The Umbrella Test – from S White to L Silver

Umbrellas are popular light shapers because they are a mostly cheaper and more easy to use compared to softboxes. At the moment I’m working with three different umbrellas and people often ask me about the difference between the sizes and colors. Of course I can explain it in words, but what is better than showing it?

Today we did the big umbrella test with my 3 Profoto umbrellas + the Profoto diffuser. I own the Profoto Umbrella Shallow S White, the Umbrella Deep M White, the Umbrella Deep L Silver and the Diffuser L -1.5.

I’ve been using the Deep L silver the most besides my Profoto Softbox Octa 5” because it gives such a different and more contrast light. But sometimes it can be to harsh, so I recently bought the Diffuser L that allows me to work with -1.5 stop light. I own Shallow S because it came together with the Profoto D1 Studio Kit. The Umbrella Deep M White is very new, I bought it for a campaign shoot where they wanted to work with this kind of light, and the M is the perfect size for traveling when it is folded.

Altough the umbrellas have different sizes, we would like to show you the differences.

I asked Juliet Klaar to be my model and my intern Lois Jutte to capture the behind the scenes photos to show you the distance between the camera, the model and the umbrella.

First we tested the all umbrellas with one Profoto D1 monolight from the front with a 1.5 meter distance from the light to the model with the same settings. With the Umbrella Silver L Deep, the light output of 7.5 was to high, so I had to reduce it to 5.5 to get the same results.

Then we did the same, but with the Profoto D1 from the left side, also with a 1.5 meter distance and the same settings.

Compared to my Octabox, the light with the umbrellas is definitely harder. The shadows are sharp and dark. The silver umbrella gives more contrast and a brighter result than the white ones. You see the skin is reflecting more with the silver umbrella, even when I used 2 stops less than with the with umbrellas.

Below is an overview of the results.

From the front:


My favorite? That really depends on the kind of assignment and of the mood and ambiance I would like to create! What umbrella do you prefer to work with?