As a wedding photographer and photojournalist based in Manhattan, I have specific, and sometimes esoteric needs. So it’s not often that I see a product from a manufacturer that makes me wonder if they were living inside my head, catering to my secret desires. The last time I remember that shock was 2007, when Nikon released the D3 — going for speed and low noise at High ISO in their first full-frame camera instead of a billion megapixels.
Well, this time the welcome shock comes from Lumiquest and their new speedlight-mountable softbox, the Softbox LTP.
I love off-camera light, and I want to be as versatile with it as possible. But as a photojournalist, and specifically one who works with just the tools he can carry, I travel as light as I can. And so I loved the previous model, the Lumiquest Softbox III. It gave me some versatility in light-shaping, and a nice soft light when I was working close, such as this picture, when it was right outside the frame.
(This shot looks crazy-Photoshopped, but it’s not. The skies were insane that day, and the light from the Softbox III was always slightly pinkish. Combine that with Irish ruddiness on a cold day, and you get room for a hue shift into geen.)
It’s a great tool, and I’ve worked mine literally to death, but I always wanted it to be a bit bigger so I could have more working distance from my subjects and still get soft light — but of course, if it’s too big it’s not truly portable anymore.
And this is the genius part — Lumiquest said, “Hey, you know what photographers carry around a lot? 15-inch laptops. And even if they don’t, every large camera bag or even normal shoulder bag is sized to hold 15-inch laptops. So let’s make a softbox the exact size of a 15-inch laptop.”
Genius. If you use any bag that fits that size, the new LTP will give you 40 percent more area over the Softbox III without sacrificing a bit of portability.
Here it is in action, lighting yours truly, with a wider crop so you can see it work.
Here it is with kind of a funky headshot. (For these I used velcro to affix it to a video light, the Litepanel MicroPro)
Now in my professional work with these kinds of lights I will often use multi-frame composites to get interesting lighting options out of small lights. The LTP is perfect for these. Especially when shooting people, the rectangular shape of it makes it effectively even larger, since you generally want to light a vertical area. So here is a panel of my assistant lighting a bride:
and here is the finished shot
And one last composite: Here I used the softbox and gel to put a soft, warm light on the couple, and then took it off for cold, hard light on the steps:
As you can tell, I’ve fallen in love with it already. But it gets better. It’s not just bigger than the older model — it feels significantly sturdier, with extra velcro options to keep it from sagging despite its greater weight.
This is definitely a tool for off-camera light, not something to put on your camera-mounted flash and blast forward, but I’ve never been a fan of that anyway. If you feel any of the same tingle of shock that I did, I highly recommend picking one up — after all, it’s only 1 percent the cost of my last shock, the D3.