If you haven’t read my post on Getting Started with Speed Lights, I would recommend starting there. But if you are already familiar with speed lights and have a good working knowledge of triggers, jump in below!
When it comes to gear, I try to live by the motto, ‘Buy the best and cry once.’ That’s why I purchased Profoto lights and kept the Broncolor light I won from Chase Jarvis… but that’s a different story for another time. Profoto and Broncolor lamps are great but they are not always the easiest solution and are definitely not the most portable. To fill the quick and portable void I picked up some Yongnuos & Cactus triggers — more on them here.
Working with a bare speed light is great — you can add really hard light and it looks beautiful. Other times you can get away with bouncing it off the ceiling or a wall to diffuse the light. But when you don’t have either of those options, I really enjoy the speed boxes SMDV puts out.
SMDV is a manufacturer of these speed boxes from Korea. My current modifier of choice is their SMDV DIFF60 SPEEDBOX-S60. Basically its a 24″/60cm quick collapsing hexagonal soft box with a speed light mount that fits on any standard C-stand. This super-portable, light-weight, soft box adds clean light to anything in a reasonable range — after all you are using a speed light! Let’s jump in…
This is a close up of the collapsable mount that that connects the speed box to the stand and the speed light to the back of the box. Notice the two prongs, they slip into the back of the mount on the box, and the flash and trigger sit in the cold shoe. To accommodate different speed light units the prongs allow the box to move up and down.
This is the collapsed speed box itself. It has a velcro strap to keep it wrapped up like an umbrella. The speed box does not come preassembled, so don’t expect this out of packaging. But after you assemble it there is a strapped bag for storage and protection of the box & mount, as well as a few extra box stretchers incase you break one.
The whole box lives on this speed ring which allows you to lock the stretchers in place by pulling them outward — better visual a few images down. The ring then slips into the prongs and locks with those two knobs. The opening is where the speed light enters the box.
Notice the grooves in the ring, this is where the stretchers lock into place to expand the box. Below is a back view of the expanded box mounted on the mount without a speed light. The interior of the box contains a diffusion panel (not pictured) that helps spread the light around the box and not cause uneven light on subjects.
A front view of the SMDV 24″ Hexagonal Soft Box shows the exterior white diffusion of the soft box and its hexagonal shape.
In the above close-up you’ll notice on the back of the speed ring the quick release notated by the arrows. Simply squeeze the quick release on both sides and the box collapses down like and umbrella. It is then ready to be wrapped up and placed in the bag.
Below you’ll see two images of the speed box with the flash unit placed in the mount.
At the price point of $150 dollars the SMDV 24″ Hexagonal Soft Box may not be the least expensive solution on the market, but it is an excellent one. It has evenly distributed light, controls spill, is portable, quick to setup, and is reasonably made well. As it is a soft box I still treat it carefully and transport it at the top of my gear pile. I’ve used it on food, in photo booths at parties, and to fill light for head shots — check out two sample images I’ve made using the speed box below.
So there you have it. I would give it an 8/10 and recommend it as a buy. If you really want softer light, get a mono-bloc like Profoto B2’s and a bigger modifier, but if you just need something soft and portable this definitely does the job!