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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.