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8 Best Lighting Modifiers in 2024

Last updated: January 29, 2024 - 17 min read
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The best lighting modifiers give you more creative control when it comes to photography lighting. Whether you’re working in a studio or on location, a lighting modifier helps you get exactly what you want from your shoot. 

But with many types of lighting modifiers available, which one do you need? You have reflectors and filters. But there are also scrims, softboxes, and beauty dishes. And they all affect your lighting in different ways.

The NEEWER 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector is our best lighting modifier. It’s a simple yet practical accessory that makes a huge difference to your photography. It’s an affordable tool that gives you more control over light in any situation.

Our Top 3 Choices for the Best Lighting Modifiers
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
 

What Are the Best Lighting Modifiers?

The best lighting modifiers give you more control over light. As we all know, light is the most important aspect of photography. And being able to manipulate it helps you achieve exactly what you want in your photography.

There are several different types of lighting modifiers. Each one helps you control light in different ways, making them better suited to certain types of photography. Accessories like a diffuser or a beauty dish are flash modifiers. Then you have gels and filters for constant lighting. And you have reflectors that work with artificial and natural light.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the best lighting modifiers. We’ll discuss each one in more detail below, examining their uses and why we recommend them. And we have a buyer’s guide at the end if you need more information.

Best Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
  • 5 colors for lots of shot versatility
  • Transforms light for softer shots
  • Silver offers heightened contrast
  • Gold enhances warm, healthy tones
Best On-Camera Diffuser
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
  • Ensures even lighting and softer shadows
  • Compact with a secure, easy-to-use strap
  • Universal compatibility with most flash units
  • Backed by a 90-day satisfaction guarantee
Best Softbox
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
  • Professional-grade eight-pole 55cm foldable design
  • Adjustable width for versatile flash light mounting
  • Adjustable while handheld or mounted
  • Superior fabrics for great crease resistance and light reflection
Best Photography Umbrella
NEEWER Studio Umbrella
NEEWER Studio Umbrella
NEEWER Studio Umbrella
  • Spreads light to illuminate your entire scene
  • Made with high-quality materials
  • Simple, effective, and easy to use
  • Affordable piece of photography equipment
Best Beauty Dish
Godox AF-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector
Godox AF-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector
Godox AF-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector
  • Perfect for portraits and fashion photography
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Honeycomb cover included for more versatility
  • Comes with cleaning cloth for silver reflector
Best Color Filters
Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels
Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels
Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels
  • Pack of eight color gel filters
  • Polyester film won't melt on hot lights
  • Easy to store and clean
  • Can mix colors for a wide array of effects
Best Studio Scrim
ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit
ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit
ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit
  • 1 x 1 m dispersion surface area
  • Strong aluminum frame
  • Stand and baby pin handle for easy mounting
  • Easy to dismantle and pack away
Best Grid Spot Modifier
Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System
Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System
Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System
  • Softens direct spotlights
  • 3-in-1 set with 16-, 25-, and 45-degree grids
  • Three color gels also included
  • Comes with carry pouch for easy transportation

8 Best Lighting Modifiers

This section looks at each lighting modifier in more detail. We’ve selected one of each type of lighting modifier. This gives you all the best options when it comes to photography lighting. And we look at each product in detail so you can decide which is right for you. 

1. NEEWER 5-in-1 Light Reflectors

Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Brand
Brand
Newer
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Light reflector
Materials
Materials
Metal, nylon
Dimensions
Dimensions
16.1 x 15.3 x 1.6 inches / 41 x 39 x 4 cm
Weight
Weight
1.5 lb / 680 g
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Five reflective surfaces, carry case, foldable design
Best For
Best For
Reflecting artificial or natural light for food, product, or portrait photography

Light reflectors are a simple yet highly effective light modifier for photographers. You can illuminate dark areas or evenly spread light in your scene by using the reflective surface to bounce light. The reflected light is softer than direct artificial light, which gives you softer, more natural illumination.

The NEEWER 5-in-1 Light Reflector is our top choice. And it’s a tool every photographer should have. It’s easy to use, easy to transport, and affordable. And it gives you incredible lighting control.

With a choice of five reflective surfaces, it gives you lots of versatility. The white surface helps you brighten shadows. The translucent surface softens the light. Silver gives you enhanced brightness with cold light. And the gold gives you a warm light temperature. And you also have the black side for increased contrast.

Weighing only 1.5 lb / 680 g, it’s easy to carry and use for long periods. You don’t need extra light stands because it’s easy to hold. But it also has a wide surface area, so it reflects a lot of light. This saves you from having to use other lighting equipment on top of this.

