Making a Softbox Just Got Easier

studio_photography_best_softbox_ever.jpgIf you’ve been reading DIYP for a while now, you know that I am a fool for home made softboxes.

DIYP has featured all kind of softboxes, ranging from small light weight camera strobe to big studio photography strobes. Some are minutes to build and some are hours. Here is a list of some of the better softboxes we’ve had here on DIYP:

The Best Softbox Ever (Image is from this project by Nick Wheeler)
Two Great Weekend Projects – Striplight and Softbox
Even Better Softbox Part One – The Build Process
Even Better Softbox Part Two – The Test Results
a home grown softbox
Flash Mounted homemade DIY Softbox

One of the trickier parts of growing a softbox at home is the planning. The delicate work done by professionals to calculate the lengths of segments. The gentle work of trigonometry to calculate the angels. Light-less nights spent in dark basements with calipers.

(Actually it is the drawing of the the
individual pieces before you glue them together that is the real hard task)

No more. Paul Charette and Tim Pasche created a useful tool to help in making a softbox (or striplight) diagram. The first thing you’ll need to do is download the tool (it is an Excel sheet). Now here is what you do next:

Once you’ve downloaded and open the excel you will see five empty yellow cells. Those are the cells you need to fill out in order to get  the sizes for each.You can use Inches, Centimeters or Meters as long as you are consistent in all cells.

The top two cells represent the width and length of the diffusing side of the softbox (i.e. the side that you plan to put white cloth on) – this side is also called “the big side”. You can make this side as big as the side of your board.

The lower two yellow cells are for the size of the small side – this is where the flash is mounted. 

Lastly the bottom cell is for the flash to diffusion distance – this will be the distance that light has to travel from your flash to the middle of the diffusion screen.

What you get in return are the angles between your base and the side of the softbox. This will allow you to draw each piece on a foamboard or plastic sheet, or wood, or any other material that you’ll be making your softbox from.

If you forget any of those instructions, don’t worry – there is a great illustrated explanation inside the sheet itself.

For example, Let say that I want to build a huge softbox for my Nikon SB800 one meter over one meter and I want this softbox to be one and half meters deep. I will:
– Enter 1 in both the x1 and y1
– Enter 0.07 and 0.05 in x2 and y2
– Enter 1.5 in sotfbox depth.
– I can see that the angles for the individual pieces will be 73.53 and 73.17 (I guess that for practical reasons, I’ll cut 73.5 on both).

Have more tricks for building a softbox? Share them in the comments.