Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Commercial Photography

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04 e1322573189688 Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

©Alex&Martin

The latest addition to Profoto’s assortment of Light Shaping Tools has arrived: the Umbrella XL. Swedish photographer Alex Giacomini, who together with Martin Kelam runs the aptly named Alex&Martin production team, was one of the very first to get his hands on the new release.

It has been a successful year for Alex&Martin. The team’s images have been featured in numerous magazines and advertising campaigns, and Alex&Martin was recently nominated for the annual Swedish Design Award. Alex, who was eager to test the versatility of his new tool, brought the Umbrella XL with him to two different shoots.

The first job was a hybrid shoot. Alex had to shoot both a video and a series of images against a green screen for an advertising campaign. He had two ProDaylight Air units at his disposal – one fitted with a HR Softbox, the other with the Umbrella XL.

”To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of umbrellas so my expectations were quite low,” laughs Alex. “But I have to admit, I was very surprised! It suddenly felt as if I could squeeze out a lot more power from the ProDaylight, and the light itself had an amazing character. It’s also worth mentioning that I could keep shooting with the same settings when I switched between filming and photographing. It saved me a lot of time.”

01 e1322568884657 Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Green screen shoot with the Umbrella XL | ©Alex&Martin

What about the second shoot?

“This was a pretty straightforward, business-type group shoot. The kind of job where the clients don’t have much time – where everything has to go fast and nothing can go wrong, you know. Above all, I was amazed by how much you can zoom the light by simply sliding the shaft back and forth. Not only did it allow me to focus the light on either the entire board or just a single person, it also changed the light characteristics from a soft light to a distinctive and very crisp light.”

Do you have any ideas on where you will next use the Umbrella XL?

“Yes. I’d really like to use it as a larger, sort of ambient light source, from above. I think it would be the perfect tool for creating sunlight. Especially now at this time of the year, when it gets really dark here in Stockholm…”

I hear that. Any word of advice to photographers who have never used a larger Umbrella before?

“Well, I’d recommend spending some time experimenting with how the distribution and character of the light change when you move the shaft. As I said, this is an incredibly useful function.  In fact, if I were to invest in my very first piece of lighting equipment, I think this is one of the tools I’d buy. Just because of that functionality. And I’m not saying that just because I’m talking to you. You really do get your money’s worth. The only disadvantage with the Umbrella XL is that it catches a lot of wind. You need to be careful when you’re outside.”

gruppbild e1322583061979 Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Group shot with the Umbrella XL | ©Alex&Martin

One last thing: have you tried using the optional diffuser?

“No, but I know that my colleague Martin has. We both have our own style of setting the lights. I usually prefer quite hard light, while he’s more into softer, diffused light. Martin snatched the diffuser as soon as we got it, and I haven’t seen it ever since. I guess he really liked it…”

The Umbrella XL has a diameter of 165 cm (65 in). It is available in white, silver and translucent versions, and it fits onto all Profoto flash heads and monolights. An optional front diffuser is available, which practically converts Umbrella XL white and the Umbrella XL silver into a fully functioning Octabox. An optional stand adapter is also available, which allows the photographer to mount the umbrella onto a light stand, or use it with former Profoto heads or even with products form other brands. All umbrellas come in a rugged transport bag.

Silver Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Umbrella XL Silver

White Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Umbrella XL White

Transluscent Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Umbrella XL Transluscent

Diffusor Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella XL

Umbrella XL with optional diffusor

 

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Comments (51)

  • Bryan

    |

    and umbrella softbox? makes me think that it will work very much like an outbox when used with the reflective cover but an interesting product. i look forward to seeing it in action at the NEC next March.

    Reply

  • ivan lee | melbourne wedding photographer

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    looks like the slightly smaller version of the paul c bluff and westcott 7 foot para umbrella. i’m a huge fanof the westcott but i’m on interested in trying this on a shoot.

    Reply

  • Andrew

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    Hi,

    I am concerned with the amount of shaft flex. I had a look at one of these in a shop and found the shaft to bend under the weight of the umbrella. I see this also in the images above.

    I use Profoto in my studio and would consider this umbrella if the shaft flex was addressed. I have 5 other larger parabolic umbrellas which have much less shaft flex then this one and cost a fraction of the cost.

