The first thing that actually stands out about the ParaPop (other than the really nice build quality), is how incredibly lightweight they are. Especially for a softbox with 12 rods.
And apart from that fact that they conveniently pop open and closed quickly, that lightness and ease of handling are likely the biggest advantages of using the ParaPop 28″ as a location modifier.
In the case of the Flashpoint RoveLight’s which are not the most lightweight to start with, the ParaPop’s are still likely going to be one of the best options for a reasonable size modifier, while adding as little extra weight as possible
- Fast Pop Open & Close
- Very Lightweight & Easy to Handle
- High Build Quality & Materials
- Speedlight & / or Studio Light Mounting
- High Light Output
- Even Light Pattern
- Dual Diffuser Options
- Very Close to Circular Catch Light
- They Look Great
Setup & Breakdown
The ParaPop open very easily, I’d even go as far as saying they’re quite fun to snap open. You just pull each rod outwards until they click in place on the speedring. Working your way around the 12 rods only takes a few seconds.
To collapse again there are 2 sets of tabs (or buttons) which you squeeze together to release the rods.
And ideally you would then be able to quickly open and collapse the softbox in place on a light stand, so they can be easily moved around to a new location and quickly popped open again when needed.
Collapsing the softbox is surprisingly where I have actually had a bit of trouble though, as a lot of the time only 6 of the 12 rods will release easily.
I found one easy way to release the rods otherwise, is to place the softbox face down on the floor, and press down on the speedring a little which takes some tension off the rods before trying to release them. That way all the rods will release quite easily at once. No tips or instructions are provided for this otherwise.
Once released you can then quickly wrap the softbox up with the attached velcro strap. And the important time saver here is that there is no need to mess around with disturbing the front diffuser panels, they can stay in place while the softbox is folded.
Looking more closely, you can see the triangular metal tabs which hold the rods in place on the speedring. These are spring loaded and retract as you pull a rod into place, and also as you squeeze the release buttons on the back of the speedring to release the rods.
Possibly putting a little dry lubricant, or a very small dab of grease on the rod ends would allow them to all release a bit easier.
So apart from a bit of a release issue there (easily solved by placing the softbox face down on the floor), the ParaPop are very fast and convenient easy to set up and break down.
The inner diffuser panel is also a bit fiddly to remove though. They are nicely attached with press studs, which are very easy to assemble, just a bit fiddly to remove.
You really need to get your fingernail in between the press studs to release them, because they haven’t really left a pull tab to release the studs anywhere.
So although very secure, it wouldn’t be easy to be adding and removing the inner diffuser in a hurry too often. If switching between one or two diffusion layers quickly on location was really needed, then removing the front diffuser and leaving the inner would likely be the best option.
Studio Light Mounting
The ParaPop are available with either a speedlite bracket, or with a speedring insert for attaching the ParaPop directly to studio lights. There are speedring inserts available for Bowens, Elinchom, Alien Bees, and the FlashPoint mount. The inserts are available a little cheaper with the ParaPop, or sold separately for $35.
These inserts are again extremely lightweight, and made of relatively thin plastic. The ParaPop itself is very lightweight though, so the inserts are still well in proportion, and easily strong enough to support the softbox. And they do feel pretty sturdy still overall.
Even more telling are the 3 extremely small screws used to attach the inserts (or speedlite bracket) to the ParaPop. I literally had to use a small watchmakers screwdriver to remove these, as the smallest regular screwdriver was still too large to fit. Again with the light weight of the ParaPop, these tiny screws still appear to do the job fine.
Mounting to the FlashPoint Rovelight using the Bowens mount is a pretty loose fit due to the RoveLight’s fairly loose mount. They can’t come apart though so that is not really a practical issue.
Otherwise the ParaPop combine nicely with studio lights. As seen in the image above though, there is a caution of an 80 degrees Celsius heat limit though, so care may need to be taken with modelling or continuous hot lights etc.
Witstro / StreakLight Mount
The ParaPop 28″ and Godox Witstro or FlashPoint StreakLights are a really nice combination. As they are equally lightweight, and the forward facing flash with no obstructions in front of the flash tube make the most out of the limited (though still very capable) power of the Witstro.
Using a single diffuser with the ParaPop provides at least a stop more light than the Photix Luna, or Westcott Apollo’s. An Ezybox can provide similar results, though the ParaPop’s nice shape is still a little more efficient and even. And the ParaPop are generally a nicer modifier to manage and handle than an Ezybox of this size.
