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Softbox vs Umbrella

What is the best type of light modifier is best for your photography? Umbrellas are the best light modifiers that are commonly used by starters in the field of photography. On the other hand, softboxes are also popular since they can offer you with more control and direction.

As stated by expert photographers, there are four main features in photography, and these include quality, quantity, direction, and color. In terms of working with different light sources – either with monolights or speed lights, the only thing that you should do to enhance the quality of the image s to use various modification devices, including a softbox or an umbrella.

Each of the light modifiers mentioned above has its own pros and cons that every photographer can experience. But, in spite of your decision on which you should purchase between the two, both of these light modifiers are being lined by a similar essential rule, which is the “light source to the subject determines how soft or hard the light must be used.” When the light source was positioned closer to the model or the subject, the light must be softer. On the other hand, the further the position of the light source from the model or the subject, the light must be harder.

In this post about the head-to-head comparison of softbox light vs. umbrella, you will determine which of the two light modifiers is best for your photography skills or whether if they have similar characteristics. Aside from that, you will also know their important features as well as their disadvantages.

Keep on reading this post, and we will be the ones who will help you to make your decision between umbrella vs. softbox. We will give you the light modifier comparisons for you to have a vivid idea and know which one will suit your requirements.

Head-to-Head Comparison of Photography Umbrella Vs. Softbox

Best forBoth amateur and professionalsBoth amateur and professionals
Product Dimensions8 x 7.5 x 31.6 inches27.6 x 7.9 x 5.9 inches
Item Weight9.25 pounds5.8 pounds
Shipping Weight5.8 pounds5.8 pounds
Item Model NumberFBA_LMS1038595761925
Customer Reviews4.4 stars over 5 stars and has 4,765 customer reviews4.3 stars over 5 stars and has 579 customer reviews
Best Sellers RankThe number on in Photographic Lighting UmbrellasNumber one in Lighting Soft Boxes
Date Included on AmazonAugust 1, 2011September 11, 2018
LightingCan create both soft and hard lightingCan create both soft and hard lighting
Bulbs IncludedOnly one umbrellaTwo large bulbs
PriceSee Latest Price on AmazonSee Latest Price on Amazon
Softbox Vs. Umbrella

Softbox Vs. Umbrella Light Modifiers Similar Features

Let us begin the comparison between Umbrella Vs. Softbox light modifiers by looking at their similar features. Getting some information from the given table above, the two lighting modifiers can create both soft and hard lighting. Since these two lighting modifiers can create both soft and hard lighting, making it an ideal choice for those expert photographers and videographers out there.

Both the softbox vs. umbrella for video are also suitable for both amateur and professional users, which means it has vivid instructions on how to use. Both of the lighting modifiers are also made up of high-quality materials, which can assure that whether you purchase umbrella lighting modifier or a softbox lighting modifier for your videography and photography skills, your investment will be worth it.

Furthermore, the two mentioned lighting modifiers can be both purchases in Amazon at a very fair price. We all know that Amazon is one of the leading online shops in the world and can deliver your items faster wherever you are.

Differences of Body Composition of Softbox and Umbrella Lighting Modifier

Take note that both the weight and the size of a particular thing that you want to buy always matter, especially when you are looking for a lighting modifier that can suit all your needs and requirements. For you to decide which of the two mentioned lighting modifiers you should purchase, in this part of our article, we will give you the body comparison of Softbox lighting modifier and umbrella lighting modifier.

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Umbrella Lighting Modifier

Umbrella lighting modifiers are considered as easy-to-understand and straightforward flash modifiers. They are the ones that spread and diffuse light. Many of the starters in the field of photography and videography prefer this type of light modifier since they are easy to set up, versatile, and cheap. Umbrella lighting modifiers come up with two different styles, reflective umbrellas, and white shoot-through umbrellas. You may also like the comparison between Nikon D5600 vs. Nikon D7200.

If you are using the shoot-through type of umbrella lighting modifier, the light you will use will as throughout the umbrella’s fabric. Usually, some of the videographers and photographers describe this kind of flash modifier as “hugging our whole scene with lots of soft light.” On the other hand, if you will be going to use the reflective umbrella, the light will pass directly to the umbrella’s bowl and will re-bounce onto the model or the subject.

A reflective umbrella lighting modifier has a black-colored back, and a gold or silver-colored reflected side. Generally, an umbrella lighting modifier comes up in various sizes and usually starts from 22 inches and more. Take note that the wider the umbrella you will purchase, the wider the light will spread.

Various types of umbrella lighting modifiers that you will use will give you various effects. Which one you will use will always depend upon your needs and requirements. Once again, a shoot-through type of umbrella will offer you a seamless and soft light. You can use this type of umbrella when producing a portrait subject.

On the other hand, the bounce type of umbrella is considered more effective compared to the first one. It has a colored lining that will give an impact to the shade of the situation. For instance, a gold-colored line of bounce umbrellas will warm up the tone but can still give your model’s white dress some touches of colors. A silver-colored line of an umbrella will also give your subject a slightly contrasting and intense color. We also recommended you check out the best gimble you can buy for your cameras.

Softbox Lighting Modifier

A softbox lighting modifier is a square-shaped one. It is being used in softening the light, but as mentioned earlier, it is more convenient to use as it will provide you with more direction and control. Many photographers love this kind of light modifier as it provides them with the duplicated window light. Similar to the umbrella light modifier, if you will purchase a larger size softbox, ensure that you will also have a wider light space.

