Softbox vs Umbrella lighting: Which One is the Best?

Updated on January 2, 2023 in Photography by

Softbox vs Umbrella lighting: Which One is the Best?

No more confusion anymore. In this article, we are going to see which is the best lighting equipment for product photography, between the Softbox Lighting and the Umbrella lighting.

But instead of jumping right on to any biased conclusion, here is an in-depth comparison of Softbox lighting for product photography and Umbrella lighting for product photography.

Starting with their uses.

product photography lighting

What are Softbox and Umbrella used for?

Firstly, you need to know that both of these lighting equipments are used to soften the direct light in order to eliminate any of the harsh shadows on the subject.

Also, the comparison is not to make you choose any one of them, but instead, shows you the pros and cons of both of them in various situations.

This way you will be able to make the quickest decision while you are on your next project and would be able to know what you can exactly expect this lighting equipment.

We recently shared an in-depth guide on product photography lighting that you can refer to learn more about “laws of lighting” and how you can set up your lighting equipment to capture your products professionally.

Why use Softbox Lighting for Product Photography?

Softbox is a light modifier, which spreads the light to create soft light, by funneling it through two separate pieces of fabric.

Especially in product photography, we wish to see a product that is well illuminated. But at the same time, there shouldn’t be any harsh shadows forming over the product. In order to fulfill these two important conditions, Softbox lighting for product photography is used vividly across the world.

Other than product photography, softboxes are used in food photography, portrait photography, fashion photography, and more. If not as the main source, softbox lightings are also used to bring an edge and separation within a photograph.

Types of Softbox

Rectangular Softbox

Rectangular Softbox

As the name suggests the rectangular softbox is in a rectangular shape and is relatively a great option for softbox lighting for product photography. As they are relatively bigger they often help you create natural lighting conditions as the lights are coming right out of a window.

Strip Box

Strip Box for Product Photography

Due to its unusual shape, these softboxes don’t spread the light like other softboxes but direct them towards a product. This is a great softbox lighting for product photography where you need to show the incoming light from a particular side.


soft lighting for your photography

This might not be the most common softbox lighting for product photography but if you have a portrait in a frame, you can rely on the following lighting equipment. It spreads the light exactly the right giving the perfect soft lighting for your photography.

Why use Umbrella lighting for Product Photography?

Umbrella lighting for Product Photography

Just like a softbox, Umbrella is another great light modifier that spreads the incoming light. But unlike softbox, it uses a single sheet of fabric. Moreover, due to the shape of the umbrella (like a regular umbrella), it spreads the light all across the room.

Hence if you wish to brighten up all more than a particular side or area you can use Umbrella lighting for product photography. This way the light would bounce off the walls of and illuminate pieces of the product.

In addition, there is no need to set up the umbrella as it would directly fit your lighting equipment. And compared to a softbox, Umbrella lighting would be more affordable, unless you are considering the expensive variations. You can also read Light Meter for Product Photography.

Type of Umbrella lighting

Shoot Through Umbrella

Shoot Through Umbrella

It is the basic Umbrella lighting for product photography which you can use in order to start considering the result you get at an affordable price tag. This best works under closed environments where the lights spread, and the bounce on the walls. This is the reason you would see most of these being used in studio photography.

Collapsible Umbrella lighting

Collapsible Umbrella lighting

This might look like a softbox but it isn’t. Closest would be a hybrid of both as it needs extra time to attach just like the softbox but the light spreads just Umbrella lighting for product photography.

Which one is the Best Lighting Companion for you?

Best Lighting Companion

Well, it fairly depends on how you use them in the first place. Softbox lighting for product photography could be used to create soft shadows on your product. But in order to highlight, a certain subject or the area of your subject, using Umbrella lighting for product photography would be a great option.

But here’s the comparison which will help you choose the one out of this lighting equipment for product photography.


If you are starting out, you might have come across various options. Firstly, you can easily find a small lightbox at a price equivalent to a good umbrella lighting for product photography. 

On the other hand, if you look to buy good Softbox lighting for product photography, it can cost you about two to three times the price of umbrella lighting.

Hence if you only consider price, you can go with an umbrella to start with. But if you can spend a little more, you shall go for the softbox.

Ease of Set-up

There is no doubt that setting up Umbrella lighting for product photography is much easier than the softbox. You would just need to open the umbrella and put it through your lighting stand/setup.


Again it depends on the choice you make as a photographer in the beginning. If you wish to travel around for work, umbrella lightings are on. Softboxes are large and difficult to carry around. Also as we discussed above setting up Softbox lighting for product photography would be a hassle when compared to umbrella lighting for product photography.

Also, you can set up a combo of both in your photography style. 

In the following setup, you can set the Softbox lighting for product photography as continuous light. And connect the umbrella lighting for product photography as your flash lighting. after reading this beautiful article we highly recommended to read this article Best Camera Brands for your Product Photography.

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