Reasonable Large Softbox for Alien Bees AB800

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by adrian_byng_clarke, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. I have some Alien Bees Strobes (AB800s) and have gotten by happily with umbrellas and large (DIY) diffusion panels . I find myself in the market for a large softbox (looking to use my light more efficiently with less waste/spill and quicker setup) but finding it hard to come to a decision..
    While I have been really happy with the Alien Bee lights, I see mixed reviews about their light-modifiers particularly their softboxes. Also Paul C. Buff has recently discontinued his line of non-folding softboxes. I need to find something that works well for the price but also won't fall apart after a few sessions. The ABs seem like the cheapest thing around in part because they include the speed rings -- otherwise $29. A Giant 30x60" Foldable Softbox goes for $159 + shipping. But I'm concerned about quality and heard that the foldable boxes can oclude some of the light with the inner supports therby casting a shadow. Any advice? I've been very happy with my 'Bees.. i'm just not sure about the softboxes.. Are there any softboxes that provide as good bang:buck ratio as my AB800. I'm willing to spent a bit more .. but only for a tangible reason.
     
  2. I just bought a folding unit from Buff. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality, the ease of use, and the effectiveness of the optional grid. I don't see the strut shadow issue as an issue at all.

    I also have one of his older non-folding units. I like the folding design better, actually.

    These are heavier than umbrellas, of course, so make sure you've got a stable stand, including a sandbag or two if you're going high-altitude.
     
  3. I use both kinds of Buff softboxes and see no difference in the light from the folding one. I like the folding ones because you can use it with the front diffusion panel off for a harder light, but still more constrained than an umbrella offers.
    I don't see much quality differences between PCB products and others in similar price ranges. I don't use my equipment on location very often, so I don't encounter durability or toughness issues at all.
    <Chas>
     
  4. Bought a folding large AB SB recently and was surprised at the build quality. I don't get why people say these are bad :p
    Took a few test shots w/ the inner baffle in place and it looks pretty smooth to me...and I don't see the struts...
    It's surprisingly hefty even hooked to a bee...
     
  5. Photoflex 3x4 medium softbox. Mine came with louvers, circle and strip covers. Louvers keep light off the back ground. Want a round catch light, a stip light, a window(add cross of gaffers tape for window panes) all in one. Has velcro at front to make assembly easier.
     
  6. I also have the Buff soft boxes (folding) and haven't had any trouble, although they are pretty stationary. I have had both for over a year and they are holding up just fine.
     
  7. I recently got a Buff medium folding softbox, and a Photoflex small (because Buff doesn't make a small one anymore). The Buff looks like it will hold up just fine. I did add the internal baffle on mine, because the silver lining produces a more crisp light than a white-lined softbox. Took about a minute to set up.
    The Photoflex is also very nice, and has a more robust shell, though I believe that both of these will hold up over time. Also, I prefer Buff's somewhat lighter shell for larger sized softboxes since it cuts down on the weight.
     
  8. I use Photoflex and Amvona.com products.
    Amvona has large octogons with grids for cheap.
     
  9. Thanks all.. I'm going to give the Alien Bees a shot. I'm interested in that silver interior baffle.. will look into that.
     
  10. My FSB3060 giant foldable giant softbox lasted a total of 30 minutes from the first time I set it up until it literally fell apart. Very cheap manufacturing. Uses a twisted piece of wire to hold the inner supports to the speed ring.
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