Softboxes Explained: Different Softboxes – Different Looks

On this video, photographer Daniel Norton from Adorama demonstrates how three differently shaped softboxes can give very different looks to your image.

So you might be aware that different size softboxes can effect how soft the light falls on your subject, you might also be aware that different shaped softboxes can generate a different catch eye on your subject’s eye. However in this video Norton talks about a few other factors that has to do with the shape of the softbox.

On this video Norton talks and demonstrates the 3 most common shapes for softboxes:

  • Strip-box – this is a more focused light so you get far less spillage to the background, you also have more control in general. You can use it either vertical or horizontal depending on what exactly you want to shoot and you will get a very different look.
  • Rectangle – is somewhere in the middle – it can cover the full face on its size for example with little spillage to the rest of the body for example.
  • Octagon – Typically gives you the largest light source and is very popular and you do get a lot of wrap around light – but you also tend to get a lot of light spillage to the background which is not always wanted.

So to sum things up – the type of the softbox effects not just the catch-light but also the background, how much of your subject is lit and the nature of the wrap-around light that you get.

If you want to learn more on controlling softboxes – photographer J. P. Morgan has two very good videos on the subject that we published here – “Soft Boxes 101” and How to Feather SoftBox Light.

You can check out many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on LensVid as well as more specific lighting tips here. You can watch more of Norton’s videos here.

Iddo Genuth
Iddo Genuth is the founder and chief editor of He has been a technology reporter working for international publications since the late 1990's and covering photography since 2009. Iddo is also a co-founder of a production company specializing in commercial food and product visual content.

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