And, They're Surprisingly Affordable


You could not even afford the mortgage for one of these Briese parabolic light focusing reflectors!

But they are fun to look at, and you can get most a small amount of the way there for under $100 with a Paul Buff PLM! If they ever get back in stock!

Gratuitous use of one more exclamation mark!



Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos

Comments are closed. Question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist


Blogger Brence said...

Who needs one of these! I have seen Joe McNally rig up an armada of speedlights in the desert and take on the sun. Briese ain't got nothin on Mr McNally.


March 25, 2010 4:59 PM  
Blogger Dennis Pike said...

posting the paul buff ones on here is not helping them get back in stock...

March 25, 2010 5:18 PM  
Blogger N said...

Bware any company that markets technical hardware like it's a lifestyle product.

March 25, 2010 5:20 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

They look like something out of Babylon 5!!! Mental. Are they over-designed do you think?

March 25, 2010 5:20 PM  
Blogger Rogier Bos said...

So - just how good are the Paul Buff PLM's? Maybe not Briese's, but should your comment be read to say that they are really not very good? I ask, cause I am trying to order two.
And I can't seem to find too much information on Briese? Just where do I find price info?
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

March 25, 2010 5:20 PM  
Blogger Thomas said...

that's incredible.

it might not be "necessary" for all the strobist-addicted cardboard-soft box-making DIYers out there, but that's some damn fine engineering!

March 25, 2010 5:34 PM  
Blogger Shawn said...

Someone will Need to spoof this using 1 speedlite and a bed sheet NOW!!. Yeah, looked at the pricing a while ago, before i knew how to convert the Euro I did not even try after seeing the Euro Dollar price

March 25, 2010 5:39 PM  
Blogger =8C) Sam said...

I totally agree with Brence. This is overkill with regard to what can be accomplished with speed lights.

March 25, 2010 5:46 PM  
Blogger Matt Hunt said...

All I could think of in that video was: if that flashes...does the model get cooked? A diffuser that big must give lovely wrap around light though.

March 25, 2010 5:48 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

One of these lights and a trip to the space station for one low price.

I think the saying is "If you have to ask how can't afford it."

Now for the real question- what strobist follower is working on a DIY version :-)

March 25, 2010 5:51 PM  
Blogger Scott E. Detweiler said...

I love my PLM from Paul C Buff. Although I often use it as ambient fill more than a key, it works itself into a lot of my work.

March 25, 2010 6:04 PM  
Blogger Max said...

good lord, i made it to 2:40 and i felt like i was one of the passengers sitting next to the guy in Airplane.

March 25, 2010 6:15 PM  
Blogger Davidikus said...

Take on the sun? Why would anyone do that? Is it not better to dim the sunlight? I am confused!

March 25, 2010 6:25 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

That is the most epic music I've ever seen for photography equipment. I'd say it's lighting meets 18th century crime drama. Who knew?

March 25, 2010 6:32 PM  
Blogger Gregg said...

12,800 WS...
To quote Joe Mc N...

March 25, 2010 6:33 PM  
Blogger GGcadc said...

a bit over the top for lighting gear, looks like that was a lot of fun to make though.

March 25, 2010 6:36 PM  
Blogger David Griffin said...

Wow. Thank God for Paul C. Buff and the PLM huh David. :)

March 25, 2010 6:41 PM  
Blogger Ranger 9 said...

Okay, this is the first porn video teaser/light modifier promotion I've ever seen. And I hope it's the last.

March 25, 2010 6:44 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

so uh.. who wants to buy me one? :)
very cool stuff. speedlights will do the trick for now.

March 25, 2010 7:11 PM  
Blogger joshhaygood said...

so uh.. who wants to buy me one? jk:)
yeah speedlights'll do the trick for now.

March 25, 2010 7:14 PM  
Blogger Sodabowski said...


March 25, 2010 7:15 PM  
Blogger X-processed said...

I was lucky enough to get my PLM when they were in stock, it looks very cool as background and it is very damn efficient key light modifier as well.

March 25, 2010 7:46 PM  
Blogger Carlton Canary said...

