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PhotekUmbrella - Softlighter II - 46"
 
4.5

(based on 103 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (63)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (33)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

95%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Lightweight (70)
  • Consistent (35)
  • Reliable (33)
  • Easy to setup (31)
  • Easy to set up (27)

Cons

  • Short lifespan (10)

Best Uses

  • Portraits (75)
  • Photography (41)
  • Strobe lighting (41)
  • Artificial lighting (31)
  • Indoors (15)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro photographer (39), Semi-pro photographer (25), Photo enthusiast (19), Professional (8), Semi-professional (5)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (63)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Best modifier ever!

I purchased this product after seeing Annie Leibovitz using it for almost all of her photoshoot and I wanted to achieve similar lighting as hers. I did some research before purchasing it so see...Read complete review

I purchased this product after seeing Annie Leibovitz using it for almost all of her photoshoot and I wanted to achieve similar lighting as hers. I did some research before purchasing it so see if I can use my current lights (Vivitar 285, 580EX II and Alienbees B800) with it because Annie uses a Profoto head which has a smaller diameter that can fit through the sock easily. Anyway, I found a few examples that people posted with their Softlighter II with their speedlites and a B800 and it helped me make a purchasing decision.I was pretty impressed with the item once I received it. It's very well constructed and the umbrella shaft can be made shorter by unscrewing from the main shaft attached to the umbrella. The diffusion material is also well made and has holes cut out with reinforced rings for hooking onto the tip of the ribs. I have seen in Annie's video that the diffusion material was also held onto the umbrella using clips but I don't think it's necessary.The umbrella can be used as a reflective umbrella as well and it comes with an extra silver piece to attach inside.Using this with my B800 was really easy but the sock could have been a bit wider to cover the large square body of the monolight. I didn't want the sock touching the modeling light or the flash tube and the only secure way that I found was to mount the standard reflector that came with the B800 to hold the sock back from coming in contact with the bulbs. It's sort of a frustrating process but the end result will assure you piece of mind.Using speedlites isn't a problem though. I can mount the Softlighter II on any umbrella bracket and angle the bracket so the speedlite is towards the center or parallel to the umbrella shaft and the sock covers the speedlite just right. However, I had to use an L bracket with my speedlite and the umbrella mount to achieve the desired angle needed to fit through the sock and point to the center of the umbrella. The L bracket can be purchased from any hardware store. I got mine from [...].Overall I am happy with the purchase and it's a lot cheaper than a softbox and it also folds easily into a small size that you can carry around in your hand, under arm, bags, case, etc.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Great for the studio, but....

...not so great for the field, which was the purpose for purchasing 2 of them.

I do a lot of work in people's homes, and was hoping to use...Read complete review

...not so great for the field, which was the purpose for purchasing 2 of them.

I do a lot of work in people's homes, and was hoping to use this with my speedlights to imitate the effects of a softbox (softness and spillage control) without the hassle of setting up a softbox: quick set-up and breakdown. I was also intrigued by being able to remove the umbrella shaft to get in close, as well as 10 ribs instead of 8 for a more rounded effect.

The reflectors are a real pain to get between the ribs to the top of the umbrella where Photek recommends they be placed, and require the use of a tiny clamp to keep them in place (not included by Photek). It will accept a speedlight on an umbrella mount, but you need to thread the diffuser through the shaft and over the flash/umbrella mount assembly before putting the diffuser on. It takes about 5 minutes to assemble and disassemble 1 umbrella for its intended purpose if you do not use the reflectors, which add about 1 f-stop.

The worst feature of its design is that the bottom portion of the removable shaft is 1-2 mm narrower in diameter than the top portion. If you want to use it as a simple bounce umbrella, you must place it closer to the flash head than you may want, because the bottom portion of the shaft it too narrow to be clamped into the umbrella mount adapter (I have several of different make, and it fits none of them). I cannot understand the need to have made this section narrower, and it fairly limits its use in this regard. The shaft appears to be solid and they screw firmly together, but one section is narrower than the other. That is really weak, Photek!

Great idea, very poor execution, but the light quality is nearly identical to a softbox, and in this regard, for the studio, it is a very cost-effective alternative. Just don't expect it to be very versatile. Would be ideal for a small studio.

Overall build quality is about on par with any moderately priced umbrella.

Reviewed by 103 customers

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4.0

Great!

