Best Speedlight Softbox Lighting Reviews

Heather Clouse
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Do you shoot a lot of portraits or weddings?

Chances are you already own a solid arsenal of studio strobes. However, if you are one that likes to travel light, a quality speedlight flash aimed with a softbox or umbrella might be more your speed.

Speedlight and softbox attachments can help your speedlight perform much better than it might in bare-bulb mode. Especially in those situations where you want to soften and diffuse the tiny flash that is coming out of your speedlight, softboxes are a great option.

In this article, we will take a look at the best speedlight softbox options on the market. If you are just starting out, or you need a compact setup, an umbrella is a good option.

NameCategoryProduct
Westcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid BoxBest OverallWestcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid Box
Neewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal SpeedliteBudget PickNeewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal Speedlite
SMDV Diffuser-50 –Upgrade PickSMDV Diffuser-50 -

1. Westcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid Box

Our rating: 9 / 10

Westcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid Box

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Pros:

  • Very good instructions
  • Well made
  • Folds up in a flash
  • It takes only a minute to put together
  • Great price
  • Soft, warm, and beautiful light
  • Very easy to use once you get used to it
  • Good for all levels of lighting enthusiasts
  • Versatile
  • Holds up well over time

The Westcott Rapid Box Octa softbox was a pleasure to shoot with. Even on my first try and I feel like I am improving my images with every shot. After trying several different methods for lighting, I am a firm believer in the use of softboxes. They are a must for anyone who wants to take their portraits to the next level. The diffused light provides more even lighting across the subject shot.

A single softbox can be used to light a single person, or if you have more of a budget, you can purchase several that will give you the lighting you need for a medium to large group shot.

2. Neewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal Speedlite

Our rating: 9 / 10

Neewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal Speedlite

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Pros:

  • Five adjustable angles
  • Has built-in metal reflector for constant, diffuse light
  • Carrying bag for easy transport

Cons:

  • Diffusion can result in hotspots
  • Each light output may differ

The Neewer Octa is one of the cheapest softbox lights you can buy. It offers you an octagon softbox with a hyperbolic design. It opens up to around 32 inches. It is very portable because it folds down neatly into the included carrying bag.

It has an attached diffuser panel. The entire thing weighs about 2 pounds. Since it’s so lightweight and portable, it can be used for outdoor portraits. The diffuser panel attaches to the front of the flash which gives a diffusion of light.

The softbox is attached with a Velcro strip. The silver lining reflects the flash to create a diffused light. However, there can be hotspots of light depending on the flash. That can be a problem depending on what you are taking the picture for.

3. SMDV Diffuser-50 –

Our rating: 8 / 10

SMDV Diffuser-50 -

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Pros:

  • Folds down to a small size
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Available for Canon and Nikon flashes
  • Versatile
  • Perfect for portraits, fashion, and bridal photography
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Quite a large softbox compared to non-brand versions
  • The softbox and flash combination can be tricky to learn how to set up and pose
  • Not the easiest to travel with

The SMDV brand of softboxes are sold by Amazon sellers, so you won’t find them on Amazon’s website, but they are incredibly popular with photographers.

The SMDV 50 – or Diffuser Original as it’s also known – is one of the most popular SMDV softboxes. At a compact size of 12x12x12 inches, it folds down to a small size of 5x2x2 inches. The compact size means it’s great for travel or carrying around in your car.

4. Godox 32 inches / 80cm Umbrella Octagon Softbox Reflector Diffuser

Our rating: 8 / 10

Godox 32 inches / 80cm Umbrella Octagon Softbox Reflector Diffuser

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Pros:

  • Takes up a relatively small space
  • Good value
  • Also comes in two smaller sizes
  • Collapsible design makes it great for travel
  • One of the most popular lights in this size
  • Available in four different sizes

Cons:

  • Some users complain about a chemical smell
  • The fabric is white, so this could look odd when used with colored backgrounds or colored light
  • Umbrella adapter is designed for a typical speedlight. It doesn’t work with other lights, such as the Fenix PD35.

A speedlight softbox is a must-have investment in your photo studio, and if you are looking for an inexpensive softbox, look no further than this one. It comes in sizes ranging from 4 to 36 inches, so you will find the size that is just right for you, and at the price point, you could easily own more than one.

5. Fotodiox EZ-Pro Deep Parabolic Softbox 48in

Our rating: 5 / 10

Fotodiox EZ-Pro Deep Parabolic Softbox 48in

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Pros:

  • Quick setup — Collapses to 1/2 size with ball-and-socket joint system
  • Can be used for hard or soft light
  • Ease of transport — only 10 lbs

The Fotodiox EZ-Pro Deep Parabolic Softbox is the perfect set-up for mobile portrait/studio photographers who want affordable and mobile lighting that allows great control of their lighting. The Fotodiox EZ-Pro Deep Parabolic Softbox gives you the quality and versatility of larger regular softboxes but easily collapses for storage and transport.

This particular softbox is so easy to use and setup, it only takes about 30 seconds. It comes in a very compact case that measures 30" x 8.5" x 8.5" yet when it is fully setup, it is about 46" in diameter and 12" deep. The rods for this softbox attach to the front of the softbox with pins at the front, middle, and back.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which softbox is best?

The beauty of buying and using softboxes from one company is, well, consistency. When you use the Westcott brand, you know you’re getting the same quality softbox for your speedlight no matter what mount you buy.

We prefer the Rapid Box Octa (RBO) for most portrait lighting situations. The wide octa shape give a broad light source perfect for full body shots. It’s a large softbox, meaning that it needs to be placed farther out from your subject. This means that you can only use the RBO with a slower lens, but we prefer the light quality of the RBO over the smaller c-stand mounts and key-light flash gels we used before.

Can you use a Speedlight with a softbox?

One thing that threw me off was that it came with only reflectors and not a softbox. When you are considering softboxes, you really need to consider their size, so they will fit. I was lucky that this softbox fit my speedlight before I even purchased the package, but I would imagine that not all of them do so you should make sure the softbox will fit your speedlight or any other powerful flash light before buying.

The package itself was a little bit of a challenge to put together, especially if you are alone. I recommend that you have one person doing the assembly while you are reading the directions. It might be a little bit challenging when it comes to fitting it into the box, but at least the box is larger than most of the other packages, so fitting it into the box will be easier.

What is a speedlight softbox?

Just as the name suggests, a speedlight softbox is a softbox that can be used with a speedlight or flash to achieve better lighting. They have gained popularity in recent years because of the ability to position them far from the subject. This can help to keep them out of the scene, softening the shadows and creating a more pleasing shot.

Is softbox better than umbrella?

The idea of soft box and umbrella is to soften the light and make it easier to work with. It can still be hard to soften and spread light with an umbrella, and soft boxes are pretty easy to position. So, really the canopy should be the last thing you should worry about. I would worry about softbox. So far, I think a (cheap) softbox is better than the umbrella.

Conclusion

Photography can become a very expensive hobby or profession if you don’t know what you’re doing. And yet, easier, cheaper and better ways of doing things are often the overlooked ways, even by professionals. While they may seem obvious to you or me, there are probably still a lot of people who don’t use them.

So, here are some simple solutions to common problems that professionals face in their day-to-day work, as well as some interesting and clever things they do to cheat the system and lower the cost of their professional photography career.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Westcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid BoxBest OverallWestcott 26 inch Octagonal Rapid Box
Neewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal SpeedliteBudget PickNeewer 32 inches /80 centimeters Octagon Softbox Octagonal Speedlite
SMDV Diffuser-50 –Upgrade PickSMDV Diffuser-50 -