It also folds down to a smaller size and fits into a carrying case. That makes it easy to transport from shoot to shoot.

The NEEWER 5-in-1 Light Reflector is one of the most cost-effective ways of improving your photography lighting. It’s a great option for portrait photographers. But you can also use this reflector for product and food photography. And every fashion photographer needs a good light reflector. It’s a simple prop that makes a huge difference.

We’re going to move on to other types of lighting accessories. But we have more of the best light reflectors for photographers if you want more options.

 

2. Altura Diffuser Flash Softbox

Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Brand
Brand
Altura Photo
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Flash diffuser
Materials
Materials
Nylon
Dimensions
Dimensions
6 x 5 inches / 15.2 x 12.7 cm
Weight
Weight
0.15 lb / 70 g
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Elastic Velcro strap, collapsible design, storage pouch
Best For
Best For
Softening light from an on-camera flash

A flash diffuser softens the light from a flash gun. Artificial light from a flash can be bright, intense, and harsh. Sometimes that’s what you need. But other times, you need soft light from a flash. That’s why any photographer using a flash needs a diffuser as a light modifier.

The Altura Diffuser Flash Softbox is a brilliant light modifier. It fits directly onto your flash gun with a Velcro strap. And the translucent material of the softbox diffusers reduces the intensity of the flash. You still get illumination, but the light is softer and more dispersed.

A softbox diffuser like this one also gives you a more even spread of light. A naked flash tends to give intense brightness in the center, with less light spreading to the sides. But this type of light modifier gives you an even and wide spread of soft light.

It fits onto any on-camera flash gun, so you can use it with Canon, Nikon, or Sony equipment. And the collapsible design makes it easy to store in your photography backpack. You can take it anywhere without taking up too much room in your camera backpack.

The Altura Diffuser Flash Softbox is an absolute bargain. And this type of flash diffuser is a must-have item if you use flash in your photography.

Again, we’ll discuss other types of lighting accessories below. But if you want more options, check out our article on the best flash diffusers.

 

3. Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox

Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Brand
Brand
TRIOPO
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Umbrella softbox
Materials
Materials
Nylon
Diameter
Diameter
21.6 inches / 55 cm
Weight
Weight
2.4 lbs / 1.1 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Foldable design, on-camera mount, honeycomb grid
Best For
Best For
Creating a large spread of soft lighting with a flash

A softbox like this can be used with an on- or off-camera flash. The dome shape maximizes directional light. But the translucent material in the front opening and the honeycomb grid soften the light. This modifier also evenly spreads light around your scene.

We recommend the Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox. It’s a professional-standard piece of gear. And the foldable design means it’s easy to transport to photography studios or locations. You open it up as you would an umbrella, which is quick and easy.

The octagonal shape is perfect for portrait photography. It’s easy to direct light onto your subject. But you don’t get harsh, unbalanced shadows as you would with a naked flash. It also creates circular catchlights that give your subject’s eyes a sparkle.

The versatile mounting system gives you plenty of lighting options. You can mount it to an off-camera flash, which is a flash mounted on a stand rather than your camera. Or you can attach it to the flashlight on your camera. The mount also works as a handle, so you can position it by hand.

The Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox is great for portrait photography. But you can also use it for any type of close-up photography, like food or product photography. It works best in a studio, but you can also use it on location for things like fashion photoshoots.

Here are more options for the best softboxes for photography.

 

4. NEEWER Studio Umbrella

NEEWER Studio Umbrella
Brand
Brand
Neewer
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Flash umbrella
Materials
Materials
Nylon, aluminum
Dimensions
Dimensions
22.4 x 3.9 x 0.8 inches / 57 x 10 x 2 cm
Weight
Weight
0.8 lb / 362 cm
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Translucent white fabric, foldable design
Best For
Best For
Spreading the light to illuminate spaces with a flash

Photography umbrellas are used to illuminate spaces. You position your flash away from the scene with the umbrella mounted in front of it. The light then bounces back off the inside of the umbrella and spreads out around your scene.

This type of light modifier gives you abundant light that’s softer than that from a naked flash. They also spread light more widely than a naked flash. But overlighting can be a problem when using umbrellas, so they are only useful when you need lots of light.

The NEEWER Studio Umbrella is an excellent light modifier for pros and beginners alike. It’s easy to use and simply mounts to your flashgun. And the quality and durability mean you can use it time and time again. It’s also affordable, so you can stock your studio with as many as you need.

