Video: Australian photographer Karl Taylor presents Parabolic reflectors vs other professional light shaping tools.
As with everything else in photography these days, studio lighting is changing rapidly. So fast, I find it hard to keep up with the various types of lights, light modifiers, light sources, CRI Indexes, and the huge number of new vendors few have even heard of. Ideas like parabolic reflectors are something worth checking. They provide more excellent options in a photographer’s lighting toolbox. We can never have enough lighting options, especially if the light quality is pretty. Parabolic reflectors output pretty light. So every studio should consider Parabolic reflectors in the range of their modifiers.
The hard part is determining which type of light is best for you and your type of work. The various options are priced in quite a wide range of costs, depending upon such variables as power source, manufacturer, build quality, size, weight, type of materials used in construction, and expected product life. The video above, Australian photographer Karl Taylor presents several of the better known options, with a demonstration of how each light looks, why and how you would use them, and finally a gallery style comparison of the options set side by side to show the differences.
While each of the options is different, all of them share the same basic form and functions. Here are some of the more popular Parabolic reflectors and parabolic reflector like complete units, with direct links to individual product descriptions. Hope this helps you decide on your own selection.
The original, and to many still the king of parabolic lighting soft boxes, the Broncolor Para system offers a choice of five different sizes.
Para – choose strobe or continuous and pick your brand.
The Para 88 can be used with both strobes and continuous lighting as a diffused light source or a directional light source. The inwardly directed light produced gives shadows and extra sharpness and the fraction of scatter can be increased to reduce contrast. Additionally, it can be used with an array of diffusers or light grids. The Para 88, therefore, becomes a creative, light shaping tool. And fear not Profoto fans – this one is also for you! Yep, broncolor decided to share the new Para systems by making a universal baby pin mount and now offer adapters for Profoto, Kobold HMI and even Joker bugs.
Price Range $2,400 – $12,500 USD. MORE INFORMATION HERE
Available in 12 unique models and made with high-quality fabrics and surface-treated metallic elements, Profoto Umbrellas will provide a superior light for years to come. Available in a deeper shape for photographers who want a broader, more parabolic lighting shape range of possibilities, and in shallower shape for those who value portability and ease-of-use.
Price Range: $79 – $8,159 USD. MORE INFORMATION HERE
The PLM™ System
Paul Buff conceived and engineered this unique parabolic umbrella lighting method, first released in 2009. With the overwhelming popularity of the system, a number of copycats quickly popped up in the industry making inexpensive parabolic reflectors and other cheap knockoffs. Where Paul originated, they duplicated – and unfortunately for them and their customers, created inferior copies based on the first iteration of the design. Those first ones? Admittedly, they were not all that good nor very robust in construction. One good wind gust they were toast.
But Paul continued to study and make improvements to his original design over the years, now using the sixteen-rib frame to form a highly evolved, large-size, shallow parabolic shape. This results in extremely efficient light transfer, smooth coverage patterns, and even illumination across the face of the PLM™ for maximum shadow wrapping. In short, the Paul C. Buff™ PLM™ system is the modern replacement for conventional umbrellas, soft boxes, and other expensive yet inefficient modifiers. Paul Buff products are well known for providing good lighting modifiers and quite reasonable prices. While still not all that strong of construction, at their prices they are practically a disposable commodity, and an excellent light shaping tool at a ridiculously low cost.
Price Range $39.95 – $79.95 USD. MORE INFORMATION HERE
Back in 2011, South Korean manufacturer Rime Lite appointed Dynalite, America’s other manufacturer of lightweight, portable flash equipment, as their official USA Distributor, a relationship that continues on to this day. Well known for their line of speed light portable mini soft boxes, the Rime Lite Grand Softbox Parabolic reflectors also enjoy good user feedback.
Price Range: $250 – $515 USD. MORE INFORMATION HERE
Westcott’s recently announced large light modifiers, branded “Zeppelin,” could be something a lot of photographers are going to be interested in. The Zeppelin line is comprised of large, sixteen-sided softboxes with highly reflective silver interiors, and further can be configured with two optional diffusion panels to soften the light even further. Manufactured with Westcott’s typical high quality of construction at a reasonable cost, these units deserve careful consideration if your looking for Parabolic reflectors for your own studio.
Price Range: $399 – $599 MORE INFORMATION HERE
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