The first ever light modifier I bought was a Deep Octa 100 cm. I love it, and I use it all the time. But, even if it is quick to open it up and fold it, it is never as fast as mounting an umbrella. When I work on personal projects, it’s not an issue, but when documenting a wedding, time is incredibly precious.
Yes, umbrellas are not meant to be extremely directional, especially not the translucent ones. It’s important to understand that both. Traditional umbrellas and softboxes are excellent tools, but both have a different use.
Now, we finally have what I would call the perfect all-around light shaper that can be set up in a pinch while offering an extraordinary and versatile quality of light at an affordable price.
It’s the Deep Umbrella.
Each and every one of the six models are entirely different.
All of them have the same easy to use opening system of a traditional umbrella and produce a round specular highlight. However, they do not all offer the same rendering.
The deep umbrellas are available in either 105 cm or 125 cm, with the choice of either a translucent, white, or silver fabric. Each model can also be used with a diffusion panel (for the white and silver) or a reflective panel (for the translucent), essentially turning them into an incredibly portable softbox.
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The Silver is my favorite. It offers a very contrasty look but can be much softer when the diffusion panel is used. When zoomed in, it creates an incredibly narrow beam of light that looks like a standard reflector with a slight fill. To me, it’s the best choice for portrait, beauty, and fashion photographers due to its versatility and contrast.
The white version will be the best bet for wedding photographers. It still offers a relatively good control over the light direction and spill, but it is softer than the silver coating. When zoomed in, the contest is more pronounced but not as much as a silver deep umbrella zoomed out. Put the diffusion cloth on it, and you get a soft window like light that all natural light photographers will absolutely love.
Due to the way it works, it will be fantastic as a fill light or for large scenes where precise control is not a requirement but actually an issue. An important note as well, while the white and silver deep umbrellas can be zoomed in and out to obtain a different look, the translucent can hardly be adjusted unless you put your strobe on a boom.
As for size, the smaller, the more contrasty it will be. The 105 cm may also be less impressive in front of a shy client and less likely to catch wind outdoors. If you’d use them outdoor, you better use a sand bag to anchor your light stand if you don’t want any of your gear flying away.
Deep umbrellas are a fantastic tools:
If I were to start my lighting kit all over again, this would be the one light shaper I would buy.
This will also become my go to light shaper for engagement sessions, weddings, and agency tests. If you are not sure what softbox to buy, stop cogitating and get one deep umbrella right away.
You won’t regret it!