Is This The Best Large Octabox Design Yet?

Today on our new Fstoppers Live channel, we had the chance to interview Vasyl Nykolyshyn, the owner of Raycrown accessories, about a brand new shoot-through octabox concept he has designed. Not only is this light modifier wind-resistant and easy to build and break down, but it can also be used off-axis as a large soft light and on-axis as a massive ring light. Let us know what you think!

The Venera is a new light modifier that aims to reproduce the soft yet specular light created by some of the most expensive deep parabolic modifiers on the market. A few of these modifiers you might be familiar with are the Broncolor Para 222, the Profoto Giant 180, and the Briese Focus 220. These massive light modifiers produce amazing light that can illuminate your subject's entire body but can also cost over $7,000. While they work amazingly well off camera, a photographer has to stand in front of the light when lighting straight on, which often blocks much of the light and decreases its efficiency.

The Venera collapses quickly and compactly in less than 5 seconds.

One of the many things that makes Vasyl's Venera light modifier so unique is that its design lets you shoot directly through the middle of the light. This allows you to create a massive, unobstructed soft light source that can be used both as a key and fill light. So, if you want soft directional light or if you want a soft ring flash look, the Venera can accomplish both of these looks without any adjustments to the light modifier. Here are a few sample photos of the Venera in action.

The versatility of the Venera should be obvious to any photographer who has wanted large, soft directional lighting for one look but then needs a soft ring flash "beauty light" for the next look. The other interesting design element of this light modifier is that it makes shooting with a large octabox out on location much easier. Because the back of the Venera is completely open, it can withstand much higher wind than other light modifiers its size. This means less sandbags, less complaints from your lighting assistant, and less disasters caused by your light falling over.

A single light for soft yet contrasty headshots

Vasyl's Venera light modifier is still just a prototype, but he hopes to release his final design on Kickstarter by the end of the year. While he hasn't released the pre-order price yet, he estimates the full retail price will be around $3,500, which is about half the price of other light modifiers in this category. Vasyl also hopes to release both a large and medium Venera, but the final sizes will be based on the recommendations he gets from photographers in the next few months. 

If you think this light modifier could be something you would love to use out on location in the future or if you have suggestions or questions for Vasyl, you can check out the Raycrown Facebook page and the Raycrown YouTube page. As someone who loves tinkering with light modifiers myself, including helping create our own Fstoppers Flash Disc, I love the overall idea behind the Venera and hope to see it come to market.

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24 Comments

Johnny Rico's picture

If you want a ring light that big stand in front of a Octa, a cheap $100 massive umbrella or better yet a de-focused Parabolix. 3.5k is excessive

From their IG though "The world’s only light shaping system that allows using studio quality lighting outdoors thanks to its hollow design!" , are people really this delusional and arrogant?

Ryan Cooper's picture

They are projecting that it will sell for between $3,200 and $3,800 depending on diameter.

As for the claim, it is just marketing speak. The same way your local Wings joint will have a sign out front saying: "Best Wings in the City!", they are making a bold and attention grabbing claim that is impossible to prove.

Johnny Rico's picture

That is beyond marketing speak and is a disingenuous lie.

Can you name one other 7 ft reflective light-shaping system which can be used in a fair wind?

Not so delusional, nor arrogant. (Okay, maybe arrogant. Just because they are right, it does not mean…).

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for them, and probably will not buy one, but really, they have NOT said anything wrong.

Johnny Rico's picture

I use a 69" Rotolux outside often, I've only dumped it once. I must be mistaken though because I was outside, and that can not be. /s

You are mistaken. 69" is a mere 5 feet, 9 inches.
...And you dumped it once.

Johnny Rico's picture

And all while risking a $400 modifier (only damage was a modeling light). Lesson learned, started using grip head to a keyed baby pin so it cant break free, rotate and build momentum.

Also I'll point out, the difference of 1.5' of a modifier is not a deal breaker, just my closest example. Having a hole in a modifier will also not make it impervious to wind, if i were taking a 3.5k modifier out in the wind I'd have an assistant on location just for that reason.

A $400 5-foot and change modifier. What is your point? Not what this is.

«…difference of 1.5' of a modifier is not a deal breaker, just my closest example.»
Maybe not for you, (so don't buy it, no one is forcing you to do so), but it may be for those who buy 7-foot parabolic umbrellas. Your example was not nearly close enough.

