Honl Photo traveller16 softbox review

Jan 04 2012
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HonlPhoto Traveler 16 Softbox

Honl Photo traveller16 is an on-flash softbox designed for off-camera applications. It is based on the unique patented design of its little brother, traveller8. Both softboxes feature a round front screen that creates circular catchlights, but traveller16 is twice bigger (16"/40cm in diameter compared to 8"/20cm of traveller8). The larger size of traveller16 allows to achieve softer shadows.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: front angle view Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: logo, emblem
Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: compared to traveller8 softbox

traveller16 softbox is made of highly durable materials and is extremely well-built. It is hard to imagine that it can rip or get damaged in some other way even if put through heavy usage. In fact, it feels so rugged that we actually tried dropping it, stepping on it, kicking it, and even sitting on it :). None of this did any visible damage to the softbox.

Despite its size, Honl Photo traveller16 softbox mounts directly on a flash head without any type of a bracket. Like traveller8, it comes with Honl Photo Speed Strap, which is all you need to attach it to a flash.

It is very quick and easy to assemble and disassemble this softbox. Attach the front screen and traveller16 will hold its shape ready to go on the flash. Detach the front piece, and the softbox collapses flat.

traveller16 weighs about a pound (15oz/430gram). When used hand-held, we recommend holding the flash by its head in such a way that your fingers go on either the softbox tabs or the Speed Strap. If you don't do that, there is a chance that traveller16 will slip off along with the mounting strap. During our testing, we had it happen a couple of times. We don't find it to be a significant drawback, though, as the described way of holding the softbox is perfectly convenient.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: handheld, prevent the softbox from slipping off

When used on a light stand, Honl Photo traveller16 has to be secured with the built-in tension cord that is designed to go around any available knob on your light stand. The cord is relatively long, so it should not be a problem reaching for a knob. We have to note that the cord can limit access to some controls of your speedlight. Also, the diffuser just feels kind of bulky when the flash is on a light stand.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: on Canon Speedlite 580EX II, back view

The length of the cord is adjusted with a quick-release lock. With our sample unit, we ran into an issue that the lock was originally installed backwards, so it couldn't really secure the diffuser in place. If it happens to you, don't bother returning the unit. Simply take the lock apart by inserting a pin into the small holes on the back, take it off the cord, and re-install it in the correct orientation shown in the image below.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: round cord lock, softbox secured on a light stand

Honl Photo traveller16 has an internal baffle to eliminate the hotspot in the middle of the front screen. It is an important feature, because when using softboxes with hot-shoe flashes, the hotspot (and therefore the light quality) may differ greatly depending on the flash zoom settings. (For more details, please refer to LumiQuest Softbox III test).

Our tests showed that regardless of the flash zoom position, Honl Photo traveller16 produces virtually no hotspot. The front screen was evenly lit in all test images.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: internal baffle eliminates hotspot Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: fired at the camera, evenly lit front diffuser, no hotspot

Since traveller16 is based on the original design of traveller8, we expected it to simply collapse flat for storage and, therefore, take quite some space in the gear bag. To our surprise, traveller16 also folds in half and is only marginally bigger that the folded traveller8.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: folded flat for storage, compared to traveller8 softbox

The circular catchlight produced by Honl Photo softboxes can look very nice in the eyes, so portrait photography is an obvious area of application. They can also be fun to play with if you work with reflective surfaces. In the image below, we used two softboxes: traveller16 is to the camera's left and traveller8 is to the camera's right.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: example of circular catchlights, traveller16 to camera's left, traveller8 to camera's right

In the following image, Honl Photo traveller16 is positioned above the model, right outside the frame.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: dramatic lighting example, the softbox is right above the subject

At the moment, the closest competitor of traveller16 is GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox, which has a square front diffuser and is slightly bigger: 17" x "17 (43cm x 43cm).

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: compared to GamiLight SQUARE 43 softbox

Another two light modifiers that are comparable in size (though smaller) are LumiQuest Softbox LTp and Demb Portrait Dish.

Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: compared to LumiQuest Softbox LTp Honl Photo traveller16 softbox: compared to Demb Portrait Dish

To conclude, Honl Photo came up with another high quality product. traveller16 is an easy-to-setup softbox that can be used for various types of off-camera photography applications, though using it on a light stand is more cumbersome than similar products on the market. traveller16 controls the hotspot very well and produces circular catchlights that currently cannot be achieved with diffusers from other manufacturers of hot-shoe flash light modifiers. Compact, portable and built to last, Honl Photo traveller16 can be a good choice for an off-camera diffuser, however, we can see how its weight and attachment can turn some photographers away.

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