Shoot through umbrellas give a more specular type of lighting, while reflective white umbrellas giver a softer quality of light, good for portraiture.
Photoflex® adjustable reflective Umbrellas were already the most versatile photographic umbrellas available today; and now they’re even better. The new and improved umbrella line includes ribs and strut pivots that are now made from a fiberglass composite, which is not only stronger, but also offers better resiliency and durability than steel or aluminum. This new design feature allows for almost carefree handling, all but eliminating damage caused from over bending delicate steel tube ribs. All umbrella center poles are extruded and closed off at the base (vs. folded, hollow tubes, like many other umbrellas, that are easily bent and dented) adding to the durability of the Photoflex® umbrella model. The RUD 30" Shoot Through Umbrella is not only great as a "shoot-through" umbrella, but it can also be used as an inexpensive bounce light. Also available in 45" (UM-RUD45). Shaft diameter is 8mm.
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In this video I compare the two most popular types of umbrellas, shoot through and reflective umbrella. Shoot through umbrellas are translucent which allows the light to pass. They give you more wrap around light in your portraits. With reflective umbrella, it's still wrap around light BUT it becomes a bit directional and may cast a little bit of shadow compared to shoot through.
Which umbrella should you choose? Well, they are so cheap that everyone who does studio portraits or outdoor strobist photography should simply own both.
Equipment used in the video.
DSLR: Nikon D3s and Nikon D700
Lens: Nikkor 70-200 f2.8 VRII and Nikon 50mm 1.8G AFS lens
Umbrellas - Lastolite trifold umbrella and cowboy studio reflective umbrella
Shoot through umbrellas are, in our opinion, the best type of lighting modifier for beginning flash photographers. Â The reason we like using these umbrellas is that they create very soft light, they are inexpensive, and they have a wide enough lighting pattern that they are easy to position and aim. Â Using a shoot through can cover up a lot of rookie mistakes made by newer flash photographers.