A lightbank is a black box with one side covered in diffusion material that lets light pass through. You’ll occasionally hear lightbanks called “soft box” but I prefer “lightbank” because it refers to the many shapes and sizes available. The light inside a lightbank can be aimed to shoot through toward the subject or bounce into the back before exiting the front.
There are lots of reasons to use a lightbank to diffuse the raw light produced by a flash or other light source. One is the clean unobstructed highlight that’s reflected in the subject whether it’s a product or a portrait subject. The other is the ability to use a shorter distance between the light and the subject maximizing the lightbank’s broad light source. You also obtain improved control of the light because a lightbank’s flat two dimensional diffuser and opaque shell keeps light from spilling onto surrounding objects or creating flare.
One of the downsides of using lightbanks is as they get bigger they also get deeper. Lighting innovator Gary Regester created a lightbank that has a thinner-than-normal profile and produced the Plume Wafer. The narrow profile, silver-with-white interior and graduated inner baffles create efficiencies with a choice of contrast across the front diffuser panel. The narrow profile results from using aluminum tubes and fiberglass rods with special pockets reinforcing the corners. Inner baffles, rear closures and speed ring adapters are interchangeable.