One of the drawbacks of this light modifier is that you will need enough light for to fill a larger size of the softbox. Thus, a bigger softbox is not always the best choice. As the rule of thumb says that your softbox size must always fit the size of your subject. If you want to capture a head-and-shoulder photo, then a 24 inches softbox is perfect for you. On the other hand, you will need 48 inches of softbox if you want to produce couples’ images or full-body photos.

Why Should You Use Softbox Lighting Modifier Instead of Umbrella Lighting Modifier?

The term “softbox” is being used in describing the enclosure that usually surrounds the source of light o the entire sides and diffuses the one that is escaping from it. Softboxes during the early times were made up of large and wide plywood boxes with tracks and open front from on the bottom and top. But, in this generation, softboxes are now constructed with lightweight and high-quality materials where you can carry wherever you want. It also comes up with various sizes, which make it more portable and convenient to use.

Why do many photographers prefer softboxes instead of umbrella lighting modifiers? Well, the only answer is always about its ability to adapt. There will be no lighting modifiers other than the softbox can offer you with the softer light that is suitable in any situation. Whether you want to shoot a product, food, fashion, or portraiture, a softbox lighting modifier can help you.

If we are going to capture a particular subject with the use of both lighting modifiers – the softbox and the umbrella, you will see a big difference between the two photos. On the photo that was captured with the softbox lighting modifier, you can see that it has a very soft lighting, while on the photo that was captured with umbrella, you can see that some sides of the photo have hard and soft lighting which is not good in the eyes of the viewers.

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Even though softboxes are not being used as the key source of light, it will always play a very vital role for edge, separation, and fill lighting. We concluded that you would experience a hard time on your photography or videography if you do not use a softbox lighting modifier.

Why Should You Use Umbrella Lighting Modifier Instead of Umbrella Lighting Modifier?

We all know that umbrellas have different sizes and are being used by people during sunny ad rainy season. Umbrellas are one of the most important things that we should always bring with us every single day.

But, did you know that umbrella is also being used in the field of photography? I know that only some of us know it. Umbrella is a tool that will help the photographer in terms of the lighting of the videography and photography, most notably when the shoot was being done indoors.

With the use of this rain and sun protection tool gives exceptional help for those people out there who take their photography skills seriously. Generally, the umbrella lighting modifier is the one that assists the photographers or the videographers to produce images professionally.

Similar to the softbox lighting modifier, this tool is being used to diffuse the light to create softer lighting in the sides of the subject. Thus, rather than allowing the light to pass directly to the model or the subject, the work of the umbrella is to bounce off the lighting away from the subject. By doing this, you will have a no shadows or softer shadows result of images.

What’s good with this type of lighting modifier is that it comes up with different colors and different purposes. As mentioned above, it has a gold-colored line and the silver one. But, keep in mind that there are lots of techniques that you should do to achieve your desired result of the image. For example, for you to remove the unwanted shadows from your subject, you must have a good light angle. To do this, place your umbrella lighting modifier in a place where you can put all the shadows away from your model. This technique is usually used by many photographers in creating portraits.

Shared Disadvantages of Softbox and Umbrella Modifiers

Take note that there is no product in this world that do not have its weaknesses and disadvantages. Right after our discussion about the similar characteristics of the two mentioned lighting modifier – the softbox and the umbrella, it’s the time for you to know the similar drawbacks of the two.

So, let us first discuss its price. Both of the lighting modifiers were priced reasonably, and we can’ deny the fact that these two have a quite high price. But, take note that you will get your money’s worth when you pick the one that suits your skills. But, if you are going to ask which one should I choose, I will go to the cheaper one. It is because I have this feeling that after using it for a longer time, I will determine how to use it properly to avoid problems. With that, I can save my money while enjoying my photography.

Both of the lighting modifiers work good during the indoor photoshoot. Thus, there is a chance that these two might not work good during the outdoor photoshoots as they do indoors. Plus, if you will use these two modifiers outdoors, it might be blown away by the strong winds since they are constructed to be used indoors.

If you are going to use these two lighting modifiers, you can see that they will require you to memorize various techniques for you to get your desired result, and some of us don’t have the patience to do the trial-and-error in terms of photography.

What the Reviewers Say

Both the lighting modifiers have gained their popularity to many photographers and videographers – whether professionals or not. These two are popular because of their competitive image quality, advanced features, and ease to set up.

The Umbrella lighting modifier is considered to be one of the best lighting modifiers that can be used indoors. But some professional says that it is kind of hard to use since it requires lots of techniques to have a better result.

The softbox lighting modifier is one of the most popular light modifiers that most professional photographers use. Most photographers say that it works well indoors and somehow outdoors. But one of its drawbacks is that it is not Speedlight friendly compared to the umbrellas.
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Fianl Verdict

In this post about softbox vs. umbrella comparison, you have already determined that both of these modifiers share similar advantages and weaknesses. If you want to use a lighting modifier that does not require lots of techniques, then the umbrellas are good for you. But, if you prefer to use the one that is easy to set up and utilize, we recommend you to use the softboxes.

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Jason Baxter

Jason is a professional photographer based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Loyd has been doing photography for over 14 years and specializes in fine art landscape photography. Loyd's work has appeared on book covers, CD covers, television, internet galleries, and on the walls of private residences.