Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Review

This is a review of the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite, a small 8.6 x 8.6″ softbox designed to be used with a speedlight. One of the most dreaded situations for most photographers is walking into a venue that has dark walls, very high ceilings and no ambient light. No matter what camera system you shoot with, working in such environments without flash is simply not an option. Lack of light can create a myriad of problems, from focusing issues to image blur due to slow shutter speed. Shooting at super high ISO is often not an option – not when you will be delivering your photographs to a business client. So what do you do? You use a speedlight, often on top of the camera, because you need to move around when photographing the event.

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite

Mounting a speedlight on top of the camera and firing it directly at your subjects, however, can potentially create other problems. It can result in very flat photographs with lots of shadows, it can cause the red-eye effect and if you do not control the flash output of the speedlight well, it can completely blacken the background. To work around this problem, one could use a bounce card or some other diffusion object such as Gary Fong’s Lightsphere to better control the harsh light that comes out of the speedlight. Or you could use this small softbox from Lastolite, which is specifically designed to be used in such situations.

1) Product Specifications

  1. Size: 8.6 x 8.6″ (22 x 22 cm)
  2. Shape: Square
  3. Compatibility: Hot shoe flash
  4. Removable Front Face: Yes
  5. Removable Interior Baffle: Yes
  6. Accepts Grids: No
  7. Required Speed Ring: No

Additional information:

  • Softbox for hotshoe flash
  • Attaches directly onto a flashgun, on or off camera
  • Removable inner and outer diffusion layer
  • Ultra portable and lightweight
  • Assembled in seconds
  • Folds flat for easy storage

2) Packaging and Field Use

As with all Lastolite products, the packaging of the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite is excellent. The softbox comes collapsed in a small bag that looks like this:

Lastolite Collapsed in Bag

Assembling the softbox is a very quick process – you simply open it up and push the two middle sides out, which transforms it into a square softbox. This softbox is the smallest of the Lastolite EzyBox softbox series – its bigger brothers such as the “EzyBox Hot Shoe Softbox” are quite popular among photographers for off-camera flash (thanks to Joe McNally). Here is the softbox after a 30 second assembly:

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Size

The inner side of the softbox has silver reflection and you have two removable diffusers that you can attach to it. One smaller diffuser can be mounted inside the softbox, just like you can do on large softboxes, and one larger diffuser that covers the front of the softbox. Having two diffusers obviously diminishes the flash output and more power might be needed, but it also softens the light quite a bit.

The softbox easily mounts on pretty much any standard speedlight (tested it on Nikon SB-700, SB-900 and Canon 580EX II). You attach it with touch-fastener belts and there is only one correct orientation, where the softbox is at the right angle and does not get in the way of the speedlight.

When the setup is mounted on top of the camera, it certainly adds to the bulk and weight of the camera. Lola shot a couple of events with the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite and people were quite impressed by it; it certainly does not get unnoticed. Here it is, mounted on top of the Nikon D700, which has the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G attached to it:

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite on Speedlight

Compared to the camera, the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite is quite big!

3) Sample Images

Here are some images that Lola captured using the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite in a very dim environment:
Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (1)

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (2)

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (3)

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (4)

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (5)

Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite Sample (6)

While the quality of images does not quite match off-camera flash with a large diffuser, it is still a world better than firing direct flash or using a white bounce card. I also find it to produce better quality photos than Gary Fong’s Lightsphere. The latter would be much better in a room with white walls and ceilings, because it is designed to bounce light around the room. However, when there is nothing to bounce from, the Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite is a much bigger source of light, which results in softer shadows.

4) Summary

At first, I was rather overwhelmed by the size of the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite. It also felt quite heavy and bulky to use. However, after trying it out in very poorly lit environments, I came to realize that the softbox actually works really well and is capable of producing great quality photographs. The nice thing about the EzyBox design is that it is extremely portable, very easy to set up and the softbox can be used both on on-camera flash and off-camera flash. While the source of light is pretty small for off-camera flash, I found it to be quite good for lighting a single subject, especially when the softbox is placed close to the subject.

