Learn the Basics of Softbox for Controlling and Creating Soft Lighting

Ever thought about what a softbox is for? Do you really need it? Here’s a quick video that will give you some quick answers.

So, you’ve decided to play around with different lighting setups for doing studio shoots. One of the very first equipment you’ll come across and need to learn is the softbox. If this is the first time you’re hearing about it or it sounds complicated, let this quick video by Daniel Norton guide you on some basics.

The softbox is one of the most useful and important tools you’ll ever need for your studio work, which is why it’s important that you equip yourself with the basics sooner than later. Sure, natural light can give you some beautiful and interesting lighting results, but as you’ll find out soon enough, natural light can only take you so far. There will be times when the softbox will do the trick for you, whether you’re in the studio or on location. So, if you’re ready, let’s jump right in to Daniel Norton’s quick video below.

First, Norton explains what the softbox essentially for: mainly for controlling where the light spreads. As its name suggests, it also makes the light softer and more diffused by making the light source larger. So, when you put a light inside the softbox, it will hit the diffusion inside and scatter the light, effectively making the light as big as the area of the softbox itself.

Next, he answers the question of how big you need it to be. The quick answer is, it depends on your subject, how far away it’s going to be, and what look you’re going after. Typically, you’ll want to have a good mix or selection of different sizes in your arsenal, so you’ll be able to pull one that you need straight away. Norton suggests a 2 ft x 3 ft sized one as an all-around softbox, ideally the flat front and instead of the recessed front so it light scatters more.

What about the octagon-shaped softbox you’ve been seeing? Norton explains that because of its shape, it’s going to let you light up a larger surface area for its size. It also gives you a more even coverage and lets the light wrap around the subject more, so it’s a great softbox to use if you’re going to have just one light source for your shoot.

The bottom line: think about the result that you want then start from there, as you can always switch to another one later on.

Want to learn more about softboxes? Check out The Phoblographer’s Introduction to Softboxes and 10 Different Ways to Use the Same Softbox.


Screenshot image from the video by Daniel Norton