30 June 2011
just received the Westcott Apollo 28″ softbox…. had been waiting for it to complete the orders that I had placed for in recent times…. after some testing of the Shashinki 24″ and the Lastolite Ezybox 24″, I could get a sense of the difference among those two….. I’ve already posted a blog on the differences between the Shashinki and Ezybox…. that was mainly based on its utility and operations…. no attempt was made to compare the lights coming out of the two…. so, to fill this blank space, I decided to put all the three softboxes side by side and shoot some flashes through them….
with a huge 28″ front, the Apollo is the obvious different one…. its the only one with the ability to receive any kind of flash…. the other two are predominantly hot-shoe flash softboxes…. the next difference lies in the way flashes are places in it…. the Apollo is manly designed as an indirect light source, with the flash shooting away from the subject; into a silver reflective surface…. that makes it possible for the Apollo to be bigger than the other two…. but I’ve noticed a significant amount of light-loss for the Apollo…. its a bigger light source alright, but it requires more power to properly illuminate the subject…. the Ezybox seemed to be the best light source with the most uniform output…. and it also looked the brightest…. its double diffusion proved to be very effective…. I thought there would be some light-loss because of that, but didn’t really see that…. it was in fact, the brightest of the three….
the design of the Apollo makes it more suitable for studio….. it seems like a softbox that wants to sit back and relax, rather than hovering in the air on a hand-held boom…. it can be put on a boom, but I’m not really sure how it would perform that way…. a bit of wind may spoil the party….. and as this is an umbrella design, wind can certainly do damage to its structure….. and I’m not sure how it can be repaired if one of the steel rods inside is broken….. weight isn’t an issue, as it certainly is very light….
the other unique feature of Apollo is that it holds the flash inside the softbox, which makes it almost mandatory to be triggered with a radio trigger…. and it certainly is a pain to remove the diffuser every time you need to change the power settings…. and its design makes it stand more upright, not encouraging bending forward or back, unlike the Shashinki, which has a ball-head, helping to move the softbox on its axis….. Ezybox, on the other hand, will stay straight, no matter what…..you will need a boom to give direction with it….
the Apollo is an umbrella…. its purely an umbrella and works like an umbrella…. it folds like an umbrella…. a BIG umbrella…. while folded, its length comes down to around 3ft1inch…. thats a pain for sure!!…. the thing hardly has a weight, but takes up an odd amount of space…. and it also doesn’t come with any carrying pack, which makes it even more odd for carrying to locations….. I can take the Shashinki or Ezybox anywhere, but not the Apollo…. Shashinki comes with a small bag, in which the softbox can be folded and stored…. but the Ezybox comes with a big triangular bag, where every arm is two feet long…. it can be folded just like the Shashinki, but as it doesn’t come with a small bag, it requires some improvisation to carry it within a small space…. Ezybox is, of course, the lightest softbox…. its speed-ring and holder are made of plastic…. Shashinki’s are made of solid metal…. and the Apollo doesn’t even have a speed-ring…. the version that I ordered, didn’t come with a flash bracket… so, I’m using my umbrella adapter with it…. it would’ve been a pain had I not have this adapter….
none of the softbox is a world winner…. they all have flaws and their own advantages… that makes them suitable for different purposes… knowing their boundaries is critical to utilising their full potential….
for this test, I used a Nikkor 28-80mm lens on D700 with Elinchrom Skyport radio trigger to trigger the YN-560 inside the Apollo, which optically triggered a YN-560 inside the Shashinki and an SB-900 inside the Ezybox…. all were on Phottix lightstands…. all the flashes were fired at 1/32 power, and zoomed at 24mm…. the pics were shot at 1/160sec and ISO 100…. aperture ranged between f7.1 and f4.5….