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On-Camera Soft Boxes - Worth the Bother?

Really just looking for a few opinions about on-camera soft boxes. Are they worth using, what's the best to get, etc. Thanks.


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I would say an on-camera softbox is useful for when you can't bounce. 
    And a softbox would be better than something like a Fong Lightsphere when you're shooting outside. 

  • Thanks, Neil. Any you recommend, or are they basically all the same when they are that size?
  • qrickmanqrickman Member
    edited January 2015


    Take a look at Rogue Flash Bender


  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    Anything that help contains the light, and throws it forward.  (Assuming you're outside where no flash will be bouncing off surfaces at all.)
  • Thanks, Neil.

    Quin - I have one. It's OK, and I've done a couple of things with it, but I am thinking it's different from a softbox. True?

  • dbruno
    I have a small on-camera soft box “Interfit”, I don’t remember the last time I
    used it. 
    As the flash bender is more
    portable and easier to set then the on-camera soft box, I prefer the flash bender;
    the lighting is about the same.  Most of
    the time I use neither, on a bright day I need all the power the flash has to lift
    the shadows otherwise I’ll find something to bounce the flash off of.  When I use off camera flash that is when I
    use flash modifiers.


  • I use a Lumiquest Pro  Max system...works fantastic...Couldn't be happier with it 
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited January 2015
    To be honest, I dont see anyone using an on-camera softbox and for good reason.  Its bulky and blocks the red focus assist light on (and whatever sensors) on the front of the flash.  It doesnt look very professional especially the larger variety.  On-camera flash doesnt produce desirable effects whether it has a softbox or not.  On-camera flash is only good for those Peter Parker style photojournalists who just need any shot possible during very action oriented events where its impossible to use an off-camera unit.  You see those guys putting the cameras over their head, clicking on the shutter, hoping to get at least one half-decent shot of Chris Christie for example.   

    I would stay away from the on-camera direct flash if at all possible.  Sometimes, there is no other solution and thats what you must use.  

    This is one of my favorite Neil posts on how to use off-camera softbox.  

    The model in the picture without flash looks like the woman from hell.  However, with the off-camera softbox she looks fabulous.  I bet there is a little bit of Photo karate chop in there, but I think the off-camera soft box did the job.  Also, the on-camera soft box will not be very large like the off-camera variety and so it wont spread the light as effectively.
  • Thanks, Michael. My main interest lies in event photography (I volunteer, and I enjoy this situation) which really is of the "photojournalist" style. I have had a lot of luck - after finding this forum and website - with bouncing the flash, using the BFT, and all the tricks I can remember for avoiding direct flash. In the 1/2-dozen events I've done, there was never a requirement for a posed shot in front of a backdrop with an off-camera flash, etc.So the on-camera softbox question really was geared towards my usual situation where I'm always using on-camera flash.
  • edited January 2015


                Def not bulky and works quite well. Check out the Lumiquest I mentioned in above post. It's more of a light modifier, as is a softbox, In no way blocks Red focus assist lamp, not even close. Sits on top of flash and affixed with Velcro strap.. I NEVER leave home without it in my bag.  Different tools for different shooting and Photographers needs. I use it quite often indoors and does the trick every time.

  • Penn - Just so I have it straight, does this setup have both reflector panels and a diffuser cover for the front? I think I can make that out from the picture, but want to be sure.
  • edited January 2015

                  It certainly does. has inner panels for whaterver lighting situation you're in, and an outter (softbox) diffuser panel which can be used alone, in tandem with any of the inner panels, or not at all. Very flexible. I use this almost exclusively for indoor shooting, especially with no white ceiling. really spreads the light..You can aim it forward, straight up, which is pretty much the way I use it, or behind you or any direction your flash head will rotate. You can find the kit used on the Bay for a fraction of what it was used.

    There's on on the bay..whole kit...$20.00

  • Thanks! I saw it on EBay, as well as another product by Lumiquest - it was in the same shape, but had two little doors at the top, which could be opened. I think was a "bounce" model. Interesting.

    I may try the one you suggested, I have a Rogue Flashbender which is not bad, but I haven't used it enough to get the full potential from it. Also, of course, the BFT, which I do use a lot.
  • That is not a softbox.  The Lumiquest is a bounce card.  There is a version which bounces off the card-like area and into a frosted diffuser which you might be able to call a softbox.  However, this system is not the traditional softbox.  