«Having a hole… will also not make it impervious to wind….»
Not “impervious,” but highly less susceptible. An assistant also does not make one's set impervious. These are simply methods of mitigation, and a hole that size in that spot does wonders. There is a great deal of physics involved.

Remember, a fast moving fluid has less pressure than a slow moving fluid, and fluids tend to move from high pressure to low pressure. So, with all the air being funnelled through the centre of the reflector, what sort of pressure will one get immediately behind the outer area of the reflector, when air is moving into it?

“Ah,” I hear, “what about when the wind is coming from behind?” Think about the fluid dynamics again, (and, with the light mounted behind it, which area is heavier).

It is a very clever design for wind mitigation. (We learned this back in the sixties when the Apollo module was being developed and tested, when an engineer did not actually do the maths. So guess that means that it IS rocket science! I forgive you). 😉😁

Johnny Rico's picture

The difference between a 69", 75", 85", or 91" (have a Rime Lite i use in studio) modifier is minimal in practice, you gain working room so you can light bigger. Hey but if you specifically need a de-focused 85" modifier have at it. I question if you understand the practically of professional photography.

«The difference …is minimal in practice, you gain working room so you can light bigger.»
As a portrait photographer, I agree with you. My subjects are not that big, and I can often have them pretty close to the modifier. …But, that depends on what one is lighting, —the size of the subject, the distance to the subject, etc. Also, gaining working room is one of the pluses of this particular modifier.

Some other photographers shooting other things may disagree. One of my colleagues shoots cars. I do not think he has a light-modifier less than 10×6 feet, (if even that small). His studio is a converted warehouse. This particular modifier will also not be for him, but that is not the point. The point is that each use case is different, and there does exists practical case use for this modifier.

«…if you specifically need a de-focused 85" modifier….»
…And that is all I am saying.

«…if you understand the practically of professional photography.»
I do. I taught it for years. Still do. The practical side of photography tells me that, whereas this product is not for me, it does have its very practical, (and obvious), applications for others.

① Only 4 ft.
② Requires two C-stands, (or custom designed yoke).
③ Does not connect directly to light. (Requires 5/8 inch studs).

Sure, they said for when one wants something bigger than a 36 inch softbox, and four ft is bigger, but theirs is seven feet, and, is measured in METRIC! (Okay, fine…. Forget that last part). 😉😆😁😀😄

Dan Howell's picture

'Studio Quality' lighting has been possible outdoors for literally decades. I don't know how they can make this claim with a straight face.

From the article, in critique of other existing large octas, "a photographer has to stand in front of the light when lighting straight on, which often blocks much of the light and decreases its efficiency." This is ludicrous in comparison with the power loss of the Venera with most of the prime reflection area gone. The video even shows photographers standing in front of the of the unit.

This will not make it to the market. This $200 location umbrella would do everything the Venera does. It's cheap enough that you could even buy a spare one and cut a panel out to shoot through.
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/751404-REG/Photek_SB_84W_PLUS_Sun...

This is a solution without a problem. I hope they have not invested their life saving into it. So to answer the question in the headline, simply NO.

«…the power loss of the Venera with most of the prime reflection area gone.»
By the clever design, the part which is missing is NOT a prime reflection area. The centre reflector sends most of the light out to the sides, where the outer reflector catches it, and sends it into the scene.

The “missing” area is NOT prime reflection area.

«The video even shows photographers standing in front of the of the unit.”
Yes, but the limited reflector area (by percentage) hidden by the photographer is small, compared to standing in front of a huge parabolic umbrella, and, with a huge parabolic umbrella, the option of standing behind it is non-existent.

«This $200 location umbrella would do everything the Venera does. …you could …cut a panel out to shoot through.»
Two problems; ① without the hole cut out, wind is your enemy, and, ② with the hole cut out, you do indeed lose “prime reflection area.”
[EDIT] Also, not the same family of products. This is a light scrim. It does not easily attach to the end of a portable strobe. [/EDIT]

«This will not make it to the market.»
I do not doubt that, (due to the pricing), but that has nothing to do with your first link, nor my response.

