While doing some research earlier this year on the Broncolor Para system, I stumbled on the Parabolix light shaping tools. The value proposition offered by an alternative solution at a low price point (relative to other options available) was undeniable. However, at the time, the Parabolix system only offered indirect, focusable deep octas. While the qualities of an indirect parabolic light shaping tool wouldn't change too much, the catchlights of a rounder modifier are more pleasing.
Fast forward to August 2016, and Parabolix has just released their new and updated 16-rod parabolic reflectors. By this time we've already taken delivery of the Broncolor Para, but a much more affordable alternative is now available for people who want the unmistakable quality of light that a parabolic reflector gives you. Plus, the lower price point of the Parabolix system allows us to supplement our kit with different sized modifiers while maintaining that high quality of light without breaking the bank.
We had a shoot coming up at the end of the month, and while the Para came in, we did not have a Profoto adapter for our focusing tube, as it was back-ordered and would likely not ship until well after our shoot. While browsing Parabolix's site, we found they they made a Profoto adapter for their reflectors, which looked identical to the Broncolor offering.
We contacted David Walden, Photographer and Founder/Designer of Parabolix via the company's Instagram page -- We wanted to check out the adapter's compatibility with our system -- it appeared that it would work because of the standard 5/8" baby pin mount. We arranged to stop by David's warehouse and check it out, along with the new 16-rod parabolics that were just released (and improvement over their previous 8-rod design -- and at the same price!)
We brought along our Para 133 to quickly compare the qualities of the two parabolic lighting systems and all we have to say is WOW -- In short, The Parabolix light shapers offer just about 99% of what Briese or Broncolor Parabolics can deliver, and at less than 1/4 the price to boot.
Let's quickly compare what it took us to get started with our Para 133:
- Broncolor Para 133 Reflector Kit with Focusing Tube - $3,548.50
- Broncolor Profoto Adapter for Para F-Series Focusing Tubes - $408.60
- Broncolor FT222 Focusing Tube for Para 222 Reflector - $648.70
- Grand Total, Excluding Shipping: $4,605.80
Keep in mind that the FT222 is because we are working with Profoto B1's and B2's that require them being pulled out slightly further than the kit-included 133 tube allows in order to get full coverage when fully defocused.
Here's what you get with the Parabolix 45 Package, which is the most closely comparable to the Para 133:
- Parabolix 45" (114cm) Reflector - $499.00
- Light-Focusing Mount - $399.00
- Strobe Adapter: your choice of either Profoto®, Universal or Speedlite Adapter - $259.00
- Package Discount (20%) - ($231.40)
- Grand Total, with Free Shipping: $925.60
That's less than 1/4 the price of the Broncolor setup! From first-hand experience, The quality of materials and construction of the Parabolix reflectors is top-notch -- on-par with popular brands like Elinchrom, Chimera, and Profoto.
A few interesting notes about the Parabolix system in our short time with them:
The focusing rod for all Parabolix reflectors is a standard length. It can be cut to length if you like, but we would recommend keeping it at its standard length, so it can be used with different strobes that may have different spread patterns, or with larger versions of the Parabolix reflectors. Surprisingly, it was long enough to provide adequate coverage with a B1 and B2 when fully defocused, even on the larger 55" reflector.
The focusing tube is a good bit smaller in diameter compared to the Broncolor focusing tube(s). However, this does not affect stability. In contrast to the proprietary Focusing System of the Broncolor Paras, the Parabolix tube mounts directly to the Tilt Head. I personally think that this eliminates a pivot point/point of stress, making the unit more stable. Though we have not had any issues with the Para's system yet, I felt like the Parabolix's focusing setup felt more "planted", even with a 7 lb B1 hanging off the end of it.
The Parabolix Focusing system attaches to the back of the reflector via a Profoto mount. What this means is that you could technically also use the Parabolix as a direct light -- like a traditional softbox -- similar to the way you can use the Broncolor Para 88 and 133 as a direct light with Broncolor Pulso-mount heads because of the way their focusing system attaches. Though, I don't know why you'd want to.
One of the questions we had prior to demo'ing the Parabolix units was how they setup -- In short, they setup using a Rotalux-type speedring. However, it's much quicker and easier than a typical Deep Octa mostly because the rods are on the outside of the box, so you're not wrestling with them inside of the modifier while trying to set it up. Setup is quick and easy due to this -- though not nearly as quickly and easily as the Para 88 or Para 133 with their 4 locking levers, which we're told is patented and is expensive to manufacture because of all the small parts required.
The Parabolix focusable light-shaping system is going to be a game-changer. Our initial impressions are highly favorable for these modifiers. They've got all the right stuff -- at the price they're being offered at, in addition to being produced and manufactured here in the USA, They offer the unique and stunning quality of light that you can expect from an indirect parabolic reflector, at a fraction of the price. Parabolix is going to make high-end fashion and beauty lighting accessible to the masses.
Check 'em out at parabolixlight.com.
We plan on doing a more in-depth review of the Parabolix system and a comparison to the Broncolor system in the future, so stay tuned! Sign up for our e-mail list, and follow us on instagram!