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Reflectors to Donuts

On a shoot this past Monday, grey seamless, corporate portraits. I have done five or six of these sessions for a specific client and I keep notes to match the lighting. This go round we were in a new space with a lot more room and higher ceilings. Despite that I could not get the background to match. It’s a one light setup on the background, raking across from camera left – a setup defined by the first space we had shot in (no room for a background light any where else.)

I looked at the image on the laptop and scratched my head but then it dawned on me. The reflector, it was the reflector. I have two main types of Profoto Reflectors, the old style and two of the newer ones.

The old ones have a slightly pebbled interior and a smooth profile. The new ones have a slight flare in their profile, they are made to take a grid (without the need for a holdler, or barn doors, etc.), and their inside is smoother. Profoto claims a more even light spread from them. I bought them mainly for the convenience of the grid holder. Supposedly, the Profoto barn doors can hold grids but it’s an odd clipping system and I’ve never found it very trustworthy.

It turns out the new style is noticeably smoother in its spread.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Old style is on the left. New on the right. While Dan’s pose is better on the left, we are looking at the backdrop not his stance. On the left it has got a pronounced donut effect (bright on the edge, darker in the center) and the barn doors”shadows are visible in the upper and lower left corners. On the right is the same setup but with the new style of reflector. It’s much more even across the frame. The drop off on the right with both images is because of the light raking across from the left.

So, is it worth it to pick up some of these new style zoom reflectors – yes. They’ll save you time in situations like above and there is the convenience of the built-in grid holder.

B&H calls the old style the “Zoom Reflector” and the new style the “Zoom Reflector 2“. Profoto’s primary site calls the new style the “Zoom Reflector“, doesn’t list the old style but refers to it as the Classic. The newer style has been out about a year and a half. Neither should be confused with the 7″ Grid Reflector.