Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lumiquest Softbox II -vs- Aurora Mini/Max

  I have a Lastolite EzyBox 24" square softbox that can be use for location portrait work using a light stand and it works perfectly. But I wanted to add a small softbox for when the flash is attached directly to the camera or on a flash bracket, mainly for macro work. I looked at two similar products Lumiquest's Softbox II and Aurora's Mini/Max. Both are roughly 6"x8" in size, fold flat for storage, and are meant to attach directly to the front of the Speedlite head.  Both units use roughly the same design, triangle shaped walls which fold out are use to separate the front diffuser from the speedlight head by a few inches, and both use some sort of velcro method of attachment. And here lies the problem with one of these.

  The Lumiquest SoftboxII when unfolded is made up of the the main diffuser screen and four hinged walls which have a small narrow strip of velcro at each end. Four 1" pieces of velcro tape are provided and are meant to be stuck to the sides of your speedlight to accept the softbox walls. However the walls when folded in to create the pyramid like softbox shape, they do not match the shape of the Speedlight head. The shape appears almost square, instead of rectangular which would match the flash head shape. The hinged walls flopped around as I tried to form a shape that would accept the flash and frustration soon hit. I reviewed the instructions provided on the box, and a very vague reference is made that you should trim the flaps to match your flash, I had to ask myself which flap? I soon concluded that the frustration level of this product wasn't worth the money.

  Option two was the Mini/Max by Aurora, the same physical size as the previous model but a much better design. The pyramid type shape is again created by walls which this time were sewn together down to a small rectangular shaped opening to accept the Speedlight head. Velcro is used again here for attaching the head but the strip on the softbox is wider and therefore makes attachment easier. A removable cinch strap which wraps around the flash head replaces the velcro tape, so there is no permanent attachment of velcro to your flash. The installation of the Mini/Max to my 580ex II was simple and straightforward no instructions required. And unlike the Lumiquest, the design looked as if it was purposely built for a standard size speedlite/speedlight unit no trimming of flap A or slot B.
The Mini/Max also has two small diffuser like portals on the wider two walls which can be opened to provide more light to say bounce off a ceiling or near by wall.

 I didn't compare the actual output of each box against one another as I was never able to install the Lumiquest on my flash. I soon realized that this unit wasn't worth the money for the frustration it would cause in the field and I returned it. The price for the Lumiquest was close to $20 more than the Aurora at a local provider of both units so this was a no brainer, easier to use and less money too. I went with the Aurora and was pleased with my results the 1st time out.


Daniel Milchev said...

I use LumiQuest softboxes all the time and I love them! I can't imagine simpler installation and I always tough the design is awesome! I've never used the mini/max but is looks really flimsy and I wouldn't spend money on it.

Glen Allen: said...

I'm glad that the Lumi work for you Daniel, it basically comes down to what you find that meets your needs.

Anonymous said...

I think that the Lumiquest II is designed for bare-bulb flashs like the Quantum or the Sunpak 120J. That might explain why it didn't fit on your Speedlight very well.

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