Everything You Need to Know About Softbox For Product Photography

*We may earn a commission for purchases made using our links. Please see our disclosure to learn more.

Are you looking to add to your lighting equipment? Wondering what to buy next if you’re expanding into product photography? Have some more serious photography jobs on the horizon? If you are looking to expand the photography business or just starting out, one of the best additions to your lighting kit is a softbox for product photography.

What Is a Softbox?

A softbox is a wireframe that goes over a light source and filters the light through diffusion layers. Softboxes come in different shapes and sizes to fit your needs as a photographer. 

Photographers use softboxes in various photography styles, including product photography, food photography, portrait photography, and more. 

product photography

Why You Should Use a Softbox

A softbox is excellent because it can be used in a studio or on location. These are versatile lighting options. Softboxes soften the light by spreading it out through two pieces of fabric. This kind of light diffusion prevents harsh shadows from forming. 

Using a softbox for product photography is a great way to ensure what you’re shooting is well lit and won’t cast distracting shadows. 

Types of Softboxes

There are a few types of softboxes out there on the market. Each of them diffuses light in the same way, but photographers can use them for various specific purposes. This guide will help you figure out the best softbox lighting possible for your work.

Size

There are three different sizes of softbox on the market—small, medium, and large. Depending on the size of your softbox, the coverage of the area does not change.

The smaller the softbox, the harsher the shadows are. The larger the softbox, the shadows become softer and undefined. The shadows become more undefined the larger you go because there is more surface area for the light to spread across in a larger version of this lighting option. 

Shape

There are a few different softbox shapes to choose from, and photographers use them for various reasons. The most significant difference between the shapes is the way the light falloff occurs. A rectangular light is going to have a different falloff pattern than an octagon.

When choosing a softbox shape, think about what you are going to be shooting the most.

Rectangular softboxes are great for portraits and to imitate window lighting. These are great lighting options when shooting product photography as well because the light looks natural.

Octagon softboxes are used more in fashion photography. They provide a great light wraparound effect. The shape of this particular lightbox looks nice when dealing with eye reflections.

Square softboxes are better for portrait photography. These can also be used if you have limited studio space.

Strip softboxes are perfect for product photography that needs a diffused but more directional type of light. These don’t spread the light in the same way as the other options.

When You Should Use a Softbox

Photographers use softboxes as a key light or to fill up your frame to add more dimension. The versatility of this piece of lighting equipment makes it a staple in the studio.

Softboxes can be used to increase the size of a smaller light source. By diffusing the light over the surface of the material, it evens out the light.

Umbrella vs Softbox For Product Photography

softboxes vs umbrella lighting

Are you wondering what the difference is between a softbox and an umbrella? Here are a few key things that differentiate the two.

An umbrella is also used to modify already existing light. They soften the light by bouncing it. This type of light is a little more forgiving, but it’s not as easy to control.

Softboxes not only soften and diffuse light, but you are also able to control the direction of the light produces more easily. 

If you are starting your photography career, umbrellas are a little bit cheaper, so you can try out this type of lighting. An umbrella will give you a somewhat different look than a softbox. 

As mentioned, a softbox will give you consistent, diffuse directional light. An umbrella is a little less directional.

Keep in mind that a softbox is used consistently in a professional studio setting and on location, so consider purchasing one of these as soon as possible.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

If you are considering adding to your lighting equipment, you should keep your photography style in mind. If you use a studio, a softbox makes sense because you can leave it set up. If most of your photography is on the move, it might be easier to use something like an umbrella because they aren’t as bulky. 

Using a studio regularly? you can have a combination of both an umbrella and a softbox! 

Your lighting setup should match your style. You can try out a few things but ultimately, what you use in your product, portrait, or food photography is up to you and what your preferences are. 

One more thing, the size of your softbox should be about as large as the object you’re trying to shoot.

If you are now ready to add to your lighting kit, a softbox for product photography could be a really useful addition.

John Lochert

What started out as a passion to acquire the best camera gear quickly turned into an obsession to research all types of cameras, lenses and photography accessories in general. I started this site to help others enjoy the art of photography and provide you with the best and most reliable information either from my own experiences or from a range of trusted sources.


More to Explore