When Small And Soft Is A Good Thing
Here's a quick self-portrait I made testing out a Lumiquest Softbox III I got for my birthday. This thing is cool as heck. The light it produces isn't as soft and diffuse as an umbrella or a full-size softbox, but it beats the crap out of straight flash. For close-up portraits it's the bomb. The trick is you have to get it in really tight with the subject; that will make its relative size a lot bigger and the light a lot softer. And when you're that close in, even a speedlight will put out enough light to overcome the sun in an outdoor shot. And the fall-off is really quick (you can see in my photo that the light is pretty much confined to just my face) so it doesn't affect the ambient lighting at all. But the real appeal of the SBIII is that it folds down really small, it's fast and easy to assemble, and you can handhold it (I took the photo above holding the camera in my right hand and the SBIII in my left). All of which make it ideal for remote location shooting, or when you don't have time to set up an elaborate lighting rig.