Light Shaping Tool of the Month: Umbrella Deep XL White

Written by Fredrik Franzén on . Posted in Fine art photography

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Germaine II | ©Zhang Jingna

Each month we highlight a certain item in Profoto’s rich assortment of Light Shaping Tools. This month we talk to Zhang Jingna about one of our most recently released tools: the Umbrella Deep XL White.

The umbrella is one of the most popular Light Shaping Tools out there. No surprise there. Umbrellas are affordable, easy to work with and very easy to transport. What’s not to like?

Profoto offers twelve kinds of umbrellas in two shapes: deep and shallow. This article will focus on one of the deep models: the Umbrella Deep XL White. The deeper shape is designed to give you better control of the light spread. It also allows you to focus and shape the light by sliding the umbrella shaft in its holder. Put together, the umbrella’s size and smooth, white fabric creates a large, soft and very even light source. But again, the light is surprisingly controllable and shapeable, thanks to the umbrella’s deeper shape.

In short, it’s a straightforward tool that you can do a lot with. Zhang Jingna’s images are a clear evidence of that. Just consider the fact all the images in this article were shot with just a single flash: a D1 monolight equipped with the Umbrella Deep XL White.

“Last year I launched a personal project of mine called Motherland Chronicles, a series of fantasy-inspired portraits” says Jingna. “A Prayer, Germaine II and Tabitha are all taken for this series.”

Jingna has her roots in China and Singapore but is now based in New York. She spends most of her time shooting fashion and beauty for clients such as Montblanc, Canon and Mercedes Benz. She’s also published in the international editions of Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, and L’Officiel on a frequent basis. But it’s not all work. Sometimes she does stuff just for the fun of it. Motherland Chronicles is an example of just that.

“I had a certain illustrative look in mind for this project,” says Jingna. “To achieve that, I needed a very soft, even light source. That’s why I’ve been working with the Umbrella Deep XL White. I generally enjoy working with umbrellas. I find that setting up and packing away softboxes can be pretty tedious. Umbrellas are a great substitute, especially for on-location shoots.”



A Prayer | ©Zhang Jingna


Tabitha | ©Zhang Jingna


Being a personal project, Jingna had to work with a limited budget and do as much as possible with as little as possible.

“All the images were shot in my home studio, so there was no room for any complicated setups,” she says. “I used only one flash for almost all the images. A Prayer was shot with a Profoto D1 Air 500 equipped with an Umbrella Deep XL White. So was Germaine II and Tabitha, but in these cases I also used a Collapsible Reflector to bounce some light and soften the shadows.”

I know that you also own the Umbrella Deep XL Silver and the Umbrella Deep XL Translucent. How would you describe the different lights that these create?

“Well, it’s pretty straightforward. The translucent has the softest light, the silver has a lot higher contrast and is brighter, and the white is somewhere in between the two.”

You also own the Umbrella Shallow M. How do the two sizes perform compared to each other?

“The light spread is quite different, and the deeper version gives me more precise control. But the Umbrella Shallow M still creates a very beautiful light. It’s almost like a medium-sized softbox and definitely a great option for on-location shoots or when you need to stay mobile.”


Jingna is now near the end of Motherland Chronicles and is currently busy preparing the series for an exhibition and a photo book that will be released later this year.

You can see more of her images at her website. She’s also on Facebook and Twitter.

Click here to learn more about Profoto Umbrellas



©Zhang Jingna


©Zhang Jingna





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Comments (15)

  • al kimble


    Have already ordered mine!!!


  • Mike Devlin


    I really love the Silver Deep Large umbrella… And will probably add a large deep white as well… I prefer them over the XL as most of my location work is done in very confined spaces… With low cielings more often than not….
    I have used the diffuser a couple of times with the umbrella… And think that a small modification could make the Profoto umbrellas even better…. Especially using the diffuser you end-up with the light stand or boom in front of the diffusion screen… This can be seen in catchlights especially in head & shoulder shots…. If the main tube was made so that it could be split, a threaded system would work, then added to the top, or end section of the umbrella… Then it could be mounted in reverse… Leaving a clean, uninterrupted diffusion screen…. This sounds complicated but I am certain it would be easy to produce and the benefits would be unrivaled lighting modifiers perfect for location photographers….

    PS. If you wanna give it a go… Send me a couple of development units to test ????



    • Karma Cheng


      Hi Mike, I have been using both Umbrella XL Silver with Front Diffuser & purchase another XL White since they release in my region retailer. Less than 6 months of my purchase, they release this Umbrella Deep XL series. The Profoto staff claimed that the XL is the same construction as Deep XL, I assume the Deep L is much better than the previous L version, wanna see if they will do a test on other sizes too, coz I worked in low ceiling like you all the time, it can’t be adjust properly with the XL on a boom.


  • Sean


    If people knew that it was her skill as a photographer and the way she lights as opposed to what she uses then people would realize this is nothing new.
    womp womp womp


    • Notanidiot


      If everyone thought like that, no advancements in technology would be made. There’d be no reason to have faster or safer cars if it’s all down to a drivers skill. Let me see you take a photograph without a camera. If you cannot do it, then clearly it’s not just the person that takes the photograph, is it?


  • Chris


    I love the soft light from the Umbrella Deep XL White. Thinking about buying one for my next project.


  • Lee


    I’m considering the Profoto XL Deep Umbellas – either white or silver.

    Budget doesn’t allow for both so I’m considering silver with diffuser as an option.

    The white brolly would be used for coverage of larger groups / area and so I’m wondering if a silver with diffuser would give me similar results.

    The diffuser reduces output by 1.5 stops, so the question is how much difference in output is there between a white XL brolly and a silver XL brolly.

    With the silver + diffuser or white brolly being for larger groups / areas, the output becomes more important – even though I’d be using it indoors with a 1000W D1.

    (Incidentally, when I tried the silver version, I got similar coverage of the brolly without a glass dome, but much more control over the focus when sliding the light closer to the centre).

    I’m impressed with the even output of these umbrellas – but alas when I’ve seen them I’ve not had chance to make any measurements.

    Anyone able to offer up any actual measurements from the relative combinations or silver / white types?


  • Luiss


    I own the silver 65″ non-deep XL umbrella, almost double the price than the deep for some reason… I imaging the results are similar. It enhanced the glimmering of a red corset and the red bows on the garters of my model without being overwhelming. She was a brunette, and it made nice highlights on her hair on the front, and because it’s so wide it’s easier on her skin blemishes. I still used two 1×3 strips as kicker lights pointing at her waits to create a slimmer waist. She was so excited…

    Note: If your model have a few extra pounds you probably be better with a wide soft box because the silver lining of the umbrella will make curves more noticeable.


  • Felix Wu


    Hi Rebecca/Profoto team

    Today the wind had my light and umbrella XL tipped over and the shaft is now broken. Could you please advice if it’s possible to replace the shaft and what’s the likely cost in USD or NZD? Thanks.



  • Sean


    Is there ever a reason to use a small or medium version over the large? Does it over some thing different other then easier to travel with?


  • Jonas


    Thanks for the insight and the inspiring work of Zhang Jingna. I’d love to see the lighting setup for the Germaine II and A Prayer fotos


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