Magmod Magbox initial review - Grant Beachy Photo

About 7 months ago, Magmod launched a Kickstarter that had some pretty lofty goals. They had redesigned a softbox with… magnets. More than that though, it had no internal diffusion or structure to interfere with light, had a unique modular setup, and offered a way to use gels (which is a huge deal for me). Additionally, they designed a sort focusing screen as an optional front diffusor, which serves the dual purpose of controlling light similar to a grid, while at the same time magnifying its power. Wild! Since i’m already in the Magmod system, I very much appreciated their attempts at innovation, and supported the campaign. Well guess what? After a few small delays (with good communication) I finally got the box on my doorstep! I immediately set up a quick shoot, tried it out, and though I’d share my results here.

Nice packaging. There’s a tear off at the bottom that allows it to open like this. Was half-surprised they didn’t have magnets to close it up again.

Nice packaging. There’s a tear off at the bottom that allows it to open like this. Was half-surprised they didn’t have magnets to close it up again.

After a quick unpack. The pro kit includes almost everything you need to get started (except mag grips for your flashes).

After a quick unpack. The pro kit includes almost everything you need to get started (except mag grips for your flashes).

Good: Everything is very well-built. They obviously put some love into this. The light pattern is impossibly smooth across the face, and I don't know how they did it, considering there's no internal diffusion. Very, very efficient regarding power output. Gels fit in well. I like the mag shoe a lot. The cold shoe is very well built, and I'm probably gonna use these on all my stands for speedlights. All the magnets grab securely and release silently.

Bad: Very conflicted on the case. It’s huge. I understand why it exists, mostly because of focus diffusor and it’s inability to be crushed, but it adds an entire piece to my kit. If you want drama, and controlled light, the focusing diffusor makes it hard to go low enough with power. It's stupid efficient. No worries, cause they included an ND gel, but wait. What if you are making drama in a low light tungsten room? Now you need two gels, and it's not gonna hold that. Considering doing a little velcro mounting system so one gel can clip in, and one gel can velcro to the face, so i can double up. It's a workaround though. Finally, good job on the magnets for every dang thing, but it's actually a little tricky to get the diffusors on the face of the thing with the magnets (already getting faster, so again less of a problem).

Anyhow, like i said, I did a shoot, so here are a few examples of how the light looks. I’ll let you decide. Note, that if you have a model with good skin, bone structure, and posing, you could probably throw about any kind of light at them and get something acceptable, so factor that into the equation :-).

First up, just a basic headshot with an 85mm. The magbox has the softer fabric diffusor on the front and there is a small white reflector below to help lift the shadows. Not bad, not bad.

First up, just a basic headshot with an 85mm. The magbox has the softer fabric diffusor on the front and there is a small white reflector below to help lift the shadows. Not bad, not bad.

Second up, I was pretty excited about the gels, so I put a full plus green on the magbox and positioned it above and to the right to simulate a bit of fluorescent light, then bounced some pink light around to fill in like a neon sign. Again, not bad…

Second up, I was pretty excited about the gels, so I put a full plus green on the magbox and positioned it above and to the right to simulate a bit of fluorescent light, then bounced some pink light around to fill in like a neon sign. Again, not bad…

Finally, I wanted to test efficiency, so I put one Flashpoint ad200 in the MagBox and the focus diffusor on the front to shoot against the sun. This is f/22 at with the ad200 at 1/2 power. Very very efficient. For shooting in bright circumstances with small flashes, this is amazing. The downside is getting it low enough in very dark circumstances, but that’s life.

Finally, I wanted to test efficiency, so I put one Flashpoint ad200 in the MagBox and the focus diffusor on the front to shoot against the sun. This is f/22 at with the ad200 at 1/2 power. Very very efficient. For shooting in bright circumstances with small flashes, this is amazing. The downside is getting it low enough in very dark circumstances, but that’s life.

So in general: This is not a large softbox. That means you will have to be very precise with angles if you want harder lighting ratios, and it will reward you getting the light very close. The focusing diffusor is a beast. I shot with one ad200 at half power and it was a strong f/22. Easily competed with the sun.

Is it worth it? Minus the kickstarter early bird advantages, the kit is right at $500 . It has the cold shoe, the mag ring mounting bracket, the mag box itself, the fabric diffusor (softer light), the focusing diffusor (acts as a magnifier and a grid somehow) and a set of corrective gels (which was honestly one of the biggest reasons I wanted it). That's a lot of money. is it 493 dollars better than a crappy shoot through? No, but it is better if you need what it does, which is controlled light precisely placed, and you are already in the magmod ecosystem, or you plan on being. It's almost over-engineered, so it's a bit heavier than I was expecting, and I'm still figuring out how to get it places easily. Currently, I'm leaning toward the idea that it is worth it, but will see how I feel after a few months of banging it around. Will update this blog when I have more to say. Thanks for reading along!