    This is the Lumiquest:

  • I have the Lumiquest Softbox III which has an 8" x 9" surface. It's more of a true on-flash softbox than the ProMax system.

    The Softbox III works pretty well and it does not come anywhere near to blocking the sensors (because you attach it to only the flash head). I secure it with a Honl Speed Strap so I don't need to stick the velcro things that come with it to the flash. It actually gets good reviews at Amazon, B&H, etc. and the link below is from David Hobby (aka Strobist) who reviewed it when it came out, and he liked it.

    All that said, I don't use mine very often and I agree with Neil that it is OK in a pinch if there is nothing to bounce off. I find the Lumiquest better off-camera than on, because then you can bring it in to where you want (ideally with an assistant holding it for you). The problem with it on is that the entire thing is basically just pointed straight ahead (not much point angling it up or to the side).

    Hmm, after typing this, now I'm asking myself if I were to go back in time, would I buy this again? I don't think so.

  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited February 2015

    I think what most people are speaking about in this thread is this device:

    The above device isnt what I would call a soft-box.  Its more of a bounce card.

    Bryan reviewed the above device and concluded that it was the most effective on-camera diffuser he has tried where he saw a modest shadow softening, but came to my conclusion which is it looks a bit "silly" and unprofessional.  Appearance, however, is in the eye of the beholder.  So I might think it looks unprofessional, but others may have a different opinion.  It does seem a bit bulky.    

    The frontal flash may not produce the desired shadows, but with the newest software that can easily be changed.  The newest version of Portrait Professional you can change the shadows to however you like it.  So if you used flash from the front it can change the lighting so it looks like it came in from the side.  

    Here is a version of a Lumiquest Soft-Box which does not block the sensors:


    Here is the version which does block the sensors:


    The way I see most professionals, if not all, obtain shots is not with the above devices.  I did see a man with a Gary Fong globe at a nightclub the other night, but that isnt a device I see anyone use very often.  I guess in a nightclub environment where equipment security is an issue and close quarters is another issue one of the above devices or the Gary Fong might be desirable.  You wouldnt be able to move about with an assistant or setup external flash units.  This gentleman was getting shots of the nightclub goers and so the Fong was his solution to obtaining those shots.  So I dont believe these devices cant be used, but for the formal wedding or other such event you really should be using off-camera or a bounce technique IMHO.
  • NikonguyNikonguy Member
    edited February 2015
    The one you say blocks the sensor (the photo above) looks like my Lumiquest Softbox III. I'm not familiar with the Canon flashes but I can assure you that it does not block the Nikon sensor because that is on the side of the flash. The sensor I am referring to is the light sensor for Nikon's Advanced Wireless Lighting function. The red plastic on the front of the flash is the AF-Assist lamp, which could be blocked by the Lumiquest, but I rarely use AF-Assist anyway. There is another sensor on the front of the flash which is only used for non-TTL auto modes, something I never use, and even that is not blocked by the Lumiquest. TTL flash is handled by the camera, not the flash, so there are no sensors to worry about in that regard anyway.

  • edited February 2015

                   it may not be a Traditional softbox, but it does the trick in most situations. Call it what you will. IT WORKS. it bounces and diffuses the light and modifies it with Silver, Bronze, and white inserts, along with the outer opaque diffuser..Go for it dbruno...when you can't use OCF, this is what you want...

    Also,  that review link you inserted..wow! If that guy thinks this item is heavy, he needs to dump all his gear and get a mirrorless!  LOL Never had it make ANY of my flash heads fall down...if that is the case, time for a new flash I'd say.  With the Lumiquest mounted on the flash, generally your flash head is pointed upward, but not always, and in those instance where I was bouncing the light, again, never had the flash head fall. Maybe I just have super durable flash heads!! Who knew!! 
  • MichaelVMichaelV Member
    edited February 2015
    We should have a shoot-out.  On-camera softbox vs off-camera softbox.  It would make for some excitement although Im waiting for the ultimate steel cage match when Canon unveils the 5Ds.  Canon 5ds versus Nikon.  Put two photographers in one steel cage and only one exits the ring. Will Neil convert back to Canon?  Ive got my bag of popcorn and anxiously waiting.
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