The DoPchoice SnapBag Lantern is the latest light-shaping product to emerge out of Munich. DoP Choice have been making and creating lighting tools that are designed to be easy to use and fast to set up since 2008.
I’ve been using their products since 2013 when I got a BB&S Area 48 fixture and paired it with a DoP Choice SnapBag. Since that time I’ve been using the SnapBag softboxes as well as the 5′ and 7′ octa softboxes on Lupo lights, Arri SkyPanels, and Litepanels fixtures.
This brings me to their SnapBag Lantern, which is yet another lightshaping product that is designed to be versatile enough that you can use it with a wide choice of lighting fixtures. The SnapBag lantern can act as a lantern, china ball, or even a conventional soft box if need be.
The SnapBag Lantern comes in a large soft bag, that surprisingly isn’t that heavy. The SnapBag Lantern and skirt weighed in at just 2kg (4.4lb), but the physical length of the bag is around 100cm (39.37″). This is something you need to keep in mind if you are transporting the bag.
Just like the DoPchoice Octa soft boxes, the SnapBag Lantern works with the companies Rabbit Ears. If you aren’t familiar with Rabbit Ears, they are a soft box fastening system that is designed to replace the heavy and cumbersome speed ring standard. Rabbit Ears are so versatile that a single unit can be used to mount on many different LED lighting brands. The Rabbit Ears come in three configurations- Mini for square soft boxes; Rectangular for rectangular soft boxes; and Square for 3’ or 5’ octagonal soft boxes.
DoPchoice have a handy product finder on their site to help identify which Rabbit Ears you will need depending on your light fixture.
Here are the combinations of lights and Rabbit Ears Frames that work:
- Arri SkyPanel S30 and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Arri SkyPanel S60 and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- BB&S Area48 Soft and Rabbit Ears Mini or Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- 2x BB&S Area48 Soft and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- 4x BB&S Area48 Soft and Rabbit Ears Square
- Cineo HS Series and Rabbit Eats Rectangular
- Cineo Maverick Series and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Creamsource Mini and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Creamsource Full and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- Creamsource Sky and Rabbit Ears Square
- Kino Flo Celeb 200 and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- Kino Flo Celeb 400Q and Rabbit Ears Square
- Litepanels Astra 1×1 Soft and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Litepanels Astra 1×1 and Rabbit Ears Mini
- 2x Litepanels Astra 1×1 and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- Lupo SuperPanel 1×1 and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Velvet 1 and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Velvet Power 1 and Rabbit Ears Mini
- Velvet Power 2 and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
- 2x Velvet 2 and Rabbit Ears Square
- 2x Velvet Power 2 and Rabbit Ears Rectangular
I tried out the SnapBag Lantern with both the Rabbit Ears Mini and Rabbit Ears Rectangular. If you happen to own or rent an Arri S30 or S60 SkyPanel then the Rabbit Ears are a dream to use as they just slide straight onto the front frame on a SkyPanel. This is also the case if you have a Cineo HS Series fixture or Maverick, a Creamsource Mini, Creamsource Full, Velvet Power, or Velvet Power 2.
If you are using another light, in my case it was the BB&S Area 48 Soft or Lupo SuperPanel, then it takes a lot longer to set up SnapBag Lantern. The reason being is that you need to adjust the sliding rails on the Rabbit Ears Frame and then tighten them down with a screwdriver.
You also then need to secure the lighting fixture to the Rabbit Ears frame using a strap. The strap is essential as it stops the light from moving around in the Rabbit Ears frame and ensures that there is no chance of it falling out.
If you know in advance that you are going to use the SnapBag Lantern with one of the lights I just mentioned, my advice would be to secure the light to the Rabbit Ears frame before you turn up to the shoot. This really does save you quite a lot of time and it means you can get on with the job of lighting rather than messing around with the installation process.
Once the Rabbit Ears are on your light, it’s just a matter of attaching the SnapBag Lantern. This is fairly quick to do and can be done by a single person in a few minutes. It’s as easy as inserting the flexible metal rods into the eight Rabbit Ear arms. Once you have done this you will end up with something that almost looks like one of the extraterrestrial creatures from The War Of The Worlds.
You then need to pull the SnapBag Lantern back on the rods until you end up with a lantern shape.
The SnapBag Lantern’s depth can be adjusted by simply pulling or releasing a drawstring that is on the front. What is actually happening when you pull or release on the draw string is that flexible material inside the SnapBag Lantern relaxes or contracts in a similar way to how a parachute works.
Above you can see what this looks like inside of the SnapBag Lantern. This draw string and flexible material enables the Lantern to be used in situations or spaces where a low profile is required. Having a shallow depth means that it is perfect for hanging over tables in rooms that don’t have particularly high ceilings.
Above you can see how the depth of the SnapBag Lantern changes depending on how much tension you place on the draw string.
With the removable skirt on, you can actually direct the light enough to be used as a key in an interview situation without spilling too much light everywhere.
The skirt has zippers on it so you can move back sections if you want more light to be focussed on a particular side.
I did find the skirt to be a little tedious to put in place and manipulate, but like most large soft boxes, the more you use them the quicker you get at setting them up.
Quality of light
The SnapBag Lantern is capable of producing very flattering soft light in a variety of different ways. Whether you are using it as an overhead lantern or as a traditional soft box the results you can obtain are very pleasing.
Even with the light at almost 90 degrees to my subject above, it still produces are very soft shadow.
For interview situations it provides a very natural looking light that wraps around your subjects face without creating harsh, distracting shadows.
The thing I like about the SnapBag Lantern is that it is versatile enough to be used with a large array of different lighting fixtures for a variety of different lighting scenarios. If you are just going to carry around one large soft box, then the SnapBag Lantern makes for a very compelling option. The problem with large light modifiers such as the SnapBag Lantern is they aren’t cheap and you really do need to look at them as a long term investment. The nice thing about this product is that DoPChoice have designed it so it will work with lights that are currently available, but also with lights that you may end up using in the future.
The SnapBag Lantern hasn’t started shipping yet, but prices will be:
SBRL3 Lantern for RABBIT-EARS® – 600,00 €
SBRL3-C4 Skirt for Lantern – 250,00 €
SREM RABBIT-EARS® Mini (for 1×1) – 300,00 €
SRER RABBIT-EARS® Rectangular (for 2×1) – 300,00 €
Keep a look out on the DoPchoice website for more information.