The main shaft and supports are made of strong aluminum. And the umbrella covering is made of thin but durable nylon. It’s white and slightly translucent, which gives you a softer light when reflected. 

 

5. Godox AF-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector

Godox AF-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector
Brand
Brand
Godox
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Beauty dish
Materials
Materials
Aluminum, silver
Dimensions
Dimensions
12 x 12 x 3.6 inches / 30.5 x 30.5 x 9 cm
Weight
Weight
1.52 lb / 690 g
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Honeycomb cover, cleaning cloth
Best For
Best For
Providing a soft spotlight

A beauty dish light modifier is a great tool for portrait photography. It provides a broad spotlight that is softer, less intense, and more flattering than a standard spot or direct flash. It’s a directional light modifier, meaning you can use it to light specific areas. They are commonly used to light faces for portrait or fashion photography

Beauty dish reflectors consist of two main parts. You have the large reflector and the smaller round dish. Your light gun pokes through the main reflector. Then the dish sits in front of the light, reflecting it back onto the reflector. The reflector then bounces the light forward onto your subject.

We recommend the Godox AD-S3 Beauty Dish Reflector if you need this type of light modifier. It’s made with durable aluminum and has a silver coating on the reflective side. Even though it’s expensive, it’s worth it.

This is a medium-sized beauty dish, which is perfect for beginners. A dish this size is also great for food and product photography, providing perfect lighting for detailed close-ups. But its main use is for portraits and fashion photography.

The reflector also comes with a honeycomb cover. This reduces the strength of the light passing through, giving you more subdued illumination.

It also comes with a cleaning cloth so you don’t lose any light transmission on the silver surface.

 

6. Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels

Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels
Brand
Brand
Meking
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Color filter/gel
Materials
Materials
Polyester film
Dimensions
Dimensions
19.6 x 15.7 inches / 50 x 40 cm
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Rollable and cleanable
Best For
Best For
Changing light tones and colors

Color gels are used to change the tone, temperature, and color of light. You simply place the colored gel over the light source to get the desired effect. 

Blue gels give you cooler light temperatures. And yellows, oranges, and reds give you warmer tones. You can also use more than one gel on the same light to mix colors. This gives you plenty of creative lighting options when using color filters.

The Meking 8-Piece Color Light Gels are a great choice for many photographers. They are made of a strong polyester film, which is thin, lightweight, and easy to store and clean. They can also withstand high temperatures, so you don’t need to worry about them melting on your lights.

It’s a pack of eight color gels, which gives you plenty of lighting options. With two each of red, green, blue, and yellow, you can create any atmosphere you want. It’s easy to transform a bland photography studio into an incredible creative space.

 

7. ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit

ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit
Brand
Brand
ALZO digital
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Scrim
Materials
Materials
Aluminum, nylon
Dimensions
Dimensions
40 x 40 inches / 100 cm
Weight
Weight
3 lbs / 1.3 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Baby pin handle mount
Best For
Best For
Dispersing light over a wide area

A scrim diffuser is a hollow frame with light-dispersion material spread over it. You position the scrim in front of your flash or light panel. When the light passes through, the scrim disperses and softens the light. You get a broad spread of softer light.

Scrims are great for lighting spaces. They’re a good option for full-body portraits or group portraits. You can use them in food photography shoots if you’re shooting a wider scene in a kitchen or dining room. And they are useful for fashion or editorial photography.

The ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit is our top pick. The aluminum frame is completely solid when erected. And the translucent nylon softens and spreads evenly when used in a studio setting.

You can mount it on a light stand using the baby pin handle mount. But it also has a stand that keeps the scrim standing on its own. It’s also light enough for most people to hold without much trouble.

It packs away easily, and it barely takes up any space when dismantled. It’s compact, so you don’t lose any precious storage space in your studio.

 

8. Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System

Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System
Brand
Brand
Rogue Photographic
Modifier Type
Modifier Type
Grid spot
Materials
Materials
Plastic
Dimensions
Dimensions
3.6 x 1.2 inches / 92 x 30 mm
Weight
Weight
0.2 lb / 108 g
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Three grid set, comes with three color gels
Best For
Best For
Softening spot lighting

Grid spot light modifiers are used to soften direct spot lights. You use them when you want a spot light, but you don’t want it to be too bright and harsh. They give you the same directional light but with less intensity. They are great for closely cropped portraits or close-up food or product photography.

The Rogue 3-in-1 Grid Flash System is a great choice for photographers. It’s an affordable accessory that can improve your close-up camera work.

