When it comes to softboxes, bigger it always better—and softer. FourSquare’s FSK48 48-inch softbox is big but is only 20-inches deep allowing to fit in tight spaces like my 11×15-foot home studio. For location work, it knocks down to 20-inches long, fitting into the pouch that’s included with the $319.95 kit.
In addition to the front diffuser, an interior diffusion screen is included to soften and diffuse the light even more. It clips inside the softbox and is removable, so you use it or not. This allows control over the amount of light on the subject and the softbox’s size wraps it around them, so much so that all of the images we shot were made with just that single light.
You can mount a Radio Popper or Pocket Wizard (that we used) inside the box using a Mini Mount or just hang it from the Pocket Wizard’s strap. The kit includes the FourSquare Block, which is made of T6061 anodized aluminum and allows mounting four speedlights or other small strobes or LEDs. The optional Center Mount provides an additional mount for a fifth flash or lets you place a single light in the center of the FourSquare Block.
We shot FourSquare’s 48-inch Softbox several ways including using only the front diffuser (more light, less diffusion) and with both inner and outer diffuser (less light, more diffusion.) My friend Cliff Lawson and I could tell very little difference in the quality of the light.
Quantity was another story. Initially we set all four Nikon SB800’s at full power and that produced too much output, especially for a portrait. We cut each light’s power back to half power and with both diffusers in place were shooting around f/11. Then we shot using only two speedlights gradually ending up with using only one to produce the image at left with one SB-800 at one-quarter power to shoot at f/2.
If you’re a speedlight shooter looking for a large, soft light source for portrait photography, FourSquare’s 48-inch Softbox is hard to beat for light quality, efficiency and portability
Many thanks to photographer Cliff Lawson, who supplied the speedlight expertise—and the speedlights—that were used during the portrait session where we tested FourSquare’s 48-inch Softbox.
Barry Staver is a contributor to our sister blog Mirrorless Photo Tips and a Master of the speedlight. You can pick up a copy of his landmark book, Flash Photography: Studio and Location Techniques for Digital Photographers, from Amazon.com.