How to build a softbox on a monopod

How to build a softbox on a monopod

If you are a portrait photographer shooting on location frequently, having a portable softbox (or octabox) is a must for your photoshoot. This way you can have soft quality light that you can bring with you anywhere you go. In fact, I called this a “voice activated softbox” because as long as you have somebody (aka an assistant) holding the monopod, you have a beautiful soft light anywhere you want!

As I am writing this article, a name branded softbox costs around $150-$300 USD. This is just the softbox by itself without other accessories. Personally, I think it’s too much of an initial investment to make especially if you are just starting out portrait photography on location.

Therefore, I did the research and come up with the best way to build a softbox on a monopod on budget (less than $170USD). Ok, I know it doesn’t sound too great of a deal when you are comparing this to a potential $150 brand name softbox, however, don’t forget you will get to keep a monopod valued at $99 at the end. This is a great deal if you are in the market looking for a monopod right now. I truly believe this will help with your portrait photography and help you save money at the same time!

Before I show you the steps, I am certain that there are better/cheaper ways of doing this. Either now or later. But as always, I welcome any feedback or suggestions you have. If you found a cheaper/better way of doing this, be sure to let me know and share your experience in the comment section below.

Alright, here we go!

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1# Get these 4 things from Amazon

To gather the equipment, buy the below 4 items. You don’t have to buy these in order. Please note that below these are affiliate links that means I will get a commission if you decided to buy at no additional cost to you. If you don’t feel like it, you are welcome to just type the items name in Amazon and buy it yourself 🙂

 

Picture of the items after the package arrived:

how to build a softbox on a monopod gears

2# How to Build the softbox on the monopod

Ok, now you got the Amazon package with all the items. Let me first start off with the FAQ to clear some of your questions first:

FAQ 1: What adaptor do you use to attach the softbox on the monopod?

You probably notice that the size of the monopod mounting plate does not fit the triple hot shoe bracket. It needs some kind of female thread holding the two pieces together. This female thread actually comes with the triple hot shoe bracket. It is a reversible 1/4 & 3/8 thread which is going to works for the monopod you just purchased. So here comes the next question…

FAQ 2: Why do I recommend buying an additional female spigot adapter?

IMG_7034IMG_7032

As you see from the pictures above, the silver female adaptor comes with the triple hot shoe bracket. It is plastic and will not last very long. The gold one is the one I recommended you to purchase. It is made with metal which last a lot longer. Do not throw away the silver female adaptor though as it may comes in handy one day when you need a spare one.

Here are the 6 simple steps to install the softbox on the monopod

1. Screw the thread on the monopod mounting plate

how to build softbox on monopod-11how to build softbox on monopod-122. Attach the triple hotshoe mount on the monopod

how to build softbox on monopod-13how to build softbox on monopod-14

3. Open the softbox umbrella and attach the pole to the triple hotshoe mount.

how to build softbox on monopod-16how to build softbox on monopod-20

4. Put your flashes onto the hotshoe mount (if you need recommendation on purchasing a flash I’ve got great tips below)

how to build softbox on monopod-21

5. Cover the umbrella with the white diffuser

how to build softbox on monopod-22how to build softbox on monopod-23

6. Attach the eggcrate if needed for directional light

how to build softbox on monopod-24

You’re all set to go!

3# Other options

I’ve been assuming you have an external flash from the beginning of this post. In case you need tips on flash gears let me provide you some information. First, you need an external flash (preferably 2 or more). Second, you need a wireless trigger. Third, light stand which is optional. Here is the list of the items that won’t break your bank.

Yongnuo flash (recommend 2 or more)

Personally I strongly recommend getting at least 2 of these (3-4 the better). Because when you are on location you may need stronger flash power to overpower the sun. Therefore 1 flash may not be strong enough.

This is a third party external flash therefore your main question must be the quality of light. I used to own a Canon 580EXII and I see no difference between this Yongnuo flash vs Canon flash. The only thing that is missing from this flash is TTL (which is the automatic mode on flashes), which I personally never used.

Yongnuo trigger

Canon

Nikon

Since the flash is inside the softbox, if you need to change power of the flash that means you need to take off the white diffuser to be able to reach the flashes. This can be very annoying as you change from location to location on your portrait shoot. Having a wireless trigger will solve this problem because the trigger is stationed right on top of your camera’s hotshoe.

To get a better deal, you can get this in a combo so you have 2 flashes plus the trigger. The Yongnuo TX trigger also gives you the ability to remote trigger multiple flashes at the same time. I highly recommend it.

Light stand

If you don’t have an assistant with you all the time you can purchase a light stand instead of a monopod (which saves you even more money).

I hope you get tons of value from it. It took me a long time to research these items that works for these specific brands. Once you finish making the softbox don’t forget to practice softbox lighting on location!

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About Gary

A passionate photographer with goals to fulfill your photography passion and motivate you to take pictures even when life is busy!

2 comments

  1. How cool! Great article. 🙂

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