There is no greater teacher in life than time and experience. If I could go back in time and teach myself some photography lessons, high on my list would be OCF – off-camera flash. Back when I was starting out in photography, I used to dread using my flash. In fact, I think for the first two years of my photography career, I did not even own one. If a client would enquire about a family photoshoot, I would promptly reply back saying I am strictly a natural light photographer and the best times to schedule the session would be a little after sunrise or around sunset. I think I might have even turned down some indoor photo sessions because I hated the look and feel of a flash.
Fast forward a few years, as I ventured into the genre of wedding photography, I started to get over my fear of using a flash. As I educated myself on studio lights, flashes, and all the other lightning paraphernalia out there, I stopped hyperventilating as much at the thought of using artificial light for my photos. Although I am now fairly comfortable using an on-camera flash, I still consider myself a novice artificial light photographer. The next step to mastering artificial lights is to get comfortable with off-camera flash. To that end, I knew I needed, at the bare minimum, a light stand, a soft box, and my flash. So when I got the opportunity to review the GLOW QuadraPop Portable Softbox from Adorama I jumped at the chance.
Let me preface this article by setting the record straight. I have never used an off-camera lighting system from the ground up. I have watched several online classes and tutorials on how a single light off-camera system works. In fact there are several wonderful articles on dPS that discuss off-camera flash like this one. But this is the first time I have handled such a setup ,and so, in essence, I am reviewing this product as a novice off-camera flash/softbox user.
Contents and what’s in the box
The QuadraPro comes fully equipped to use with a speedlight, as well as a studio strobe. Included in the box were the actual soft box, angle adjustment shoe bracket that can be adjusted for height and depth, removable inner and outer diffusers, removable cold shoe, and a protective bag to carry the QuadraPro on location. The only thing you will need to have is a light stand. I have a generic, lightweight stand that I had purchased from a local camera shop last year, and the GLOW QuadraPro worked perfectly with it.
I have to admit that when I opened the box, I was a little nervous about how to set up the whole system. I am used to reading manuals and watching product videos prior to handling equipment, but for this softbox setup I decided to skip all the research and prep work, and start using the product right away. The setup did take me a few minutes to figure out, but once I read through the one page instruction sheet that comes with the GLOW QuadraPro, it was easy enough.
The flash cold shoe bracket was easy to use, but attaching the actual softbox to the QuadraPro ring did take me a couple of tries. Once I was able to secure the rods into the rings, it was easy to snap them in to place by adjusting the rings in a circular manner. The inner and outer diffuser panels are quite literally a snap to attach. The outer diffuser panel has a velcro attachment mechanism, while the inner panel snaps with push buttons.
Ease of use and comfort
The Glow QuadraPop line is perfect for mobile studios, on-location work, and also travel. The entire system is quite lightweight, and easy to set up and dismantle. This is ideal for individual portraits and product shots, as well as for use on location. The one I used is the QuadraPop Rectangular softbox that comes in two sizes – 28×38″ and 24×34″. I used the GLOW QuadraPop with both the internal, and external, diffuser panels. Additionally the flash shoe bracket has an angle adjustment knob for easy tilting, thereby adjusting the angle of light – perfect for photographing things from above.
Basic setup and portability
I created a quick video on how easy it is to set up the softbox:
Indoor and outdoor use
I planned on putting the GLOW QuadraPop to the test with both indoor and outdoor use. But, just as I was writing this article, Chicago got the first major snow storm of the season. So, with subzero temps, I decided to forgo the outdoor test and just use it indoors with my obliging models, a.k.a my kids!
While indoors I moved the GLOW system from one room to the other, to see how easily I could manage carrying the system around. Before moving it, I removed the flash from the cold-shoe attachment, and also collapsed the softbox by squeezing the tabs on the sides of the ring. This did take some force, as the softbox rods were quite secure in their respective white sockets. I did not remove the diffuser panels as recommended, because I wanted the set up process to be easy at my next location (similar to what it would be like on a live on-location photoshoot). This made the set up, and take down process, much easier and faster.
Please note – I was experimenting with various softbox positions and had the flash on ETTL. My focus here was not on posing, but on the look and feel of a diffused lighting setup using a single softbox, i.e. the GLOW QuadraPro.
Next up, my other willing model who had to be constantly bribed with treats and food!
In conclusion, the GLOW QuadraPro softbox is a fairly easy to use, lightweight and portable, flash diffusion system. I quite liked the convenience of having the setup all ready to use as I was experimenting with a single off-camera flash. Initially the softbox was a bit difficult to put together, and that was purely because I have never used this type of lighting system from the ground up. But once I got used to the clamps, they were very easy to assemble and dismantle.