Sunday, September 14, 2008

DIY Project: Softbox

Finally, I've made it ! LOL. I call it SoftBox Ver 2.0 !

SoftBox Ver 2.0

I always wanted to make a "proper soft box" for quite a while. I had browsed through the net, read through lot of sites in the net and I had figured out how to do it, but due to my lazy sickness, I couldn't move my body and mind to ask my hands to work. All the while, I had been using this Soft Box ver 1.0 I made since I got my first flash which was half a year ago.

SoftBox Ver 1.0

This SoftBox Ver 1.0 has served me well. I built two of them in fact, and I did some pretty nice product shots from them. However, this SoftBox Ver 1.0 is not built to be mounted on a light stand. I couldn't set my light angle instead of side light with these soft box. Hence, so I have more freedom in setting out the light, I intro to you my SoftBox Ver 2.0!

May I present to you, my step-by-step how to construct my SoftBox Ver 2.0:

Everything starts with a simple sketch. I'm an engineer, I'm used to do sketches before everything. LOL

Ok, from the sketch, I know roughly how my soft box will look like. Next is the materials. I use the corrugated plastic sheets that can be easily found in Tesco. One piece cost me RM 6.50, and I need 2 pieces. Why corrugated plastic sheets ? Well, it's easy to cut and shape, and it's stronger than the normal cardboard.

The aluminium foil paper is a must, of course. Some cloth tapes, glue and a piece of mahjong paper as the diffuser.

Initially, I wanted a soft box of 540mm x 380mm in sizes which can be easily cut from the corrugated sheets I bought. However, I've done a 540mm x 540mm size softbox instead. Why ? Because I can do it. LOL

Ok, I have all the dimension. Draw out the lines, and carefully cut out the sheets according to the dimensions.

Then, apply glue on each sheets ...

Spread the glue evenly over the surface, and carefully stick the aluminium paper onto it.

Let them aside for drying. Meanwhile, I started to construct and flash head bracket holder. My initial plan was to mount this softbox directly onto the flash head of my Sony F42 flash. Hence, I cut out the corrugated sheets accordance to the dimension of the flash head.

The bracket fit well with the flash head. I'm happy with it. But not later....

By the time I finished the bracket, the softbox sheets were ready to be joined. I put everything together with the cloth tapes.



The black colour cloth tapes inside the softbox needed to be covered by aluminium foil paper as well. Some final touch up with the aluminium foil paper would complete the construction of the soft box.

Finally, put the flash head bucket onto the soft box, and secure it with the cloth tapes, layers of cloth tapes.


I'm at the final stage of my SoftBox Ver 2.0: the diffuser ! I do find the mahjong paper could diffuse the flash nicely. Hence, I stick a layer of mahjong paper over my softbox, and walla, my SoftBox Ver 2.0 is complete !

So, does it work? See for the result below :

If I do remember, my flash was zoomed at 50mm zoom. You can see with 50mm zoom flash, the flash spill has fill up the entire soft box.

Look at the shadow of the above pic, which was shot using my SoftBox Ver 2.0. The shadow is so soft ! Compare to the bare flash as shown below:

The shadow is hard and sharp.

Of course, there are some improvements need to be done on my SoftBox Ver 2.0. The first thing is the flash head bracket. Although my design fit pretty well into the flash head, but the soft box weight is not low though. Mounting the soft box onto the flash head and rely solely on the flash leg that is mounted onto the flash stand is not a good idea; the weight of the soft box had caused tension onto the fragile iISO plastic flash leg. Hence, a proper flash bracket is needed. First thing that come into my mind would be a timber bracket. Finding timber is not a problem cause my father is a carpenter. But too bad he is in Penang.... Look like I need to plan a balik kampung trip.

My idea is to make a strong flash bracket that could hold the flash AND the soft box together and then mount on the flash stand, not rellying onto the flash leg only. Look like this is another big project for me, huh? ;)

Next thing to look into is the diffuser of my soft box. The current mahjong paper would give me a colour tempreture of 4,500K with colour filter of M1, as custom set by my A700. I might need to get a proper diffuser. The paper is too thin, and I can easily break it. A white cotton cloth may be a better diffuser; but cotton cloth may take away some flash power and might cause my poor little F42 to work harder.

Ok, I know what to do next. My next project would be a timber flash bracket. In the meantime, I might make a smaller soft box since I have the left over of the corrugated plastic sheets. Smaller soft box means lighter in weight means I do not need a stronger flash bracket.

All right, where is my pen and paper ?


TEH_oo_ICE said...

hey bro,

you can use tracing paper as the diffuser material,
it had use by most commercial photographer as diffuser for studio flash.

and it also can for ur external flash!!

Templar Tan said...


Welcome bro!

Yes, I've considered that before. But I do find tracing paper will take away quite huge power from my flash output. Further more, the flash shift the colour of the flash output, which I don't like.

Mahjong paper is a better choice. I prefer mah jong paper.

song said...

Hi brother,
A new project would always end up with few improvements to look into, and ver 2.0 is totally a new design that looks pro to me at least.
What is that mahjong paper you are refering to? I am not a mahjong fan but I know only the brown mahjong paper haha.
Anyway, is there any follow up on the wooden bracket that you had thing of?

洋爸爸 said...

Yo Master Song !

My Softbox Ver 3.0 is on its way. :D

The mahjong paper is the paper we use when we wish to "dry" out the freshly make 汤圆. (I hope you know what I meant. :p) The paper can be easily bought in book accessories shop and it's cheap also. That paper is thin and it can be easily broken. Normal paper is not recommended as those paper are thick and may take up lot of flash power.

I've design and draw out my wooden bracket and will put it in action when I got free time. That bracket will include a flash holding bracket, a softbox/beauty dish bracket can will securely mount onto the flash bracket. :D

Why wood? Well, I am a carpenter technically. I could work with wood and the only available material that within my reach is wood. So, no choice lor. :p