It’s a 3-in-1 set that gives you grid spots with 16-, 25-, and 45-degree grid spacings. And it’s compatible with flashguns and lights of different shapes and sizes thanks to the universal adapter.

The set also includes three color gels that fit between the grid and the flashgun. The three colors are dark salmon, Oklahoma yellow, and steel green. That gives you even more lighting options when using this grid spot light modifier. It also comes with a pouch, so it’s easy to carry with you.

 

Buyer’s Guide—Best Lighting Modifiers

If you still need help finding the best lighting modifier, here are our answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What Is the Best Lighting Modifier for Portraits?

Several of the lighting modifiers we’ve looked at can be used for portrait photography. But the lighting modifier you choose will depend on the types of portraits you want to shoot and the type of lighting effect you want.

Light reflectors are a great place to start with light modifiers for portraits. The NEEWER 5-in-1 reflector is inexpensive and easy to use. It allows you to manipulate natural light, reducing shadows or filling space without additional lights.

Flash diffusers are great if you want more intense lighting. The Altura Photo Diffuser Flash Softbox allows you to use a strong flash for portraits. But it gives you softer, warmer light than a naked flash. The illumination is more even, creating a more uniform exposure.

The Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox works in a similar way but on a bigger scale. This allows you to shoot portraits outside on location. And it gives you a more broad spread of light. Professional portrait photographers prefer larger softboxes like this one.

A beauty dish is ideal for closely cropped portraits. The Godox AD-S3 reflector works like a diffused spotlight, bringing elegant illumination to your subject’s face. You get even lighting without bright spots or harsh shadows.

The Rogue Grid Flash system gives you similar results. It’s another great lighting modifier for facial portraits.

Headshot style portrait of a man with a grey jumper
© Jurica Koletic

Which Modifier Is Best for Natural Light?

Reflectors are the best lighting modifier if you’re using only natural light. They allow you to reflect light in different directions without the need for artificial lighting. And reflectors keep natural light looking natural, so you don’t have an overpoweringly artificial feel.

You can reflect light onto your subject to remove unwanted shadows. Or you can fill darker spaces with soft, natural-looking light.

You can use the different-colored surfaces to change the tone and mood of the light. This can make a huge difference to your final images. And a reflector can do a lot to optimize lighting, which reduces your work in post-processing.

We recommend the NEEWER 5-in-1 Reflector. It’s affordable and easy to use, but it can revolutionize your pictures.

 

Which Lighting Modifier Is Best for Group Shots?

You can use softboxes for group portraits. But you will need larger softboxes like the Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox because they spread the light over a larger area.

But lighting large groups of people can be difficult with softboxes. Most photographers get the best results using two or more softboxes to balance the light across the entire group. This makes sure everyone in the group is lit evenly, and no one is left in the shade.

Scrim diffusers are the perfect lighting modifier for group shots. They spread light evenly over large spaces, which is ideal when shooting large scenes and groups of people.

But again, you might need to use more than one to get an even balance of light across the entire group. With just two ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kits, you can illuminate large groups of people for powerful group portraits.

Which Lighting Modifier Is the Best for Fill Lighting?

Once again, we have to start with the NEEWER light reflectors. This modifier allows you to fill darker spaces using only natural light. The reflector also does the same thing for artificial lighting, giving you excellent lighting control without much trouble.

Softboxes like the Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox also work really well as fill lights. The wide opening means it illuminates a large area, allowing you to fill sections or entire scenes with soft, diffused light.

You can also use the NEEWER Studio Umbrella for fill lighting. It’s especially useful if you want to fill a large scene with bright light. They can lack subtlety, but they certainly brighten a space up.

The ALZO Easy Frame Scrim Diffuser Kit is another useful modifier for filling large spaces with light. This disperses the light from one source over a large area and is an efficient way to light wider scenes.

Young man wearing a coating in a photography studio with light modifiers
© Aziz Acharki
 

Conclusion: The Best Lighting Modifiers

The best lighting modifiers give you complete control over photography lighting. You can manipulate natural light with reflectors. You can make your portraits pop with beauty dishes and grid stops. And you can add soft, flattering light to any scene with softboxes and scrims.

The NEEWER 5-in-1 Light Reflector is the best lighting modifier. It’s an inexpensive photography accessory that makes a huge difference to your work. With five different reflective surfaces, it gives you incredible creative control. A good reflector is a must-have for any photographer.

Our Top 3 Choices for the Best Lighting Modifiers
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Neewer 5-in-1 Circular Light Reflector
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Altura Photo Flash Diffuser Softbox
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella
Triopo KS55 Portable Octagon Softbox Umbrella