Photography enthusiasts must be aware of soft light tools and their effects

Share This Post

Photography enthusiasts must be aware of soft light tools and their effects

For photographers and enthusiasts who are new to studio portraits, they are often dazzled by the soft light tools that come in all shapes and sizes. Radomes, soft boxes, long soft boxes, soft umbrellas, ring flashes, bowl reflectors, etc., are just like buying a new car. There are so many different controllable choices. If you don’t test drive and only make decisions based on appearance, how can you ensure that you can choose the right model?


Also known as a beauty mask, this soft light tool helps to create a contrasting light without over-contrasting it, and to recreate the details of the highlights on the model’s face. It is often used for serious portrait photography, especially fashion photography. There are two radomes, the first with a silver interior and the other white. The difference between the two is that silver reflects harder light and the contrast is sharper than white, which reflects softer light. In addition to the color difference of the reflective surfaces, radomes are also available in a variety of sizes. The classic ones are 40cm, 56cm and 70cm. The larger the size of the radome, the greater the area of light it casts and the better its ability to soften shadows. The example shot above was taken with a 56cm radome.

Radomes are not complicated to use. Most radomes are made of metal. The main body is a large metal dish with a small disc inside which reflects light onto the main part of the radome and then onto the model. This way the light doesn’t hit the model directly, and the radome creates a wonderful eye glow. Finally, additional honeycomb grilles for the radome help focus light on the subject and control light overflow (making sure light doesn’t hit the background). There are also detachable portable radomes available on the market, which are very convenient due to their greater portability.

Bowl type reflector

Usually, studio lights are purchased with a standard size bowl reflector, which is the most basic soft light tool. Like radomes, bowl reflectors come in a variety of sizes, and depending on the size, they can cast light at different diameters and depths. However, unlike radomes, the light emitted by these reflectors is a direct, hard kind of light, somewhat similar to sunlight. We can see that it creates a strong shadow contrast on the model’s face (obviously not what you need if you’re looking for soft light). The nice thing about this soft light tool is that it has a small diameter, so it can create some shadow effects. Of course, we could have achieved the same effect by using a white lining on the inside to further soften the light, or by installing a larger reflective cover on the front. Also, like the radome, the bowl reflector can be fitted with a honeycomb grille.

Soft light umbrella

As there are many forms, the choice of soft light umbrella is not an easy thing, let’s start with my favorite silver soft light umbrella introduction. The soft umbrella contains both silver and white reflective materials. The silver side is used to create more contrasting and harder light. When the light passes through the white cloth, the light is further softened, so the soft umbrella ensures a certain contrast without making the light hard. The big advantage of a soft umbrella over other tools is that it can be accessed quickly and doesn’t take up much space when folded up. Soft light umbrella sizes are more varied, ranging from 75cm to 1.8m. I personally recommend the 95cm, if you want to use the 1.8m you have to have a large studio. Of course, you can choose a pure silver umbrella or a white umbrella. As with the previous two tools, silver is used to shoot high contrast, sharp contrast between light and shade, and white is used to maximize the softness of the light and create a softer look.

Ring flash lamp

Ring flash is a very special soft light tool, it is often used in fashion photography. It was able to create a circular light source around the camera and take portraits with almost no shadows. In addition, the ring flash is also the source of those dreamy round eye lights. However, due to the lack of shadow, the ring flash photo will suffer from poor contrast. Therefore, in the actual shooting, photographers often use it in conjunction with other lighting methods.

Soft light box

Soft light box is the most classic kind of soft light tool, we can not only see its figure in professional portrait photography, in some still life, toy photography is often used. They come in all sizes and shapes, including squares, rectangles and even polygons. The main function of the soft light box is to soften the light through one or more diffusion pieces in the front, and the silver cloth is used inside to increase the output intensity of the light. The soft light box can be made to a large size, and can also be precisely controlled through the grille light. Personally, I use the 90cm size more, because I think this size can provide the best softening effect, and this size is also suitable for the distance between the camera and the model.

Long soft light box

Long soft light box is a length far greater than the width of the soft light box, so its cast light is also long, this kind of soft light box than ordinary square soft light box more easily hit the shadow part.

To sum up, there really is no right or wrong choice, only suitable or not. It all depends on what kind of soft light you want to shoot. In addition, we also need to control the distance between the light source and the model, the closer the light source is to the model, the softer the light; Conversely, the farther away the light source is from the model, the harder the light becomes.

Do You Want To Boost Your Business?

drop us a line and keep in touch

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00
All search results