Skip to main content

Don’t forget your umbrella! We fixed a new StellaPro Reflex S to our old light kit

StellaPro Reflex S with umbrellas
(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

You thought umbrellas on light stands went out with the dinosaurs? Well think again, because we dug our or old umbrellas and diffusers, hooked them up with StellaPro’s utterly modern monolights, and it’s like they were made for each other! 

We’ve raved enough about these new lights in our StellaPro Reflex S review, but there’s a couple of features that deserve a closer look. One is the light stand clamps in the 2-light kit we reviewed. 

These lock securely on to the standard lighting stand mounting point and have a lockable pivot so that you can change the angle of the light. The StellaPro lights attach via a slide-on cold shoe catch.

So that’s the first step. Our light stands were from an Interfit tungsten kit bought 20 years ago, and while the lamps are long gone, we kept the stands – and the design hasn’t changed so the StellaPro lights go straight on.

So what about the umbrellas? These traditionally attach by sliding the shaft through a channel in the light and are tightened in place with a locking nut. And the StellaPro lights have exactly this fitting. It was as simple to fix up our silvered and diffuser umbrellas to the StellaPro lights as it was with the old tungsten lamps back in the day when our lighting kit was first made.

This clamp supplied with our StellaPro twin kit clamps directly to our old-school light stand and offers a tilting pivot for directing the light. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
(opens in new tab)

StellaPro Reflex S with umbrellas

The StellaPro lights have a hole for sliding through umbrella shafts, and you can control the light by changing the distance from the light to the center of the umbrella. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)

Working with umbrellas

Umbrellas are not like softboxes. They don’t produce large and clearly defined rectangular light sources. There’s something distinctly ‘analog’ about umbrellas and the different ways they can be set up and used.

With a silvered umbrella, you point the light into the umbrella and adjust the distance by sliding the umbrella shaft in and out of the light. Our StellaPro lights came with Spot and Medium lenses, and the Medium lens gave the brightest light but he diffuser dome was the most effective for 'filling' the umbrella.

Using our silvered umbrella gave us nice light for this product shot of an old camera – soft enough not to cast a strong shadow, but still great for picking out the details. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
(opens in new tab)

Silvered umbrellas are very light-efficient. You don’t lose much light and the light you get is softer from the wider light source, but still picks out details very well. It’s idea for product photography or male portraits, say.

We also tried our diffuser umbrella. Here, you direct the light into the center of the umbrella as before, but this time you turn the light stand so that the diffuser comes between the light and the subject. We got the softest light using our StellaPro’s diffuser dome, but this also led to some light loss through spillage, and diffusers are not that efficient anyway – so it delivered a lovely soft light, but the exposures had to be increased. But that's no different to the old days, when making those old 500-watt photoflood bulbs illuminate anything more than a few feet away was a challenge. Modern lights produce way more power, and they don't fry your subject while they're doing it.

Old and new together! The StellaPro Reflex S with the light stand clamp attached and our old silvered umbrella and light stand. (Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
(opens in new tab)

So don’t throw away your old lighting gear!

Lights may move on, but the modifiers needed to ’shape’ the light don’t necessarily change. The StellaPro lights are compatible with Elinchrom modifiers via an adaptor ring, but they also worked really well with our old umbrella lighting kit.

Thank goodness we didn’t throw it out when we ditched the old tungsten lamps it came with!

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.