Neewer "Cheap" Softbox First Impressions

by Tom Nguyen in , ,

In the past year I had been teased by this square, umbrella-style softbox for speedlights on Amazon in my browsing sessions.  It was made by a company called Neewer, and highly resembled my favorite 28-inch Westcott Apollo that I adore.  Recently, the decent reviews and killer price (current price on Amazon here) made me bite the bullet and I placed an order for one of these babies.  I wanted to see how it compared to my much-more-expensive Westcott Apollo.

A couple days ago, it arrived.  Here are my first impressions... 

This is how the thing arrived: in a flimsy plastic bag (The Westcott Apollo was packed in a cardboard square tube).  Upon seeing this, I was worried about its condition through transport.

Out of the plastic bag.  The softbox is inside a nice little slip cover "case" made of nylon.  It seems straight and undamaged.

Close up of the top flap of the slip cover.  It is closed via velcro.

Pulling out the main unit, folded-up umbrella style.

In the bottom of the case is the white diffusion piece (nylon) all folded up neatly inside plastic.  This piece is 70 X 70 cm, which is 28 inches (just like the Westcott Apollo) and attaches via velcro.  On the Apollo, this piece is permanently attached to the main unit on one of its sides.

Here is the main unit all opened up. Very square, symmetrical, and sturdy upon first impression.

A closer look at the framing inside the box.  Seems to be tough, but flexible, plastic/fiberglass type rods.  Looks like it could be less prone to warp compared to my Apollo's bendable metal frame, although my trusty Apollo has been through hell and back.

With the white diffusion cover attached (via velcro).

Compared to my 28-inch Westcott Apollo (left). Already you can see that the diffusion fabric of the Neewer (right)  looks much newer  (ha! bad joke). Actually, I don't know if it's because the Apollo is old and dirtier, or if it's supposed to have that off-white tint to it.  Also, notice the Apollo has a deeper recessed edge than the Neewer softbox.

Here are both softboxes face down.  You can see that the Westcott Apollo on the left is much deeper.  My initial impression of this is that it means the Neewer softbox's shallower profile could make it more difficult to angle the light down on a traditional umbrella bracket.

So there you have it.  Can the Neewer softbox--at 1/8th the price of a Westcott Apollo-- deliver the same performance as the Apollo?  If it cannot, then is the difference in performance close enough to allow an excellent, affordable option for strobists with tight budgets (you know I'm always up for cheap)? 

 Next week I will be putting the Neewer softbox to the test in a sexy lingerie shoot (of course), and will compare it to the Westcott Apollo softbox.  Don't expect anything too scientific other than a loose comparison; I'm not the most thorough, by-the-numbers type guy, but I'll do what I can/feel like.  I'm more of a if-it-looks-good-then-it's-good type guy.  Eventually I'll report my findings here, with pictures of course.