All I have to say is that while they might be over the top in some instances, they are just right for others. These lights are a tool for photo/video professionals (as they have hmi versions of everything) who are working on big budget shoots where quality is more important than money. If only they there was a rental house in Seattle that had these......

March 25, 2010 8:30 PM  
Blogger Darkelf76 said...

Totally Unnessecary,
Just get an Airstar Solarc 500 for $35,000 (USD) :)

March 25, 2010 9:19 PM  
Blogger RJ said...

Going to get one tomorrow!

Man, overkill. But cool nevertheless.

March 25, 2010 9:28 PM  
Blogger Christophe Glaudel - Photographer from Paris said...

Sorry, but for a "frenchy",It seems to be an Advert : for a new interstellar propeller engine. Too much 3d and Techies girls... Could this fly-me-to-the-moon ?

March 25, 2010 9:48 PM  
Blogger David said...

For those asking about the PLM's, they are great. IMO, the most innovative big light mod to come along in many years. Value-to-price if off the charts.

Not really beneficial to speedlight users, as you need to use them in conjunction with a barebulb light source. The light has to be going out in a 180-degree pattern -- that's how the (quasi) parabolic shape works.

Doesn't really make sense to write a full post on them when they are not available. And the more people find out about them, the faster he is gonna have to crank them out...

March 25, 2010 9:54 PM  
Blogger Phat Baby Photographer said...

Have we learned nothing. All ya need is a longer ambient exposure :)

March 26, 2010 2:12 AM  
Blogger Russ Heller said...

My goodness. This video is almost NSFW. The related video, Briese Lighting_Technic, pretty much takes it into late-night on Cinemax territory.
Comparing these to speedlights is like comparing a moped to a Rolls Royce. They cost more than fresh human organs and the quality in the engineering and light control is unmatched. Briese makes Profoto look like Alien Bees.

Hensel also makes an umbrella so large (78") that you have to mount your light to it, rather than the other way around. It might not be parabolic, but it is probably close. a steal at $334 from adorama.

March 26, 2010 2:45 AM  
Blogger Faolan said...

Another similar light source is the Elinchrom Octabank. A design that's lasted around 30 years and is probably one of the most versatile modifiers on the market. Touch expensive but combine it with a Ranger pack (at this point your wallet will be whimpering) a great location set up. Just make sure to bag it.

The market has exploded for kit like this in the last few years, especially in fashion hence the PLM.

March 26, 2010 3:58 AM  
Blogger Florian said...

EPIC (gear, price, video, music in the video, comments on this site). :-D

March 26, 2010 7:33 AM  
Blogger point357 said...

I bought two of these - the 330s - and I'm pretty pleased with them. I use one for a bit of on-axis fill when I'm taking pictures of my kids - just lob 2 or 3 Vivitars in there. My only complaint is that they're hard to get out again and sometimes a bit of the reflective material comes away with the gaffer tape. That's probably more to do with my choice of tape though. Too sticky. The other one... come to think of it I don't know where it is. But I've used it in the past on location, like on the sidelines at football matches and stuff. Got some impressively OK results.

March 26, 2010 8:03 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Off course they are affordable. It's just a matter of who you ask. They're not affordable in my book. Do they come with a speedlight adapter by the way?
I'm guessing I could DIY me one of these :)


oseven fotografie

March 26, 2010 8:16 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

OK, I'm going to silver the inside of my patio umbrella and sell it for a fortune too.

March 26, 2010 8:21 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

I once worked in software development on a NASA project that looked much like (and was only slightly more expensive) than one of these Briese things.

March 26, 2010 9:33 AM  
Blogger Myles said...

Guys, the big Breise's go for about $15,000 USD. A rental in Los Angeles runs between 600-800 for the day.

I'm not sure about pricing on the smaller ones, although they seem to be about double the price of the giant profoto parabolic reflectors to give a rough guide.

March 26, 2010 11:34 AM  
Blogger captivatingimagery said...

Wow! They have to outrageously expensive, just think about the marketing budget after watching that video. It would be funny to see an Alien Bee spoof.

March 26, 2010 1:21 PM  
Blogger Logan365 said...

$15,000 USD? How many do you get for $15k? And how many AA's does it take?

March 26, 2010 1:35 PM  
Blogger Carlton said...

