When it comes to photography lighting options, parabolic softboxes are often marketed as better than regular softboxes, but more affordable than true parabolic reflectors. But is any of this really true?
In this video, Karl does a side-by-side lighting comparison between a 150cm Parabolic Softbox and 150cm Octabox to see the results. Softboxes and Octaboxes are designed to produce homogenous lighting, with the inner and front diffusion acting to disperse the light and produce a very even overall result. Parabolic lights, on the other hand, focus the light and produce sparkly light with more contrast.
So how do these two opposite effects work together? Quite simply, they don’t. The term ‘parabolic softbox’ is something of a contradiction, and the physics behind these cheap modifiers does not make sense. Nevertheless, Karl puts one to the test to check the results for myself. In the test, Karl demonstrates three comparisons between these modifiers — with the front and inner diffusion, with only the inner diffusion, and with no diffusion — and the results speak for themselves.