Octabox 75 | Studio Lighting Essentials

I love my Octabox 75. I’ve used this versatile modifier on many of my favourite shots over the years. Why? Because it has various characteristics and attributes that make it very useful indeed for photographers.

In this video, I take a closer look at the Octabox 75, giving you all the information you need to decide if its a modifier you want in your studio.

Also, if you're looking to expand your understanding of lighting modifiers check out our comprehensive free studio lighting tutorial series here.

What is the Octabox 75?

At half the size (28-30 inches across), the Octabox 75 is the smaller brother of the Octabox 150. So it’s not too big, BUT you can always bring it in closer to your subject if you need a larger light source. Thanks to the inverse square law, even up close, light from the Octabox 75 should stay pretty restricted to your subject and shouldn’t affect your background.

Because it’s relatively small, the light from the Octabox 75 is soft, but not too soft. I like to use it for male portraits, for example, positioning it above and slightly to the side of the subject.

Karl using his Octabox 75 for a studio portrait.

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It’s also great for beauty shots when you use it up close, because it gives a nice dramatic light with a good contrast ratio.
Karl Taylor discusses white umbrella with studio light
Moving the Octabox up close to increase the contrast.

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I even use it as a fill light, or to light a white background by positioning one on each side of the subject, directed towards the wall.

As you can see in the video, this modifier emits a lovely homogenous light thanks to the extra layer of built-in diffusion material which helps to spread the light around.

You’ll also see me demonstrate the spread of light on the wall, which of course varies as I move the octabox closer to and further away from it.

Octabox 75 price and build quality

Octabox 75 modifiers are available from various different manufacturers, with prices varying significantly. At the time of writing, the Profoto model retails at just under $300, with the broncolor and Elinchrom equivalents coming in at closer to $250. Cheaper brands offer 75cm octaboxes for as low as $100.

Going for one of the cheaper options makes sense if you’re on a tight budget. But it’s worth keeping in mind that build quality is key – and may decline as the price tag shrinks.

Build quality matters because, unless you have a large studio or storage space, you’re probably going to be collapse and rebuilding your Octabox repeatedly over the course of many months or years.

Frequent dismantling and assembling can take its toll on an Octabox – especially a budget model.

Likewise, if you’re going to be taking your modifier out of location, you’re going to be packing it up and transporting it over and over again. To withstand all that, your modifier needs to be well made and durable – which some of the more affordable options may not be.

I also find that the quality of the silver and diffusion materials goes up hand-in-hand with price, so this really is a case of “you get what you pay for”.

Adapt and accessorise

The Octabox 75 isn’t just versatile in terms of how you use and position it. You can also easily adapt it to alter its effects.

For example, to use it a bit like a beauty dish, you just need to pop out the diffusion material and let the light bounce off the silver reflective surface. The result is a harder light that still retains some of the softness of the octabox in its usual form.

Alternatively, you can go the other way and add a third layer of diffusion using the expanded velcro area around the edge. I’ve never found this necessary in my own work, but the option is there if you want to further soften the light.

Speaking of adaptation, if the make of your modifier doesn’t match the make of your light, you can use speed ring adaptors to enable you to attach it 

The accessory used most often with this modifier is a grid. A grid restricts the angle of the bounce of light and stops it spreading out sideways. This can be useful if you’re working in a small space and need to restrict the spread of light.

A grid restricts the spread of light, but also hardens it.
Because my studio is large, this is rarely a problem. Also, a grid hardens the light up a little bit, making it less like the softbox you’ve chosen to use in the first place. For these reasons, I rarely use grids with my octaboxes, but it’s good to know the option is always there.

Lighting Comparison Visualiser

Use our awesome tool to try out every modifier in our studio and compare the results.
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Compare 25+ different lighting modifiers

In the video, I compare the Octabox 75 with its big brother, the Octabox 150. As you can see, because the 75 is positioned closer to the subject, it offers higher contrast and brighter highlights. It also casts less light onto the background.

To compare the Octabox 75 with a bare bulb, a reflective umbrella, and many, many other modifiers yourself, check out our amazing Lighting Comparison Visualiser. This useful tool compares the effects different lighting modifiers will have on your photography.

Interested in learning more about lighting modifiers? Click here to explore our guide on Deep Umbrella (160cm) and uncover new possibilities for your photography. Alternatively, click here to see our previous tutorial on Shoot-Through Umbrellas.

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