This Might Be My New Favorite Light Modifier

As photographers, we often go through many modifiers to find the right one, and this may just be my new go-to. With its low cost, portable form factor, and ease of setup, the Aputure Lantern could be right for you too.

In this video, I discuss my thoughts after using the Aputure Lantern modifier for various kinds of work, highlighting where it excels and where it doesn’t. Having used it religiously for a few years, there are definitely times I would and wouldn’t use it.

I initially chose the lantern-style softbox to light multiple subjects evenly at the same time, a task somewhat lacking with an octabox. I was inspired by photographer Clay Cook and his use of the lantern for group photography. Among various lantern modifiers, I opted for one that was portable for on-location work, had a Bowens mount, and was quick to collapse and open. This led me to Aputure’s offering.

Since then, I’ve used it for on-location shoots, studio sessions, and YouTube videos. It hasn't disappointed, although it does have limitations. I've lit multiple subjects with it and used it for single-subject shoots. Its less directional nature means it can light a full subject easier than a more directional modifier, leading to less falloff, in my experience. However, a larger modifier is always better for such shots, but when space is limited on location, this becomes my go-to.

I find it produces a softer light than your average softbox, perfect for studio portraits where softness is desired. It comes with a shade around the outer rim of the globe for a more directional light, mimicking a circular softbox. However, unlike other softboxes, you can't remove the outer diffusion layer, so the soft quality of light is what you get, but it's ideal if that's what you're looking for.

It also produces flattering light for video. I’ve shot various projects with the lantern and made it my key modifier for talking head-style YouTube videos like this one.

Being familiar with Aputure's modifiers, I appreciate the rapid opening/closing design, which reduces fiddling with rods.

If you need a hard, punchy light source, this isn't it. It's a very soft light, creating a soft glow. For much of my work, especially commercial, I love that soft glow. However, it's not suitable for everything. I wouldn’t use it for a high-fashion editorial, as it's not the right tool for that job. But for most of my photo and video work, it's a convenient option that importantly gives the look I'm after.

The highlight roll-off and overall spread are fantastic, and hotspots are minimal. This is a significant advantage over traditional softboxes. I don’t find that issue with the lantern, making it suitable for full-body lighting.

While it may not be the highest-end light modifier with the greatest technical accuracy, it does the job well. I don’t find much color cast, which is crucial for shooting garments where accurate color representation is essential.

One beautiful aspect of the lantern is its ability to be used as a top-light, lighting both the surrounding area and the subjects’ faces simultaneously. Unlike traditional softboxes, which can shadow faces, this lights them evenly and more efficiently than setting up multiple lights.

Based on my extensive use, if I could only have one lighting modifier, this would be it, except for hard light situations. For those, I’d go bare-bulb. Photographers often have a go-to modifier that defines their style, and the lantern-style softbox, particularly Aputure’s version, might just be mine.

For reference, I’ve used this softbox for YouTube videos, music videos, fashion editorials, collections, adverts, headshots, and more. While it may not cover everything, no modifier really does, but for me, it does enough to possibly be my new favorite.

To sum it up, here are my pros and cons of this light modifier:


  • The soft quality of light that comes out of it
  • The quick collapsible nature
  • The Bowens mount ecosystem
  • The ability to light both groups and individuals with ease


  • When collapsed, the size can be a bit bulky
  • The heavy diffusion does cut a solid amount of light output


You can purchase the Aputure Lantern here.

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Be aware lantern-style modifiers bounce light off the ceiling and walls and can add an unexpected color cast to your subject.

It's close to a shoot-through umbrella in practice, isn't it?

More like a brolly-box - I've used them for years:

I've seen them use it on magazine shoots, so its legit.