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Which reflectors for beginner/natural light?

FORUMS General Gear Talk Flash and Studio Lighting
Thread started 18 Apr 2008 (Friday) 11:27   
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Christina
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I've been focusing on getting better natural light shots, usually indoors with window light and want to get some reflectors to help the cause. Ideally, I'd like to order from Amazon as I have a gift certificate there. I'm confused by all the options. Thisexternal linkseems like a good deal. Any tips?

Post #1, Apr 18, 2008 11:27:15


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Zansho
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You can go as cheap as using simple posterboard :) Really, anything with a reflective surface can be used as a reflector, I've several of my own cheapies. I have mirrors, styrofoam posterboard, and a kit from Westcott that has a 6 in 1 reflector kit. Gold, silver, white, black, translucent and one other one I can't remember offhand.

Seriously though, white and silver posterboard from hobby lobby works great as a reflector, and you can cut them up into different sizes as you need.

Post #2, Apr 18, 2008 11:51:29


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tkoutdoor
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MonteMama wrote in post #5355558external link
I've been focusing on getting better natural light shots, usually indoors with window light and want to get some reflectors to help the cause. Ideally, I'd like to order from Amazon as I have a gift certificate there. I'm confused by all the options. Thisexternal linkseems like a good deal. Any tips?

That is a good deal. After all you're getting a light stand, a reflector holder, and a reflector for that price and the reflector is a 5 in 1. That's just the setup I bought in pieces myself and I probably paid 10 to 20 percent more when I did.

I have only one regret with mine and that's because I'm a backpacker who doesn't want to pack light stands and such. Because it's round it's hard to prop it against something instead of using the holder or having another person along to hold it. They also make triangular shaped ones and squared ones (with rounded corners). In a studio setting I'm looking towards something larger as well so that I don't have to keep refocusing the light. This one is small enough that it won't do much for groups. In the end though I think having a small one and a large one (or more than one of either) is useful so it's hard to go wrong with your choice there because it is so versatile, packs down small and gets you a lot of functionality right from the start.

Post #3, Apr 18, 2008 11:52:45


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FlyingPhotog
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Just get some foamcore.

Leave one side white and cover the other side with aluminum foil.

Post #4, Apr 18, 2008 11:56:12


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tkoutdoor
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Zansho wrote in post #5355714external link
You can go as cheap as using simple posterboard :) Really, anything with a reflective surface can be used as a reflector, I've several of my own cheapies. I have mirrors, styrofoam posterboard, and a kit from Westcott that has a 6 in 1 reflector kit. Gold, silver, white, black, translucent and one other one I can't remember offhand.

Seriously though, white and silver posterboard from hobby lobby works great as a reflector, and you can cut them up into different sizes as you need.

Aluminum foil can also be secured to whatever and used. Also aluminum foil that has been crumpled and restretched out can provide light from multiple directions at once. All of this stuff is possible, but what you're looking at is professional (home-brew stuff in a professional setting has limitations for the sake of reputation), stores well, and travels well. Most of the foam panel solutions will neither store or travel well. You just have to determine what suits your needs and run with it. It's good to know the options though. Even a white interior wall, or exterior wall has a place in the entire arsenal of reflective sources. I've heard of some people going so far as to hang foam panels overhead to bounce the flash from.

Post #5, Apr 18, 2008 11:58:40


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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Christina
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Zansho wrote in post #5355714external link
You can go as cheap as using simple posterboard :) Really, anything with a reflective surface can be used as a reflector, I've several of my own cheapies. I have mirrors, styrofoam posterboard, and a kit from Westcott that has a 6 in 1 reflector kit. Gold, silver, white, black, translucent and one other one I can't remember offhand.

Seriously though, white and silver posterboard from hobby lobby works great as a reflector, and you can cut them up into different sizes as you need.

That answers another question I meant to ask but forgot. :) I've been using a large piece of white foam core board and haven't been thrilled with the results. I wasn't sure if that's because I'm not using it right or if a "real" reflector would be more effective. (Used it for these pics.)external link Plus that it is rather rustic looking and not easily portable - I like that it looks like these would fold up?

tkoutdoor wrote in post #5355723external link
I have only one regret with mine and that's because I'm a backpacker who doesn't want to pack light stands and such. Because it's round it's hard to prop it against something instead of using the holder or having another person along to hold it. They also make triangular shaped ones and squared ones (with rounded corners). In a studio setting I'm looking towards something larger as well so that I don't have to keep refocusing the light. This one is small enough that it won't do much for groups. In the end though I think having a small one and a large one (or more than one of either) is useful so it's hard to go wrong with your choice there because it is so versatile, packs down small and gets you a lot of functionality right from the start.

