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The Best Photo Umbrellas for Your Camera

man in a photography studio shooting a photo of a woman lit up by a photo umbrella

Photo umbrellas are an excellent tool for any photographer to have in their arsenal. They help to modify flash output and light sources in order to achieve the desired look on film. Many photographers prefer umbrellas to any other type of light diffuser, as they have the benefit of being portable, efficient, and less expensive than many similar tools. They’re great for softening and spreading light and can be used with virtually any light source, from natural sunlight to flashing strobe lights. Thus, photography umbrellas are a useful accessory for amateur and professional photographers alike. Here are some we recommend.

What Should you Consider in a Photo Umbrella?

Here’s what to look for when buying a photo umbrella:

  • Type: A reflective umbrella is designed to reflect and direct light, while shoot-through umbrellas broaden and soften it. Reflective umbrellas tend to be the better choice for wide shots while shoot-throughs are generally the superior option for close-ups. Reflective umbrellas can also come in several colors to change the look of the light.
  • Portability: If you’re someone who travels for your photography, you’ll want to look for an umbrella that is lighter and folds down as small as possible, even if the umbrella itself is on the larger side. Some may even come with their own carrying cases. Keep an eye on umbrellas or umbrella kits where an umbrella mount or mounts are included, as many of these can be quite big and bulky and not well suited for easy transportation.
  • Size: The larger the photography umbrella, the more it softens the light. However, larger umbrellas also need more powerful lighting in order to work properly, which is more expensive. If you tend to photograph single or smaller groups of people, a smaller umbrella should suit your needs. If you photograph a lot of large group shots, a larger umbrella will be a more suitable choice.

Best Energy Efficiency: LimoStudio Photography Umbrella Kit

two white photo umbrellas with a smaller umbrella-less light and two black carrying cases

This is a high-quality umbrella photography kit that is easy to set up and long-lasting. The two 33-inch reflector umbrellas come with three daylight balanced, energy-efficient, fluorescent 45-W bulbs that will save you energy of up to 80 percent and have an estimated 8,000 hours of life each. The white, translucent umbrellas are made of high-quality nylon and work to diffuse light from any source, be it flash or strobe or daylight. This not only gives you soft light and clearer images, but also helps to eliminate glares and spots too. Besides the two umbrellas and three bulbs, you also get two adjustable light stands, a single head photo light holding socket with a 9-foot long cord, a bulb case, and a nylon carrying case that fits all your equipment for easy portability.

Best Energy Efficiency

Best Kit: EMART Photography Umbrella Kit

two black and two white photo umbrellas with two black carrying cases and a smaller umbrella-less light

Whether you’re shooting photos or filming videos in a studio or in the field, this kit offers you a complete set of equipment for all your needs. The kit includes four reflective umbrellas, two in black/silver and two in translucent white, two 83-inch light stands, one 33-inch light stand, three full-spectrum bulbs, three single head photo light holding sockets, a bulb carrying case, and a full, durable nylon carrying case to fit all your equipment. The different colors of umbrellas give you a greater spectrum to choose from, whether you’re looking to soften light and bring out neutral tones with the white umbrellas or keep unwanted lighting from reflecting into your photos with the black umbrellas. The lamp holders are compatible with the included bulbs, turn on and off at the flick of a switch, and have adjustable knobs for the umbrellas and stabilizing brackets. They’re also compatible with most common softboxes. The entire kit is easy to set up for amateurs and professionals alike and is easily adjustable for capturing any angle you desire.

Best Kit

EMART Umbrella Photography Lighting Kit with 700W CFL 5500K Bulbs,Soft Light Continuous Reflective Umbrella Lights Photography Kit for Portrait Studio Video Recording, Filming, Podcast

A full photography umbrella kit with two different umbrella color options and easily adjustable stands to capture pristine photos at any angle.

Best Reflective: Neewer Flash Mount Reflective Umbrellas

two black and one white photo umbrella with a black tripod and black carrying case

For the photographers who love shooting with reflective umbrellas and like to have as many color options on hand as possible, this three-for-one deal is the perfect option. There’s a classic translucent white umbrella to bring out neutral colors, flatter your subjects’ skin tones, and soften and broaden light for the ideal contrast control. There’s also a black and silver umbrella to give your photos a cooler tone, with the black exterior keeping out unwanted light and the silver interior reflecting light to brighten your images. And the gold and black umbrella makes your photos warmer and more inviting with a comforting, wrap-around style of lighting. The umbrellas come with an easy-to-use bracket and a solid aluminum stand that extends nearly 7 feet high and is compatible with all three umbrellas.

Best Reflective

Neewer® Flash Mount Three Umbrellas Kit 33"/84cm White Soft/Silver Reflective/Gold Reflective Umbrella for Canon 430EX II,580EX II,Nikon SB600 SB800,Yongnuo YN 560,YN 565,Neewer TT560,TT680

A three-for-one deal with reflective umbrellas in three different colors, so you'll always have your desired lighting option on hand.

Best for Travel: Neewer Collapsible Softbox Photo Umbrella

black photo umbrella

If you’re a photographer who likes to travel light and unencumbered, or you are only looking to replace a single umbrella in your arsenal, this reflective softbox umbrella is an ideal choice. The 43-inch diameter is an ideal size for most photoshoots, and it is collapsible to store in the provided carrying bag for easy portability. The umbrella and bag together weigh in at just over 12 ounces so you won’t need to worry about being weighed down during transportation. The white reflective interior softens and diffuses light for a more balanced look, and the black exterior helps to keep unwanted light out and prevent harsh shadows. The shaft is solid metal and allows the umbrella to be mounted on most tripods or stands for in-studio shooting. It’s also compatible with most flash or strobe lights.

Best for Travel

Neewer® 43" Diameter Photography Studio Collapsible Reflective Softbox Umbrella

A collapsible and easily portable white and black photo umbrella that softens and diffuses light while keeping out harsh shadows.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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