Both are, in general, used to control the area that's lit.

What are the relative advantages and disadvantages of both? When would you prefer one over the other?


In general snoots give more gradual falloff than grids. Grids are effectively a collection of very tight snoots next to each other, as a result they spill much less light at the end and give you a more direct narrower beam. They are used when you really need to control the light to highlight an object/detail and restrict it to a specific area.

In addition to differences in the quality of light, shoots are much easier to manufacture in an emergency from objects you happen to have to hand!

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    You beat me by a button-click. The only thing I had to add was that a grid can be huge (covering the entire surface of a jumbo softbox) and still be very directional. Somehow, that doesn't seem to warrant a whole different answer... – user2719 Feb 16 '11 at 17:36
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    Stan: Actually I think it does, esp. if you add in that huge = soft. – Craig Walker Feb 16 '11 at 17:49
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    Hmm, this answer and this one seem in direct conflict with each other. Could we get more information on the fall-off characteristics of each? – lindes Feb 16 '11 at 18:21
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    Huge doesn't necessarily equate to soft. The light may strike a large area, but it can also be very directional, since the light from each of the little snoots that make up the grid can have a very tight beam spread (as little as 5 degrees). A gridded softbox can have very even coverage (low fall-off) over a large area, but still have nearly the shadows you'd expect from a spotlight since each illuminated spot on the subject is recieving light from only a very few cells in the grid. (Mind you, the light from a reflector placed opposite the box would be very soft.) – user2719 Feb 16 '11 at 18:55
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    @Stan, look at all the rep you're missing out on. :-P – Craig Walker Feb 16 '11 at 19:17

A snoot would have stronger edges on the shadow, but then it depends on the size of the grid also.

You can check this comparison of different light sources and this nice setup.

  • +1 - very cool links. I never cease to be amazed at how much lighting stuff there is to play with. – D. Lambert Feb 16 '11 at 18:23

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