Apollo Orb vs Umbrella for Flash Portraiture
As a followup to my previous Apollo Orb video, I offer my observations on the quality of this product as compared to my trusty shoot-through umbrella modifier. Which is a better light modifier for flash photography portraits?
As you probably already know, my go-to setup features a shoot-through umbrella. But I wanted to try out a round/octagonal softbox to see if I could get a slightly softer result with some of my portraiture. The Apollo Orb looked like it might work, and the price was right, so I purchased one. I soon ran into a problem: it was hard to get the Orb configured to tilt. And I almost always tilt my light slightly downward, near 45 degrees in some cases. I did get the tilting problem resolved with a workaround consisting of a mini-boom arm.
For this very unscientific comparison, I had my model repeat two poses for the test shots. I used a single speedlight behind each modifier, as I normally do. And the lighting was setup in my standard 45/45 position.
Because I was looking at the quality of the light in terms of contrast, I paid special attention to the shadow transition area. Do the shadows have a slow rate of transition from dark to light, or a fast one? I also compared how the light showed up when I varied the distance from background to subject.
Does the Apollo Orb Make Softer Light?
The verdict: The Apollo Orb gave me a softer look, the umbrella gave me a little more contrast. That isn’t to say one is better than the other; each has its uses. In fact, for most portraiture, I’d still probably stick to my standard shoot-through umbrella modifier. It’s just so portable and easy to set up, I’d have a hard time giving it up for a slight difference in contrast.
And about that. Although the Apollo Orb will give you a softer and more controlled light in many situations, the umbrella might actually provide a more pleasing look in others. For example, when you’re using a shoot-through umbrella in a smaller room with white walls. The less-controlled light bouncing out of the backside of the umbrella will also bounce more light around the room. All this bounced light can create a pleasing fill that will soften the shadows.
Other lighting videos you should watch:
- Apollo Orb Tilt Problem
- 3 Rules of Lighting for Photography
- ALL Lighting Tutorials
- Free Lighting Course
- You can find the Apollo Orb here