If you are into photography or videography, it is essential to know the different types of light modifiers. You can use a light modifier to change the quality of the light. You can use it for natural light and artificial lights from flash and strobes (continuous lights).
Some light modifiers can convert a hard light into soft light, whereas some are good for limiting the amount of light to a particular area with or without specific patterns. If you are into photography or videography, it is essential to have the right type of light modifiers. It helps to create the right mood for the image. A good lighting setup can help you capture beautiful pictures and videos even with your smartphone.
We will have a look at the 15 different types of light modifiers 😎 available for photographers and videographers in 2023.
As the name suggests, Softbox helps convert the harsh light from the light source to soft light. You can connect the Softbox to the artificial light source with appropriate mounts. The artificial light can be a continuous light or a flashlight.
The Softbox will have one or more layers of diffusion panels in front. When the light passes through these panels, it will become soft. The more the number of diffusion layers, the softer will be the light. The intensity of the light will also reduce with an increase in the number of layers.
Softboxes are generally used by wedding, portrait, and product photographers. They come in different shapes. Two popular softbox shapes include the rectangle and the octagonal box.
They also come in different sizes. So if you want the light to spread across more areas, you need to go for one with a bigger size.
Some of the popular softbox models include the Aputure Lantern, Godox parabolic softbox, Aputure Light Dome, Nanlite softbox, etc.
2. Standard Reflector
The standard reflector is a metal reflector with a silver coating on the inside. It will be in the shape of a bowl, open at both ends. It will come along with your strobe light.
You can connect one end of the standard reflector to the light source. The other end will remain open. The standard reflector will produce a harsh light. It helps to avoid the spillage of light to the sides.
You can use it for providing rim light or background light for the subject when shooting outdoors.
If you want to make this light soft, you can connect a Softbox at the open end.
3. Beauty Dish
A beauty dish is slightly different from the normal reflector, which you will get along with your continuous lights.
The beauty dish will have a deflector in the center along with the white reflecting side in the interior, which is like a normal reflector. This structure will ensure that no direct light falls on the subject. In the case of a normal reflector, the direct light will also be falling on the subject since the center part of the bulb is pointing outside.
Thus, the light coming from the beauty dish will be really soft and good for portraits. If you are into portrait or model photography, you must consider investing in a beauty dish for your shots.
Godox, Impact, and Profoto are some of the popular names when it comes to beauty dishes for photography.
4. Shoot Through Umbrella (STU)
Shoot Through Umbrella (STU) is another type of light modifier. It is made of translucent white fabric and will be in the shape of an umbrella. This fabric act as a diffuser converting the harsh light into a soft one.
If you replace the normal umbrella’s cloth with this fabric, you will get the shoot-through umbrellas. It is also called “brolly”. You need to point your light source towards the inside of the umbrella. A soft light will come out through the exterior of the umbrella.
You can use it with both the flash as well as continuous light. It is suitable for indoor shooting. It is not recommended for outdoor shoots since these umbrellas can break easily.
Godox, Westcott, and Phottix are some good brands for Shoot Through Umbrellas.
5. Reflector Umbrella
A reflector umbrella is another type of light modifier used in photography. This umbrella will have a reflective coating inside. The exterior of the umbrella will be black, just like a typical umbrella. So, the light will not pass through it. Light will get reflected from the interior of this umbrella.
You can open this reflector just like a normal umbrella. The light source needs to be placed, pointing towards the interior of the umbrella. This reflected light will fall on the subject. So, you need to position the umbrella accordingly.
When you use such a lighting setup, indirect light will fall on the subject. The intensity of this reflected light will be less since it acts as an indirect light source.
A few examples of reflector umbrellas include the Impact Parabolic Umbrella, Fovitec reflector Umbrella, Godox Parabolic reflector Umbrella, etc.
6. Omni Bounce
Omni Bounce is a small softbox that you can attach to your camera flash. It is useful to spread the flashlight to more areas. The light will go to the front as well as to the sides.
It is somewhat similar to a light bulb. The diffusing property of the material in the Omni bounce helps make the light soft. It will be either made of plastic or silicone.
It is the cheapest light diffuser that you can get for your camera flash. You can also get colored versions of Omni bounce.
Sto-Fen and Yongnuo are two good brands of Omni Bounce light modifiers.
Consider watching this YouTube video to see the effect of different light modifiers on a portrait image.
7. Dome Diffuser
The dome diffuser is a light diffuser that you can connect to your camera flash. It will come in the shape of a dome, hence the name.
You can get dome diffusers made of plastic and silicone. It will help to convert the camera flashlight source into the shape of a bulb.
You can use it to illuminate more areas. It helps to create really soft light. But, the intensity of the light will be reduced since the light is getting distributed over a large area.
Some of the popular Dome diffuser brands include Godox. Magmod, Westcott, etc.
8. Collapsible Diffusers and Reflectors
Collapsible diffusers and reflectors are good for outdoor and indoor shoots. You can either go for a single collapsible reflector/ diffuser or a 5-in-1 pack containing reflectors and diffusers.
