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Umbrellas for my speedlights

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by lisa_h, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
  2. Phillip Ino

    Phillip Ino

    Nov 26, 2007
    Those are more than adequate. And it does appear as if it is a pair :smile:. You may also want to consider something to weigh them down with, so the wind doesn't blow your light stands or tripods, causing you to have bent umbrellas. (speaking from experience :frown:) 
  3. ibcj


    Dec 19, 2006
    New York
  4. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
    Thanks Francis. Yes, I've heard that the wind can do a number on umbrellas. Do you think that these weights are adequate? Can be filled w/ up to 8.5 pounds of water or sand? Luckily for the school shoots I will be inside--- unless of course it's a gorgeous day which I doubt for mid October in the Fall :) 

  5. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
  6. It's perfectly good stuff, Lisa. I bought that kit a couple of years ago, and it's held up very well. Everything you need for a two light system... except the speedlights.

    I'll caution you, though, that the umbrellas are small 32 inchers. They're great for tabletop work, and OK for individual or couples head & shoulder portraits, but too small for groups. But umbrellas are cheap, so you might want to add a couple of 45" white shoot through umbrellas to your order...

  7. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
    Thanks Frank. Good to hear :) 
    So if I add those umbrellas to my order will I be able to use the other hardware to attach them? You don't think I need to go w/ the 60" ???
  8. Yes, the bigger umbrellas work with the kit. But I haven't gone as large as the 60 inchers. That's a lot of surface area for an sb600/800 to light up. The was the advice in Lighting 101:

    Regarding that sandbag you're considering to hold your lightstand against the wind, check out my do-it-yourself approaches.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  9. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
    Oooooooh Frank--- your method looks easy enough. Providing the wind doesn't take your camera bag along for the ride and destroy everything, haha. I guess I could use one of thos ball bungees with a 10 pound weight too??? I have a bunch of free weights in my exercise room!! Thank you.

    Okay, one last question--- Is one umbrella better than the other-- the shoot through vs. the convertible? I think I was leaning towards the 45" convertible. I wish I had the money to spend on a more powerful flash but since I already have 1 SB600 I figued I would just pick up another. I am adding an AB800 w/ a LARGE softbox to my stuido soon so I figure the SB600's w/ umbrellas would be a fine addition??
  10. I use my umbrellas in shoot-through mode, so I never need the black backing.
  11. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006

    I must disagree with the statement, we should try that for ourselves. It is NOT a lot of area for the flash to fill up. Bouncing the flash from a high ceiling, now THAT is a lot of area for the flash to fill up. :)  Point is, since ceiling bounce is certainly acceptable, then 60 inch umbrellas are certainly acceptable too, being a much smaller case of same thing. Makes no sense to argue for one, and exclude the other, certainly not on the basis of "too large".

    The only problem with 60 inch umbrellas is that they are 60 inches, which is huge to work around in a small room, and they should collect more wind too.

    I have the 45 inch Smith-Victor http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/250348-REG/Smith_Victor_401484_UK2_Umbrella_Kit_with.html (which I prefer to use most of the time) and a 60 inch Photogenic Eclipse umbrella.

    If you set these up on a fixed stand for careful measurement, and meter at a measured ten feet from the fabric (on center axis), there is no difference in the metered light reading when you swap the two umbrella sizes (without adjusting distance). In my case, the SB-800 1/1 Full Power Manual mode meters the same 1/10 stop less than f/8 from either umbrella at ten feet, on center. My Sekonic meter's precision is 1/10 stop.

