Quality lighting is key to creating high-quality photos or videos in a studio environment. And it’s one of the first vital lessons newcomers learn. Thankfully, softbox lighting kits are here to do just that. And they’re an affordable and straightforward means to improve your lighting.
These softbox lighting kits use fluorescent light bulbs to produce filtered daytime light that reduces shadows, minimizes glare, and creates a gentle, flattering effect on the subject. And the result is a soft, even light that matches a large window. But, unlike window light, you can access this soft natural light anywhere, anytime.
As such, they’re a go-to means for many to improve their production value. But, many of these kits are available, and not all offer enough power or versatility to meet the demands you likely have. With that, we’ve compiled a list of the best softbox lighting kits. And we’ve also created a brief guide outlining the factors to consider before getting a lighting kit for yourself.
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5 – MOUNTDOG Softbox Lighting Kit
Mountdog’s Softbox Lighting Kit features two 20-inch (50 cm) softboxes with 95W compact fluorescent bulbs balanced to 6,500K. And each light uses standard E27 sockets, so you can switch the bulbs if needed. But, neither light has a variable brightness control. Instead, you’ll vary the diffusion by adjusting the front cover or moving the lights. Even so, each softbox uses embossed nylon to maximize the light spread and minimize spill. This kit also includes two 80-inch light stands constructed from aluminum alloy for strength and durability. Other bonuses include a carrying bag.
Overall, Mountdog’s Softbox Lighting Kit is a good two-light kit that’s ideal for beginners wanting to experiment with lighting. And it’s an affordable means to do so.
4 – MOUNTDOG 2400W Photography Lighting Kit
Mountdog’s 2,400W Lighting Kit features three 20-inch (50 cm) removable softboxes. Each light contains four individual sockets taking a 45W compact fluorescent bulb through an E27 base. And each bulb is daylight balanced to 5,500K. But, crucially, these lights have two control switches to alter the brightness, giving you more flexibility when setting them up. And this kit also includes three 80-inch light stands crafted from aluminum alloy and a 54-inch boom arm. The boom arm, in particular, is an excellent addition to create a soft edge or hair light to separate your subject. And it’s also a discreet way to light background elements in the scene. Other bonuses include a sandbag and a carrying bag.
Overall, Mountdog’s 2,400W Lighting Kit is a solid option if you want a simple but effective 3-point lighting system.
3 – HPUSN Softbox Lighting Kit
HPUSN’s Softbox Lighting Kit features a single 20-inch (50 cm) softbox with two 85W compact fluorescent bulbs, both balanced to 5,500K. And it uses the standard E27 base, so you can change the bulbs as needed. This light doesn’t have a brightness control. So you’ll vary the diffusion by changing its distance to your subject. Even so, this kit surprisingly offers 800W of total incandescent output coupled with solid reflective performance. So you’ll have plenty of power and flexibility. This kit also includes a 78-inch aluminum alloy tripod. And other bonuses include a carrying bag and a two-year guarantee.
Overall, HPUSN’s Softbox Lighting Kit is a solid alternative if you don’t need multiple lights for your setup.
2 – Fovitec Lighting Kit
Fovitec’s Studio Lighting Kit features two 20-inch (50 cm) removable softboxes and a third light with a built-in softbox. The first two lights contain 5-sockets, each taking a 45W compact fluorescent bulb balanced to 5,500K via the standard E27 base. While the last head offers a single socket carrying a 45W bulb. Each of the 5-socket lights also have three on/off switches to adjust the overall output. And doing so lets you change the lighting ratio to create more drama when needed. But, crucially, with the third light and boom stand, you can create a flattering hair light or separator, dramatically upping your production value. Together, the entire kit also provides a whopping incandescent output of 2,475W. And this kit also includes three 90-inch light stands. Other bonuses include a carrying bag, umbrella mounts, and a sandbag.
Overall, Fovitec’s Studio Lighting Kit is an excellent option for those wanting an affordable 3-point lighting setup.
1 – Neewer 700W Professional Photography Softbox
Neewer’s 700W Lighting Kit features two 24-inch (60 cm) softboxes, each with an 85W compact fluorescent bulb balanced to 5,500K. And both lights use the standard E27 socket, letting switch to other bulbs or even slave flash units. Even so, the entire kit offers 700W of total incandescent output for outstanding brightness. However, neither light has a variable brightness control. So instead, you’ll vary the diffusion by adjusting the front covers. And this kit also includes two 88-inch light stands constructed from aluminum alloy for strength and durability. Other bonuses include a carrying bag and a 3-month guarantee.
Overall, Neewer’s 700W Lighting Kit is a solid and affordable means for newcomers to improve their lighting.
What to look for in softbox lighting kit
Shape and Color
You can find softboxes in various sizes, some entirely square, others rectangle or octagonal. But, the shape you pick directly influences its usability and how it throws light. Both square and rectangular softboxes cast a long tall light that mimics sunlight through a window. But, since rectangular softboxes are longer, they provide slightly more coverage. And typically, they’re best for three-quarter length subjects, while most squares are best for headshots. Octagonal softboxes, however, are usually the go-to for a full-length subject. So, choose a shape that matches how you plan on using the lighting kit.
You can also find softboxes with various interior linings, typically white or silver. A white inner fabric keeps the light more natural and soft, but it’s not as powerful. On the other hand, silver increases the perceived power of the light and its contrast and general specularity. Both of these materials have pros and cons. But, if you plan on lighting subjects close up for headshots, a white softbox is best. However, if you’re planning on lighting subjects head to toe, silver will be better.
You can also find softboxes in a wide range of sizes, ranging from 18 to 48 or more inches. But, generally, you want the softbox to match the size of your subject. So if you’re shooting headshots or portraits, a 24-inch softbox is perfect. However, for full-body, you’ll want something closer to 48 or 60 inches. Even so, a two-light softbox kit with 24-inch squares can get most of the lighting results you’re likely after. And you can stack the two softboxes together side by side to light full-length subjects.
Color and Dimming
Not every softbox kit offers bi-color lights that can change across a range or even dimmable lights. In such cases, you’ll have to modify the lights manually. To change the color, you’ll want to add a colored gel filter. While to dim the light, you can change its distance or add extra diffusion material. But opting for a dimmable light will make changing lighting scenes easier since you can adjust the brightness freely. However, it may not be a deal-breaker either way.
Suppose you’re planning on lighting subjects on location rather than at home or in a studio. In that case, you’ll want a kit that’s portable and lightweight. Most softbox lighting kits include carrying bags, and they fold neatly into them. But, the weights of these products vary wildly. You can find relatively lightweight options around 8 lbs or heavyweights at 25 lbs. So consider looking into the weight beforehand if portability is a must for you.
A lighting kit’s power output varies based on the number of bulbs used and the power rating of each. But, the more bulbs used, the greater the overall power consumption and heat build-up. So there’s a trade-off. You can find lighting kits with various total fluorescent outputs, ranging from 200W to 2,500W or more. And the value that works best for you will ultimately come down to how you plan on using the kit. If you only plan on lighting a single subject in a headshot fashion, 250W is likely sufficient. But, 2,500W would be better for lighting a small group full length.