Have you ever settled for a soft box during a session because the one you really wanted to use had the wrong mounting ring? You’re not alone. And now there’s a solution with the new Westcott Switch series.
You may be familiar with the Rapid Box, a collapsible soft box that can be assembled in moments. The Switch series soft boxes and beauty dish are collapsible, plus they have easily interchangeable mounting inserts.
This is game changing. You no longer need a screwdriver or other tools to change the mounting insert for your soft box. The Switch series has a quick-release thumb lock that holds the mounting insert in place. When you want to keep using your soft box but switch the light, simply slide back the thumb lock, pull out the installed mounting insert, and replace it with the other insert.
It sounds great in theory, so I put it to the test. I tried three different Switch products—two soft boxes and a beauty dish—with mounting inserts for my speedlight flashes and AlienBees lights.
The soft boxes arrived collapsed and in carrying cases along with their appropriate diffusion panels. Assembly was straightforward and quick. The soft boxes open somewhat like an umbrella, so you just need to pop them open and then install your diffusion panels. The only time I consulted the assembly instructions was for the beauty dish when I didn’t know how to install the deflector plate, which is put in place before popping open the beauty dish.
In line with the Westcott tradition of color accuracy, the Switch series uses neutral fabrics; soft boxes have silver interiors, while the beauty dish has a white interior for a softer quality of light.
The mounting inserts are well constructed. The speedlite mounting insert attaches to a standard light stand and can be angled. It’s adjustable in two directions to fit various brands: You can move the hot shoe mount toward or away from the soft box and adjust the height placement of the soft box opening.
So far, so good. But are the mounting inserts easy to swap out? When I first tried to put them on, the mounting inserts were a bit tricky to slide in at just the right angle. But that was mostly a matter of learning how the insert slid in before locking into place. The design is simple, elegant, and once I got the hang of it, easy to use.
I used the Switch series soft boxes during several sessions to make sure it was easy to change mounting inserts on the job. While conversing with my client, I was able to quickly change a mounting insert from one soft box to another so that I could switch soft boxes.
If you purchase this system, be sure to buy enough mounting inserts. If you get three Switch soft boxes, you’ll likely end up wanting to use all three at the same time—with one set of lights—so consider getting a set of three mounting inserts for each type of light you own.
Overall, I was pleased with Westcott’s Switch series. I love the quality of light these modifiers produce. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they all have different functions, but my clients seemed drawn to the images we created using the Beauty Dish Switch.
I highly recommend the Rapid Box Switch for ease of use. The locking thumb tab keeps
your soft boxes on their mounting inserts, and is easily unlocked for a quick switch. My favorite part about the Switch series: No tools are required. The assembly is so easy you can literally unbox them and take them straight to a client photo shoot.
There are nine products in Westcott’s Switch series: the Beauty Dish Switch and eight Rapid Box Switch products (three octagonal, two rectangular, and three strip). All are collapsible and come with their own storage case. Westcott offers 13 Switch Inserts (sold separately) for popular brands: Balcar/Paul C. Buff, Bowens, Broncolor, Dyna-lite, Elinchrom, Hensel, Norman, Photogenic, and Profoto. Switch Inserts for Speedlites and Profoto A1 are also available. If you want more light control, 40-degree egg-crate grids can be purchased separately for each product in the Switch series.
Soft boxes in the Rapid Box Switch series range from $119.90 for the Rapid Box Switch Octa-S to $299.90 for the Rapid Box Switch 3x4. Mounting inserts range from $24.90 to 79.90 depending on the type of light.
Betsy Finn, M.Photog.Cr., is a portrait photographer in Michigan.