Westcott Parabolic Umbrella

The Westcott Parabolic Umbrella is a large diameter light modifier with a price tag that won’t leave your wallet bruised. Punching way above its modest cost, this umbrella delivers an unbelievable quality light. If you have only used small brollies or medium size soft boxes then this umbrella will transform the way you shoot.

Diagram showing how light is transmitted using a Parabolic Umbrella
How the light is transmitted when using a Parabolic Umbrella

Parabolic Umbrellas act like a lens- focusing the light, rewriting the inverse square law. They have incredible efficiency, meaning they can be used over large distances from the subject and still achieve a small aperture setting on camera. True parabolic umbrellas are silver lined (not white or translucent as these scatter and diffuse light) and give a crisp, clean feel to your images.

The light source leaves the umbrella in the form of parallel rays. Therefore it is important to adjust the distance of the flashlight in relation to the brollies reflective surface. This is easy to do by sliding the umbrella toward or away from the light using the universal 7mm shaft. The shaft size allows the umbrella to fit with all mono block flash units and there is even an adaptor to use it with three speed lights. You can use a conventional speed light adaptor if you wish to use it with only one light (adaptors sold separately).

Parabolic Umbrella

The Westcott Parabolic Umbrella is the perfect light shaper for doing full-length portraits. Once the light is set up in position take a light reading from your subjects head, waist and feet. If you find that you are getting a hot spot around the waist adjust the umbrellas’ position in relation to the light until you have an even light reading throughout your subject.

Parabolic Umbrella

I have read reviews where people are using this umbrella outside to great effect- but a word of caution… it is lightweight and therefore susceptible to the wind. Use a stand that is weighted down with a sandbag or something similar to prevent the brolly (and your lighting) blowing over. In moderate winds there is a very high chance of the brolly breaking due to its large surface area acting like a giant sail!

It’s an ideal tool to use on location if you are a wedding photographer or one that is constantly doing large group shots. It is also ideal for fashion photography and a whole host of other subjects where a crisp large light source is required. Working with this large brolly is easier than working with soft boxes on location and its different light source is sure to win you over. Put simply the light is exciting and constantly delivers inspiring results. It can be used in many different ways and you will be blown away when you use it directly facing on to your subject, with you, the photographer standing in front of the light allowing it to wrap around you. Just look at the amazing catch light.

Parabolic Umbrella catch light

Constructed of lightweight materials, this umbrella is light and easy to set up and take down. It has a double strength metal shaft, which has some flex in it when mounted to your mono block. The brollies wand is made from a fibreglass composite. This not only makes them light but adds strength compared to those made of metal or alloy. The umbrella is shipped with a protective nylon sleeve and comes in a hard protective cardboard tube.

Westcott Parabolic Umbrella size

The Parabolic Umbrella is big. I am stood in front of it with Myah and I’m 5’9″ tall, to give you an idea of the size.