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PhotekUmbrella - Softlighter II - 46"
 
4.5

(based on 125 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (75)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (41)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (5)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (1)

95%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Lightweight (81)
  • Consistent (41)
  • Reliable (40)
  • Easy to set up (34)
  • Easy to setup (31)

Cons

  • Short lifespan (11)

Best Uses

  • Portraits (86)
  • Strobe lighting (47)
  • Photography (46)
  • Artificial lighting (34)
  • Indoors (17)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Pro photographer (50), Semi-pro photographer (27), Photo enthusiast (19), Professional (8), Semi-professional (5)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (75)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Hard setup, soft light

The soft light is great for portraits. The removable shaft lets you get super close (Read: larger appearing light source). Extremely convertible, can function as:
White shoot-through umbrella (with the...Read complete review

The soft light is great for portraits. The removable shaft lets you get super close (Read: larger appearing light source). Extremely convertible, can function as:
White shoot-through umbrella (with the black backing removed)
Satin bounce umbrella (with the black backing in place
Soft light-globe sending light in all directions (no black backing, front diffuser in place)
Directional 'soft-box' light (as pictured from manufacturer)
Now to the hard part: setup. Getting a strobe mounted and aligned with the umbrella shaft is an engineering puzzle. A tip I read somewhere suggested buying two shoe-mount adapters - I'M GLAD I DID! Also, I couldn't figure out how to remove the protruding end of the shaft for the longest time (was it friction fit, have a release button, threaded, etc?) Here's the answer: Threaded, leftie-loosie, be sure you hold the umbrella-side shaft still with a vice-grips and avoid wrenching on the umbrella splines themselves. Darn users-manual didn't mention anything about this.

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 125 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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4.0

Great for portraits

By Kelsey

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

Beautiful light. Great size for portraits

 
5.0

Great! Look into the other type for speedlights!

By Nic

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

This is fun to work with and it produces really nice light.

The only thing I'd say is if you are using it with a hotshoe flash (i.e. a speedlight), you may want to look into the other Softlighter where the entrance for the flash is a velcro opening, rather than a sock.

 
5.0

Great soft light

By Neil

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

This is a beautiful light modifier. Creates nice soft light and the diffusion panel fits nice and snug. Highly recommended.

 
4.0

Awesome light, somewhat flimsy implementation

By RajahX

from Toronto, Canada

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

The light that comes out of this is awesome. Very soft, very even light. Great for portraits. There are a few different sizes. I feel the 46 is a good size especially if you don't have too much space to work with. But some of the pieces look a bit flimsy to me. Not sure how it will hold up. The diffusion fabric looks like it will rip with a decent amount of use ... will see how it holds up over time.

 
5.0

Wonderful soft light

By Barry

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

Already own the 60" version but wanted something a bit more portable/easier to set up for headshots. Soft, wonderful light - easy to assemble/disassemble (vs. a softbox) and less expensive. Good enough for Anne Liebowitz, good enough for me...Oh, and their support is excellent (I had an issue with my older 60" unit and they were very helpful!

 
5.0

Great Quality Light for a Great Price

By S. Ortega

from Boston, MA

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

I already have the 60" Softlighter II, so this was the easy choice to replace my 36" soft box when it died. This light is easy control and feather. I have used this for tight shots for 3 people and for several single person shoots. Great for fully body and tight shots. I highly recommend these modifiers. Not the best on windy days outside but great for non windy days and studio use.

 
5.0

Fantastic!

By Adam

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

I use this light with both Canon 600ex hotshoe flashes and with Profoto B1's........I love it's universal versatility!

 
3.0

Quick and nice modifier, but too fragile...

By Fred

from Undisclosed

Site Member

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

Great modifier, but took one small spill and broke as the inner shaft spokes are made from really thin metal.  Also the diffusion material works all right, but it can come undone on a few edges quite simply.. This is frustrating and must be why I see people use heavy duty clips to hold it in with eve light winds. Good for indoors, but not great for fast set ups or outdoor portraits as a solo shooter.

 
5.0

Very soft light and convenient

By Summit

from California

Verified Buyer

Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

This is a great product, as advertised. Its premium price tag is matched with good quality, unlike cheaper products, which I have more experience with.

 
5.0

One of my all time favorites

By Josh L.

from Los Angeles

About Me Pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Portraits

      Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

      I've been using soft lighters for several years. They are hands down one of my favorite modifiers of all time. They're very versatile, you can shoot them and create lots of contrast, or no contrast. The transitions are smooth. Only real con is maybe durability, but it's an umbrella you can't expect it to last a lifetime.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No
       
      5.0

      awesome

      By hoyabill

      from washington dc

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Attaches Securely
      • Lightweight

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Portraits

        Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

        i use it for on location portraits....it's easier and faster than a soft box and has better (IMO) light than the 26 inch softbox I've been using for key light
        ....i shot using speedlights....

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No
         
        4.0

        Easy portable softbox

        By lisa segal photo

        from Duxbury Massachusetts

        About Me Pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Attaches Securely
        • Durable
        • Good Color Value
        • Lightweight

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • General Use
          • Indoors
          • Low Light
          • Night Time
          • Outdoors
          • Portraits
          • Special Events

          Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

          The umbrella performs exactly as expected. It works with my monolight and with my speedlite. It is portable and easy to use. The quality is good as well. The only thing that I don't love is the catchlights with the funky sleeve, but all in all, it's terrific.

