Will it fill it?
Back in January I posted an article about using a 7-foot silver parabolic umbrella with speed lights and a studio strobe. It showed how some smaller light sources, like a camera flash, don't quite fill the entire umbrella.
At that time, I started wondering how well a Profoto D1 or the newer B1 monolight would work with the big umbrella. Unlike many other strobe heads that have a flash tube that sticks out from the head, the D1 and B1 have a flat front with a recessed flash tube (see photo below). I've heard that the diffusion glass on the front of the D1/B1 would disperse the light, but was not quite convinced. Here are the Profoto D1 and Speedotron 202VF strobe heads for comparison:
Looking at these photos, it seems that at 22" from the umbrella it does a pretty good job of filling the umbrella--better than I had thought it would. But, how does it compare to a speed light or a strobe with a protruding tube? Here are those test images from January's post to compare
To me, it still seems like the head with the protruding tube does the best job of filling the umbrella and making it a large light source instead of only using a bit of the umbrella.
But all of these seem to be quite different from the Broncolor Para that was the original parabolic umbrella. In the Bron Para, the lamp head can be focused by moving it closer or farther from the umbrella and when focused lights the outer edge of the umbrella making a giant ring-light-like device for the "Para Look." De-focused, it fills the umbrella like the last set of images above.
Of course, there is a gigantic difference in the price between the current crop of 7-foot parabolic umbrellas priced around $100 and the Broncolor Para, which ranges in price from around $2,500 to $12,500 depending on the size.
Anyone out there want to gift a Bron Para to me? I promise to take some photos of it like these!
Hey! It doesn't hurt to ask. But in the meantime, keep on photographing and learn as much about your equipment as you can so you know what to expect and which tools to use in various situation. And have fun!