Let’s start off by just putting it out there. I freakin’ love this thing! I saw one like 5 years ago for the first time and then had a bit of sticker shock and then totally forgot about it. A few years ago I was looking into backlight options and how to get a pure white background and came across it again. Honestly, I still had a bit of sticker shock, so I put it off again. Oh, to get those years of editing white backgrounds back! After I used it one I knew I should have just bit the bullet and bought it years ago.
What is it?
The Lastolite Hilite is a collapsible softbox background, designed to create “high key” lighting. In other words, a solid pure white background with no shadow.
You do need strobes or speedlite/flashes. Each side of the box has a 2-zipper system so you can “enclose” the light at whatever height you need. You can use 2 lights at the same time on either side, but with my Einstein strobe I’ve only needed to use 1 strobe head.
What can I use it for?
I originally bout it to do solid white backgrounds. So often lighting a white seamless paper can be tricky, pule to do it well you need a lot of depth space. With the lastolite it takes out all the guess work, and you get perfect solid white results. Plus! It saves you a ton of space, because your subject can basically stand against it without getting blown out highlights on their face.
You can also use it as a giant softbox to replicate window light. While it is a large box, since it’s so skinny compared to a PLM (Parabolic Light Modification) or traditional softbox it can fit into spaces that other large light modifiers can’t. Not to mention the light is absolutely beautiful!
How easy is it to setup/take down?
I’m going to preface this with I’m usually pretty good with getting reflectors folded down, and this is just as easy as that. I think obviously the larger the sizes go the trickier it would be, but it takes me just about the same time to set the hilite up as a PLM umbrella with a diffuser.
How much is it?
Depending on which size you get the price varies. I got the 5×7 size and it’s around $400.
What size do I need?
As of right now there are 4 sizes, a 4.6×3.6, 5×7, 6×7, and a 7×8. I have the 5×7. I would definitely love the have the largest size, but of course there is a big price jump, so I’m making due-which you totally can. If you plan to use this as a portrait background I would not get the smallest size. I think that would work for product photography, or if you are using it only for children or maybe pets.
What I love about it?
I love that I barely have to edit white backgrounds anymore! I think it’s paid for itself already in the editing time I’ve saved. I love that it’s easy to setup and take down.
What I don’t like about it?
Ok, the one thing that’s not awesome is it has a black border. I understand it need the black on the sides to bounce the light around, but the front facing border should really be white. You can buy an attachable skirt that will cover the bottom black seam. The reviews aren’t great for it, but I think it would probably work ok. For right now I bought some white gaffers tape. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll update the blog when I do.