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B2Pro has announced a parabolic umbrella reflector for photographic lighting. The surface of the umbrella is printed with a hexagonal array of red, green, and blue spots:

B2Pro product photograph

The manufacturer makes the following claims about the product:

  • selective use of color dyes tested to respond to digital CCD sensors
  • upon capture, colors appear richer due to the spiked primary color enhancement
  • allows vivid color photography that doesn't use gels which only shift the color in one color direction
  • the light source adapts to everything from patented strobe bulbs, to tungsten, hmi, and flourescent [sic] for any shooting situation

Are the manufacturer's claims credible? Will such an reflector provide any real advantages to the photographer?

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Do they show any comparison shots? Call me skeptical but I can be convinced with verifiable results. –  Paul Cezanne May 3 '13 at 12:34
    
@PaulCezanne Not that I have found. –  coneslayer May 3 '13 at 12:40
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I saw this on Strobist today. It looked like a gimmick in search of a problem that doesn't exist. It also looks like a really plasticky reflection from the glare on it. –  John Cavan May 3 '13 at 14:16
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I see an equal number of red, green, and blue dots - meaning if you looked at this from sufficient distance, just like looking at TV pixels, this umbrella is really GRAY. Any reflected light from it is also going to be essentially gray unless it's focused as it is in the picture. Meaning the reflection from this will be white light with an equal amount of each color, but I'm using the term gray to indicate that the reflection will be significantly darker than the original source. I don't think this would be any different from a standard reflector (which actually IS gray/silver). I would want to see comparison RAW files of the same scene with only the reflector changed. Also, the specular reflection in the photo shows that the dots aren't really filtering much light - they reflect all colors just fine, otherwise there's no way it could look white, like it does in the photo.

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Depending on the dyes they use, their pattern could suppress the reflection of yellow and blue-green light that would pass through two Bayer filters (R+G or G+B). This would differ from a true gray reflector. But I'm having trouble visualizing the effect, and I'm not convinced it would be beneficial. –  coneslayer May 3 '13 at 18:32
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Yeah I started to write about that but I couldn't reason it out. You might have less pink and yellow in your light source, but I fail to understand how that would be an improvement in all scenes. It might improve a photo of a daycare center, but not a portrait. –  Jasmine May 3 '13 at 18:38
    
I can see how it might conceivably make an image colour-correctable if you're using a light source that throws a really dirty spectrum. But that doesn't so much say to me "buy this brolly" as it does "stay away from these flash heads if they need a brolly like this to make them acceptable". –  user2719 May 3 '13 at 19:50
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I would buy it if I was a portrait studio because it's cute and kids might like it a bit more than the grey ones. Looks like leftover beach ball plastic. It's probably not worse than a plain reflector, but I can't understand how it could possibly be better than a reflector which scatters all the light. –  Jasmine May 3 '13 at 19:54
    
I like that you boil it down to grey and if you stare it the picture and let your eyes defocus, that is exactly what happens. –  Michael Nielsen May 4 '13 at 7:12
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Optically, all this should do is reduce the output power of the flash. The filters on the sensor itself are going to make it so you only get the red green and blue on each pixel. This device would just absorb a bunch of the light that could reach the subject. For example, some of the light to bounce off a red part is going to reach a blue sensor and not be picked up.

There could be something I'm missing, but this strikes me as likely being a horribly ineffective product and a marketing gimmick. I wouldn't believe it without seeing photos of the results.

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I wouldn't trust an apparent snake oil seller to cheat in comparison results. Nothing short of positive comparison images from a trusted 3rd party would be convincing. –  Dan Neely May 3 '13 at 15:21
    
@DanNeely - yeah, their attempt to take credit for Red Camera's on their homepage seems more than a little suspicious. –  AJ Henderson May 3 '13 at 15:26
    
I have to agree, I think this is a total gimmick. A reflector is supposed to REFLECT light...the color pattern on this reflector is going to be absorbing a lot of light, which seems to be antithetical to the ultimate goal of a reflector. –  jrista May 4 '13 at 3:31
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