So maybe a different kit that has a different shape? I'd like to have that versatility and portability too. I looked at B&H and the options there are overwhelming.

I'm afraid the gift certificate is burning a hole in my pocket. :o

Post #6, Apr 18, 2008 12:37:01 as a reply to tkoutdoor's post 38 minutes earlier.


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Faolan
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Consider the size of a reflector, a 1meter reflector does pretty well for a 3/4 or headshot but sometimes struggle to get even lighting on full length shots. This said it's probably the most versatile size.

I have a 5 and 1 and it's literally been up mountains and in rivers and still going strong! Also observe your environment for 'free' reflectors such as cars, glass, white/light colour walls, and diffuse materials such as canopies.

Post #7, Apr 18, 2008 13:14:19


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fjgindy
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From poster board to foam core to fancy reflectors costing $100's of dollars, most reflectors available will bring you the same end result overall. The main difference is personal usability and person choice.

Personally I'm not a big fan of true round reflectors, others may feel different. I feel larger oval, rectangular, or triangle shapes are more usable for angles or for proping it up against something in the cases where there is no stand or assistant to hold it. In the studio foam core is hard to beat. "V" a couple of large pieces together and you have a great inexpensive self standing reflector system thats very usable, just not very portable.

5 in 1 reflectors are versatile but a bit more work to change colors. White works best for adding soft light to portraits. Silver is good for times when you want a bit harder light cast on your subject/object or just need to reflect the light a further distance. Although I've seen photos where gold has worked, overall I feel it adds an awkward orangish cast to what it is reflected on. I rarely use it. Translucent is great for shooting through to soften your light or as an overhead diffusion screen to soften natural sunlight during harsh times of the day. Black makes a great gobo or if you want to absorb light so it doens't reflect at all. I agree with a previous post that the 36 inch/1 meter size is probably the most versatile overall.

The difference I've noticed between the inexpensive (cheap) 5 in 1 type reflectors vs. the more expensive ones is the durability of the reflector itself and the fact that the rims on the cheaper ones tend to warp more easily giving you a pretzel'ish twist to the reflector itself. I prefer a straight flat reflector for even light reflection.

Having said all of this..I own a little of each. I use foam core, a Amvona 5-1 reflector, poster board and smaller collapsable triangle reflectors for when I'm out and about. It's generally cheap enough to own several methods.

I find myself using this cheap $15 triangle reflector that I found on ebay here:

http://cgi.ebay.com ...ZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZVi​ewItemexternal link

There's better made and larger versions available from name brand manufacturer's but for the money it's been very usable for me. A better made 36 inch version of this is interesting to me.

Post #8, Apr 18, 2008 14:34:59




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tkoutdoor
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MonteMama wrote in post #5355995external link
That answers another question I meant to ask but forgot. :) I've been using a large piece of white foam core board and haven't been thrilled with the results. I wasn't sure if that's because I'm not using it right or if a "real" reflector would be more effective. (Used it for these pics.)external link Plus that it is rather rustic looking and not easily portable - I like that it looks like these would fold up?

So maybe a different kit that has a different shape? I'd like to have that versatility and portability too. I looked at B&H and the options there are overwhelming.

I'm afraid the gift certificate is burning a hole in my pocket. :o

I haven't taken the time to digest it all either. I'm in the market for something larger and squarish or triangular for propping against something and hopefully as a kit, but the issue seems to be that when I get size and shape I lose "kit" so I've just got to set down and figure it out too. I'm in the same boat. So far my 5 in 1 round kit has been going with me, but it never gets used unless it's in a studio on the stand or if I had someone along to hold it.

It's not productive to carry it and not use it when I'm alone so I really ought to figure it out soon myself. :-) I've also had in mind an accordion style car window reflector that a friend of mine had in her car. It's was soft fabric and it compacted really small. It was sort of like mini blinds in it's ability to compress itself. It could also fold over on itself too cause it was cloth and flexible. I think I could grab a couple of branches on the trail to prop it up and stretch it out or use my trekking poles/tripod somehow. Overall I have enough information and possibilities that I just haven't taken time to solve it all. I'll keep watching this thread to see what people come up with.

Post #9, Apr 18, 2008 14:52:09


Canon ~ 7D, 1D MkIIn, 5D, 20D, 10D, 100-400L IS, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105 f4L IS, 17-40 f4L, 135mm f2L, 85mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4, 50mm 2.5 macro, Ext. tubes, TC's 1.4 & 2.0, Feisol 3441-S CF Tpod, Gitzo Traveler Mpod, Acratech ballhead, 550EX, 200EG bag, Epson Pro 3800 printer.

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