How Chic...It is one of the sexiest lighting ads I have ever had the privilege to experience in surround sound IMAX 3D, but the comments here are even more entertaining :)

March 26, 2010 1:44 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

Gear Pr0nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn....
Does it make us no longer a strobist if it makes us want one? :-)
I'm glad Buff make the PLM for my wallet's sake...

March 26, 2010 1:46 PM  
Blogger s.e. miller said...

You can buy 10 Jumbrellas for one Briese!

Heh :)

Buy em both David, you know you really want to!

March 26, 2010 2:38 PM  
Blogger Justin Evidon said...

Noticed a Briese light in the latest Samsung commercial:

Skip to 0:23 to see it in the background.

March 26, 2010 3:33 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

JUST $15,000? Shiesh, i'll take a bakers dozen.

Impressive lights none the less. I mean really, it's everything in one and then some. But when do we reach the point of too much? I can't even imagine powering those things. It'd black out the entire block. Luckily I could light it back up with just one of these.

March 26, 2010 5:12 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I have used the BronoColor Para and the ProFoto on rental fashion jobs and they do provide amazing light. But I have also duplicated the same results with a 4X6 $150.00 softbox. So as much as it is cool to walk into a studio and see one of these they are completely unnecessary other than if you just need to impress someone.

For marketing reasons I think these are like the diamond crusted bra, the solid gold camera, or the $50,000.00 speakers (each). It's about getting media attention, getting people to talk about and look at your brand.

It works the same way as retail loss leaders and door busters, what ever gets the buzz and gets you in the door or onto the website so you'll buy the normal products. Everyone's perceptions of this company put them in the luxury class without ever using the product just from the promo. It may be a piece of junk for all we know but now people will trust the regular lines and attach a sort of lux status to it and all they had to do was make a gratuitous video. Smart marketing!

March 26, 2010 5:23 PM  
Blogger Levi Thomas said...

Maybe we could cadge some dish time from SETI? Cover the Very Large Array with reynolds wrap? Who's with me? Can I use one more question mark? Yes?

--Levi (...?)

March 26, 2010 8:27 PM  
Blogger Grue said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 27, 2010 4:15 AM  
Blogger TIMEBUSTER said...


March 27, 2010 6:55 AM  
Blogger Eric Doggett said...

I had big hopes for that Paul Buff product. Unfortunately, once you go past 90 degrees vertical with it, the diffuser falls off. Kind of kills it for me.

March 27, 2010 10:00 AM  
Blogger David said...

Hey, Liam-

I would love to take a moment and answer your lighting/photo questions via email. But the problem isn't the just five mins part -- it is the scale.

This site has over 300,000 absolute unique readers a month. If I did one-on-ones via email and just one percent decided to ask a question each month, that would still be a hundred a day.

In practice, the real number was significantly higher than that. In fact, one day I started at 9am answering Q's, and worked straight through to 11pm. And at the end of the day, I had actually lost ground on the still-growing pile.

The upshot: If I answered one-on-one Q's via email, I would probably never see my wife and kids.

For that reason, I really have to offload the lighting/etc. Q's to the Strobist Flickr group. Most people decide not to ask them, which makes me wonder how important the Q's were in the first place. But some do take advantage of what has become a very good knowledge resource.

Be sure to search for keywords in your Q, as it has probably already been asked and answered. And not doing so is kinda disrespectful of other people's time and energy.

Most important, the fact that your Q is asked and answered in public means that others can benefit, too. Doing this one-to-one just breed lots of repetition and inefficiency.

Thanks for understanding,

March 27, 2010 10:10 AM  
Blogger David said...


You probably had a diffuser from the very first batch. I did, too.

They were made a little big, unfortunately, (since fixed) and can do that. The quick fix is to twist the grommets to take up the slack (one twist, one four opposing grommets should do it.)

They fixed it on run #2, IIRC. I bet they would swap you out if you called them.


March 27, 2010 10:23 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

I work at an NYC rental house and deal with these lights on a daily basis. Every time I demo a briese for a photographer, they absolutely love it. Once they use it, they're addicted to the gorgeous light- it can be soft and specular at the same time or focused, with an amazing wrap that you can't get with anything else.

