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Review: Photogenic SB22 Square Soft Box

by Travis Lawton on 01/14/2012

Sample 1

Sample 1

As a lighting enthusiast, I’m a big fan of light modifiers. These are the tools that really let us be creative with out lighting. We use them to shape our light and make it work for us. By far the most popular type of modifier is the soft box. Reviewing soft boxes is nothing new to us here at The Phoblographer. Check out this post by our Editor-In-Chief where Chris uses a pretty nifty hack to use a speed ring soft box with a regular speedlight.

Today we look at the Photogenic SB22 24″ x 24″ square soft box. The SB22 is currently the smallest soft box that Photogenic sells but does it’s size hold it back? Read ahead to find out.

Design

Size 22 x 22″ (56 x 56cm)
Shape Square
Compatibility Flash
Removable Front Face Yes
Removable Interior Baffle Yes
Accepts Grids Yes
Required Speed Ring Included for Photogenic

 

Fully Assembled

Fully Assembled

The SB22 is a standard speed ring style soft box. It is designed to be mounted onto a studio strobe using the speed ring. If you don’t own one of these, you might want to pass on this type of soft box for now, although there are way that you can hack together a way to use speed ring modifiers with speedlights (see Chris’ article mentioned above). I primarily use speedlights myself however I do own one AlienBee AB800 strobe which works perfectly with this soft box.

What's In The Bag

What's In The Bag

Four flexible metal rods slide through holes in the soft box and are inserted into slots on the speed ring. This part is a little confusing as the speed ring has ten different holes in it for the various soft box sizes and instructions are somewhat confusing as which to use. Keep in mind also that if you’re new to speed ring light modifiers, this part kind be a little difficult. After realizing the two pieces of the speed ring were sent to me put together wrong and after a nice cut on my hand from the really sharp edge of the metal, the soft box was set up.

The SB22 has two layers of diffusion, an inner baffle and the main front diffuser. This is part of the secret to soft boxes and why people love the look they produce so much. The light that comes out of this is very soft light and perfect for portraits.

Carrying Case

Carrying Case

Photogenic was even nice enough to include a very compact carrying case to store and transport the soft box when broken down.

Use

Sample 2

Sample 2

Many pro photographers preach that if you want to really get into using soft boxes that you should have a small, medium, and large version. The different sizes give you different capabilities in terms of the characteristics of the light they emit and how well you can light larger subjects.

This is of course would be the small piece of that equation. This size soft box is generally good for one or two people, half body portraits. For my testing I decided to concentrate on a single subject and go for the classic Rembrandt lighting look and position the soft box at roughly a 45 degree angle to the subject and slightly higher. The only other light source was a Nikon speedlight used only for a background or separation light.

Immediately I was impressed by the gentle light the soft box was creating. With the 45 degree angle, you can see the beautiful gradual light falloff on the models face.

Affects of a Small Soft Box

Affects of a Small Soft Box

You can see the small size of the soft box comes into play while taking a more full body image. The bottom of the frame is much darker as the soft box was just too small and close to fill that area in. Of course you can just move the soft box back to get more of a light spread but keep in mind that you would then have to change the settings on the camera or flash to compensate for the extra distance. Also the further you move the light source away, the harder the light gets. For the nice, soft portrait light that everyone loves, you want the light source as close as you can get it to the subject.

 Conclusion

Most photographers will gravitate towards umbrellas when first getting into off-camera lighting simple because of price. On the flip-side, most seasoned off-camera lighting photographers will swear by the soft box. The Photogenic SB22 small soft box is a perfect starting lighting modifier.

You do have to make sure that you have a light that can accept a speed ring style modifier or perhaps the Gary Fong LightSphere to be able to hack it to work with a speedlight. You also have to be careful when handling Photogenic’s speed ring as the metal edges are very sharp but the payoff is more than worth it. The light this modifier creates is some of the best I’ve seen and further validates my recommendation for the Photogenic SB22 being a must-buy.

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