As a location portrait photographer who likes to be in control of his lights it’s important how much lighting equipment I need to carry (i.e. less is more) and how quickly I can setup and take down my lighting.
I use Elinchrom D-Lite RX’s (I have a ‘2’ and a ‘4’) their standard umbrellas and a Rotalux Octabox softbox together with a couple of Manfrotto light stands. This all packs up reasonably compactly into one light bag and a couple more bags for the lights stands and the Octabox.
The Ocatbox is a wonderful piece of kit giving lovely soft light for portraits however it does have two disadvantages. It takes a while to assemble and disassemble and, if you are shooting in a confined space, it is quite large. Ideally what you need is a combination of the speed of assembly and disassembly that an umbrella gives you together with the softness of, well, a softbox. Enter the Elinchrom Deep Umbrella.
I took a look at these umbrellas at this years Photography Show and liked what, on the face of it, seemed to be the perfect all-around light shaper i.e. one that could be set up in a jiffy while offering a nice soft and versatile quality of light (and at an affordable price, even better). As the nice people on The Flash Centre stand were offering a discount I decided to extract my credit card and buy the 105cm deep white version.
The umbrella has a real solid feel to it and, given it’s covered by Elinchrom’s three year guarantee will, I’m sure, give a good few years service. It also comes in a nice shoulder bag like the Octabox does but is obviously a bit smaller.
The umbrella can also be used with an optional diffuser which wraps around the open end of the umbrella and over the flash unit. Whilst a great idea it somewhat takes away from the rapid set up and take down of the unit which is its real advantage so I opted not to get that.
Here are a few images of the model ‘Mal’ taken with the deep brolly. The first three are using it in the traditional beauty lighting mode (with a reflector beneath Mal’s chin).
The last three images are with the umbrella to one side of Mal giving a darker and moodier look.
So what’s my verdict on the deep brolly? In short, I’m impressed. Even without the optional diffuser the light is nice and soft and can be directed more than a traditional umbrella. The unit is very easy to set up and is nice and portable (packed into its bag it’s not much more than a meter long).
There seems to be very little difference in light quality between this and the Octabox unit. I will continue to use both but probably the latter will be better used in a studio where there is more room and I have more time to set it up.
All these images are taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the fantastic Olympus M.ZUIKO 45mm f/1.2 PRO lens, a great portrait lens, more of which later.