbmnWI
Since the flash body is the same (Godox AD200) in both cases, the output is not affecting the results.

Similarly, this video shows the possibility of using (again small) round light modifiers on a square speedlight, as compared to a round speedlight.
https://youtu.be/-q9Pf78MDqg



Mar 30, 2022 at 05:50 AM
kaplah
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


pasblues wrote:
I see people using softboxes with round head vs rectangular head flashes and what could possibly be the difference? Maybe there are differences in the flashes themselves that have nothing to do with the head shape. I'm just not sure if the head shape is just a gimmick to get people to think they need to now have a round head flash...


In a softbox or similar modifier, I don't think there is a meaningful difference. Yes you can see a difference if you take a picture of the front of the softbox (I'm basing that on speedlight vs. E640 pictures that I've taken out of interest), but it isn't much and the effect on the subject is not visible, at least to me on real subjects (as opposed to a white test wall). Given that a softbox is likely rectangular, if someone cares they can orient the head in alignment with the softbox.

Round-head speedlights, compared to their rectangular counterparts will be more difficult to transport and store, don't take standard accessories (e.g., these gels), and are much more expensive.
For on-camera direct flash they waste light - because it's a round pattern on a 3:2 ratio sensor; for bounce I can't imagine any meaningful difference. But for someone with GAS, they are a tempting treat with high LCF.




Jun 10, 2022 at 08:12 AM
pasblues
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


kaplah wrote:
In a softbox or similar modifier, I don't think there is a meaningful difference. Yes you can see a difference if you take a picture of the front of the softbox (I'm basing that on speedlight vs. E640 pictures that I've taken out of interest), but it isn't much and the effect on the subject is not visible, at least to me on real subjects (as opposed to a white test wall). Given that a softbox is likely rectangular, if someone cares they can orient the head in alignment with the softbox.

Round-head speedlights, compared to their rectangular counterparts will be
...Show more

Thank you for the confirmation. I thought maybe there was some new technology that had slipped by me.



Jun 13, 2022 at 08:56 AM
sungphoto
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Round head vs rectangular head - is there really any difference?


Inside of a softbox, the difference is negligible.

Definite difference between a round and square head with direct flash, in terms of light spread, quality of light, hardness and color.

Ultimately in a setup with multiple lights, reflectors, fill etc I haven't found it makes much of a difference. That said if I had a hypothetical situation where I had to choose between the two, I'd rather have a set of 4 round head flashes over a mix of square and round heads, mainly for consistency as the different types of heads will have different light spread and color balance differently.



Jun 13, 2022 at 11:17 AM







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