When you are shooting loads of portraits and fashionshots you usually go through a long and expensive search for the best Light modifier for you. In this case the softbox specifically. The road in finding a great softbox for your strobes usually ends with Chimera (pretty much the industry standard) but at +- €600,00 for one super plus light bank they’re not cheap especially when you’re working with small flashes.
So what’s the alternative ? Settling for umbrella’s for the rest of your life. Not really (note that for some reason I hate the light a shoot through umbrella produces, so I’m a softbox guy).
I used a lastolite ezybox for a very long time and they’re great little boxes, I only didn’t like the way you attach it to the speedring, jamming the hard edges of the box around the ring. If there’s some wind (the softbox’ natural enemy), it come’s off pretty easy.
When finally, “my employer” decided to import the Westcott Apollo I was punching holes in the air. In the US a lot of photographer were using them for a long time and were absolutely loving them. So the day they got delivered immediately got one and have been using them ever since.
A westcott apollo is basically a softbox with the easy of use of a reflective umbrella. You mount it directly on a regular swivel, like ann umbrella but the diffuser goes in the front. You can use it direct or indirect. It’s very light and very cheap.
Which brings me sort of to my next point. They are not built very sturdy. I’ve bent mine quite a lot, when it fell over. Although I’ve never really destroyed one to the point I had to throw it away.
But to finish off I’d like like to point out two major benefits of the westcott apollo. The recessed front of the diffusor is great for light control. Some softboxes end where the diffuser ends there are no edges that stop the light from spilling too much to the sides.The westcott has and edge of almost 10 cm. Which for me literally gives it an edge on any other softbox for small flashes because I’m always feathering my light when I’m shooting.
And the last point, is just a little detail I hadn’t thought about when I first bout it. The flash is inside the box not on the end on a coldshoe. Which means that the Apollo itself functions like a big airbag for your strobe when it falls down, or gets blown away, which it will, because thats what softboxes do. I’m pretty sure the Apollo save a flash or two more than once.
If you’re interested in trying one you can get one here.
Two of my favorite Apollo shots