By Lngexposure

from The Great White North

About Me Photo Enthusiast

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Consistent
  • Easy To Set Up
  • Inexpensive
  • Lightweight

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Artificial Lighting
    • Photography
    • Portraits
    • Strobe Lighting

    Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

    No Brainer!

    Versatile and inexpensive light modifier that's dead simple to use.
    Gives great light for portraites when used with my CFL lamp heads and flash units.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No

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    5.0

    Great Modifier

    By EricinMaine

    from South Portland, ME

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Lightweight
    • Nice Soft Light

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Portraits

      Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

      So pleased I ordered the Softlighter II. It produces great, quality light, is portable and so far has proven durable. It is also very affordable. Having a blast working it into my portrait shooting.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      5.0

      Versatile Umbrella

      By N

      from Kansas City, MO

      Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

      Great light and very versatile! I love that I can use it with a speedlite or strobe! Very lightweight, portable, and the quality was a little better than expected for the price.

      Share this review

       
      5.0

      Great Light and Price

      By Mike Ritter

      from Boston, MA

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Lightweight
      • Reliable

      Cons

      • Tricky Set Up At First

      Best Uses

      • Portraits
      • Strobe Lighting

      Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

      I love the versatility of using simply the reflective umbrella or putting on the diffuser. I often have an assistant hold it on an extending pole to get good angles but it works great on a stand as well.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No

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      4.0

      Great umbrella

      By Andrew

      from Spring Lake Park, MN

      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Consistent
      • Easy To Set Up
      • Lightweight
      • Reliable

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Artificial Lighting
        • Photography
        • Portraits
        • Strobe Lighting
        • Weddings

        Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

        Great umbrella, provides nice soft lighting. I took off one star because of one thing: the sock that goes around the flash is centered, so the shaft of the umbrella needs to go through that as well, and makes it a little awkward mounting the flash. It would be better if the sock was slightly off center with a seperate hole just big enough for the umbrella shaft to fit through.

        Other than that, the umbrella seems great, and the softbox cover helps create nice soft lighting. I would definitely recommend it.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        4.0

        Love it

        By T

        from Washington, DC

        About Me Semi-pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Easy To Set Up
        • Lightweight

        Cons

        • Not very sturdy

        Best Uses

        • Artificial Lighting
        • Photography
        • Portraits
        • Strobe Lighting

        Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

        Very versatile. For the price there really is no reason to always have one or two in your car.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

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        5.0

        Fantastic Product with Fantastic Light

        By Kyle

        from Boston, MA

        About Me Semi-pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Consistent
        • Easy To Set Up
        • Lightweight
        • Reliable

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Artificial Lighting
          • Beauty
          • Environmental Portraits
          • Fashion
          • Photography
          • Portraits
          • Strobe Lighting

          Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

          Great for: environmental, beauty, and fashion portraits/images.
          Quick and easy set up. Great modifier. Nice soft light.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          2.0

          Not a quality product

          By Michafoto

          from London

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Pros

          • Easy To Set Up
          • Lightweight

          Cons

          • Short Lifespan

          Best Uses

          • Portraits

          Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

          The quality of light is beautiful, but the built quality is very poor, the umbrella breaks easily and is not good for busy location work. There are much sturdier and better quality umbrellas available, I would not buy them again.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

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          5.0

          AWESOME!!!

          By Big Blu

          from Myrtle Beach,SC

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Consistent
          • Easy To Set Up
          • Lightweight
          • Reliable

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Photography
            • Portraits

            Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

            I love the type of light this umbrella produces. It is truly amazing how soft the light is.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

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            4.0

            Great product

            By OP

            from Burlington, VT

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent
            • Easy To Set Up
            • Lightweight

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Portraits
              • Strobe Lighting

              Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

              This is a great product. It has the convenience of an umbrella (quick setup and easy to pack) and the soft directional look of a soft box. My only complaint is that it's not super durable...

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

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              5.0

              Awesome! a must have

              By Marco

              from San Francisco

              About Me Pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Easy To Set Up
              • Lightweight
              • Reliable

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Photography
                • Portraits

                Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                I alrady had a 46" Softlighter v1. Love the II :-)And now you can unscreew half of the umbrella rod so it doesn't stick out and end up in your frame.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                2.0

                Not as good as I thought

                By nicejacketman

                from London

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Nice Quality of Light

                Cons

                • Better Products Out There
                • Hollow Shaft When Divided
                • Metal Spindles
                • Short Lifespan

                Best Uses

                • Artificial Lighting
                • Photography
                • Portraits
                • Strobe Lighting

                Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                I use umbrella boxes a lot and really wanted to buy a quality item that wouldn't look like a cheap piece of equipment in front of clients.

