Review: ANGLER Parasail Parabolic Umbrella

Very few photographic umbrellas have had me confused like the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella–but after working with this umbrella, its nuances started to become a bit more clear. I mean, look at the thing. It doesn’t look like any sort of umbrella. It’s shaped more like a Roman Centurion’s shield and has the relative rectangular design of a softbox. In a world where light modifiers seem to be changing, innovating and overlapping, the target audience for the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella seems to be those that sometimes need an umbrella and sometimes need a softbox. With its convertible design to be a very soft silver reflection type or a thick opaque white shoot through configuration, the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella’s best feature is its versatility due to being suspended on a rod and its easy ability to turn one way or another.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • There are a number of sizes available.
  • Great image quality with a variety of lights
  • Compact
  • Convertible design is just the icing on the cake
  • Turn it one way and it’s wider and the other way and it’s longer–which  is unlike most umbrellas
  • Outside cover latches onto the rest of the umbrella well.

Cons

  • Outside cover has a metal ring that is supposed to go over the point of the umbrella. That fell off after around four uses and is therefore an issue with the build quality.

Gear Used

The ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella was tested with the Profoto B1X, Sony a7, Sony a7r II and various Sony and Lensbaby optics.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from Angler’s website

The Angler ParaSail umbrella is designed for photographers who are shooting in low-ceiling rooms or other tight spaces. Its unique shape offers up to twice the reflective surface of conventional umbrellas that can fit into the same space. In order to fit a conventional umbrella into a tight space, you need to reduce its size. The ParaSail allows you to fill the space with a much larger reflective surface and set it at the proper angle so you won’t compromise your lighting needs.

The ParaSail umbrella has a true parabolic shape that enables photographers to focus the light source on the subject. Its sturdy, fiberglass 16-rib design is strong enough to maintain its shape and deliver an even, reflective surface. The ParaSail is designed to be used horizontally when presented with a low ceiling, or vertically when placing it near a surface or in other areas that are a tight fit.

The reflective silver surface provides a specular and contrasty light, and it’s a great choice when a broad light source that wraps around the subject is required. The black backing ensures that the light falls on the subject and doesn’t leak through the umbrella.

At A Glance

  • Unique ParaSail shape is ideal for use in low-ceiling rooms.
  • True parabolic shape helps focus light.
  • Design with 16 fiberglass ribs creates an even, reflective surface.
  • Offers twice the reflective surface of a conventional umbrella.
  • Can be used vertically or horizontally.
  • Silver with black backing offers a specular and punchy light

Product Features

Unique ParaSail shape

Ideally suited for use in low-ceiling rooms or other tight spaces, the ParaSail can be used vertically or horizontally.  Even a room with a low ceiling, the Parasail design gives you a larger reflective surface that can be properly angled at the subject.

Parabolic Shape

The true parabolic shape allows photographers to focus the light on their subject and control light spill.

Fiberglass Ribs

Fiberglass ribs and rods offer greater strength than comparably-sized aluminum umbrellas. The strength of the ribs holds the shape of the umbrella and provides a smooth reflective surface.

Silver with Black Backing

The reflective silver surface provides a punchy light that is a great choice when a broad, wrap-around light source is required. The black backing ensures that the light falls on you subject and doesn’t leak through the umbrella.

In the Box

  • ParaSail Umbrella
  • Nylon carry case

Ergonomics

When you open the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella and look at the outside, here’s what you see. This is the black backing of the umbrella and on the inside is a silver interior.

That silver interior is protected by a white interior that is part of the main umbrella section. So what ends up happening is the light bounced off of the white side gives a bit of extra specularity but not a whole lot. When you take off the black and silver part, you get the white, shoot through configuration.

In order to take off the black and silver part, you pull outwards at the tip of each of the umbrella ribs. Then the Impact ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella is set up to be in shoot through configuration.

Build Quality

The ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella has some great plusses and minuses when it comes to the build quality. First off, this umbrella is built very solid and holds it own with anything I’ve seen from Westcott and a few other brands. Is the build Profoto or Broncolor quality? No. Is it good? Yes. Would I use it during a windy day and not have trouble? I’ve used it on the waterfront during high tide and lots of wind coming in and it was just fine. Personally speaking this is weird but to me it means that Gradus’ quality has far improved over what it was. Years ago their umbrellas pretty much just broke apart. However, my Westcott Umbrellas have lasted me more than five years and continue to simply work.

Now let’s talk about the design. Most umbrellas have a circular shape and part of the beauty of working with umbrellas is the lack of control of the light that you get. For this reason, umbrellas are often the choice of a lot of photographers vs softboxes. But in the case of the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella, the shape is more like a slightly rounded rectangle. The umbrella looks more like a Roman soldier’s shield more than anything else and almost sort of reminds me of a shell in some ways. What that means is that you essentially get the spread of an umbrella with a bit more highly tuned focus. However, the focus is nowhere as tailored as a beauty dish, softbox or octabank and there isn’t an interior and exterior light diffuser.

When set to the shoot through configuration, the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella gives you perhaps the most softbox like look. Though for what it’s worth, I personally prefer the reflective style of shooting.

Ease of Use

Using the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella is just like working with most other umbrellas out there except that you’re working with a particular shape. That shape really comes out the further way from your subject it is and the wider you tend to shoot. Both of those are up and coming trends thankfully. Personally speaking I genuinely prefer the reflective configuration although the shoot through configuration is quite nice.

Shoot Through

Reflective

Conclusions

The ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella is a nice light modifier that allows a photographer to have a fair bit of versatility. If you’re looking for that and a way to step your lighting game up, then this is a great option at an affordable price point. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, then consider some of the newer Westcott and Profoto options that win in terms of build quality and quality of light spread.

However, what the ANGLER Parasail Parabolic umbrella has going for it is the unique shape that few other manufacturers have. And for that I surely give them credit.