    Best Regards,
    Andrew

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Andrew,

      Don’t worry. We’re well aware that the shaft may flex slightly. However, this does not in any way damage the shaft. Every single Profoto product undergoes rigorous tests, and the Umbrella XL passed with flying colors.

      Kind regards.

      /Johan Wiberg, Product Manager

      Reply

  • Corey Melton

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    When/Where can I buy one? Check Amazon , Adorama and B&H, no one has any listed. Looks like a much more efficient Photek Softlighter, I am very interested.

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Corey,

      The Umbrella XL was released yesterday, which might explain why it’s not yet listed. Try maiing them!

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

  • preshovich

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    hi,

    great lst !!!
    do you plan to release a smaller version ? ( around 120 cm) because sometimes on location you don’t have enough space for such a big umbrella.

    Reply

  • Fredrik Franzén

    Fredrik Franzén

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    Hi Preshovich,

    We do have the Umbrella M (105 cm) and the Umbrella L (130 cm). Maybe one of those will do the trick?

    /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

    Reply

  • preshovich

    |

    sure but they don’t have a “parabolic” design + there is no diffuser available with those products. I was expecting a product like this (para umbrella) from profoto but with 3 sizes … Maybe in the futur we will get them.

    Reply

  • Di

    |

    What real benefit do I get switching from my existing Alien Bees para
    To the profoto giant Umbrella ?

    thanks,

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Di,

      I really can’t answer for the benefits and/or disadvantages of Alien Bees’ products. What I can say is that we at Profoto have designed our Umbrella XL accordingly to what we believe gives the best results when it comes to e.g. light character, output, versatility and sturdiness.

      There’s not even necessarily right and wrong here, so I simply suggest that you think about what product fits your photographic needs the best.

      Let me know if you need help finding a local dealer, who can help you with this!

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

  • Andrew

    |

    I have the 7foot giant reflector. How does this xl umbreller compare to that?

    P.s I also have the 5 foot creative light brolly-box and thelights is quite different to standard 5 foot octa so I see possibilities with the diffuser option.

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Andrew,

      Well, for one thing, the Umbrella XL is a lot easier to transport, which means that you can bring it with you to your on-location shoot. It’s also easier to adjust, and you can zoom the light and change the light character by simply sliding the shaft. Then there’s the diffusor, which you mentioned.

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Bobby,

      We don’t set any prices here at HQ. You’ll have to contact your local dealer. I take it you’re in the US? In that case I suggest checking out the Profoto US website: http://www.profoto.com/us to find a dealer, or mailing and asking Profoto US directly: info@profoto-usa.com

      Let me know if you need any other help with this.

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

      • Marven Payne

        |

        Where can I purchase this in Japan and do you know what the cost is here locally? I sometimes use a large 5′ Octobox on location shoots but is such a pain for me and my assistants to assemble and disassemble. This large Para seems like it would be a great replacement.

        Reply

  • jaspreet singh

    |

    lighting is the way to shoot the photography, good work

    Reply

  • Andy Wang

    |

    This umbrella is of great interest to me. I am wondering whether the light reflected from silver Umbrella XL is similar to that from a broncolor para FB220. Has Profoto done any empirical comparison with the top-notch umbrellas on the market, such as Para220, Briese focus system?
    The second question is when can we get it in the UK?
    Cheers,
    Andy

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Andy,

      We have not done any comparisons with similar products from other brands. We just focused on making our own Umbrella XL the best we possibly could. Also, it is already available in the UK. If you can’t find it at your local dealer, ask them to order it.

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

  • Paul

    |

    Can I use these with Elinchrom Quadra?

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Paul,

      We haven’t tried the two together, but I do know that our Umbrella XL is equipped with a 8 mm shaft. Does that answer your question?

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

  • Solomon King

    |

    Am in Nigeria, where can i get 1?

    Reply

    • Fredrik Franzén

      Fredrik Franzén

      |

      Hi Solomon,

      I believe The Sunshine Company (www.sunshinecompany.co.za) is the place to go.

      /Fredrik Franzén, Profoto

      Reply

  • Nick Thorley

    |

    In reply to Andrew I’m sure you get more light from the umbrella than your 7 foot reflector and more directional control. I would like to know if there is a Showroom in Melbourne Australia that would have this product.

    thanks
    Nick

    Reply

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