GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox review

May 17 2011

Update: GamiLight SOFT PLUS 43 release

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox is a recently released flash photography accessory for off-camera lighting applications. It is one of the largest diffusers that mount directly onto a flash head without the use of any kind of a bracket. The quality of materials and construction is very high, so you can expect years of service from this light modifier.

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: back view GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: side view

Assembling SQUARE 43 may take some playing around at first, but after a bit of practice, it's really easy to do. Instead of pulling the front diffusing screen over the box, it is better to sort of insert the box into the front screen. To do that, the manufacturer suggests to have the screen laying on a flat surface. We, however, prefer a slightly different method, which we developed after using GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox for some time. We recommend holding the front diffusing panel vertically against your body (instead of putting it horizontally on a table). This approach, we feel, gives you a bit more control of what you're doing, and you don't need to have a flat surface around.

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: front diffusing screen, folded for storage/transportation GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: front diffusing screen, ready for assembly
GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: folded flat for storage/transportation GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: highly reflective silver lining on the inside of the box
GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: assembling by holding the box against the body GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: ready to put on a flash

The front panel of SQUARE 43 measures 17x17 inches (43x43 cm), and it is roughly 2 times larger than LumiQuest Softbox LTP (see the image below) and about 3 times bigger than Speedlight Pro Kit 6.

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: compared to LumiQuest Softbox LTP

GamiLight SQUARE 43 weight is currently specified at 14 oz (400 grams), which is quite impressive for a diffuser of this size. Our measurements, however, show that in reality it is even lighter: about 10.1 oz (285 grams). LumiQuest Softbox LTP, for example, while twice smaller, weighs a little bit more (about 11 oz / 310 grams). This kind of weight does not put too much stress on the flash head, so breaking the head off should not be a concern here.

The attachment system that GamiLight uses for all their current flash accessories sets them apart from the crowd. Instead of the widely used Velcro straps, the company makes use of snap fasteners.

The attachment strap that comes with SQUARE 43 has 8 snap buttons (4 of them mount the softbox, and the other 4 are meant to be used with the future products). Snap fasteners have a few advantages over Velcro. They are capable of more precise positioning/aligning of the pieces being assembled, while at the same time, delivering a firmer grip. Also, Velcro attachments may stick where you don't want them, whereas the snap buttons are naturally free of this problem. (This is not a major issue, but it can be annoying.)

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: rubber band piece of the mount for secure fit on a flash GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: the mounting strap put on a flash
GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: attachment close up

On the downside, because of its design, the GamiLight mount comes in two sizes, L and S, to fit different groups of flashes. SQUARE 43 ships with an L-sized mount. The L size is more suitable for larger flashes, like Canon Speedlite 580EX II, Metz Mecablitz 58 AF-1 and similar, while the S size is designed for flashes like Nikon Speedlight SB-700, Canon Speedlite 430EX II, etc. We found, however, that it is still possible to use L-sized GamiLight mounts with smaller flash heads, but the attachment may not be as secure as with the larger ones. So, if you want to use SQUARE 43 softbox with smaller flash gun, you might want to consider getting an S-sized mount.

Both the innovative design of the mount and the lightweight construction of GamiLight SQUARE 43 contribute to the improved functionality of this diffuser. Unlike many other large flash accessories, which tend to lean forward when left on a flash for some time, GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox did not exhibit such a problem and stayed in place throughout our test sessions.

As we showed in our LumiQuest Softbox III test, when using shoot-through flash diffusers, you should take care of your flash zoom settings. GamiLight SQUARE 43 is not an exception. To achieve softer light and minimize the hot spot, we recommend setting the flash zoom to the widest available position. The following two images show the difference between 14mm and 105mm flash zoom values (taken with a Canon Speedlite 580EX II).

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: light distribution pattern at 14mm flash zoom GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: light distribution pattern at 105mm flash zoom

For a diffuser of this size, GamiLight SQUARE 43 is quite portable. It folds flat to 22 x 11.5 inches (56 x 29 cm). Since it is too big for a typical gear bag, SQUARE 43 comes with its own carrying bag. When folded, the softbox is very thin, and it can easily slip into your trunk or a suitcase.

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: included carrying bag

SQUARE 43 is ideal for portrait photography, but it is also very useful in many other areas, such as product photography, macro, food photography, and so on. Below you can see a couple of quick examples where this softbox was used as the only source of light. In the left image, the softbox was placed about 2 feet (60 cm) from the subject on the camera's left. In the right image, SQUARE 43 was positioned to the right and above the camera about 3 feet (1 meter) away from the subject.

GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: example of macro work GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox: portrait example

To summarize, GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox is a great implementation of a large but portable off-camera softbox for hot shoe flashes. It requires minimal effort and time to get ready for the shot and delivers beautiful soft lighting. Manufactured up to the highest quality standards, GamiLight SQUARE 43 well deserves the attention of photo enthusiasts and professional photographers.

Manufacturer info: web-page, facebook page

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