The quality of the light can make a spectacular image stand out from an ordinary one. Michael Topham takes a closer look at various lighting solutions under £100
Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2
Small, lightweight and featuring a near-flat profile when folded down, the Manfrotto Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 is designed for photographers on the go. With a 22x22cm diffusion panel and a second diffusion layer, the softbox loses 2 stops of light but provides great diffusion as a result. As the mounting mechanism is universal, you can attach the Ezybox to practically any flashgun. You can also connect Lastolite Honeycomb Grids and a Gel Holder (both not included) to it.
Lastolite Fabric Grid for Ezybox Hotshoe
This optional accessory is for Lastolite’s 2462 Ezybox Hotshoe 54cm – a portable pop-up softbox that converts harsh directional light from a flashgun into a much softer diffused light that’s perfect for portraits. The fabric grid comes in its own carry bag and secures easily to the front of the Ezybox by Velcro. Once attached, the fabric grid prevents light spillage and helps direct the light onto your subject more effectively. It’s an extra that is worth considering by those who already own or are looking at the Lastolite 54x54cm Ezybox Hotshoe.
Ultraslim A4 LED Lightbox
If you’d like to experiment with your photography and try something different, shooting some backlit still-life set-ups on a lightbox can be good fun. Flowers and sliced fruit are classic still-life subjects that can create plenty of impact. Hobbycraft stocks Ultraslim LED lightboxes, which are easy to store and come with a two-metre USB cable for use with a computer or laptop, or any mains plug that has a USB slot. If A4 size is too small, then an A3-size Ultraslim Lightbox is also available for £100.
Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Lighting system
What you’re looking at here is one of the most versatile light-shaping systems on the market for a flashgun. The kit includes the FlashBender 2 XL Pro reflector – the largest reflector available – a softbox diffuser attachment for softening the light, and a strip-grid attachment (strip diffusion panel and fabric grid) for directional concentration of the light. Don’t expect the quality or spread of light to be as good as a purpose-built softbox, but if you’d like to sculpt a snoot or add a little fill-light, the results can be impressive.
Ray Flash Universal Ringflash adapter
The Ray Flash Universal Ringflash Adapter is the perfect way to transform a standard flashgun into a ringflash in just a few seconds. The Ringflash adapter attaches to the front of your flashgun and hangs over the lens with an aperture for the lens to poke through. It replicates the unique lighting effect produced by heavy, high-powered and expensive studio ringflash units, plus you can shoot with the flashgun in TTL mode or manual mode with no effect on colour temperature.
Phottix Luna Silver folding beauty dish 85cm
If your portraiture photography takes you out and about, and you own a portable lighting kit, you’ll want a folding beauty dish that’s easy to use on location. This example from Phottix is far easier to transport than traditional metal beauty dishes and is constructed from high-temperature softbox material, with internal fibreglass supports. It’s supplied with a Bowens-compatible speed ring and white diffuser, but other speed rings for Profoto, Elinchrom and Balcar are available. It’s also compatible with the Phottix HS Speed Mount II for use with hot-shoe flash.
Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 LED
As its name suggests, the Lumimuse 8 is a compact LED light comprised of eight LEDs. It includes a 6.4mm thread to attach it to a standard tripod head or other mount, and provides four-step dimming control to regulate the intensity of the light. It can be recharged via USB and comes with a snap-fit filter mount and filters for colour correction and creative use. A Lumimuse 8 Bluetooth edition is also available for £129. It leverages built-in wireless technology to give users control of power output from 0-100% from iOS devices running the free-to-download Lumimuse app.
Interfit 82cm So Sun/White reflector
No portrait photographer’s kit is complete without a reflector. With so many varieties and sizes available it can be difficult to know which to choose, but if you know you’d like to warm up skin tones in a gentler manner than with a gold reflector, a Soft Sun/White reflector can make the best choice. This 82cm reflector comes with a carry-pouch and represents very good value for the price.