trappedlight 5:23pm, 18 October 2006
36" Umbrelsoft II by DyanPhos sold on ebay via

I found this interesting umbrella/softbox on ebay. At $.025 plus $10 shipping I figured it was worth the investment to see if it was a worthwhile investment over a shoot thru umbrella.


I've disliked the idea of having the round portion of my shoot thru as the diffuser since light spreads everywhere, making it hard to control. This looked like a better solution since the diffusion panel was flat and could be spun around just like an umbrella to only light certain areas.

As you can see the flash head is supposed to enter the diffusion area, bounce off the silver backed umbrella and leave thru the diffusion panel. Simple idea that sounds like it'd be perfect for us Strobists.

The Umbrelsoft 2 comes with a little nylon sleeve to put the umbrella into. The Umbrelsoft itself is made of decent weight nylon but certainly nothing I think would withstand abuse. Certainly not as well made as my Photoflex Softbox, but then it was 10x cheaper too. Care should be taken when retracting the umbrella as the white diffusion panel can snag on the umbrella tips.

It sets up exactly like a regular umbrella, only the Umbrelsoft 2 is brought much closer to the stand so the flashhead can poke thru the special hole in the diffusion panel. It was at this moment I realized I had a problem. My Sigma EF500 flash didn't quite fit into the hole where the strobe is supposed to go; it was too tall. I could stretch the material around the flash and insert the flash into the Umbrelsoft but even then the flashhead itself was pointed much higher than the umbrella's center. I believe these were designed for studio strobes where the distance from the head to the center of the umbrella shaft is rather close. My 6" flash was maybe an inch too tall. Adding my hotshoe adapter to use my Pocket Wizard just made the issue worse.

About 8 hours later, I thought of a possible solution. I decided to reverse my umbrella adapter. One end of your umbrella adapter connects to the lightstand and the other end is supposed to hold both the hotshoe flash and umbrella. By reversing the adapter so the umbrella was held by the bottom end, I was able to rotate the upper portion so the flash was angled toward the Umbrelsoft.


This lowers the flashhead considerably and as you can see the flash can now fit into the hole in the panel. Of course this sacrifices the adapter's ability to tilt the umbrella so it's stuck parallel to the horizon. However for my applications, I don't think this will be a major issue.


The Umbrelsoft 2 provides nice diffused light that is more directional than a shoot thru umbrella. It's more efficient as there's no light lost either. For $10 its not bad and certainly better light than my shoot thru umbrella. I'd recommend it for anyone with a shorter flash or anyone for which tilting the Umbrelsoft II is not important.

More info can be found at Amvona's site here:
davidcampbellphoto 9 years ago
I've been using these for a few months, I love them!
trappedlight 9 years ago

How have you handled the issue with a tall flash? Do you have a different solution? Thanks.
endoshoots 9 years ago
Great post. I am buying one now.
GregLal 9 years ago
I use a 43" UmbrelSoft II and it works perfectly with SB600/800s and my umbrella shoe mount shown below.

strobist PRO 9 years ago

What is the synch adapter just beneath your flash that is taking your PW cord?

trappedlight 9 years ago

Thats the female mini plug to hotshoe adapter I mentioned in another thread. Costs $7 shipped from an ebay vendor although you can't buy it directly on ebay.

I use a male to male mini plug cable and everything works fine. So for around $12 ($7 adapter + $5 cable from Radio Shack) I can connect my PW to my flash.

I can take a photo of the adapter if you like, but it looks just like those optical triggers only it has a female 1/8" mini plug port instead of the PC sync port.

If anyone wants the vendor info, let me know.
RanManDX 9 years ago
Could you jsut somehow craft a DIY solution onto any silver umbrella? Get some white fabric and sew a rip cord around it and cut a hole exactly where you'd need it, and then just throw it over the umbrella and apply enough tension to keep it in place. I was thinking of crafting something like that when i decide what umbrellas to get.
strobist PRO 9 years ago

Yeah, I'd love contact info on that. Thanks.

chrisleck 9 years ago
I am using the more expensive Photek Softlighter II (46") ( It's a versatile, solid product with quite a (cult?) following.

