What is a softbox?

While ring lights might be all the rage, if you're into photography you may also need to invest in a softbox, but what is it and why do you need one?

what is a softbox

The best ring lights will no doubt be enough for most people when it comes to lighting a scene for the perfect photo, but sometimes you need additional support in the form of a softbox. This lighting tool is typically reserved for on-set photography shoots but what exactly is it and why do most professionals recommend them?

In some ways, a softbox is the opposite of a ring light, but both are sometimes mentioned in the same conversation and can actually be used in combination with each other to help create the perfect lighting environment for photography. Let us take you though everything you need to know softboxes and why they’re growing in popularity outside of the professional scene.

what is a softbox - an image from behind of a softbox on a tripod

What is a softbox?

A softbox is a tool that diffuses and distributes light into a soft and even glow. Where a ring light is focused on lighting up a singular subject intensely, a softbox instead looks to create an all-around ideal environment for taking photos.

The chances are if you look at an image of a softbox, you’ve seen one somewhere before. It would be forgiven if you thought they were super specialist equipment but that’s far from the case. Just like with ring light prices, they’re not overly expensive and you can buy softboxes on Amazon and not have to worry about turning to specialist retailers.

Granted, the more you spend, you may find that you have more features at your disposal or just a generally better built quality. It’s worth looking to see if there are any brands that produce equipment you already own and seeing if they also sell softboxes. Neewer are considered a reliable brand for ring lights but also produce softboxes, if you trust the brand, you can feel more comfortable buying their products.

What are the benefits of a softbox?

Softboxes have a range of benefits when capturing photos which include, but is not limited to; softening edges of an image, reducing or concealing the appearance of blemishes on a subject, and reducing contrast.

Different softbox sizes will have varying effects on a photo with most photographers having a complete range in their inventory, once again, this is very similar to the story with ring light sizes. As for the shape of a softbox, this is sometimes determined by the subject that you are capturing, but rectangular, square, and octagonal are the most popular options. You can also find circular softboxes but these aren’t as sought after compared to the three other form factors.

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Not sure a softbox is right for you? Check out our guide of how to set up a ring light instead and see if this satisfies your lighting needs.