This is not a typical blog episode. It's a contest. A contest between lightformers, thrown into the arena to fight for their lives. Ave Imperator, moriture te salutant ... well, uhmm, actually it wasn't that dramatic. I was supposed to tidy up the garage and needed a good excuse not to do so. And what could possibly be a better excuse than an elaborate performance test of different lightformers and their output in f/stops.
Typical outdoor situation, broad daylight. Your light is about 3m (6ft) away from your subject, the ISO is set to its nominal value (in my case that's an unfortunate ISO 200) and your shutter speed is set to its max sync speed (1/250th) . What f/stop can you expect from 400WS with different lightformers? And, equally important, how pronounced will the fall-off between the face - this time considered to be in the center - the hips and feet in the extreme corner be?
Therefore, without much odo, here are the results - and hail the victorious Maxi Lite.
#1 - Maxi Lite - The Winner. No surprise, with f/32 in the center, f/25 on the hips and f/18 on the feet. The falloff, however, is almost 2 full stops from face to feet.
#2 - Deep Octa 100 - open, with no diffusion. A bit of a surprise to me, as I was expecting someone else to be the runner up. But nevertheless interesting, an obviously potent and relatively big lightsource. In the center however almost two full f/stops under the Maxi Lite (f/ 18 - 18 - 16).
#3 - Standard Reflector, open and diffused. Little tiny things, often neglected. They did well, very well (f/16 - 16 -14 & f/16 - 14 - 11). Note: Differences between these two without truncation into f/stops is less pronounced.
#4 - Deep Octa 100 - with silver cap - loses 1/3 of a stop, while gaining a slightly better quality and less of a hotspot. No surprise here. (f/16 - 16 - 14).
#5 - Eco Ringflash, without diffusion. Don't use it that much, but at least I now know what it is capable of (f/14 - 11 -11). Still, most of the time, it will just reside in my bag.
#6 - The Wok. Silver Softlite, small. I was exepecting it to do better, don't know why. Even if it resembles more a potatoe chip in form and shape, due to two years of intense love and care, but still - I was expecting it to do better ... (f/ 14- 11 - 10) ... especially as it was just 1/10th of a stop ahead of the ...
#7 - Silver Brolly, aka Assistants Parachute. A surprisingly efficient alternative on a calm and windless day to the Wok (f/14 - 13 - 13).
#8 - Translucent Brolly (f/11 - 10 - 10).
#9 - Striplight Profoto RFI 1x3' (30x90cm) (f/11 - 10 - 9)
#10 - Deep Octa 100 - Fully Diffused (f/10 - 10 - 9)
#11 - Lastolite Easybox, Fully Diffused (f/9 - 9 - 8). Please note that the Lastolite Easybox fits to the standard Elinchrom Ranger flashhead, with a little help of some Gaffa to secure the box.
All of this is not meant to be super precise like in rocket science, but it should be good for some orientation at least. Have a wonderful day, while I am off now tidying the garage. Like this post if you do and comment if you don't.