                I thought I would love this item.

                I'd seen Annie Leibovitz use this model and thought I would give it a try.

                The spindles are made of soft metal. It would be much better if they changed this to fibre glass like most premium models.

                The diffuser hole is a very tight sock that is a little too tight to get even a qflash head with reflector through. I know they also sell a speedlight diffuser which may be more useful for my qflash.

                It's a nice idea to have a removable shaft but this then becomes a hollow tube and if this gets dented you may struggle to screw the shaft back on.

                On all my other umbrellas I cut the shaft shorter anyway and replace the end plug.

                I love using umbrella softboxes and I know the quality of the light from this product is great.

                However, I recommend buying a profoto 105cm umbrella diffuser instead that can be added to any umbrella which can be replaced cheaply.

                This review is mainly for people buying from overseas. I bought and paid for shipping to the UK as you can't buy these in London. If I'd have seen it in the flesh I wouldn't have bought it.

                Brilliant service from BHphoto as always.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No

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                (2 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                3.0

                softlighter vs paul buff plm

                By jim atlanta

                from atlanta

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Easy To Set Up
                • Lightweight

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Artificial Lighting
                  • Photography
                  • Portraits
                  • Strobe Lighting
                  • Weddings

                  Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                  compared to the plm, softlighter's construction is less impressive, and reflective material less reflective. white material much lighter so light bounces around less within. softlighter has much greater light spread than plm. softlighter is decent and will be used when we need more light spread, but in the studio, the control given by the plm makes it our first choice.

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  5.0

                  Awesome lighting modifier!

                  By KFerg

                  from New York, NY

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Consistent
                  • Easy To Set Up
                  • Lightweight

                  Cons

                  • Short Lifespan

                  Best Uses

                  • Portraits
                  • Weddings

                  Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                  Love them! Too bad they act as big kites when there is even the smallest of wind, but I could not get by without them for wedding portraits! Fantastic output, and consistent softness to the shadows! Love them!

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No

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                  4.0

                  Great umbrella

                  By Ben

                  from Los Angeles

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Set Up

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                      the easy way to do a portrait: a very soft light source like this one.

                      • Was this a gift?:
                      • No

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                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      4.0

                      Best light for the $$

                      By Peter

                      from Illinois

                      About Me Professional

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • Great light
                      • Lightweight

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                        • Portraits

                        Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                        Great light, not expensive. Beggars can't be choosers.
                        It probably won't last forever. I thought it would assemble with a bit less fussing around.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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                        (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                         
                        5.0

                        great for location portraits/fashion

                        By Fedz

                        from Brooklyn,ny

                        About Me Professional

                        Verified Buyer

                        Pros

                        • Easy To Use
                        • Lightweight

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                          • Portraits
                          • Studio
                          • Traveling

                          Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                          I use this with my AlienBees 1600.

                          • Was this a gift?:
                          • No

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                          5.0

                          Perfect Light

                          By wayne

                          from San Francisco, CA

                          About Me Semi-Professional

                          Verified Buyer

                          Pros

                          • Durable
                          • Easy To Use
                          • Lightweight
                          • Reliable

                          Cons

                            Best Uses

                            • Portraits
                            • Studio
                            • Traveling

                            Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                            Big and wrap around your subject with catch light in the eyes. Nice!

                            • Was this a gift?:
                            • No

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                            5.0

                            Great for on location

                            By Sprog

                            from Adelaide, Australia

                            About Me Semi-Professional

                            Verified Buyer

                            Pros

                            • Durable
                            • Easy To Use
                            • Lightweight
                            • Reliable

                            Cons

                              Best Uses

                              • Portraits
                              • Studio
                              • Traveling

                              Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                              The modifier produces great light. I will use this for on location lighting. So far so good.

                              • Was this a gift?:
                              • No

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                              5.0

                              Awesome and convenient!

                              By Jamari

                              from Chicago, IL.

                              About Me Semi-Professional

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Easy And Quick Setup
                              • Easy To Use
                              • Lightweight

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • Everyday use
                                • Home
                                • Portraits
                                • Studio
                                • Traveling

                                Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                                I use this item for parties and wedding setups. It's great for quick setup on location and getting the soft lighting you need for portraits. It folds and stores like any umbrella and easy to carry.

                                • Was this a gift?:
                                • No

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