Soft Box vs. Umbrella

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Photography Tips, Studio Equipment, Studio Lighting

Getting the lighting right on your photographic backdrops is important. Two methods influence the amount of light your photography backdrops absorb and reflect; soft boxes and umbrellas. Both have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to manipulating the light in your photo.

Soft Box

For the best control over your lighting and for a seamless look, soft boxes seem to be the better choice. Soft boxes come in a variety of shapes that have varying effects on your lighting, from standard rectangular, square or octangular. The boxes are double diffused and produce a soft light, and are effective when it comes to reducing shadows against your backgrounds for photography, so they can be used with brighter lighting without washing out your photographs. The downside of soft boxes in the cost, and can be difficult to set up, so it can be difficult to use them on location. While some soft boxes set up quickly, they don’t control light against your photography backdrops as well as standard models.


Umbrellas are also a popular option and are easy for many photographers to work with, partly because nearly everyone has some sense of how an umbrella works. In photography there are two types on umbrellas that are mainly used: reflective and shoot -through. Umbrellas are inexpensive compared to other options.. They are easy to set up, but while for the most part they soften light as soft boxes do, light is more likely to spill over and wash out your photo, and they can sometimes catch light in your subject’s eyes.

Brolly Box

Another type of lighting modification is brolly boxes. Brolly boxes aim to merge the quick assembly benefits of umbrellas while maintaining some of the advantages of a soft box. Usually, an outer white lining allows for shoot through lighting, and an inner black lining fits around the head of your light to control spill. Brolly boxes are generally more expensive than umbrellas, but offer a similar level of portability, At the same time, they are less expensive than typical soft boxes of a similar size. But brolly boxes are not infallible. The have more light output than soft boxes, and don’t have the diffusion to handle as much lighting as soft boxes, and light fall diminishes when they are used too far away. Regardless of which method is used to manipulate, the photographer clearly needs to develop a good knowledge base to get their lighting right.

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment

Prove you are human to submit your comment! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.