Traditional softboxes help shape light and send it in one direction, but when a photographer or videographer wants highly diffused illumination that fills a room, they choose a lantern softbox. A lantern softbox ball creates soft and flattering light on the subject and the background. The design of the lantern diffuser sends light in all directions, making a natural and even light that produces a pleasing image.
How Lantern Softboxes Work
The spherical shape of the lantern softbox diffuses and scatters light from a studio light source. Using a mounting bracket, the photographer attaches it to a light source, such as a strobe or continuous light, giving a 270-degree omnidirectional spread of light that’s perfect for video production and portraits. With their subtle light drop-off, lantern lights are often used for pet photography, newborns, e-commerce, Instagram and vlogging. Lantern softboxes have a collapsible design for easy storage and transport.
Benefits of Using Lantern Softboxes
1. Soft and Even Illumination
The spherical shape of lantern softboxes allows light to spread in all directions, creating gentle illumination that wraps around the subject. This minimises harsh shadows and produces a more natural and pleasant effect.
2. Creative Freedom
The unique shape and design of lantern softboxes allow for more creative and unconventional use of light. Photographers can experiment with different angles and distances to achieve their creative vision. They are suitable for content creators who want to soften the light in an indoor scene to make it look more natural. Filmmakers can also use it directly above a dinner table to evenly illuminate a group of actors at their seats. They are perfect for lighting wide areas, such as interviewing multiple people at once or filming a group scene.
Lantern softboxes are lightweight, portable and easy to set up, which makes them a popular choice for location and studio shoots.
Different Types of Lantern Softboxes
1. Spectrum Mini 40cm Lantern Diffuser Softbox Ball
The Spectrum Mini 40cm Lantern Diffuser Softbox is a popular choice for many photographers because it provides a highly diffused, omnidirectional light source that creates even illumination across the subject without harsh shadows or hot spots. It has a compact size and lightweight construction to suit lower-powered flash strobe lights and continuous LED lights. This lantern offers soft light while not being too unwieldy in a tight space. It can be positioned above the subject to create dramatic lighting effects or placed in front of the subject for a wider spread of light.
2. Lantern Softbox 50cm ‘Kreator Kit’ Double Dimmable LED Bi-Colour Lighting Kit
Setting up a studio with lantern lights is easy with the Lantern Softbox ‘Kreator Kit’. This combination of two 85W dimmable LED lights with lantern diffusers is ideal for product, glamour, food photography, portraits, and videos. The Lantern Softboxes are 50cm in diameter. They have a collapsible design for easy storage and transport. Included are two light stands that can be adjusted in height from 73cm to 200cm. With three lighting temperature modes (warm, white, and natural light), many creative opportunities are waiting to be explored. The lights have a CRI rating of 90+ and a life span of approximately 8,000 hours. Set up within minutes and start exploring the creative possibilities. It’s the perfect system for starting a business taking headshots for websites and Facebook, and they are ideal for producing video content for YouTube.
3. Spectrum Pro 65cm Collapsible Softball Lantern Softbox
Larger lanterns have a wider spread of light, and the Spectrum Pro Collapsible Softball Lantern has a diameter of 65cm, which produces beautiful ambient light. Light from this lantern is less directional and softer than from traditional softboxes.
This style of modifier is excellent for interior photography or video, where even lighting is essential. Because it provides a pleasant glow, it is the preferred form of lighting for baby photography, portraits, macro photography, and headshots.
4. Spectrum Pro 80cm Collapsible Softball Lantern Softbox
The 80cm Spectrum Pro Collapsible Softball Lantern Softbox takes lighting to a new dimension. It produces gentle directional lighting while also filling in shadows from other angles. As a fill light, it provides separation and blends with the key light in a natural manner.
Choosing the Right Size and Shape
Larger lantern softboxes produce softer and more diffused light, while smaller lantern softboxes can be positioned for directional light with more defined shadows.
1. 40cm Lantern Softbox
This small lantern softbox is ideal for portrait photography, where you need more directional light with some shadows to define the features. It’s suitable for home studios where space is limited.
2. 50cm Lantern Softbox
This is a versatile mid-sized lantern softbox that can be used for portraits, product photography, and videography. It provides a good balance of soft, diffused light and some directionality.
3. 65cm Lantern Softbox
This larger lantern softbox is used for full-body portraits with diffused light and minimal shadows. It’s also a good choice for video shoots where a soft and natural light source is required.
4. 80cm Lantern Softbox
This is the largest lantern softbox and is suitable for large group portraits or full-body fashion photography. It produces very soft and even illumination with no harsh shadows. It’s especially useful for cinematography featuring a softly lit atmosphere.
Setting Up and Using Lantern Softboxes
To set up a lantern, wrap the frame with the diffuser sheet, then push the top of the frame down to create a ball. A rod in the middle of the spring-loaded metal skeleton locks into a hook at the base of the lantern to maintain its spherical shape. Use the velcro at the top of the diffuser to keep the fabric in place. The aluminium Bowens mount on each lantern means it can be attached to most lighting systems. When the shoot is done, detach the lantern from the light source and place it on the ground. Press the rod to release it from the hook, and the frame will spring back to its straightened format, ready for storage. Lanterns are quick to set up, and because they are collapsible, they are easy to store.
Tips for Getting the Best Results with Lantern Softboxes
1. Choose the Right Size
The size of the lantern softbox affects the quality of the light. Choose the right size of the lantern softbox for the lighting effect desired.
2. Use Reflectors
Adding a reflector when using small lanterns can help fill in shadows and create a more even illumination. This is especially beneficial for product photography or portraits that require clean light distribution.
3. Use Flags
Flags are pieces of black fabric or foam board placed between the light source and the subject to block or redirect light. Larger lanterns are meant to distribute light evenly, but when shadows are required for depth, flags can control the scene. For example, if the lantern diffuser produces too much light on a specific part of the subject, a flag will block that light and create a more dynamic image.
Maintenance and Care of Lantern Softboxes
1. Handle with Care
Be careful when handling the diffuser, especially when assembling or disassembling it. Avoid pulling or tugging on the fabric too hard, as this can damage the fabric and the frame.
2. Use the Softbox Bag
Protect the softbox lantern during storage and transportation by keeping it in its bag until needed. This will also help keep it clean, ensuring good light transmission through the fabric.
When the softbox is not in use, store it in a dry, cool, and dark place away from direct sunlight, moisture, and heat which could cause the fabric’s colour to change over time.
3. Store it Properly
Lantern softboxes are popular among studio photographers, vloggers and filmmakers because they are easy to use, highly versatile, and create stunning images with soft light. The spherical shape of a lantern diffuser produces a wide throw of light that mimics natural light and produces flattering results.