I’ve been asked to test a couple of softboxes from Pixapro. Pixapro have a huge catalogue of photographic equipment sold through http://www.essentialphoto.co.uk/. It’s worth getting the Pixapro catalogue just to see what you might like to treat yourself for Christmas!
The 2 softboxes I’ve been asked to review are the PIXAPRO Deep Para 90-S-Type Fitting and the PIXAPRO Premium Umbrella Soft Box with grid (120 Octagon)-S-Type Fitting.
Firstly, I am used to the softboxes which need the poles to be bent into the S-Fitting and which stretch the softbox out into a rigid form. Easy enough to get used to but you don’t want to have to do it every day if you don’t have to so you leave them set up if you can. If you do a lot of location work, it can be easier to throw a beauty dish in the car and a couple of brollies and you are covered for most things.
PIXAPRO Deep Para 90: This is a bit of a workout. All the poles are attached to the S fitting but you need to make sure the other end is inside the stiff pocket. There are 16 rods to push into place and I’m sure that if you do this a lot, your arms would get bigger but the material will loosen a bit making it easier to get them into the S-fit slots….
However, on a hot day in front of a client, this won’t make you feel relaxed! Once set up with or without 1 or 2 diffusers, it’s a very solid piece of kit. In practice, on a normal stand because of it’s length you may want to weight the lighting stand as it will look and feel front heavy and will fall forward easily. This is a narrower focused soft box with a shiny silver interior which gives a bright narrow field of light. Because of it’s depth, adding 2 diffusers will cut down the light from the flash by a couple of stops (in my test it was 2.5 stops darker).
This is what my test set up looked like. The model, Zara Watson was on a black background and to test the shadow drop off on her I lit her slightly from the left. This was the only light source and the Para was fitted into an old faithful 1500 j Bowens Esprit. Brilliant piece of kit now sadly replaced by a new Gemini version. The image below shows the set up and the hole in the ceiling is a dome (in case you wondered). My studio here was an old meditation centre.
So that’s the basics and the softbox itself. This is a strong focused softbox which has a fairly sharp drop off. Here’s an example of the drop off without diffusers in the light…..
ALL THE PICTURES BELOW ARE UNRETOUCHED AND AS THE RAW FILE……..
In other words, you would have to know that you needed a real sharp drop off to get the most from this modifier. I can see it being great for certain portraits and photographs of men where shadow detail is important etc. Used as a backlight on a bodybuilder for example without the need for flags to cut off light going into the lens. It is a great piece of kit and very solid. I would love to have one in my ‘armoury’ of kit for those specific occassions when I needed a light like that for the studio or location. Personally I’d be interested to know how other people use this softbox to maximum effect.
On the cropped image, there is less body to cause drop off and therefore the light is more flattering and with diffusers in and the shadows on the face are dark with not much ‘wrap around’ light.
The only problem is to compare a fantastic softbox with a specific style of light to, what in my opinion is a perfect all rounder in the Oct 120……
If you could take a soft box that would give you a better light than a brolly and took up less space in a car than a large beauty dish and was as easy to set up as a large brolly – wouldn’t that be great. So that’s the 120 Octa Soft Box. Now if it came with a 4cm honeycomb grid that would focus the light – for a price cheaper than the Para above, wouldn’t that be the best thing ever? It does just that and in my opinion it is…..and it really is easy to set up…
It’s a similar size overall, has a softer silver interior than the Para, has 2 diffusers and a honeycomb grid and I want one. Simple. It’s a wider field of light from the same light source and has less light reduction with diffusers fitted….
And with a 3/4 length shot you can see the wrap around a bit more clearly on the cheek…
So they perform in different ways these 2 styles of softbox but if you want one that does most things better for a cheaper price, my money goes to the Oct 120….
And just because I liked it so much I decided to do a close up …..
and then went on to shoot 2 hand painted jackets on Zara in the studio….