The White PLM™
can be used as a shoot-through, diffused light source or a soft, bounced light source. It provides a wide, unfocused spread of light covering a 150° area for close, low specularity lighting with large round catchlights and very soft shadows. The output and light quality is comparable to softboxes with various accessory fabrics available for spill and lens flare control (see the Compatibility tab).
By nature, there is a great deal of uncontrolled spill light with such a soft, non-specular light source, but this can be manipulated and controlled by using the optional Black Outer Cover
or Black Front Spill Kill Fabric
(for spill controlled shoot-through use). Adding the Black Outer Cover and the White Front Diffusion Fabric results in the finest front-fed softbox possible.
Traditional Umbrella Style Mount:
This PLM opens quickly and easily, mounting like a conventional umbrella for easy setup. The shaft is double re-enforced for strength and fits any flash unit with a standard 8mm umbrella mount. The shaft is shorter than conventional umbrellas for minimal protrusion on the back side of the unit. The off-center umbrella mount results in slightly off-axis light and PLM alignment, but this is not difficult to compensate for. The 7UR Umbrella Reflector
can be used on Paul C. Buff lights to eliminate side spill.
As the PLM system is such an important and wildly popular light modifying system, it has often been imitated. But as the original creators of the PLM system, we have learned the important nuances of color balance that the copycats haven’t. Our fabrics are custom made for Paul C. Buff and are not available to competitors, chosen to be free of color-shifting fluorescence often found in other white fabrics. As a result, all configurations of PLM introduce less than +/- 150K color temperature shift and under +/-2 units of Green/Magenta tint. Certain knockoff copies introduce up to a 600K color temperature shift and up to 16 units of Green/Magenta tint (see examples here
Arc Shape and Face Evenness:
The shape of the PLM arc has a profound effect on the quality and precision of the projected pattern. Dramatic improvements in arc shape were made from our original PLM (version 1) to the currently offered, second generation models. Virtually all knockoffs copied the original version 1 shape and produce inferior patterns. Not only must the design produce an even projection of light, it is of utmost importance that, when viewed from the subject position, the light radiates equally from the center to the perimeter of the fabric. If it does not radiate equally, the shadows and catchlights do not take full advantage of the large light source size and they can become distorted and uneven. With the White PLM, the face of the PLM appears as a nearly perfect circle and results in essentially round, spokeless catchlights. Many of the knockoff copies of PLM™ fail miserably in these regards, producing distorted catchlights and shadows (see examples here
When mounting the PLM on your flash unit, position the umbrella so that the front open edge of the umbrella is parallel with the flashtube on the faceplate of the unit. For aiming, tilt the PLM very slightly upwards from the horizontal position in order to compensate for the flashtube being a bit below center (the back panel of the flash unit will be angled slightly downward). The best way to get the positioning correct is to look into the umbrella from the position of the subject and look for the entire umbrella surface to be lit evenly. Critical focusing is not needed.
Flash Unit Compatibility:
The umbrella-mount PLM models may be used with most flash units, as long as the unit accepts umbrellas with mounting shafts up to 8mm in diameter. The PLM umbrellas fit all standard BUFF flash units and fit most other studio flash unit brands except for Elinchrom branded units.
The largest 86-inch PLMs are not recommended for use with ABR800 AlienBees™ Ringflash or the retired ZRM1 Zeus™ Ringmaster due to weight and leverage.
The White PLM umbrellas may be used may be used with the WFDF White Front Diffusion Fabrics
, the Black Front Spill-Kill Fabrics
, and the Black Outer Cover Fabrics
– simply choose the corresponding size fabric that matches the size of your PLM (51, 64, or 86 inch). When used with the WFDF, the PLM produces a very soft, wide-angle light. When used with the BFSPKF, it produces a 180° Japanese Lantern light source (non-directional, shoot-through umbrella with back spill control). Adding the BOC eliminates unwanted back spill light, further maximizing the output in bounce mode.
For use with BUFF flash units, the optional Umbrella Reflector 7UR is recommended for the control of side spill light.