Comparing Light Modifiers

Pulling out all the stops

I continue today with comparing light modifiers and how they work with studio strobes versus speed lights. I am not advocating for either. Just comparing.  For the sequence below I tried to keep everything as consistent as possible. Camera on tripod (Canon 6D with 50mm f/1.4 EF lens). Consistent aperture (f/7.1, adjusting light output to match). Mannequin to maintain pose, facial expression, distance from background, etc. (I couldn't bear to make a human model sit through hours of changing out modifiers). Similar light to subject distances when possible. Soft boxes and the Photek Softlighter can get in closer than umbrella because they don't have the shaft sticking out, so they were used in closer, as I would in a real situation. In this main set, I had a consistent white balance setting. Color changes between images are due to the diffusion materials (some of my soft boxes are older and warmer) and the difference between the Speedotron 202VF head with UV-coated flash tube and the Canon 480EX II speed light. I've made no exposure or color corrections to these images. The original image is 2400x6480 pixels and about 2.2MB. You can download it, open it in Adobe Photoshop, and cut/paste the individual images to get better side-by-side representations of specific modifiers you might be interested in.

In all images except the ring flash, the flash was about 45-degrees to camera left, light centered just about at the mannequin's eye level. Mannequin was close to the background so that you can compare the shadows created by each light/modifier combination. The lights were feathered slightly forward of the mannequin. The ring flash was obviously at the camera.

In the second image, I put together a side-by-side comparison of the Speedotron and the speed light in the same umbrella reflectors. I also attempted to neutralize the color temperature differences between the two lights.

Have fun with these and let me know what your go-to favorite light modifier is in the comments.

If you want larger versions you can download larger versions of all the modifiers (2.5 meg) and/or the umbrella comparison (1.1 meg) images from Dropbox.


And now for the umbrellas...


Thanks for playing along!

PS: Adding a lighting diagram from for clarity on how this setup was lit.


Thanks again for your comments and for sharing!