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This post was most recently updated on June 26th, 2022

Are you torn between an umbrella or softbox lights and aren’t sure which is best? Maybe it’s time to purchase some new lights, and you can’t decide which is the better option?

Or perhaps you are curious and want to know more? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how difficult purchasing new lighting can be, especially if you are new to the photography world.

You want to find the best lighting for you and your photography, but with so many reviews and conflicting information out there, you often wind up feeling stressed and overwhelmed with no new lights to show for your hard work. 

What Is Better Umbrella Or Softbox Lights (Comparison Guide)

All you want to know is if an umbrella or softbox light is better, but the answer seems just out of reach.

Well, no more! Today we are here with all the answers you need. Keep reading for a comparison guide of umbrella and softbox lights to help you find the right one for you! 

What Are Better Umbrella Or Softbox Lights? 

Let’s get into it! When it comes to finding the best light for you, you need to consider the photography you like to take. Lighting comes down not only to personal preference but the setup you have, the photography you take, and its style.

To help you with the decision, we have created a below comparison guide. Use the different sections to look at the features these types of lighting offer and decide with these in mind. 

By the end of the article, you should have found out which light is better for you. So let’s get straight into it! 

Light Control And Quality 

Let’s start with one of the most important factors, the light umbrellas and softboxes created. After all, what’s the point in having a new light if it doesn’t do the job?

Both an umbrella and softbox will create good quality light that will enhance your photography. But there are some differences. You will notice that an umbrella creates the softest light and is placed in a room with white ceilings. 

However, if you don’t have access to the ideal room, a softbox is the winner. No matter the color of the walls, the softbox won’t pick up the colors and direct them to the subject like they do with umbrellas.

In other cases, you risk the light bouncing off the colored walls and contaminating the image. But with a softbox, you are safe and have far more precision when it comes to your light too. 

You can feather the lighting by pointing the softbox away from the subject. Softboxes allow you to adjust the lighting and create more softness if you wish.

It’s impossible to replicate this feathered look with an umbrella or other lighting equipment. So if you want to create it, you will need a softbox. 

Consider the control over the light you want and the quality of light before choosing between an umbrella and softbox today. 

Reflections 

Depending on where you shoot your photographs, you can be plagued by reflections of the umbrella or softbox cropping up in your photography. This can detract from the image and ruin the illusion.

Think about when you spot a microphone or crew member in a movie, it interrupts your enjoyment, and you can’t enjoy the movie the same way. Well, it’s the same with photographs. 

Umbrellas can create strong reflections, so you will want to avoid these if you are shooting somewhere with windows or other reflective surfaces.

What Is Better Umbrella Or Softbox Lights (Comparison Guide)

Softboxes, thankfully, can be pointed away, allowing you to remove the reflection but keep the lighting you want. 

However, when taking close-up photographs, a softbox shape can be reflected in people’s eyes.

This reflection can add to the image or detract from it depending on the look you want with your photography. In some cases, you can edit this reflection out after the photograph has been taken too. 

You can also purchase octagon-shaped softboxes. These have better eye reflection than an umbrella, allowing you to take the images that you want. It’s worth considering the reflections and where you usually take photographs when selecting the right light for you. 

Wind 

The wind is a vital factor to consider for those shooting outdoors. Having a flash blow over in the wind is the last thing any of us want! Thankfully, softboxes are less likely to blow over as they don’t scoop the wind in the same way an umbrella does.

If you regularly shoot outside, an umbrella probably isn’t the best choice as it can rotate and blow over in the wind. 

While softboxes can blow over, it isn’t as likely and is considered the better option here. 

Easy To Use?

Ideally, you want a light that is super easy to use. You don’t want to be fussing about; instead, you want to use your light with ease. Softboxes are extremely easy to use; you simply point and shoot.

Umbrellas work the same way, although you need to shoot through umbrellas as they aren’t as precise. 

You might find that it takes you longer to set up a softbox and get the box exactly where you want it for the perfect shot. However, they have a longer lifespan, and the white material stays inside the softbox, remaining pristine for countless uses.

It’s worth considering this and checking out the softbox and umbrella reviews before deciding which will be easier for you to use.

Easy To Set Up?

Thankfully, both are easy to set up, so you don’t need to consider this factor too much! It’s still worth noting how easy the specific light you are looking at is to set up, though, to make sure it’s as easy as possible. 

Generally speaking, softboxes fold open easily and usually feature a velcro attachment on the front panel. Umbrellas will also open easily and quickly, helping to reduce your setup time. 

How Heavy?

When choosing between the two, you also want to consider the weight of the light. After all, you will want something portable if you take a lot of photographs outdoors.

Softboxes tend to be very light and portable, but this does change depending on the size; larger softboxes can be difficult to lug around and tend to be heavy too. 

Umbrella photography

This is where the umbrella light comes to redeem itself. Umbrella lights tend to be lighter, even larger ones, and aren’t too difficult to carry around. You should find it easy to move your umbrella light around, and these days, they can fold down into compact sizes that are perfect for traveling. 

It’s worth noting that umbrella lights will bounce light to help with your photograph, but a softbox will both bounce and diffuse the light.

Having a softbox can save you from needing to bring a diffuser, too, meaning you have less to carry. It’s worth considering this when deciding between the two. If you need a portable diffuser and light bouncer, why not have the two in one with a softbox? 

How Much?

Finally, you will want to consider how much the light costs. Softboxes tend to be more expensive than umbrellas, but they come in a wide range of sizes. You are bound to find a softbox that fits your budget!

Umbrellas are usually cheaper, but the price creeps up the bigger you go. You will want to consider your budget and the size of light you want before making your decision.

This category depends on you and your preferences, but whichever you choose, there is sure to be one that meets your budget. 

Final Thoughts

So which is better: an umbrella or a softbox? Well, it depends on the photography you want to create! If you want to diffuse the light too and crave precise light, then a softbox is the better choice for you. However, if you want something light and easy to travel with, an umbrella might be the better option for you. This is a personal choice, so be sure to consider all the factors listed above and select the right light for you.