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Do It Yourself Sofbox


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10 replies to this topic

#1 bikegod

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:07

Thought I would share my birthday project. In these days of economizing and after a huge (for me) for studio equipment I found myself missing my speedlite mounted softbox. It, and two of my SB600 are on extended loan to my partner in crime for a macro/ir project he's been working on. I didn't think I would miss it since I bought Paul Buff's PLM ver.2 system. The PLM is great (I got the 64" shoot thru with all the blackout and diffuser. It's huge, and challenging to shoot anything low to the ground. It's kind of like shooting with a big octobox but all reflected light, but I wanted something a bit smaller.

I made my way to my wife's home office/craft room and helped myself to some supplies we had for the middle school science fair. Duct tape (gaffer tape), 4 sheets of 20x30 foamcore (paper covered sheets of styrofoam) some clear packing tape, and a utility knife and permanent marker. Please note that I didn't say anything about plans, ruler or straitedge.

I must admit, I used the edge of one of the boards to draw my straight lines, but for my base, I eyeballed a 5 inch square. I measured it later and was shocked that I got it dead on. The next time I do this (and I will) I'm bringing a framing square (metal ruler) and will work towards more precision. I'm very happy with how it came out.

Next time thru, I'm going for portability (foldable). On this one (and future ones) I will incorporate either a real speedring or something that can add more durability to the base. The fabric I used for the diffuser is 1/4oz ripstop nylon, used for making ultralight kites. I've been told you can use an old t-shirt. Everything I used was here in my house so no shopping trip for me. Good thing too, the new studio is gonna cost me a lot to finish, but in the end, I won't have to fold up my backdrops when I'm done shooting. I treated myself to 16'x25' of my basement for shooting area as well as computer space for post-processing. My 13x13 has been taken away for the kids playroom.

Here it is FWIW. Critique is welcome, as sharing of technique. I'm quite thrilled with the quality of light, though I am considering doubling the fabric just to see what happens. It's not pemanently mounted yet (still trying to decide the best mounting method) but an investment in Velcro is probably in my future. The outer housing will probalby be sprayed black since it looks cool and professional, as well as traps light internally.

Attached Images

  • DSC_6653.jpg

Edited by bikegod, 20 January 2012 - 03:10 .

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#2 bikegod

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:18

I love the almost light panel look this gives me. I wouldn't know how to measure it, but the fabric seems to currently cut about 2 stops from my exposure (did I say that right?)

My total investment (not counting my time) is about $6 USD. $4 for the foamcore and I'll say $2 for duct tape since it's kinda pricey and I wasted some trying to get a clean seam.DSC_6652.jpg
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#3 bikegod

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 03:25

Here you can see how thin the foamcore is. The clips that hold the reflectors or speedrings are a bit longer than the foamcore is thick, so i have a bit of "play" at the base. It doesn't move or spin about, but the small weight of the box tends to make it pull away from the top of the flash. Another layer of foamcore should make the difference, or I might add that speedring.

Next time, I'm going to make one foldable, or at least storable.

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#4 Ann

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 05:17

I always find it inspiring when I see people making what they need instead of just buying it.

That looks like a most effective light-box too and you can't beat the price!

:)

#5 PedroS

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Posted 20 January 2012 - 11:03

Very nice idea and DIY.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks
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#6 Mexecutioner

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 17:32

I would probably paint the rear of the box with black paint since the material is not very thick and allows o the light to come out from behind. Maybe some silver spray paint for the inside would be a good idea as well. Just my $.02

#7 Bart Willems

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 17:44

I would probably paint the rear of the box with black paint since the material is not very thick and allows o the light to come out from behind. Maybe some silver spray paint for the inside would be a good idea as well. Just my $.02


I agree. But my suggestion would be to cover the inside of the "cone" with wrinkled tinfoil. Instead of blocking light that leaves you'll be reflecting it, increasing the efficiency of your soft box substantially.

For your next project, instead of duct tape use velcro tape. It's your friend if you're looking for portability.
Bart

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#8 bikegod

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 17:45

I am waiting for a little warmer weather do paint. I like a white reflective surface, though it had crossed my mind to try one with gold. I love the softness of the light coming out. So far the light leaks thru the foamcore haven't been an issue, but better to be prepared than sorry later. I even made a little one for my sb600 out of scraps.
slave to the wind...but at least I can choose my chains

#9 bikegod

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 18:14

The big guy is staying in my studio for now. The little one I made I used velcro tape, but its cost is prohibitive for me at this time. Definitively on the 2.0 version though.

Many here will argue over what makes the best reflective surface, and I will agree and disagree with everyone at the same time. Refer to my post in this category about too much of a good thing. My Alien Bees in my small studio rarely are set over 1/4 power even shooting just one or two.

Thankfully, at this cost of making them, I can afford to make a few different kinds. I may experiment with an octoganal shape if I can remember the math. I want to also try making or repurposing something to create a grid.
slave to the wind...but at least I can choose my chains

#10 JBPhoto

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 21:04

Your project takes me back more than a few years. What I discovered was foam core ages quite quickly and you'll get a noticeable warm shift that will be a pain in the rear to deal with if you are mixing bare or gridded heads. Best option is to line the inner surface with a known quantity such as Roscoflex 3800 series reflection media. It comes double sided in white and silver so you can decide if you want a soft of specular box.

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.
James

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#11 bikegod

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 21:52

Dont mention it. If I was able to inspire or help even one person... well let's just say I have benefitted so much from this site.
Daily inspiration is the norm here, so I wanted to contribute, and in the process, received inspiration in return.

Ron
slave to the wind...but at least I can choose my chains




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