On the other hand, this was designed to compete with soft boxes such as,
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1369836-REG/arri_l2_0016160_dop_c...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1369834-REG/arri_l2_0016163_dop_c...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1463555-REG/arri_l2_0020278_dop_c...
or, umbrellas, such as,
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/584955-REG/Profoto_100320_505_456...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1557551-REG/k_5600_lighting_a1600...
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1059296-REG/bron_kobold_k_741_055...
so maybe it does stand a chance.

«This is a solution without a problem.»
And the problems with the six items listed above are; ① They are easily blown away in the wind, when taken outdoors, ② one loses much light when they stand in front of them, ③ One cannot stand behind them and shoot, and ④ some of them are cumbersome, and take time to setup/tear-down.

So maybe you did not understand the market segment this was aimed at, or the problems that market may have with shooting outdoors, (a solution currently solved by either using smaller modifiers, or a slew of assistants).

Dan Howell's picture

I'm editing down from a longer post. I think this is the crux of the argument and why you don't understand it.
"So maybe you did not understand the market segment this was aimed at, or the problems that market may have with shooting outdoors, (a solution currently solved by either using smaller modifiers, or a slew of assistants)."

As a member of the market segment that you are theorizing about I have a problem with this product and your defense of it. I am assuming because of the price point you believe that this put the piece of equipment into the high-end/high-budget photographer market. What I think you are failing to grasp, and possibly the makers too, is that the product is more accurately aimed at the solo practitioner working on small budgets and without assistance. These two things do not go together.

That more than anything is why this product is not suited for the marketplace. Cutting out the large center hole reduces surface area that creates softness. If soft light is the paramount goal, there are better methods than this umbrella. If wind resistance is the paramount goal tying down rigid flat panels is a better method. If having soft surrounding light is the paramount goal standing in front of a larger source is a more effective method. This product is a compromise on all of these fronts. That doesn't make it a better all-around product, it makes it a compromise. At that price point, I would not want a compromise.

The market segment that I and my peers work in recognize the shortcomings of this product. Not sure why pointing this out bothers you so much. Umbrellas in general are not used as much as flat scrim panels for location lighting on small and large production.

Too long; won't read? Scroll to the bottom to see the tl;dr section.

«…aimed at the solo practitioner working on small budgets….»
I beg to differ, since this is NOT priced for small budgets. Did you not see the price?

Also, they specifically mention which equipment they are competing against.

«…small budgets and without assistance. These two things do not go together.»
So, someone with a small budget will have assistants, while someone with a big budget will not? Maybe I read that wrong. Please correct me. Thanks. (This is a genuine request. typing does not exude feelings).

«…reduces surface area that creates softness.»
False. Softness comes from the radius of the light source. The light-source still has a large radius. Light still, —incorrect as this statement is— “wraps around” the subject. (I hate that term).

«If soft light is the paramount goal, there are better methods than this umbrella.»
Not better methods which are wind resistant and do not require a crew, and this size, and allows one to stand behind/in-front with no/limited light-loss.

«…tying down rigid flat panels is a better method.»
Which takes time/resources. That is the point. This method eliminates the time and the resources (assistants) which would otherwise be needed. Sure, large budget non-solo outfits can afford the resources, but can they afford the time? Time is money.

«…standing in front of a larger source is a more effective method.»
…which kills a fair amount of the light. Did you listen to the presentation, or did you just look at the product and said, “hmm? No good”?

…And one cannot separate the goals. That is like saying, “Why do you need a car? If the goal is to go fast, there are better ways, (bicycle/motorbike/horseback), but if the goal is stay dry, there are better ways, (umbrella/raincoat). There are multiple, non-exclusive, goals.

«…a compromise on all of these fronts.»
Clearly, from your own post their, it is a solution on all those fronts. It gives a large, soft light, (despite however many other methods exists), it resists wind, (despite however many other ways one can mitigate wind), it allows one to stand in-front with little light loss, or behind with no light loss, (and you have not provided any better method)…. Your own arguments proves it succeeds at the goals.

Besides, every product is a compromise to something. An umbrella compromises light loss and shaping to a soft box. A Soft-box compromises speed and weight to an umbrella. A parabolic umbrella is a nice compromise, with a little more weight/time than a regular umbrella, and a little less light-shaping ability to a soft-box.