They're very efficient too, you only need 600-800ws to get f22 at a typical working distance. (typically, with a softbox or octabank you would have to double or triple the power) The only downsides are that they are somewhat complex to put together if you haven't used them before, the power pack has an odd interface, and the t.01 time is a bit on the long side.

As for them being overpriced at $15,000 (they are closer to $22,000+ for the medium to large ones) Not many photographers own these things, most rent. Bron and profoto power packs are about $11,000 each, and photogs usually use several, plus modifiers, so having a one-light solution with Briese is surprisingly affordable.

As for the insane video, I think it was an attempt for Briese to strengthen its brand awareness. In the rental market they've been usurped by a competitor that has knocked off their designs and pushes its products in the rental still and motion picture industry.

March 27, 2010 11:13 AM  
Blogger Hipporage said...

I Know its a little more expensive than the PLM from PCB (and less portable) but I LOVE the deep octa from Elinchrom. You can set it up so many ways (5). Lately I tried just setting it up and shooting a light into it like their super expensive ones and it makes for a very awesome light. Would def recommend it.

March 27, 2010 11:47 AM  
Blogger Grue said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 27, 2010 4:51 PM  
Blogger said...

6000W! I've got some Alien Bees gear and I think that would vaporize Paul C. Bluff's parabolic reflectors. Now, if Alien bees is working with hot-light compatible materials and has kept it on the down-low, I'd be pleasantly surprised :-)

March 28, 2010 10:09 AM  
Blogger Eric Doggett said...

David - there was no option to swap it out, as I returned it about 30 minutes after opening it. :)

But if it's fixed now, I'll give them another try.


March 28, 2010 3:36 PM  
Blogger Eduardo said...

Bootleg solution: tadaaaah

March 28, 2010 5:45 PM  
Blogger Gary Soucy said...

Porn? Give me a break, nicely done video.

I now know what to do with that old 10' satellite dish out back...

March 28, 2010 11:06 PM  
Blogger Plawrence said...

These are way overrated! Not very pratical at all. I rented them for some macro work and had to set them about 100m away in order to avoid overexposure at f32.

At one point I walked up to it adjust it and it accidentely fired. My wife thinks the lack of eyebrows on me looks kinda cool...but to be honest I'm struggling to see what I'm typing as I keep seeing a bright hotspot every time I blink. :P ;)

March 29, 2010 8:17 AM  
Blogger photomike said...

yea, i want a porsche too, but i drive a toyota and use Alien bees with radiopoppers Jr's and get same results.


March 29, 2010 9:44 AM  
Blogger EleganceAndChaos said...

For those that actual have to go the DIY route. Check out this photographer's video about making a parabolic reflector.

March 29, 2010 2:06 PM  
Blogger lucca said...

Cool video. I was actually lucky enough to use a Broncolor 180cm Parabolic for a shoot last week. Talk about a versatile light!
Check it out:

March 29, 2010 4:35 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Briese really IS the best lighting source ever created. It can hardly compare to the Elinchrome Octabank but nice try. The 330cm paired with a 44cm both with socks and the honeycomb diffusion is mind bending!
I've worked on set with these many times on celebrity photoshoots, music videos with a diverse range of different Photogs and Directors. Briese headquarters are in Germany but I worked directly with the LA branch. The amount of respect they get on set is totally deserved.

April 01, 2010 5:04 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I think I may have a new project now... Can't be to hard to design something similar can it?


April 03, 2010 8:50 PM  
Blogger Alan said...

Here is my attempt with the 86" Paul C. Buff Silver PLM

August 17, 2010 1:39 PM  
Blogger Robert Davidson said...

I just received a PLM from Paul Buff. It is awesome. The biggest problem is that it was on back-order for over 4 months (or was it 8 months, it's been so long I can't really remember.) I do hope that Paul Buff can catch up with all the back-orders on these, because they are truly an outstanding value!

January 11, 2011 7:36 AM  
Blogger Ricardo Lisboa - said...

Nice. But come on, what's that star wars like soundtrack? Too much. Come on.

The thing here is about a good light, and not being powerful because you own a certain gear.

Well... [sigh]...

March 09, 2012 11:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home