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Question: Studio lighting question - what's the difference between light box's and the lights with the umbrella's!?
I'm just entering the professional world of photography and I am on a limited budget and trying to put together a studio!. Are they used for different purposes, or is one just better than the other!. also, how so you know what watt light bulbs to use!? thanks so much!Www@QuestionHome@Com

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker:
Since no one else answered your question, I will!.

Both umbrellas and softboxes are used to soften light, but they give slightly different effects!. Softboxes give flatter light and can, if you use a single large one (3x4 feet or so) be used for portraits to simulate the look of soft windowlight!. Softboxes are used for that kind of portraiture, but are mainly used for product photography because they give nice looking highlight reflections of shiny objects!.

Umbrellas are mainly used for portraits, and they give a little more contrast and deminsionality to the face than with softboxes!. They are not so good for still life and product photos because the shape of the umbrella will reflect in shiny parts of the product or object you photograph!.

Softboxes are used for strobes, because continuous light sources get very hot inside the softbox and can be a fire hazard, although there are special heat-resistant softboxes made for hotlights!.

Umbrellas can be used for either strobes or hot continuous lights!.

I am mostly experienced with strobes!. I'd get 500ws strobes!. They're powerful enough for almost anything (certainly enough for any kind of portrait from individuals to small groups) but not horridly expensive like more powerful units like 750 or 1000ws strobes!. Expect to pay about $500 each, and you'll need 2 minimum for portraits, and 3 or 4 is better if you want to do a background light in addition to the main and fill lights!.

I wouldn't use photofloods or hotlights for portraits, they both get very hot and quickly make people sweat while you photograph them!. The unfortunate thing about photography is that 'limited budget' just doesn't work!. It is a VERY expensive hobby and an even more expensive profession!. It is not uncommon for an ordinary portrait studio to own $30,000 or more worth of equipment: strobes, softboxes and umbrellas, light stands, background stands, backgrounds, props, posing stools, reflectors, etc!. Commercial photographers (for product photography, architecture, etc) need even more than that!.Www@QuestionHome@Com

These articles mostly have to do with television and film, but may give you an idea of why a box light or umbrella is used!.

Careers in Television and Video: Lighting Fundamentals and Principles, Part 1

Careers in Television and Video: Identifying and Using Lights

Careers in Television and Video: How to Position and Adjust Lights

Lighting a Scene for Video: Advanced Strategies and Techniques
WITH PICS: http://www!.whatnots!.cc/ac_articles!.html#!.!.!.

Hope these help in some way!. Good luck!Www@QuestionHome@Com

I use light boxes in the studio, umbrellas that bounce or shoot through on the road because I find soft boxes a pain to set up!. Alien Bee has Brolly boxes, a shoot through umbrella with a covering to prevent skew lighting and flare!. I haven't tried them yet, but they appear sensible!. You need a stronger light to bounce than to shoot through!.Www@QuestionHome@Com

I use an umbrella when using my 750 watt incandescent Lowel Tota-light!.

I have a kit like this:


I use different shaped soft boxes when shooting using studio flash units (300 to 600 w/sec heads) from square to rectangularWww@QuestionHome@Com