I have purchased from Amvona and absolutely cannot recommend the company or its products. If interested, you may google for more info and opinions.
beachcombersrus 9 years ago
@chrisleck - I had previously checked into the company's reviews (Amvona ) and based on what I saw posted on-line - wouldn't even chance dealing with them. Hard to believe some of those stories.
harry pocius 9 years ago
I have 2 photeks and hardly ever use them. Love the quality of light from them but they are a pain to assemble on location. This would be a good alternative for someone working alone or on a time crunch.

I put a small ball head on my umbrella adapter, now I can center the flash on the umbrella without problems.
PIXIllate 9 years ago
I've been using these for a month or so. Fast setup, good light,durable enough for a hobbist. I had to do the same thing the other poster did with revesing the umbrella adaptor but now it fit's just fine. I'm not crazy about pressuring the joint so I generally angle mine pointing down slightly to keep the adaptor/radio slave/flash joints vertical.

Amvona was OK for me. I ordered two of these but only received one.I had to call them a couple of times and wait for quite a while on the phone but when I did get somebody they looked into the mistake and mailed me the second one right away. For the price of these things compared to other umbrella softboxes it was worth the hassle. Shipping was reasonably quick as well.

Here are a couple of samples using these as the only light:

New Headshot

B&W Headshot

Brian Vallelunga PRO 9 years ago
Chrisleck, how big are the Softlighter II umbrellas when collapsed? I'm looking for something like that, but small enough to take with me in my tripod/lighting bag.
chrisleck 9 years ago
My 46" Softlighter umbrella folds down to 29" and 2" in diameter. That's without the carrying bag and diffuser. The diffuser fabric an be folded-down into a small size; there's a pocket for it on the carrying bag. Overall, it's a bit more to carry than a regular umbrella of the same size.

Also included are two reflective discs, a gold and a silver one (they increase the contrast). These add a little extra bulk if you carry them, but most folks probably won't.
vcallaway 9 years ago
I tried out one of these a few months back. If you are pretty good with fragile things you will be fine. In my case the wind caught it and when the light stand hit the ground the umbrella hardware became scrap.

As for Amvona I've had both good and bad. I bought some of the 10ft Air Cushion light stands and absolutely love them. I don't think I would buy any other type of umbrella or soft box from them though.
chrisleck 9 years ago
Ha! Umbrellas make great sails. I hope that your light didn't become scrap!

I once had the wind knock over a sandbagged monolight and Softlighter. I had to replace all of the glass in the monolight, but I was able to bend the Softlighter back into workable condition. Another time, a less violent crash completely destroyed an Amvona umbrella but left my SB-80 unscathed (I'm a slow learner). FWIW, Photek will replace damaged frames at a reasonable cost.
RanManDX 9 years ago
would you need to perform the same sort of trick to get a hotshoe flash into a softlighter or is it's hole more forgiving?
labrat_pics 9 years ago
chrisleck 9 years ago
I use the Lowell bracket mentioned in the link above, but not quite in the same orientation. That said, the hole in the Softlighter II is near the center, but works fine with a normally-oriented umbrella swivel and flash shoe. However, with the Lowell bracket I can get the flash lying along the shaft and firing on-axis into the center of the umbrella.
Brian Vallelunga PRO 9 years ago
Chrisleck, thanks for the dimensions. My tripod bag is holds a maximum of 28" unfortunately. I bought a light stand that collapses to 27" and the Westcott collapsible umbrella and am looking for one more set. I figure some sort of portable softbox type of setup would be best. I just need to figure out what's out there, small enough and cheap enough for me.
chrisleck 9 years ago
Too bad, Brian. The Softlighter is versatile, fairly small, and sets up quickly. The $85 list price probably would be considered expensive on this forum.

