Godox Parabolic Light Modifiers: Better Than Broncolor?

Parabolic light modifiers are some of the most versatile on the market. Coincidentally, they are also among the most expensive on the market. Appreciated for its versatility, hated for its price, and very few photographers own it. Godox decided to create an affordable but also truly parabolic softbox. So how did they do it? Spoiler alert: much better than I expected.

Introduction

I’m no stranger to truly parabolic modifiers. Having used the Broncolors, I fell in love with them. It’s a shame you can’t get a real parabolic modifier for a good price. Broncolor will cost you several thousand dollars north. To actually use it, you’ll also need to invest in a proper flash system compatible with it. At the same time, when I have the budget and the ability to hire a Para, I always do. Until recently, I hadn’t even thought about getting a Para, until Godox released their Parabolic Light Focusing System.

Manufacturing quality

You may have noticed that I prefer working with high end hardware such as Profoto and Broncolor. In this way, I was spoiled with the best on the market. So you would expect the Godox to lag behind in terms of quality? Well, as far as that goes, the modifier is really well done. The uppers are sturdy, the fabric thick, and the overall construction is solid. I’ll be honest, when I’m shooting, softboxes are flying all over the studio. This also applies to Para. I may or may not have thrown it away a few times (I did). I really can’t say anything bad about the construction of the Para. It is easy to build. Just make sure you don’t forget the two metal rods you need to build the softbox. The rod locking mechanism has a nice action, although as with all paras the modifier can be extremely heavy on one side. It would probably be a good idea to use a very study stand, like a junior stand. It may also be best used with a head light pack and system, as opposed to a one-piece. Still, even if you put something as heavy as a Profoto B1X and use enough weight on the stand, it holds up just fine, even on a pole. Remember to use a support that is probably too heavy. Better to pay too much attention than too little. A rule I use is, “if I can stand under it and not shake, it’s safe.” A swing test isn’t a bad idea either. But again, I can’t say anything bad about the build quality. It went through tough commercial shoots and testing, and it survived.

Characteristics and quality of light

There are a few notable features that set Godox Parabolic modifiers apart. The main one is the ability to focus light by moving it forward and backward. If you have a flat front light the para will still work more or less the same, but it is strongly advised to use it with a light with an exposed flash tube.

Unfortunately, I don’t own one, so I use mine with a flat front, and it works fine. I can tell the difference a bit, but it’s nothing massive, so I’m not worried. I know I will be torn in the comments of anyone who has seen Karl Taylor’s video. For the record: yes, parabolic light modifiers are best used with a light that has an exposed flashtube rather than a recessed one.

For review purposes, I tested them with a ProHead, which has an exposed flash tube and obeys all the rules for using true parabolic light modifiers.

As you can see, the Parabolic works as expected, with the light becoming more focused as I move the rod inward and becoming more spread out as I move the rod outward. Unfortunately, in the outermost position, I don’t see the Para’s characteristic ringflash effect, which is a disappointment for me. The Para 128 and 88 worked very well, meaning they are true parabolic modifiers.

In addition to your Para, you can also combine it with accessories such as grilles and diffusers. The grid will decrease light spread, while the diffusers will even out the light pattern. Remember that they will not make the light softer.

Gate

The grid mounts quite easily on each of the rods. However, I do have a problem with this. It just takes too long to put each of the few dozen rods into the little holes. What would work much better is a grid that just stretches to fit the modifier or just keep using Velcro. It would make the process much faster and more transparent.

Another problem with using a grid is that they will project a grid-like pattern onto the subject. It is recommended to use grids in a more enlarged position or with a diffuser.

Diffusers

The diffuser is available in two thickness variants: D1 and D2. D1 is a 0.5 stop diffuser, while D2 will have an effect of around 1 stop. The problem with mounting diffusers is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find the hole to put the rod. They could take a page from Briese’s book and use small plastic or metal rings on the diffuser for easy mounting.

Carrying case

The carrying case is beautiful. It has everything a carrying case needs: wheels, handles, straps and dividers. Godox has done a really good job with it, and I’ll be honest: I’ve used the case to carry things other than the Para. I would even recommend buying the case itself, to be frank.

Use

Here are some of the images I took with Para 88 and Para 128. I think it’s a great modifier.

Summary

What I liked

  • Build quality on par with Broncolor
  • Comes with a carry bag

What could be improved

  • The reflectivity of the interior material
  • Diffuser assembly

All in all, Godox has created something they aren’t generally known for in professional circles: a high-end modifier that, to me, makes the Broncolor unnecessary. I would expect to see big rental houses add them to their offerings. Considering they’re about $5,000 below the competition, it makes perfect sense to buy as well. Parabolic modifiers come in four sizes: 68, 88, 128, and 158. I tested the 88 and 128 and found the 88 to be a great key light, while the 128 works well as a filler. The only negative comment I would have is that the material inside could be much more reflective to make it more characteristic of the para and give more specularity to the light. As it is now, the reflective material scatters too much, at least for me. But, as far as everything else goes, the Godox Parabolic Light Focusing System convinced me of Broncolor. Well done Godox!

Leave a Comment