The Apollo from Westcott is a square softbox known for its quick assembly. The distinctive light modifier opens, closes and mounts like an umbrella, making it ideal for location photography. It comes in 28″ and 50″ square models. At a recommended retail price of $166.45 for the small one, however, the Apollo isn’t cheap, and some photographers have been on the lookout for a lower-cost equivalent.
Phottix have announced a new product called the Easy-Up Umbrella Softbox, designed to be “ready to use in seconds – no fighting with rods and speed rings”. It comes in square (70*70cm) and rectangular (60*90cm) and is on sale at a cracking US$57 – a fraction of the price of the Apollo.
Photoloving have also released some of these softboxes in an even wider range of shapes and sizes under their iShoot brand. They offer 60*90cm and 70*70cm models as Phottix, plus a 50*70cm version and an 80cm octagonal one! The Portable Reflective Umbrella Softboxes are sold in US$100 kits including light stands and adapters. The softboxes are also available separately for around $50 (you have to ask directly).
As well as the new releases from Phottix and iShoot, we also spotted similar softboxes from Nice at Interphoto Shanghai, suggesting there may be even more brands and sellers on the horizon.
So are these cheap Apollo-esque softboxes going to give Westcott a run for their money? The company don’t seem to think so. In a statement, the Westcott team said,
Most people don’t know, but Westcott has been making umbrellas since 1899 and even invented the fiberglass frame that can be found on the highest quality golf umbrellas offered in today’s market. We know how to make a good umbrella and feel quality is what makes our brand stand out from the competition.