By Suzi Pratt
One of the best, and easiest ways, to modify your studio lighting is to use a soft box. There’s nothing like a soft box when it comes to providing soft, diffused light, for any style of photography. But among the chief concerns of soft boxes is their size, especially when shooting on location. Enter, Westcott!
The legendary lighting brand, probably best known for their solid Apollo Orb soft boxes, has a slimmed down lighting solution known as the Westcott Rapid Box series. Available as an octabox, strip light, or the mega 32″ octabox duo, the members of the Rapid Box series are solidly built, very compact, and compatible with most speedlight flash units. This particular review is of the Westcott Rapid Box 10×24″ strip light.
What’s in the Box
The Westcott Rapid Box 10×24″ Strip Light arrives in a beautifully packaged box and comes with:
- A 10 x 24″ narrow rectangular Rapid Box modifier
- A Height and depth adjustable aluminum hotshoe-mount tilt/swivel bracket
- A diffusion panel
- Compact carrying case with shoulder strap
All pieces of the product are constructed of durable, high-quality material, that is also very lightweight. The modifier opens and closes like an umbrella, and has a reflective silver interior. Even the one stop diffusion panel is made of the same high-quality material as all of Westcott’s other current soft boxes. You don’t need any extra rods or adapter rings to set up the Rapid Box. The only extra parts you’ll need are a light stand and hot-shoe mounted flash, and you’re good to go!
Since the speedlight mount is held in place by the adjustable bracket outside of the soft box, the Rapid Box is compatible with just about any hot-shoe flash and any speedlight radio triggers or sync cords. For this product review test, I used the Rapid Box 10×24″ Strip light, Manfrotto Nano light stand, Canon 430 EXII flash, and a Yongnuo RF-603 II wireless flash trigger. Everything was compatible, and was easy to assemble and sync.
Why a Strip Light?
Given the fact that Westcott offers both a 26″ and 20″ octabox, choosing the narrower strip light may seem like an odd choice. But with the Rapid Box Strip’s narrower 10 x 24″ frame, this modifier’s shape makes it a perfect for lighting subjects in tight spaces, such as food photography in a small restaurant. Speaking of food photos, the strip light’s long shape can also help create a long, elegant strip on objects with reflective surfaces such as wine bottles. When paired with other lights, the strip light also lends itself to use as a back light, hair light, or rim light to help separate the subject from the background.
Con: Semi-Complicated Setup
Unless you are already familiar with Rapid Boxes, the initial setup work might be slightly more complicated than expected. Despite the lack of moving parts, there may be some difficulty figuring out how to set up the aluminum bracket, which feels so solid and tight that it’s not intuitive how to adjust it to fit the hot-shoe mounted flash. The initial set up time took me about 45 minutes toying with all the pieces before understanding how they fit together. However, with practice, I found that setup could be completed in under five minutes.
Pro: Beautiful, Flexible Lighting
Once you get over the initial hurdle of figuring out how the Rapid Box functions, it starts to live up to its name and is a speedy, flexible, lighting modifier. Lightweight and especially compact as it is a strip box, this little 20-inch light performed particularly well for on-the-go portraits and on-location restaurant shoots, when shooting in notoriously tight dining room spaces. The image quality was superb, likely thanks to the Rapid Box’s solid silver interior which adds a bit more of a kick when the flash is fired.
As an on-the-go photographer, I have yet to find a more compact lighting modifier than this handy Rapid Box strip box. Even though initial set up can be a pain, I wouldn’t hesitate to stick this strip box into any of my travel photography kits, and rely on it for shooting on the road or in tight spaces.
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