If we were to not buy gear because it is a compromise, we would have no gear. All gear are compromises. This compromises just a little light compared to a parabolic, a little more weight to an umbrella/scrim/v-flat, but gives you vast convenience over soft-box regarding weight, and over all of the above regarding wind, & regarding choosing perspective.

[ASIDE] Actually, I was thinking the market for this is small, but your attempt at counter arguments is actually convincing me. (But no one is making you buy it). [/ASIDE]

«…I and my peers work in recognize the shortcomings of this product.»
First, thank you for speaking for everyone….
Second, you are failing to see any good because your mind is already made up.
Third, aside from a very slight loss of light, name one actual short-coming.

«…pointing this out bothers you so much.»
No comment. (Think about it).

«Umbrellas in general are not used as much as flat scrim panels for location lighting on small and large production.»

…And why is that? Think about it.

To begin with, scrims are bulky, require setup, a team, not easily/quickly moved. (Why is that? Because they need wind mitigation). This is not a problem if one will be sitting in one location the entire shoot, or have a team working with them, or not caring about the amount of light on a sunny day, or not worried about time in moving the set.

However, any of those change, and suddenly there is value in this. They claim it is for “getting [large] studio lighting outdoors.” A scrim does not do that. It reduces light. this product is for when one needs to ADD light, and be able to (relatively) quickly adjust/move it, (crew or no crew… not an issue. That was a straw-man/red herring).

TL;DR

So to make the points (you made obvious);
① Does it produce a large, ”wrap-around” [HATE that term] soft light? YES
② Is it light-weight, and easy/quick to assemble/disassemble? YES
③ Can it be easily/quickly adjusted/re-positioned if the need arises? YES
④ Does it require extensive wind mitigation? NO
⑤ Does it allow flexible perspective shooting? YES
⑥ Does it compromise on light output? not significantly.

Name one product which fills that slot on ALL points. (Don't take them one-by-one and claim, “there are better ways to do this one thing”). Scrims do not, V-flats do not, large soft-boxes do not, large umbrellas do not, large parabolic umbrellas do not, small modifiers do not.

Maybe YOUR (and your peers) “market segment” cannot use such a product, but I bet that there is quite a lot of, “not-your-peers” who see this as somewhat useful. Even if someone was considering buying a US$5,000 parabolic, they may reconsider this on simply three out of the six points I [you] made.

It may not be for you, (nor me), but it does have its usefulness.

Timothy Gasper's picture

I make my own soft boxes, of various types and sizes. And definitely NOT for that much money. Thank you all the same.

I think that is a great idea and a great system. I really like how it is set up and packed. And the weight is very low for such a big system. The price is o.k. I have a few questions though:

1. How much light do you loose? And therefore: How powerful must a flash head at least be? The light travels from the centre to the edge (ring) and then to the subject. That is quite a way.

2. Couldn't you add an additional reflective cloth to put in the centre to avoid that ring look? It could be made out of parts with velcro strips so you can still shoot through the system.

3. I may be missed that: Are there speed rings for all the main systems, e.g. Elinchrom?

4. What is about the colour accuracy? (I guess it will not change the tone of the flash).

5. Are there smaller systems planned that work the same way? It is still always kind of a struggle to mount the (Elinchrom) Octaboxes, especially if the temperature is high I do not want to kneel down and put the sticks in the speedring. Do that with 2-3 Octoboxes and you have to change your shirt.

This is very cool... managing light modifiers in wind is not fun. It would good to see what the light shape and quality in person. Can't believe how easy the setup was. Massive shame it wont work with my Profoto.. a reflector cone could be used to spread the light from a recessed tube. The weight of the modifier just being on mount is a bad idea for the size... for a high end price mark, you have to support profoto B1/B1x B10 D1/D2... These are used everywhere...

Deleted Account's picture

So... we're not going to talk about the number of sides?

Patrick Hall's picture

"Is a decabox better than an octabox?"

Deleted Account's picture

Seems more like an icosabox, no?

Chase Wilson's picture

I’m glad people are trying new things. This modifier isn’t for everyone (or maybe anyone).

But rental studios and rental houses should all pick one up. I’ve never met a person who owned a Para 330, but I know of three studios in LA that have one.

Fred Teifeld's picture

Looks to be a cool idea but doesn't present a convincing case to forget about my Elinchrom 74" (190cm) Octa, at least for my needs.