    Specifics: The 60 inch (across the curved top) measures about 48 inches diameter (straight across). The 45 inch (across curved top) measures about 40 inches diameter straight across (measuring on the ribs). The 60 inch has an "effective" shaft length about 28 inches and the 45 inch has an "effective" shaft length about 24 inches. This longer shaft on the 60 inch makes the geometry to "fill" them be essentially the same - required angle of flash for umbrellas is 2 arc tan(opposite/adjacent). So 2 arc tan (20/24) or 2 arc tan (24/28) is near 80 degrees either way. Therefore, the flash obviously "fills" them the same. A bit larger umbrella at a bit greater distance computes the same angle. Has to, or else we would need different light reflectors for every umbrella size. The spec chart on page 121 of SB-800 manual specifies the flash can fill 60x78 degrees at the 24mm zoom position, just about right for any umbrella size (due to the shaft lengths).

    Carefully metering at five feet off center (to the side - both still at ten feet out) the 60 inch still meters about the same (consistently 1/10 stop less than f/8), but the 45 inch meters 3/10 stop less off to the side (at same position). Its more narrow beam is falling off faster at the side. It does not cover the same width as consistently.

    I am not sure how much of this measurement is due to the umbrella, and how much due to the room. This test light is aimed horizontally about five feet high. This is in a fairly large room with ten feet ceilings, but room bounce can certainly have an effect, which I cannot separate. I think it is a large effect, so I do not claim great accuracy, but the concept is certainly there. I ought to repeat this outdoors at night.

    So what the 60 inch property does is two things: 1) it is a larger softer light source when at the same distance (however, this can be needlessly overdone, esp since we must get the camera in there too). 2) It does throw a wider beam, filling a larger area of light out in the room (first measurement above was on center). The 45 inch could light the same larger area if its more narrow angle were placed farther away (but then the light is "smaller" and less soft, and would need more power to do that at the greater distance).

    Regarding power, the flash unit is always the same of course. The size of umbrella only affects what the distance has to be to cover that width (and distance affects power). But of course, the main property is that the size of the umbrella (relative size seen by subject) controls softness of the light. Large and near is soft, small and far is much more harsh.

    Basically, the 60 inch is just a larger light source. That large light source is the property we seek, for its softer light. 60 is larger than 45, which is good. But the fly in the ointment is that 60 inches is a pretty big deal to work around in a small room. 45 inches is an excellent compromise. My own preference is 45 inches.
  12. Your informed opinions are always welcome Wayne, but I'd point out that my expectations for the illumination from bounce flash differ greatly from my expections for umbrella lighting. At any rate, I was just quoting Dave Hobby, who I consider to be an expert in the field.

    Got it. You disagree with Dave Hobby's logic, but agree with his conclusions :rolleyes: .
  13. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
    Thanks Wayne. Phew.............I'm thinking maybe I am not ready for umbrella's since most of what you said went right over my head, lol. I appreciate your thoughts.

    I have decided to go w/ the 45 inch convertible umbrellas.

    Thanks guys :) 

    Oh, regarding light meters--- preference??
  14. You've got a great light meter built into your camera.
  15. Wayne are you refering to shoot thru umbrellas?
  16. 32" umbrellas are quite small, especially for group shots if you want even lighting. Remember, the measurement is taken across the arch of the opened umbrella, so you're actually only getting about 28" (<---pure random guess) or so from edge to edge when opened.
  17. If your not gonna use cls, a good light/flashmeter will aid you nicely.

    In fact a good light/flashmeter is more accurate then the meter in your camera.

    Sekonic L-358 or the L-308 are perfect meters to start with.(and will be more then enough for most people)
  18. lisa_h


    Sep 6, 2008
    New England
    Thanks. I mentioned above I decided to go w/ the 45" ones :wink:

    Thanks Paul :) 
  19. Very true, but it only measures the flash if it's fired via the CLS feature to retain its TTL capabilities. If you want to really increase the possibilities with off camera flash, you need a hand held light meter to measure and adjust each flash's output separately, as well as the scene with all flashes firing at once as a whole.

    For a recommendation, the Sekonic L-358 is a nice, affordable, yet very capable unit from all that I've read. It's very popular with the Alien Bee crown at the PCB forums.
  20. True, my response was made after reading your original post, and none of the other responses.
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