Once you’ve chosen the right lights for your shoot, you need to consider what light modifiers to use. The ability to soften, shape, disperse or sharpen light allows you to instantly change the look of any scene. For every light on the market, there are probably a dozen light modifiers available, which makes for a confusing array of tools. That said, all light modifiers simply change the intensity and diffusion of the light and/or change the direction and color of the light. Our picks for the Best Modifiers of the year include some classics updated and some new solutions to old problems. Thanks to updates of similar products from both ExpoImaging and Honl, we have two Best All-Around Modifier winners this year.
BEST ALL-AROUND MODIFIER
ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro
The Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Reflector system from ExpoImaging attaches to a shoe-mount flash to shape and bounce the light from any speedlight. It attaches to the light via an adjustable belt and buckle system. The FlashBender comes with several accessories, including a strip grid made from fabric to modify your light’s width. A softbox diffuser attachment adds a panel to soften the light while reducing contrast and specular highlights. As an upgrade from the original FlashBender, the 2 XL is lighter and comes in at 13×16 inches.
BEST AFFORDABLE RINGLIGHT
ExpoImaging Ray Flash 2
The Ray Flash 2 is one of the most interesting modifiers that we’ve come across. This ringlight adapter is the latest version of the Ray Flash that attaches to a hot-shoe flash. It produces a virtually shadow-free light on the front of a subject, while simultaneously creating a soft, even shadow around the edges. The ringlight also produces a catchlight in a subject’s eyes. Since it utilizes the hot-shoe flash for light, the ring adapter requires no batteries, flash tubes or cables. The new Ray Flash introduces a universal speedlight mount and adjustable height. It’s compatible with most speedlights for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, Olympus, and Fujifilm.
BEST SPEEDLIGHT-MOUNTED STUDIO ACCESSORY
Westcott Rapid Box 26” Octa
Built from solid aluminum framing, the Westcott Rapid Box opens and closes like an umbrella and doesn’t require support rods or an adapter ring. Like many picks this year, the 26-inch octabox fits over your hot-shoe-mounted flash. You get the soft light like that of traditional studio lights, but here it’s with a softbox that attaches to your normal Nikon or Canon or Sony or a variety of other flash systems. The Rapid Box is height-adjustable and features a rotatable tilt bracket. An optional, screw-in deflector plate is available for the Rapid Box that minimizes hot spots and creates beauty dish light output.
BEST TRANSFORMING MODIFIER
Lastolite Ezybox II
The Ezybox iI is a Swiss Army Knife of lights. Thanks to its multi-fit bracket, it’s capable of working with both speedlights and studio flashes (including the Ranger Quadra RX). Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, the Ezybox II is quick to open and (more importantly) quick to collapse and repack. The Ezybox II switches quickly from light to light without needing to disassemble the softbox to insert different rings. The ripstop material is both durable and light, and features inner and outer diffusers, for customizable light output. Both a rectangle and an octabox version of this go-anywhere light modifier are available.
BEST STUDIO MODIFIER
Profoto OCF Beauty Dish
Unlike many of our picks this year, the Profoto OCF Beauty Dish is more of a traditional modifier with a slight twist. It’s meant to replace traditional hard beauty dishes that don’t travel well and can be quite cumbersome. Profoto’s new dish is collapsible and takes about as much space as an umbrella when folded up. The OCF Beauty Dish comes in a 24-inch diameter, in two colors, white and silver, and with a diffuser, deflector plate and carrying bag. It’s recommended that it be used with Profoto B1 and B2 OCF heads that have LED modeling lamps. It does require the purchase of a separate speedring for use.