Impact 52” Collapsible Circular Reflector Review

This is a review of the Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc. It is commonly used for bouncing natural light or flash onto subjects when taking their portrait. I use reflectors with almost all of my portrait work and consider them to be an indispensable tool that I always have with me. I’m used to using a smaller, 30” Lastolite TriGrip by myself, so I was curious to see if I’d still be able to use such a big reflector without the help of an assistant.

Impact 52 inch reflector 1

As you can see, with a little creativity it can definitely be used without an assistant! This should also give you an idea of the size of this reflector.

This reflector has two sides, a white side that’s great for adding some fill light, and a silver side that can provide enough light to act as a key light or just add some much needed fill light to a portrait. I typically use a soft silver reflector (which has both silver and white lines on the same side), so I wasn’t sure which side of this reflector I’d end up using the most. I knew that because of the size of the reflector, I’d get some nice soft light, but would the white side give me enough light? Would the silver side be too harsh? There’s only one way to find out, so I took the plunge and started using it.

1) Product Specifications

1. Shape – Circular
2. Size Open – 52”
3. Size Collapsed – ⅓ open size (18”)
4. Surfaces – Silver, white reflective

Additional Information

- Weighs just a little over 2 lbs
- Comes in a nylon carrying case

2) Packaging and Field Use

The reflector comes folded up inside of it’s carrying case, which is simply wrapped in cellophane packaging. The first time I took the reflector out and opened it, I wasn’t quite ready for it. Not only is it a really big reflector, but it also springs open with a fair amount of energy! Make sure you’re not standing in a confined space or near anything that’s breakable when you open it.

Impact 52 inch Reflector 2

The reflector has a fairly stiff steel frame around it’s circumference. I assume that such a stiff frame is necessary because of the size of the reflector, but it does pose a bit of a challenge when it comes time to fold the reflector back up for storage. It’s taken me a bit of practice, but I can finally fold it up on my first try (although this wasn’t always the case). My studio mates found it pretty entertaining to watch me try to fold it up the first few times I used it. I’d suggest practicing unfolding it and folding it back up again before using it around clients.

3) Samples

I’ve used the Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Reflector in a variety of environments: outdoors with natural light, indoors with natural light and in my studio with studio lighting. In all three situations, it has proven to be very useful and easy to use.

My biggest concern in using the reflector was that I wouldn’t be able to use it outdoors without an assistant. Due to it’s size, I thought that it would be too hard to handle by myself if there was a bit of wind or just if I wanted to get it close to my subject’s face. Fortunately, it held up quite well outside and I was able to use it while shooting without an assistant, although I don’t think I’d be able to handle it by myself if there was anything more than a slight breeze.

Impact 52" Reflector Sample 1

For this shot of AP, I simply laid the reflector (white side up) on the grass in front of her to fill the shadowy areas under her chin and eyes, although at other times during her session I held it upright to bounce light into her face while she was standing. An additional bonus of using this reflector outdoors is that while you’re using the reflector, your subject can sit on the nylon carrying case so that they don’t get dirty or wet!

Indoors, this reflector is wonderful to use with natural light! I used it for a boudoir shoot (sorry, no sample photos) and was able to achieve a very bright, light-drenched look in a hotel room using only natural light. I did find that it was a little difficult to use by myself, as instead of using it to bounce light directly into my subject’s face, I was holding it out to my side and balancing it on the bed to fill in shadows on the side of her head. I think a smaller reflector would have been easier to use for this particular situation.

I was also able to use this reflector while assisting another photographer. She was shooting a backlit scene and I used it to fill with natural light. We used both the white side and silver side, depending on the amount of light she needed. I found it easy to use, both in seeing the light that was being reflected and in directing where that light fell on her subject. I could even manipulate the shape of the reflector somewhat to change how much light fell on her subject.

In a studio environment, I set it up to add some fill light while shooting some head shots. Although it would have probably been easier to use a stand that’s made to hold a reflector (such as the Impact Multiboom Light Stand and Reflector Holder), I was able to just use two clamps to secure it to a light stand. The size of this reflector makes it perfect for just about any studio portrait work, although I’d probably want something bigger (such as the Impact 72” Oval Reflector) for full-body shots.

