Today on The Slanted Lens we will be doing a light modifiers comparison and talking about all the different types of light modifiers and the different effects they have on photos. Each light modifier will have a slightly different effect on the light that hits our subject, so let’s take a look!
Prepping the Baja A6
We will be getting still shots using the Dynalite Baja A6 in order to test how each modifier reacts to strobe light. To start off we have tried to eliminate all the white surfaces on the ceiling and the back wall in the room that may cause light to reflect back on our subject’s face. We have done this by putting up two pieces of black foam core. We also placed a light meter in the room so that we can get an accurate measurement of the power that comes out of the box each time. It is important that the power level in each shot is consistent so that we can get an accurate idea of the quality of light that comes through the modifiers as opposed to the amount of light passing through it. That’s what we want to measure today- quality, not quantity.
You may think that these photographs aren’t all that different from each other, but the reality is that each modifier will do slightly different things. As we look at the stills, we will find differences in the softness of the light, the area of coverage, etc. This test is not meant to be a complete review of these light modifiers, but rather is meant to help us compare the quality of light they emit.
We have made sure that the front face of the modifiers is always four feet away from our model’s face to ensure that we get an honest comparison of the modifiers. If we kept the Baja A6 where it was the entire time, some modifiers would be extremely close to the subject’s face and would therefore change the quality of light in the shots we are taking.
The first modifier we tried out was a standard Dynalite 7″ umbrella reflector.
Second, we used a Dynalite 11.25″ reflector. This modifier is 2 stops brighter than the 7″ reflector and it makes the background a lot darker. This is characteristic of these deep reflectors because they emit much narrower beams of light and don’t expose the background as much as wider beamed modifiers, like the beauty dish.
Third, we tested the Dynalite 13″ reflector.
Next we switched over to the beauty dishes. The first beauty dish we used was Dynalite’s 17″ Beauty Dish which required us to bring the Baja A6 up one stop. This dish gave us a surprisingly great shot and it was actually quite comparable in quality to the Mola Beauty Dish that we used for the next shot.
The second beauty dish we used was the *22″ Mola which is just absolutely beautiful. The Mola softens the light considerably and does a beautiful job of highlighting our subject’s face.
Octodomes by PhotoFlex
We then pulled out the Small Octodome by Photoflex and it actually had a very similar effect to the MOLA Beauty Dish. It’s face is about 32″ wide and therefore wrapped around her face just a little bit more than the Mola did.
The next light modifier we used was the 57″ Octodome by Photoflex and because of its size, the light coming out of it was much softer and provided a much nicer area of exposure. We got to see much more of our model’s face when we used this light modifier.
We then broke out a 35″ parabolic from Dynalite. This Parabolic is silver lined which leaves a really great, shining effect on the skin. Because it is a parabolic it has a slightly more narrow area of coverage.
The Extra Small White-Lined Softbox gave us a march harder light and was a much more focused beam than some of the other light modifiers we have been experimenting with.
The Difference Between White and Silver Lining
When we talk about the difference between white-lined and silver-lined we are talking about the entire inner lining of these light modifiers. The difference in color of the lining will give us a different bounce net to work with. It looks like they are both very similar in quality. The silver seems to give just a little more shine in the skin, but other than that we aren’t looking at a very noticeable difference between the white-lined and silver-lined modifiers.
So with that explained, we move right into the Large White-Lined Photoflex and Silver-Lined Dynalite Softboxes. These Softboxes were much larger and gave us the ability to wrap around the subject. Normally we would push these way out, but today we will keep them straight on and squared to our subject for comparison purposes.
We then tried a few shots with a 72″ White Shoot Thru Umbrella which just wrapped beautifully from camera left to camera right. We also used a 7″ reflector inside that umbrella just to keep the light focused on the center of the umbrella and not bouncing up onto the ceiling.
As we moved to the silver-lined umbrella, we flipped it around so that the strobe was bouncing light into it and then back toward our subject. It gave us another great shot and did a great job of lighting her face and increasing that area of coverage like the previous Shoot Thru Umbrella did.
Reviewed Analysis of Light Modifiers
Well, before we close let’s quickly review some of the things we learned in this comparison of light modifiers. First, the silver-lined light modifiers seem to be a little bit brighter, but they don’t really change the quality of light in the shot. The deeper reflectors gave a much narrower beam of light than normal. The Mola beauty dish was excellent, as usual, and the 35″ Grand Parabolic gave a great highlight of the subject’s face while controlling the background exposure. That small beauty dish by Dynalite was also quite impressive. It compared pretty well with the Mola Beauty Dish, but the Mola gave us just a little brighter and softer light.
You can decide which effect works best for you and the work that you do. Let us know how you are using these modifiers and how they are working for you. And comment below on the differences you saw between all these different modifiers.
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!
*We originally posted that this beauty dish was a MOLA, but it turns out we were actually using a Speedotron. Sorry about that!