Understanding Octodomes/Octo Boxes: A Lighting Tutorial

By Jay P. Morgan
In this Slanted Lens lesson we are going to take an in-depth look at 8 sided soft boxes or Octodomes. Each manufacturer has its own name; Octobox, OctaBox, Octa Softbox, Octa Bank, or Octodomes. I used Photoflex Octodomes to
make all of the comparisons and demonstrations for this video so that will be our reference point 
http://www.photoflex.com/ . I wanted to explore what makes an Octodome different from a Soft Box. What is the area of coverage and quality of light. We put them through the riggers to answer these questions and ended the lesson with a few simple 2 light set-ups using Octodomes. I gained a better understanding about their place in my lighting arsenal and when they are better to use than soft boxes. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on click-in! 


1 fill form frount MG 2483 R copy

#1

In this Slanted Lens lesson we are going to take an in-depth look at 8 sided soft boxes or Octodomes. Each manufacturer has its own name; Octobox, OctaBox, Octa Softbox, Octa Bank, or OctoDomes. I used Photoflex Octodomes to make all of the comparisons and demonstrations for this video so that will be our reference point http://www.photoflex.com/ .


2  6027
#2
I wanted to explore what makes an OctoDome different from a Soft Box. What is the area of coverage and quality of light. We put them through the riggers to answer these questions and ended the lesson with a few simple 2 light set-ups using OctoDomes. I gained a better understanding about their place in my lighting arsenal and when they are better to use than soft boxes. 


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#3
Lets look at the area of coverage for OctoDomes. We shot frames of each size of OctoDome 6 feet from our target.  Without fail each had the same area of coverage. Whether it was a 1.5 foot wide OctoDome or a 7 foot wide at 6 feet from the wall they all had an area of coverage of about 12 feet with a 1 stop fall off. Like soft boxes the size does not effect area of coverage. It effects quality of light.


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#4
Lets take a look at quality of light. Here our talent is lit with the EX Small OctoDome 6 feet away from her face.  It is 18 inches in diameter. The shadow on the wall is hard and very defined. This is a hard directional light.

5 Small Octo person MG 2359
#5
Here is a Small OctoDome 6 feet from the subject. It is 36 inches in diameter. The shadow on the wall is becoming softer and not as defined. Still a directional light.


6 Medium Octo MG 2365
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This is a medium OctoDome 6 feet from the subject. It is 5 foot in diameter. It is becoming much softer and less defined in the shadow area. The shadow on the wall is eroding and becoming smaller. This is a much softer light.

7 Large Octo MG 2369
#7
This is a Large OctoDome 6 feet from the subject. It is 7 feet in diameter.  The shadow on the wall is almost completely gone. This is a very soft wrapping source. 


8 Small Octo face grid MG 2363
#8
This is one of my favorite combinations. It is a small 3 foot OctoDome with a grid. The light is directional and controlled with this set up. It still has some softness because of the two baffles. This is a very controllable light source. 



9 Small-Grid-No face MG 2354
#9
In this image I simply took the front face off the 3 foot small OctoDome. It starts to look a lot like a beauty dish. It is more directional and gives a very nice highlight on her face. Something to play with. 

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One of the main advantages of the OctoDome over a Soft Box is the round catch light in the subjects eye. OctoDomes are also a bit smaller and easier to use on set. They create very pretty light. 

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Let's see how they work in a 2 light set up. 

12 Side light  MG 2486 R
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We set a small OcotDome with a grid at a 90 degree angle to the camera and turned the talent into strong profile. This is our key light.


13 fill form frount MG 2483 R
#13
From down low, on camera left, we added a Medium 5 foot OctoDome as a fill light being very careful to open up the shadows and not destroy them. The image has a nice mood.

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As our talent looks up into the light we see a wonderful light on her face with a pretty catch light.


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When she turns into the light I powered the fill light up 3/4 of a stop. This opens up her face and gives us a soft open feeling. 

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For the last image I turned off the fill light and did some images with a single OctoDome. It was fun.
We have learned that size effects quality of light not area of coverage. OctoDomes have a round catch light verses a square of long rectangle. We also saw that a small OctoDome with the face off can start to look a lot like a beauty dish. OctoDomes are a very useful lighting tool and one that I love using. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on click-in!