Understanding Parabolic Lighting

In this information-packed photography workshop (recorded live), Karl sheds some light on the mystery surrounding parabolic reflectors.

These versatile modifiers are a go-to for fashion and beauty work as they produce beautiful sparkly light that is very flattering when it comes to skin tone and able to reveal great detail in different textures.

Here Karl explains exactly what makes these modifiers so special and why the Para 133 is his modifier of choice. Touching on the physics of lighting and the science behind the parabolic shape, Karl demonstrates the effect of these modifiers, their versatility, as well as a few other, more affordable alternative modifiers.

In this class:

  • The science behind what makes a true parabolic reflector
  • When, where and why to use parabolic reflectors (and when not to)
  • The different parabolic reflectors and the results
  • Modifying parabolic reflectors
  • Parabolic reflectors live demonstration — beauty and product shoots
  • Lighting modifier comparisons
  • Affordable alternative lighting modifiers
  • Advantages and disadvantages of different lighting modifiers

To read more about parabolic modifiers, the science behind them and their uses, read our blog post here.

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Hi Karl,
    I can purchase a para 220 fb for a good price.
    Is this the para that only works well with a ring flash or does it also work with a siros?
    And is the quality the same as with the para 222?

    Greetings Heinz

  2. Karl.

    I know that parr 133 is worth the expense. I can not afford that much for a modifier. Would the Godox

        1. Hi Doris, no not really the Para 133 is much smaller and can’t be used directly behind the photographer in the same way as the 222 as the photographer would be blocking most of the light. With the 133 it would need to be much closer to the model and you would end up with something like this which was shot with the 133 – https://karltaylor.com/wmzzjaydhmwvixpn4aokr4he3ck74v

  3. Hey Karl, what if you use a parabolic umbrella on a light stand and the light (with or without a reflector) on another light stand? Using two stands should give us the possibility to centre the light to the centre of the umbrella and also to control the “focus”

    1. Hi Dario, yes that works and it’s something I actually do. I occasionally have a light in the para on its focusing rod and then another on a lighting stand so that I can benefit from two lights going into a para. However if you have a para with a rod why would you not put the light on the rod?

      1. Thanks for your reply. I was talking about the parabolic umbrella, not the parabolic reflector. The reason to put it on a separate stand would only be so that the light can be focussed in the middle of the umbrella (since you mentioned that lights on umbrella are a little bit off from the centre). Not sure if I have managed to explain it clearly

      1. Hi Doris, what is your question? We can’t see a question from you in this section. Also if it was posted elsewhere please be aware that it was a national holiday here in the UK yesterday and it was the weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Whilst we endeavour to answer questions as quickly as possible we are not always available on weekends and holidays.

  4. This was a great session and very, very helpful. If only Broncolor wouldn’t be that expensive 😉.

    I’ve just recently seen Godox announced a new light focusing system, which they claim to be true parabolic (no softbox!). And this system is way more expensive than their other light modifier, but still more affordable than Broncolor. Maybe they had a very close look at Bron system…..


    Not sure if Godox does provide gear to review, but if you ever get the chance to review one of these it would be highly appreciated Karl.

    1. This is truly sickening to me and I’d like to hear Broncolor’s response to this, because this is visually 1to1 copy of their system. I personally hate companies who are stealing completely everything and i don’t want to support them even if i can’t afford the original piece. Ok there are more parabolic systems these days, but at least they were completely different Briese vs. Broncolor… or Profoto with theirs. I would love to hear something from Bron and Karl to clarify this topic to us. Even from a point of protecting our investments. Thanks =)

  5. Great course very informative and easy to understand, I now know more about lighting than ever before.
    Parabolic lighting rules.

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