The speedlight bracket provided with the ParaPop kit is again very light weight. And although they were likely designed for the original smaller softboxes and speedlites, they will still support the 28″ ParaPop and Witsro units quite fine as well (using the flat flash base if using the larger 360 flash).
The inexpensive plastic Godox bracket is absolutely built like a tank in comparison the the original ParaPop bracket. They do then add a little weight, though the flash head clamping mount is great, and having the more sturdy overall mount is nice as well.
It would take a little DIY, but if using only Witstro and speedlites with the ParaPop 28″, I would personally screw the Godox bracket directly to the ParaPop. This would take some filing of the Godox bracket, though its only made of plastic so that wouldn’t be hard.
If you don’t like the thought of DIY though, just using a Bowen’s or Elinchrom insert and the Godox bracket is still fine as well. As is using the original ParaPop speedlite bracket.
Because the ParaPop speedring has a fairly small opening, and a nice shape to it, there is really not much need for any extra reflector collar around the Witstro flash tube.
Adding a small collar around the bulb did not really make any difference in flash output, as the ParaPop speedring shape is already quite a good design.
Using the Godox umbrella reflector could possible add a little more light, though it may create a little more of a center hotspot then as well.
There are also SMDV-03 adapters available to attach the sotbox directly to the the Witstro flash head. Though even as light as the ParaPop is, I personally wouldn’t want to risk damaging the flash head or mount by mounting like that.
Even with the Godox S-Type brackets above, its a good ideal to try an resist clamping the flash head in too tight. Because if a stand goes over, the flash can then at least move a little in the bracket, providing some shock absorption rather than actually breaking the flash.
Again being very light weight, and efficient the with the flash facing directly at the front diffuser, the ParaPop are a great combination with speedlites.
The only downside is possibly the lack of ability to mount (or fit) more than one speedlite. If in need of more power though, that is where the Witsro above would really need to be used instead.
The original ParaPop speedlite bracket is also very light, and because of that likely the best option if you want to travel really light, or possibly often hand hold the ParaPop in one hand while shooting with the other.
For combining speedlites and studio lights with the Bowens mount, the Phottix HS Speed Mount II are another nice option though. These are all metal, so very sturdy, though the main thing I like over the Bowens mount Godox brackets above is that the mount is a really nice neat fit. So the softbox doesn’t rattle around like it does on the Godox bracket.
Build Quality & Durability
The ParaPop are very well made, and there is nothing cheap about the materials. The diffuser fabrics are nice quality, as is the main softbox fabric. That doesn’t let any light through as some other lightweight softbox materials often do.
The rod ends even have relatively large and nicely machined alloy tips, unlike some of the nasty sharp tips you find on even some higher end umbrellas.
The rods themselves are fairly flexible and appear to be quite durable. I’m not sure how easily the ParaPop would be damaged if a light stand did go over. Though having quite a number of reasonably flexible rods, there is a chance they may just spring to absorb a lot of the impact. And the rods will likely be available separately, as they are already for the smaller versions.
Durability of the speedring mechanism itself is the other main thing I have been a little unsure about. Though the ParaPop are based on the SMDV diffusers which have been available for a few years now in the smaller versions, and some time now in the 28″ version as well, and I have not heard any complaints yet with those.
That is good sign, and this is where the support from Adorama becomes valuable as well. So its great to have this Adorama Glow branded option available now.
The ParaPop is also finished off nicely with a very practical padded case with shoulder strap and carry handles.
Again the case is very lightweight, and will fit the ParaPop and bracket fine.
The ParaPop 28″ are certainly one of the nicest snap open location modifiers currently available, and definitely worth considering.
Other than the relatively high price, the only main limitations are for multiple speedlite mounting, and currently the lack of a grid option (though it wouldn’t really be too hard to make one fit if needed). And possibly some heat limitations.
The ParaPop are a very lightweight design, and there is a lot of plastic in the speedring mechanism. Though this light weight is one of their biggest advantages, and combined with the great snap open action, they really are enjoyable to use.
This post has mainly been about the practical side of using and mounting the ParaPop, as that is the main advantage of a fast set up location modifier. Though the light quality is as even, if not better than similar regular softboxes, and very efficient for speedlites etc when needed as well. I will try and put together some direct comparisons with a number of modifiers together eventually.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The Glow ParaPop 28″ are available now from Adorama from $179.95 –
Smaller 6 sided Glow HexaPop are also available –