Softbox for Contest
Here is my entry for the diyphotography.net "Build a Softbox Contest". My requirements for the softbox were:
- -Needs to be cheap, not more than $15
- -Requires no specialty items or tools required for fabrication
- -Will accept an hotshoe flash
- -Needs to be functional as a good softbox and not look like a total DIY project
- -Needs to be easily broken down and stored or transported
- -Must be lightweight, and attache directly to a flash on a lightstand
- -Simple design that could be made by people with little DIY experience
You should be able to find all of the material required to build the frame at Home Depot or any other general hardware store. Total cost for these items will be approx. $6.
You will require the following materials to make the frame of the softbox:
4 x wire clothes hangers
4 x 5/16" x3/4" Long bolts (or similar)
4 x 5/16" plain washers
4 x 5/16" fender washers
4 x 5/16" rubber washers
1 x Downspout Coupler (plastic)
The fabric and velcro required for the softbox cover can be easily obtained at any fabric store. You should not require any specialty or hand to find items. Total cost for these items will be approx. $8.
You will require the following materials to make the fabric cover of the softbox:
1 x safety blanket (alternatively you can use tin foil)
18" x 18" white nylon fabric for outer diffusion panel (or any other white fabric)
8" x 6' blackfabric for outer cover (or any other suitable fabric)
Optional: 7" x7" white rip stop for inner baffle
1" wide velcro approx 5 feet (sticky back or sew-on type if you can sew)
1 can spray adhesive
The frame of the softbox is what holds everything together and needs to be lightweight and sturdy. The downspout coupler will serve as the base of the frame and also acts a type of speed ring that fits snug over the flash.
Step 1: Put holes in downspout
Drill 4 holes along the outside of the downspout coupler. The diameter of the holes should match the diameter of your bolts (5/16"). The drill should be the only tool you need for the construction of the project.
Step 2: Attach fasteners
Loosely secure the bolt and washer with the wingnut to the downspout in the following order: Bolt, washer, downspout, rubber washer, fender washer, wingnut. Repeat this step for the 4 remaining holes, but do not tighten the wingnut.
Step 3: Bend hanger hook
Bend the hook portion of the four wire clothes hanger to an angle of 30 degrees. This angle will ultimately determine the depth and the size of the softbox.
Step 4: Attach 2 hangers
Attach two wire clothes hangers to the long side of the downspout by placing the hook portion of the hanger between the rubber washer and side of the downspout. Secure tightly with the wingnut.
Step 5: Attach 4 hangers
Attach the remaining two wire hangers to the other side of the downspout and tighten the wingnuts. The long sides of these hangers will touch and rest up against the other hangers.
The frame assembly should now be complete. You can test it out by placing your flash through the downspout.
Optional: Secure flash
To ensure a nice tight fit between the flash and the downspout you can line the inside of the downspout with the soft portion of the self adhesive velcro. Or create a strap from velcro to secure your flash to the downspout. This was not needed in my case, as the flash fit snug with the STO-FEN Omni Bounce
placed over the flash head. The use of the STO-FEN allowed for a tight fit on the head of the bolts and held the flash secure.
Step 1: Create inner baffle (Optional but recommended)
To enhance your softbox light it is recommended that an inner baffle be used. The inner baffle helps to further diffuse the light and provide a more even light across the softbox. To add an inner diffusion panel, place hook-velcro at the intersection of the 4 corners of the 4 wire hangers. Then cut a piece of white fabric of the same dimension (approx 7"x7") and secure loop-velcro to the 4 corners of this fabric. Attach the fabric to the velcro on wire frame. Now site back and marvel at your inner baffle.
Step 2: Create outer diffusion panel
To create the outer diffusio panel, place the white fabric down on a flat surface and then place the wire frame on top of the fabric. Trace around the outer edges of the wire frame and then cut the white fabric to this size. Secure hook velcro to the outside edges of the white fabric. Use sew-on velcro or sticky back velcro if yo udo not have access to a sewing machine or needle and thread.
Step 3: Prepare side panels
The 4 side panels of the softbox are made individually and then fastened to each other. Place the black panel fabric on a flat surface and then lay a side of the frame on the black fabric. Trace a line extending from the corner of the downspout to the corner of the wire frame. Cut out the fabric along the traced lines. Repeat for the remaining 3 sides. You should now have the 4 side panel pieces.
Step 4: Connect side panels
The 4 side panels need to be joined together to create the outside portion of the softbox. Sew the inner edges of the panels together or alternatively use velcro to secure the inner edges.
Step 5: Attach inner reflective panels
Cut or tear off a four pieces of emergency planket or tin foil such that they are larger than your black side panels. Using spray adhesive, spray the inner side of the black panel and then press the reflective blanket or tinfoil portion over the adhesive to attach this to the side panels. Trim the reflective surface from the side panels. You should now have 4 side panels with an inner reflective surface and an outer black surface.
Assembly: Final Construction
Step 1: Attach velcro to frame
Secure hook velcro to outside edge of the downspout frame. This will hold the side panels to the frame. Drape the fabric panels over the back of the frame and secure the back of these panels to the velcro on the downspout
Step 3: Attach front diffusion screen
Using the velcro attach the front diffusion panel to the velcro on the side panels. The fit should be tight and will pull the side panels taught.
Step 4: Insert flash
Insert your flash into the downspout opening and take photos.
Step 5: Break it on down
When no longer needed or if you need to transport your softbox it can be broken down and reassembled in under a minute.Here are the steps:
-Remove the outer diffusion screen by unhooking the velcro
-Take the side panels off of the frame
-Loosen the wingnuts and disconnect the hangers
Photos taken using softbox only. Only 1 Nikon SB600 Flash was used inside the softbox to show effectivness of the softbox. The lighting diagram is below. The softbox was placed close to the subjet and either placed slightly above and to the right or left of the subject.
Harsh Bare Flash Photos
Photos using bare flash only (for comparison to softbox, - note shadow under chin & spill into background)
Good Luck and if you have any questions feel free to contact me at