Impact 52" Reflector Sample 2

For this photo, I simply placed the reflector on the camera-right side of my subject so that it would reflect the light coming from the softbox I had set up on camera-left. I initially found that the shadows on the left side of her face were still a bit too dark, so I simply picked up the stand and moved the reflector closer to my subject so that more light filled the shadows. That’s the beauty of using a reflector to provide fill light in a studio! There are no power settings to worry about with a reflector, only how close you can get it to your subject.

4) Summary

I rely on reflectors to get a particular look in my work, so I was very excited to try out the Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Circular Reflector. I’d never used one this big, but I’d always wanted to. It did not disappoint me in the least. It provides a lot of great light, is easy to use (even without an assistant), is lightweight and can be used in a variety of situations. The best part? The price! It’s a lot less expensive than most similarly sized reflectors. The only wish I have for this reflector would be to have removable slipcovers so that it would have more variety in reflective surfaces. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that they’re available for this size of reflector. That won’t stop me from using it, though. I plan on bringing this reflector with me to every portrait session from now on!

5) Pricing and Where To Buy

The Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc is priced at $57.95 and is available at B&H Photo Video.

Impact 52” Collapsible Circular Reflector Review4.5John Bosley2012-08-27 14:07:28This is a review of the Impact 52” Silver/White Collapsible Circular Reflector Disc. It is commonly used for bouncing natural light or flash onto su…
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Comments

  1. 1
    ) Mr Fernando M da Silva
    August 30, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Thank you for the excellent review. I do have a reflector this size and never tried to use without an assistant (I always hire my wife for that :)) but will try your technique. And yes, folding it needs a bit of training and I had to see it on youtube so I could then do it :).

    • August 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I would prefer to have an assistant with a reflector of this size, but since that’s not always possible, I was very happy to find it could be used without one. I just used it again by myself last night for an outdoor portrait session with great results!

  2. 2
    ) OSeven
    August 30, 2012 at 6:13 am

    Hey Nasim,

    I tried once to use my reflector outdoors, in a very sunny day. There were no shadows around, so I tried to fill the shadow part of the face with the reflector. Well it filled fine, but whichever angle i tried, it made the model squint, as it was too bright. any suggestions here?

    • August 30, 2012 at 10:46 am

      If I can offer a few suggestions…

      - In full sun, I try to use the white side instead of the more reflective silver side. This should provide a lot of light without blinding your subject.
      - In bright light, I try to feather the light into the shadows, meaning I angle the reflector so that most of the reflected light doesn’t even fall on the subject and only the edge of it just fills the shadows.

      Also, some people have more sensitive eyes than others and can’t help but squint, so a method that works with one person might not work with another.

      • 5
        ) OSeven
        August 30, 2012 at 10:55 am

        thanks John, i will try your suggestions next time. Sorry, didn’t realize it’s you who’s the author, not Nasim. It’s hard to distinguish from the first picture :)

  3. August 31, 2012 at 3:33 am

    Great review, thanks!

  4. 8
    ) Maegan
    September 3, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    My only complaint is that now I want one! I’m new to reflectors and I only wanted white. I also wanted large for indoors. This is just fabulous and I love the way you used it without an assistant! I’ll check out the stand too. Ugh, I’m so broke already!! hahaha.

    • September 4, 2012 at 10:03 am

      Maegan, once you start using a reflector you’ll wonder how you ever shot without one! Hope you enjoy it!

  5. 10
    ) Martha
    January 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    So, for someone who has never really used reflectors before, would you suggest this one? Or might you suggest a smaller reflector like the 42″? In most situations I would not have an assistant since my business is in the beginning stages so I just want to make sure I’m not in over my head even though this particular product sounds so great!

    Thank you much!

    • January 31, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Martha. If you’re only photographing one person at a time, I’d suggest a smaller reflector if it’s only you. While it’s possible to use one this large by yourself, you’re probably better off with one that’s easier to handle. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll want to make sure you practice with it some before using it on a paying client. In most cases you’ll end up holding your camera with one hand and the reflector with the other, so make sure you can hold the camera steady with one hand. If you can’t, a big reflector might be a better choice so that you can still use both hands to hold the camera. Good luck!

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