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Shoot: Does Softbox Size Matter?

Is there a difference between light created by the various sizes of Lastolite’s Ezyboxes—Speed-lite (about 10″), Hotshoe 24″, and Hotshoe 30″? As these portraits of my friend Annette show, the answer is “no and yes.”

All Three Ezyboxes Create Soft Light

Figure 19.36 is the ambient light as the camera wanted to record it in Av with 0 EC. Figure 19.37 is my manual exposure (ambient minus three stops). In Figure 19.38, I fired a bare Speedlite at Annette. You can tell it is bare because the shadows are hard, and the light does not reach around her face.

Now look at Figures 19.3919.41. All were created by the three sizes of Ezyboxes. You can see in each that the light reaches around Annette’s face and that the shadows are soft. To make a fair comparison, I moved the stand so that the diffuser of each softbox was the same distance from her face.

The Difference Is The Reach Of The Light

I also centered the height of each softbox on Annette’s nose. As you can see in Figure 19.39 (the largest frame), the small Speed-lite Ezybox did a fine job of creating soft light. The difference between the three—and you have to look close to see it—is that the larger softboxes also carried the soft light farther down on Annette’s arms. If I had lowered the 30″ so that the top was even with Annette’s hat, the soft light at the bottom would be even more apparent.

Lighting Details

Environment: Outdoors under eave

Time of Day: Mid-afternoon

Ambient: indirect sunlight

Speedlite: One 580EX II

Mode: E-TTL


Zoom: 24mm

Modifier: Lastolite Ezyboxes

Distance to Subject: About 2′

Height: Centered on subject’s nose

Trigger: Extra-long E-TTL cord

Camera Details

Camera: 5D Mark II

Lens: 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS

Distance to Subject: 8′

Exposure Mode: Manual

Exposure: 1by125.jpg″, f/8, ISO 100

White Balance: Daylight

Figure 19.35

Figure 19.35 Lighting diagram

Figure 19.36

Figure 19.36 My 5D Mark II metered the ambient at 1by30.jpg″, f/5.6, ISO 100.

Figure 19.37

Figure 19.37 I dimmed the ambient by manually dialing the exposure to 1by125.jpg″, f/8, ISO 100—a change of –3 stops.

Figure 19.38

Figure 19.38 Without a softbox, the bare flash creates hard shadows.

Figure 19.39

Figure 19.39 Even the smallest of the softboxes, the Lastolite Speed-lite, created beautiful light.

Figure 19.40

Figure 19.40 The Ezybox 24″ provides soft light with a slightly smaller vignette at the bottom.

Figure 19.41

Figure 19.41 The Ezybox 30″ provides beautiful light from Annette’s hat down to her hands.

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