Pro photographer, Stan Evans, was kind enough to test out our new Broncolor Para 88 with Pulso Focusing Rod on a recent studio shoot. Evans’ career has taken him deep into some of the most stunning mountain ranges and the most remote locales around the world. He has recorded his experience and professional opinion on this great piece of equipment to share with you in today’s spotlight. Please note: all photos have not been retouched or edited.
By Stan Evans
The Broncolor 88 is a light, simple, 34-inch parabolic umbrella. When paired with a Pulso Focusing Rod it makes a versatile light shaper that can create several effects quickly and easily.
It is fairly simple to set up, as it has four basic levers to extend the shape. I used the Profoto adapter which makes it easy to integrate with the Profoto lighting system I’m already familiar with (or you can stick with the Broncolor system). The focusing rod attaches from the back then connects to the light mount. I was pleased with how very quickly this was done and how sturdy it remained. For never having used it before, I had the whole system put together and firing in less than ten minutes.
For the test I ran it though a variety of shots – Beauty, Portrait, and Fitness.
For beauty I had the focusing rod fully extended, creating a nice, even light that was soft and wrapped around my subject. With the extender pushed halfway, fall off was noticeable and the direction became more centered. Eye catching lights are nice and spectral but not too overwhelming.
While shooting portraits the extender was pushed half way at first, then all the way in. Precise focusing of the light is needed as well as increasing the f-stop when creating a harder light. I found this worked well in combination with other light sources using it as a key and adding a slight hair and rim fill to emphasize the portrait.
For fitness and motion I varied between fully extended and halfway extended to throw a nice, even light against the wall. It gave the subject more room to move and to light clothing evenly. For creative changes, it was easy to push the light in and have it focus on one part of the scene. This is probably where I found the most value in this light; I could go through a large amount of variations, shooting a quick moving subject, and light scenes with minimal lag time.
Lastly I tried a portrait with a combination of lights. I used the Broncolor modifier as a sort of key and fill with 3 extra heads. One creating a slight rim on the shoulder, the next highlighting on her right forearm, and a third creating a catch light in the eyes.
Some notable things about the modifier: it can be used as continuous light source with Broncolor HMI, which makes it great for consumers that dabble in video as well.
Overall, I was impressed with the Bronocolor 88. It’s an impressive modifier that packs light and would work great on location in a variety of ways. Broncolor also makes a Para 133, 177, 222 and 330. That being said I think the 133 would be more suited to my shooting style because it leaves more room for the model to move and doesn’t need to be as pinpointed. I’d prefer to leave a little room for my talent to be spontaneous and with the 88, I liked the quality of light when it was fully pushed into the umbrella and focused but occasionally, little movements by the model would take her out of the light and the fall off was more than I wanted in those situations. This is hardly a detraction, however, and in the right circumstances it offers a wonderful dramatic effect. I recommend planning ahead when selecting which to use.
Thanks to the guys at Adorama Rentals for letting me take it for a test drive and Ekaterina Murphy for modeling.