Have you looked at the Lastolite Ezyboxes ( )? I don't know prices or how to deal with the speedring mounting system and speedlights, but they look interesting and fold up like a reflector. --Chris
RanManDX 9 years ago
Where can i find that lowell bracket? That link above was very usefull i particularly liked the idea of firing two heads into it but i think i'll be getting the one without the removable shaft so it won't work.
chrisleck 9 years ago
I got my Lowell bracket at B&H.
digitaljoe2 9 years ago
I recently bought the Softlighter and find it excellent. Light quality is virtually softbox standard. It is versatile, well designed and reasonably compact. I am using with a 580EX and the removable shaft allows one to come close to the model.
chrisleck 9 years ago
Keep in mind that removing the shaft and getting the Softlighter very close to the subject may result in very little light wrapping around the subject. The light is soft, but there is major fall-off. It's not a problem, especially if that's what you're after.

If you want more light wrap, you have to pull the Softlighter back. At some point, you get into a trade-off between wrap and specularity. The 46" softlighter still works well in this respect pulled back 4'-6' for portraits.
RanManDX 9 years ago
What is the bracket called. do you know the part number?
chrisleck 9 years ago
OK, I just searched for 'lowel l' at B&H and found .
trappedlight 9 years ago
@ DH,

Here's the hotshoe adapter...


I got it from an ebay retailer although this part is not is not actually up for auction. Adapter is $5 with $2 shipping to the US (International $3). Contact (I think her name is Julie) and ask for a hotshoe adapter or just paypal her with your $7 and your address. I got my adapter in a few days.

I post this in a new thread so it doesn't get buried here.
RanManDX 9 years ago
This bracket business is too complicated. I think ball bungies will do the trick. bungie the flash to the umbrella shaft no?
vcallaway 9 years ago
Just goes to show you. Don't copy photoflex sales material!

If anyone has any photoflex gear, would you look and see where it is made? The Amvona stuff is all chinese made.

If the photoflex stuff is made in the USA I could justify spending the extra money.
vcallaway 9 years ago
Ok. Just answered my own question.

It appears that Photoflex is a chinese knockoff of Chimera Lighting. Chimera products are US made.

Guess whos stuff I'm buying.
looking at the bracket used ( in the ics on the other site "photo . net posted a few posts up) the bracket is just an "L" piece with a cold shoe on one side and a bolt and nut to hold it to the stand... a simple make with a trip to the Hardware store.. but a short piece of flat stock maybe 1/2" or 3/4' witde (Id use aluminium) and cut to length, bend it at 90 degrees (like and L) drill a hole on each end. Pretty cool.
Another potential solution. If you have 2 umbrella hotshoe brackets you can chain them together. use one to control the tilt of the umbrella and the other to control the tilt of the flash unit.

I haven't recieved my softbox umbrellas yet, looking forward to trying my Frankenbrella brackets soon. These cost about 13.95 on B&H. It might be worth the extra $4 bucks to get another unbrella bracket.

see the pic here: PRO Posted 9 years ago. Edited by (member) 9 years ago
I am planing on picking one of these umbrellas for my SB800/600. I see the Umbrelsoft 2 or Softlighter II works with my flash. Will I have the same issues with the bracket and adapters on the Umbrelsoft 2? Thanks.
metropolicity PRO 8 years ago
I have one of these guys and i found a great solution for the problem with the flash head not being it the right orientation. If you get a Hama flash umbrella/flash holder, it rotates the flash into a horizontal orientation and is on axis with the umbrella shaft.

I couple it with a microball head by manfrotto.
basswork 8 years ago
I used metropolicity's method for awhile with my Softliter, but much prefer the mini-ballheads like this:

They are also very handy for regular light stand use -- you can easily rotate your flashes 90 degrees for shooting standing models (like Wizwow, but he uses a clamp and bungee.) They're also useful for feathering inside a shoot-thru brolly -- you get lots of choice how your flash will be oriented.
Muliadi Soenaryo. 7 years ago
Just ordered my sofliter. YAY. I have been wanting the softbox looks.
I got amnova tripod and they are just fine. I se it as my lightsatnd. Sturdy and heavy but it holds your umbrella well and won't fall.
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