A nice package arrived in the studio … a box and a packet. It’s the all-new Lastolite Halo Compact Reflector and Diffuser.
What is a reflector?
A reflector is, for me, any surface that is both fixed or mobile that will throw light on a subject. This might be a white wall, a window, a sheet of polystyrene or fomex or possibly, a purposefully designed reflector. Reflectors can be a fixed shape, a pop-up or a construction. They may have different reflective surfaces as well; bright white, silver, gold and zebra (stripy silver and gold) or large or small.
Why do you need a reflector?
Your subject is sat with light coming at them from one direction and a strong shadow is being thrown across them. This could be natural light, continuous light or flash. The shadow is overpowering, and yes, you could add a further light. However, if the subject is being lit only by a window, what do you do? A piece of white card or fomex might be all that is needed to fill the shadow with a little light to fill and soften the shadow. You don’t necessarily need ‘lights’, you just need to know how to use what light you have.
What if you are doing a fashion shoot and need to light an area? Rather than a piece of white card, a silver reflector will get the light moving across a large distance (many metres) to add very specular light.
What is a diffuser?
A diffuser is very simply a method of reducing and softening the output of direct lighting on a subject. This might be natural, strobes or continuous light.
Why do you need a diffuser?
Occasionally, we have to use harsh light on a subject and this can be anything from food, product or portrait photography and that lighting is less than ideal. A set of net curtains on a window can provide a softening of the light rather like a soft box on a strobe. Outside, in harsh sunlight with no place to hide, the diffuser comes into play. The Halo Compact would be ideal for portraits … the ‘ideal in the bag’ companion.
Choice of surface
White will give you soft, diffused reflected light, whilst silver gives a harsh, specular light and gold a warm glow that is close to a setting sun; the golden hour. Each surface has its place.
What reflector should I carry?
As a minimum, I would say have a small light reflector but there is the rub. Pop-ups are the smallest but even they are unwieldy, as they still have a reasonable surface area when they are packed and still don’t pack down small enough. Enter the Halo Compact from Lastolite.
Halo Compact Reflector – contents
This pack is small. The blue nylon pack has a zip that runs from top to bottom. Open the zip and you have two parts. Part one is the collapsed handle and part two is the reflector. The handle is a multi-section ring that has an elasticated cord through it with a plastic handle that has a female and male dovetail joint. The handle also has a brass receiver to attach it to a tripod or light stand. The circular reflector is silver one side and white the other, with a series of black plastic grips along the outer edge. There is the option of buying the kit as a diffuser or purchasing the diffuser or the reflector as a separate item.
The construction of the Halo Compact Reflector is excellent. Everything fits where it should; the hoop is solid and connects well together. The reflector material is of good quality and the fixing points for the hoop are also solid and well attached. The only potential disadvantage I foresee is the constant folding of the silver material and potential wear but I might be over-thinking this. The bag is a bag and if I were to make any comment it would be that if you have both the reflector and the diffuser panels, it’s a bit of a squeeze into it … possible, but a squeeze all the same.
It’s a wow from me. I love the fact that it slips into my lighting bag and takes up zero room and I love that it is easy to set up. However, what I really love is the threaded receiver to attach the Halo to a stand, not to mention you can hold it without it going all floppy on you. I can diffuse or reflect light without an assistant; just me, the model and a stand. What I would really like to see is a zebra gold and silver surface with the reverse as black. I have used it like a flag with black material pegged to it. That worked but I think a trick is being missed by not having a black surface.
Points out of ten
The Lastolite Halo Compact Reflector and Diffuser on its own – I’d happily give ten out of ten from construction to use. It is a fabulous piece of kit. However, I’m going to be picky and deduct half a point for the bag. It’s a bit skimpy for the reflector and the diffuser, if you have both. If a zebra and a black cover option is added, that would be an impossible fit. For the lack of zebra and black, I’ll deduct another half point. That makes the final score nine out of ten. But I am really being very picky and, honestly, I think everyone should have one. I did spot one on the BBC’s ten o’ clock news. And so … it gets a big thumbs up from me.
David Edwards – Image 61
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