GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser review

Found in: ReviewsGamiLight
Jun 16 2011

GamiLight BOX 21 (best flash diffuser rating: 8.60) is a new portable softbox from Gami Light Concepts, a Malaysian manufacturer of hot shoe flash accessories. With its size of 8.5"x6" (21.5cm x 15.5 cm), BOX 21 is suited for on- and off-camera flash photography applications. It is built after its big brother, SQUARE 43, using the same high quality materials. Both diffusers share the same design principles including detachable front screen, silver lining, snap system, and being able to fold flat.

BOX 21 folds flat, and it is easy to fit in your gear bag. It actually has few snap buttons inside to ensure that it stays flat when folded.

GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: side view, on Canon Speedlite 580EX II GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: three part design, folds flat for storage and transportation
GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: softbox body, folded flat GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: the snap fasteners on the inside of the softbox keep it flat when folded

Assembling BOX 21 is fairly simple: stretch the mount over your flash head, snap the softbox body to it, and pull the front diffusing screen over the front of the body. Some people may find that inserting the body into the front screen first and then snapping the softbox to the mount works better for them. Whichever way you pick, it takes just a few seconds to get the diffuser ready to use.

The silver lining of GamiLight BOX 21 plays an important part in light efficiency of this diffuser. The internals of the softbox are high-reflective, so the light loss is minimal, which prolongs the life of your flash batteries and shortens the recycling time.

GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: high-reflective silver lining for minimal light loss GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: mounted with snap buttons, non-slip design

It may be worth noting that many competing products on the market consist of two pieces, while this diffuser consists of three (softbox body, front diffusing screen, and mount). We generally prefer designs with as small amount of parts as possible, so there is less things to worry about. In this case, however, we believe it is a very minor issue.

Like with any shoot-through diffuser, we recommend to set you flash to manual zoom, so changing of the zoom lens does not affect the flash. While our recommendation for BOX 21 is to use the built-in wide-angle panel of your flash (14mm frame coverage in case of Canon 580EX II), our tests show that using the widest position of the flash renders almost equal results (24mm, for example). The important thing is to avoid longer end flash zoom values. The images below show the light distribution at 14mm (left) and 105mm (right) flash zoom value.

GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: 14mm light distribution pattern (wide-angle panel) GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: 105mm light distribution pattern, very strong hotspot

The following images show GamiLight BOX 21 with several competing products side-by-side for size comparison. In the left picture, you can see BOX 21 (top left), LumiQuest Softbox III (top right), and Promaster Universal Softbox (bottom). In the right shot, there is BOX 21 (top left), Aurora MINI/MAX MAS Softbox (top right), and LumiQuest Softbox (bottom).

GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: compared to LumiQuest Softbox III and Promaster Universal Softbox GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: compared to Aurora MINI/MAX MAS softbox and LumiQuest Softbox (original)

The size of GamiLight BOX 21 makes it work well for on-camera applications like, for example, event photography, especially when there is nothing to bounce off of. When used off camera, the diffuser is capable of producing very pleasing results in close range portraiture, as well as tabletop and macro projects. The two images below are examples of portrait and product photography. In the left image, BOX 21 was positioned about 2 feet from the subject, whereas in the right one, the diffuser was places about 1 feet away from the subject.

GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: portrait photography example GamiLight BOX 21 flash diffuser: product photography example

To conclude, GamiLight BOX 21 is a professional grade flash diffuser suited for a wide range of applications, from macro work to portrait and event photography. Like many other softboxes, it delivers most even light when the flash zoom is set to a wide angle position. The silver lining helps you use the flash batteries more efficiently. BOX 21 is well worth consideration if you are shopping for a small portable softbox for your flash gun.

If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.