Soft and Smooth
I have long had my eye on the Photek Softlighter, a versatile soft light modifier very often used by David Hobby. My journey into softer light started with a pair of 45″ shoot-through umbrellas, like most of David’s readers, and while they do the job, they lack controllability. To quote the master, “an umbrella spews out light like a frat boy puking at 2:30am after a party.” Conversely, the Softlighter is quite controllable; when using it either as a reflective umbrella or a round softbox, it confines your light to the direction you point it.
It took a while to convert my yearning into acquisition; in July of this year I finally ordered the 60″ Softlighter and tried it out:
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Softlighter eats less light than my umbrellas. I didn’t measure it, but my rough estimate would be that it has at least a 2/3 stop advantage, which means I get more flash pops and shorter recycle times from one set of batteries. Awesome.
As expected, it’s a superb key light, but it works equally well for on-axis fill, as in this portrait of my wife. I’m glad I picked the 60″ size; the next size larger would be too unwieldy but the next smaller wouldn’t have enough surface area for the broad even light I want.
I still have my old umbrellas, but since getting the Softlighter I haven’t used them once. Whether you use single speedlights, ganged speedlights, or studio strobes, this is a superb modifier, and at $100 for the 60″ version it’s a prodigious value compared to the competition. I highly recommend it.