delboysnaps 10:31pm, 9 January 2013
Hi all, I'm just after a bit of advice about using light modifiers and flash zoom.
I think I understand what zoom does, it narrows the beam of light, right?
But I don't understand how this would be used when using a light modifier.

I use two different softboxes, a 43" Apollo orb and a 24"x24" softbox. Here are a couple of examples of how I have used zoom.

In this shot I used my Apollo orb, this is a large shoot into umbrella with front panel defuser (just incase you didn't already know, I don't want to tell you how to suck eggs). I had the flash zoom set to 105mm, don't know why, it's just that when I was asking people about The orb someone said use it with the flash set to full zoom.
So would the shot look different at a different zoom setting?


In this shot I used my softbox with inner and outer defuser. I had the Flash set to 70mm, again I don't really know why, I just did.
Would this shot look any different with the flash set to a different zoom setting?

Red guitar

Any kind response would be great.

Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
In a softbox full zoom probably meant wide not telephoto. You might zoom towards telephoto to make your softbox perform like a smaller one oe make it somewhat center hot.

Dave Hartman
SweetMK22 Posted 5 years ago. Edited by SweetMK22 (member) 5 years ago
With dual diffusers, I believe there would be little difference with the zoom setting.

This pic shows the SB-26 flash going off.

DIY Softbox Flash Bracket

Notice how even the light is.

Look at the last pic here

The pic shows the "bleed" out of the softbox. You can clearly see where the intermediate baffle is located. The light bleed behind the middle baffle is much greater than in front of the baffle.

I would say it is possible the light is bouncing around hundreds of times before exiting the front of the light box. This would even out the light to a nice even delivery.

Without the middle baffle, such as with a brolly, the zoom setting would concentrate the light to a more center weighted delivery based on what the zoom is set at.

I always use the lowest numerical zoom setting, and the flip out diffuser.
delboysnaps Posted 5 years ago. Edited by delboysnaps (member) 5 years ago
Yes this is what I was thinking, with the Apollo orb the light is facing away and bounced back at the subject so there is no reason I can think of why the zoom would affect the shot but, I was not sure!

Nionyn_ PRO 5 years ago
Try it. Simple and quick enough experiment. Then you will know. :-)
delboysnaps Posted 5 years ago. Edited by delboysnaps (member) 5 years ago
Yes I will. Nionyn you have had a lot of experience with softboxes how do you have your zoom set when using a softbox?
Nionyn_ PRO 5 years ago
I'm afraid I cannot really help you there. I usually use softboxes with monolights, which have a bare flash tube.
My hotshoe flashes (a small barrelful of old Vivitar 283s) do not zoom, they are 'stuck' at a fairly wide beam angle, so when I use them in softboxes I don't really have that option. In addition, my softboxes are lastolites, which have the flash shooting in from the back, differently from yours.
delboysnaps 5 years ago
No, my 24"x24" (60cmx60cm) shoots in from the back! Just a standard softbox.
Nionyn_ PRO 5 years ago
Ah, I beg your pardon - I'd misunderstood you.

Generally, the received wisdom is to set the flash to its widest zoom when using umbrellas or softboxes (though there are situations where a narrower beam can be desirable, particularly with umbrellas). Some people also use a Stofen or similar diffuser on their hotshoe flashes to simulate a bare bulb when using softboxes. The latter will eat up an additional stop or two of light, of course.

If memory serves, one of our members posted a thread of comparisons of these different methods. Don't know if I can find it but I'll give it a go when I have time. In the meantime perhaps someone else will remember and provide a link...
delboysnaps 5 years ago
That's great, thanks.
Mr. Speedlight 5 years ago
When using a double diffustion softbox I'll cover the inner diffuser. Without I'll use diffusion cap (sto-fen). With a studio system I'll use a bare flash tube or a Pyrex cap over the flash tube. With a softbox I'm looking for soft even light.

I made several of Dean Coilins' Tinker Tubes modifiers. One I liked a lot was a double diffuser. I'd be more likely to consentrate the light with single or double diffusion pannel(s) than a softbox that offers less control.

The Kube Studio 5 years ago
Always to widest for me, ( with softbox it is )

if i have more than enough power i stoffen them, if i need maximum power i don't.

i will use the same with reflected boxes or back hole ones...

Rangefindergeneral 5 years ago
With a double diffuser softbox I'll set the sb to 35mm-50mm.
I think the first layer of diffusion will sort out the hot spot and the flash is more powerful.. But this is not something to ponder much..
Gerard Maas PRO 5 years ago

I've done testing on my softboxes (Ezybox 40,60, 80) Stripbox, Octa...
My overall conclusion is: use the wide angle diffusor (14mm) from your flash.
Double diffusion helps to soften the transition of the hotspot, but does not remove it.

With umbrellas, you can play with the zoom setting to widen/narrow your beam. It also depends on the placement of the speedlite in the umbrella shaft. As a rule of thumbs, for an (more-or-less) equivalent light spread: deeper -> wider zoom, farther -> narrower zoom.

Here you have one example with the Lastolite Ezybox 60 (24 inch) and a 580EX:
105mm (max zoom)
Ezybox 60 + 580 at 105mm

24mm (widest internal zoom)
Ezybox 60 + 580 at 24mm

14mm (additional wide-angle panel)
Ezybox 60 + 580 at 14mm

As you can see, the 14mm panel achieves the most even light distribution.

kr, Gerard.
petepixxx Posted 5 years ago. Edited by petepixxx (member) 5 years ago
I wonder if there is a stofen with a *light spreader* like the reflective center mirror in a beauty dish, to even out the light spread to the sides of the box better?
Mr. Speedlight Posted 5 years ago. Edited by Mr. Speedlight (member) 5 years ago
I've never held a Sto-Fen. From the look they are quite opal. The Nikon SW-10H for the SB-800 is frosted and slightly opal. The SB-14H for the SB-700 is slightly opal and not frosted. They both send a lot of light straight out the front. The cost in stops for the SW-14H (SB-700) is less than what one might think in a moderate sized family room with a vaulted ceiling.


If you have a BD for a speedlight with a mirror in the center I'd try it with and without the flash maker's diffusion cap if there is room for the cap.

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