There is, however, one problem with the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite – due to its size, it will block the AF assist beam on your speedlight. This can be rather problematic in extremely poorly lit environments, where you might need the AF assist beam to help your camera to acquire focus. If you find yourself using the AF assist lamp quite a bit, then you might want to consider other alternatives.

5) Pricing and Where to Buy

B&H Photo Video currently sells the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite for $74.48 (as of 05/29/2012).


Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Mark Payne

    Great review. I’ve been using mine for a while now, but must admit it’s a last option most of the the time.

    • Mark, last option in very dim situations? :)

      • 7
        ) Mark Payne

        Yes although I do crack it out sometimes for close-up work on things like wedding favours etc. If I have time and opportunity, I like to pre-visit the venue and if possible hide a couple of powerful flash heads on radio triggers pointed up wide at the high ceiling then use an on camera speedlight for fill. It’s not as complicated as it sounds and *really* takes the stress out of first dance / cake cutting etc….

        • Mark, I agree – scouting the location beforehand and setting up lights is always a great idea! When it is not possible or feasible though, the EzyBox can be a saver…

        • 14
          ) Marc Fillion

          Hi Mark,

          I’m wondering how I would do this as my radio triggers are PW Plus IIs and I set one up on camera. Would it be possible to connect the PW via the PC jack on the flash that is on the camera or should I use the PC jack on my D700?

          • 15
            ) Mark Payne

            Hi Marc.

            Personally I use a set of Pixel Bishops for this. I have the transmitter on the camera hotshoe, and two receivers connected to the external flash heads via PC jack cables. The two flash heads are metered to be a kind of universal background fill, and can be controlled by turning the transmitter unit on and off, whilst main light is provided by a speedlight on camera (on the pixel bishops pass through hot shoe) which also has a battery pack for shorter flash recycling times. Hope this helps – tapped out on my phone ;)

  2. 2
    ) Peter

    Very nice review, one question that I had for Lola, was she using TTL or manual control of her flash power?
    I tend to control my flash power myself depending on the location. Just curios.

    • Peter, she said that she shot both TTL and manual. She started out with TTL and then switched to manual for more consistent results.

      I personally always shoot manual – I also like to control my flash power.

  3. 3
    ) Rohan

    This is an excellent option for quick diffused lighting for macro.

  4. 9
    ) Bruce Randall

    I noticed that the speedlite and soft box were mounted on the hot shoe of the camera,then can someone tell me how does the speedlite fire with out the built in flash popped up?

    • Bruce, when speedlight is mounted on top of the camera, you do not use the built-in flash…

      • 11
        ) Bruce Randall

        Then how is the speedlite triggered ? I have always had to have the built in flash popped up because the built in flash signals the external flash/speedlite to fire.

        • 16
          ) Adam

          Bruce, it’s triggered via the hot shoe. If it doesn’t work then something is wrong with either your flash or hotshoe.

          • 18
            ) Bruce Randall

            Thank You Adam.

      • 17
        ) Bruce Randall

        Thank You Nassim,

  5. 12
    ) ALwin

    The EzyBox is a very useful item to have and to use, however concerning the issue with blocking the focus assist lamp, another item I found useful is the Rogue Flashbender. I use both, Ezybox on an off shoe flash and flashbender on the camera mounted flash in situations I don’t have a larger softbox or umbrella.

  6. 13
    ) Fernando

    Hi Nasim,

    Thank you for this excellent review and very useful to me as I was invited by a friend to shoot the company’s end of financial year party. I still have to go for an interview and the will find out if I will do it or not but I am already thinking of buying one of those soft boxes. Here I could not find in the market the Lastolite but I have found the Lumiquest (8″x9″ for on camera flash and 10″x14″ for off camera). I wounder if they will have the same quality when it comes to soften the light. I will probably will have a friend as an assistant so do you think that using the assistant to hold the off camera flash with the bigger softbox will improve and be a better alternative?

    I Know that the venue has low and dark ceilings and not much whit walls around where I can bounce the light from.

    Thank you in advance for your time :)

    P.S – I have already gone through your review “Corporate Photography Tips” . Excellent!

  7. 19
    ) Ray Gardini

    Very difficult to mount on Sony flash due to bulk of body under flash tube.

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