          (0 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

           
          2.0

          Disappointing product

          By Scott Weaver

          from Las Cruces, NM

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Lightweight

          Cons

          • Assembly Rods Fragile
          • Difficult To Assemble
          • Flimsy
          • Front Face Fragile
          • Weak

          Best Uses

          • Indoors
          • On Location
          • Portraits

          Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

          I had wanted one of the Softlighter umbrella boxes for some time, having read many good reviews. I was also impressed that several top photographers use them. When I finally got my hands on one I was really surprised by several things: mediocre quality, and difficult assembly. There were NO instructions that came with it. I actually had to go on youtube to learn how it's assembled. it's the 'sock' and front diffuser that cause the confusion. (Turns out the best way to assemble IS NOT what I found on the videos.)

          The material that the front face diffuser is made from seems very flimsy/delicate material. I expect it to not last for long. Why didn't they use the typical nylon translucent material found on nearly every softbox face? (Such as the Westcott front diffuser for their 7' parabolic umbrellas.)

          As to assembly, the best way is to pull the 'sock' over the head of your light, and use a very small reflector - or no perhaps no reflector. Then attach the umbrella unit to your light, then pull around the diffuser face and attach to the umbrella. At this point you have to be careful because the attachment spoke ends of the umbrella could poke a hole or tear the diffuser material. This is why it's difficult to assemble this unit. I can imagine trying to do it on location wth a breeze blowing. Probably nearly impossible.

          I purchased the 46" model, but will probably not purchase the larger model. It would be too difficult to work with, and would likely not last long on location.

          The removable end of the umbrella rod is very useful, but the way it is threaded (very fine threads) makes me think those threads could easily be "cross-threaded" and you wouldn't be able to assemble it back again. It will also be very easy to lose the half you have taken off, especially on location.

          As to the light quality, there is very little difference between it and a regular white umbrella, or for for softer light just use a normal softbox, admitting they cost a bit more.

          I would not say there is anything 'great' about it, but it's nice that it weighs little. All in all, it was a good idea poorly executed.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          This Should Be Part of Your Kit

          By lupofoto

          from Los Angeles, CA

          About Me Semi-pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Attaches Securely
          • Compact
          • Durable
          • Lightweight
          • Versatile

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • General Use
            • Portraits

            Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

            Whether using it as a key light or fill, or using it feathered across your subject in a portrait, this light shaping tool is worth more than what you'll pay for it. It's compact when storing or traveling, and the included gold and silver liners let you adjust the light to your liking even more. The included diffuser makes a beautiful light. I don't know how I lived without this, but it has made a huge difference in what I am able to do in my photographs and offer clients.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No
             
            4.0

            Great light

            By OP

            from Burlington

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent
            • Easy To Set Up
            • Lightweight
            • Reliable

            Cons

            • Durability
            • Short Lifespan

            Best Uses

            • Portraits
            • Strobe Lighting

            Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

            The Photek Softlighter is one of my favorite light modifiers. It creates beautiful soft portraits, it's easy to set up and it doesn't take up too much space in my light kit. It is also relatively inexpensive, compared to other softboxes, etc. Like most umbrellas, however, it is not very durable... I seem to replace it every other year (which is why I'm giving it a 4 star rating.)

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No
             
            4.0

            Softbox quality in a portable package

            By Wheaton Photographer

            from Wheaton, IL

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Consistent
            • Easy To Set Up
            • Lightweight
            • Reliable

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Photography
              • Portraits
              • Strobe Lighting

              Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

              Easy to set up, very portable, overall very nice when you are on the go

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No
               
              5.0

              Amazing light very soft and wrap around light is beautiful.

              By Chezaray

              from Las Vegas

              About Me Pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Consistent
              • Easy To Set Up
              • Lightweight
              • Reliable

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Photography
                • Portraits
                • Strobe Lighting
                • Weddings

                Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                Be kind no Caterpillar gear.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • No
                 
                5.0

                very useful

                By kerwind

                from Atlanta,GA

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Consistent
                • Easy To Set Up
                • Lightweight
                • Reliable

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Artificial Lighting
                  • Photography
                  • Portraits
                  • Strobe Lighting

                  Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                  I've only use indoors so far but the light is beautiful the way I can use it to get light close to the subject is pretty awesome

                  • Was this a gift?:
                  • No
                   
                  4.0

                  Not for speed lights

                  By Boaz

                  from Hayward, CA

                  About Me Pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Easy To Set Up
                  • Lightweight
                  • Reliable

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

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

                    Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                    Nice to have 3 in 1, nice and soft light. But you can't place a speed light on a standard bracket. This one is for studio lights. There is a separate Photek 46" Hot Shoe Diffuser Panel that allows that(B&H #PHHSD5000C).
                    Also the shaft is a little too smal in diameter for some brackets (8mm)

                    • Was this a gift?:
                    • No
                     
                    4.0

                    Excellent and Easy to Set Up

                    By Chris the Photog

                    from Ellicott City, MD

                    About Me Pro Photographer

                    Verified Buyer

                    Pros

                    • Consistent
                    • Easy To Set Up
                    • Lightweight
                    • Reliable

                    Cons

                      Best Uses

                        Comments about Photek Umbrella - Softlighter II - 46":

                        This umbrella modifier works best with a single speedlight. I find the sock a bit too tight for a larger studio strobe, nor would I want it for that. It's best as a portable modifier. I wish that the diffuser had a velcro-secured wider opening so that I could mount 2 or three speed lights on a trip-mount inside. Diffuser has a nice quality to it, and the optional black, white, and gold reflectors give an option that I probably won't use; I prefer to gel.

                        • Was this a gift?:
                        • No

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