In this short video, Manny Ortiz gives a very quick introduction to three lighting modifiers that he uses in the studio — the beauty dish, octabox, and umbrella — and gives a short overview of their pros and cons.
For those new to lighting, understanding how modifiers affect the behavior of light as it falls across the subject can be a bit of a mystery. Ortiz explains not only how each modifier produces slightly different light, but also offers some advice on how the hardness of the light can affect your decision on how to position it.
It's worth noting that there's a huge diversity of price when it comes to lighting modifiers. While you can pick up an umbrella for less than $15, even the cheapest octaboxes tend to be a little more expensive, simply because there are so many more components involved. (That said, this umbrella will set you back just under $10,000. If you've ever used one, let us know in the comments!) Ortiz's choice of octa, the Westcott Rapid Box Switch Oct-M 36", is a great option when it comes to flexibility, being quick to set up and allowing you to swap out strobes and speedlights from a variety of manufacturers.
One small note: if you're using a C-stand, keep the big leg on the same side as the modifier! That's also the best spot for your sandbag.