You can easily fold the collapsible diffuser and keep it in your bag. There will be a bendable metal wire around the diffuser sheet. It allows you to fold the diffuser. When you open it, the wire ensures that the diffuser or the reflector fabric stays in the stretched state for the best results.
They are available in different shapes and sizes. It includes a circle, rectangle, and oval shape. Some popular sizes include the 42”, 32”, 42” x 72”, etc.
In the 5-in-1 pack, you will get a diffuser, silver reflector, white reflector, gold reflector, and a black light blocker.
Some of the popular Collapsible Diffuser & Reflector brands include the Phottix, Raya, PhotoFlex, Impact, etc.
9. Grid Light Modifier
Grid is another popular light modifier used by portrait photographers and videographers. It consists of a tube-like structure that can be attached to the light source. The grid helps to restrict the light to a smaller area.
Grids are available for both flashlights and continuous lights. In the case of flashlights, the grid will be made of plastic. In the case of continuous lights, the grid will be made of cloth and will get attached to the Softbox.
The most popular grid structure is the honeycomb grid. Photographers use a honeycomb grid to make the light fall on the subject without getting spilled in the background.
Sometimes, the honeycomb grid will come as an additional layer when buying a softbox. You can attach it to the Softbox if needed.
Different types of grids include the Snap open type grid, Honeycomb, Stretch frames, Egg crates, etc.
Snoot is somewhat similar to the grid. The purpose of using the snoot is to limit the light to a smaller area. But the difference is that grids will give you a soft edge light, and snoot will give you a hard edge light.
A snoot will come with multiple Gobos. You can use the snoot with or without a Gobo.
A Gobo is basically a stencil that will allow a particular pattern of light to pass through it. You can change the light pattern by attaching different Gobos in the snoot.
Portrait photographers use a snoot to provide different light patterns on their subject and background. If you are into model or fashion photography, consider investing in a snoot. You can also use it to provide a spotlight for your subject.
Some popular Snoot brands include Godox, Impact, Neewer, etc.
11. Color Gels
Color gels help to change the light color coming from the light source. For example, you can use color gels to change the color of your flashlight or your continuous light to a different color.
You can hang or stick the color gel sheet in front of your light source.
Another option to get a colored light on your subject is to use RGB lights. But, RGB lights of higher intensity are very costly. So, the cheap and best way to get a colored light is to use color gels.
When you buy color gels, it is better to buy a branded one. It is because the color reproduction will be better in the branded ones. If you go for a cheap one, there will be some shift in the color.
They are available from different brands. Some popular brands that supply color gels include Godox, Selens, Neewer, etc.
12. Bounce Card
A bounce card is a piece of opaque white card that gets attached to the camera flash. It is a reflective type of light modifier.
When you use a bounce card, you will be pointing your camera flash up. So, the light from the camera flash will hit on the bounce card and will get reflected towards your subject.
There are two types of bounce cards. In one of the types, you can vary the angle of the bounce card. In the other version, the angle of the bounce card remains fixed.
A bounce card helps avoid the direct harsh light from the camera flash falling on the subject. Thus, it helps to create a soft light for photography.
Godox, Profoto, and MagMod are three popular brands for bounce cards.
13. Flags (Floppy)
Photographers and videographers use a flag or a floppy in their lighting system to block the unwanted light coming into the scene. Flag/Floppy is a dark black fabric that blocks the light.
The fabric in the flag will be in a stretched state around a metal frame. The flag will also have a pocket for inserting rods to hang from one side. A pin on one side of the metal frame will allow you to fix it easily in a grip head of a C-stand.
They are available in different sizes. Common sizes include the 48 x 48 “, 40 x 40”, 24 x36”, etc.
Some popular Flag brands include Matthews, Impact, TRP WorldWide, etc.
You can even consider using a black foam board as your Floppy if you are on a budget.
14. Barn Door
A 4-way barn door is another type of light modifier. You can connect a barn door in front of your light strobe. It helps to shape the light output.
You can adjust the 4-doors to get the desired shape of light. However, you will get a harsh light when using the barn door directly without any diffuser. A barn door helps avoid spillage of light in all directions, making the light more intense.
Some barn doors do come with the provision to attach color gels and honeycomb grids.
Aputure, Godox, and Arri are some of the popular Barn Door brands.
15. Light Blaster
You can use a light blaster to convert a simple background into a colored/ non-colored background with textures.
A light blaster will come with a slide holder. You can insert different types of slides into it. If you have old 35mm slides, you can use that too.
You need to mount a lens in front of the Light blaster and the camera flash on the rear side. Insert the slide to get the desired light pattern. Consider using a color gel in front of the lens to get colored patterns. You need to point this setup to your background.
You can use Canon EF or EF-S lenses with the Light Blaster directly. If you want to use any other brand lenses, get an adapter.
You can adjust the focus of your lens to get an in-focus and out-of-focus pattern in the background.
Spiffy makes light blasters and different Gobos.
👉🏼 📖READ: Different Types of Cameras