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The best reflectors for photography in 2022: control your lighting the easy way!

(Image credit: Lastolite)

Investing in one of the best reflectors is one of the cheapest ways of adding a light source to your photos. Regardless of whether you're shooting just with natural light or using an artificial light source, reflectors can be used to bounce light, changing the tone, color and brightness of an image. Reflectors usually pack down small, are lightweight and easy to carry. 

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When natural light isn't quite cutting it and you don't have a light shaping tool to soften a flash head, the perfect solution is to use a reflector. Every photographer should own one, just in case you need to balance light or remove dark shadows. Reflectors are lightweight, come in a range of shapes, sizes and colors and can be packed down and easily transported (though you might have to practice collapsing them).

To help you decide which reflector you'll need, we've popped a guide below explaining how different colored reflectors will affect your photos. As you'll see, some reflectors are sold as a 5-in-1 meaning you can unzip and switch around the color of the reflective panel depending on what you're shooting. These are great as you don't have to take multiple reflectors with you and it's really quick to change colors.

Five types of reflector…

  1. White: A white reflector gives a soft natural look and is one of the most popular choices for reflecting light.
  2. Silver: Silver reflectors are great when shooting in dull, grey conditions as it reflects more light. In bright sunlight however it'll be too harsh.
  3. Gold: Go for gold when shooting at sunset to maintain a warm look. Use sparingly, as it’s easy to make your model look too bronzed.
  4. Black: A black ‘reflector’ doesn’t reflect at all - it simply shields (or flags) light from your sitter to create a more dramatic, contrasty feel.
  5. Diffuser: A multi-surface reflector will usually be based around a translucent diffuser panel - this is great for softening direct light. This diffuser can then converted into a reflector by adding a zip-on cover, with various surface colors available.

Best reflectors for photography

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1. Selens 5 in 1 60cm Light Reflector Photography

Useful handles make it easy to hold and it includes all the colors you could need

Specifications

Size (open): 60cm
Surfaces: diffuser + gold, silver, white, black

Reasons to buy

+
Includes all essential color surfaces
+
Handy handles
+
Well priced

Reasons to avoid

-
No subtle colors

Collapsible reflectors are so simple that, for occasional hobbyist use, it’s difficult to justify splashing out on a premium product over a budget model. This 5-in-1 reflector from Selens is not only affordable but it comes with reversible colored covers to shoot every scenario. At 60cm its relatively small compared to some reflectors but the advantage of that is that you can just about hold it in one hand and shoot at the same time. If you needed to shoot larger groups it also comes in an 80cm and 110cm version. It folds down to just 38cm so is perfect for traveling with. 

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2. Manfrotto TriFlip 8:1 Kit 75cm

Ultimate color versatility in a conveniently sized panel

Specifications

Size (open): 75cm
Surfaces: diffuser + white, silver, Softsilver, gold, Sunlite, Sunfire, black

Reasons to buy

+
Lots of colour options
+
Handy open size
+
Comfortable handle

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively expensive
-
Some colors quite similar

Lastolite is credited with developing the very first pop-up circular reflector, and the TriFlip is a refinement of the original design. Large-diameter round panels can be unwieldy to handle, but this panel’s triangular shape makes it more manageable, while still maintaining plenty of surface area. A single handle is all it takes to maintain a good grip, and the handle is nice and chunky.

This particular 8-in-1 kit is available in 45cm and 75cm sizes, with the latter being a more versatile size for portraiture. A larger 120cm Trigrip version is also available and is a better bet for full-length shots, but only comes in 2-in-1 variants.

With eight surface options, the TriFlip is ready to create almost any lighting look. The bare panel is a 2-stop diffuser, but two reversible covers give a total of seven surface options, including: White, Silver, Softsilver (whiter silver), Gold, Sunlite (silvery gold), Sunfire (darker gold) and Black surfaces.

(Image credit: Godox)

3. Godox Collapsible 5-in-1 Reflector Disc

One of the best value reflectors, it's easy and quick to pop up and pack away

Specifications

Size (open): 80cm
Surfaces: Gold, silver, black, white, translucent

Reasons to buy

+
Good value
+
Strong construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively simple design

The Godox reflectors might not have handles like the Phottid reflectors or Lastolite's handy triangular shape but they'll still do the job and they're the cheapest on our list. The Godox 5-in-1 reflector disc includes a gold, silver, black, white and translucent option or if you prefer, you can opt for a version with a softer gold side. 

Like all collapsible reflectors, it springs out with ease and can be packed away into a carry case. It has a steel frame which makes it very sturdy and when packed down its just a third of its maximum size making it perfect for traveling with. The lack of a handle shouldn't be too much of a concern - if anything it just makes it less bulky to take on location. 

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4. Lastolite HaloCompact

A compact, portable design but be warned, it's a little fiddly to set up

Specifications

Size (open): 82cm
Surfaces: diffuser; silver/white

Reasons to buy

+
Very compact when packed
+
Easily fits in a kit bag

Reasons to avoid

-
Time-consuming to set up
-
Few color options

Where a standard pop-up reflector usually collapses down to around one third its open diameter, the HaloCompact packs into a carry case just 27 x 6.5 x 6.5cm and weighs a mere 335g, yet opens up to a very versatile 82cm diameter. The detachable fabric is available with silver/white reflector surfaces, or there’s a 2-stop diffuser version; these can be bought separately, so you only need buy one frame. 

The remarkable space-saving design is thanks to Lastolite’s RapidExoframe collapsible lightweight aluminium frame that quickly slots together like a tent pole. The fabric then simply clips to the frame. The collapsible frame features a handle that incorporates a ¼” thread to attach the panel to a tripod head.

In reality, the 12 clips can be a little fiddly and stiff to attach, especially when tensioning the fabric with the last couple of clips. It gets easier with practice, but will never be as effortless as a conventional pop-up design. That said, most people will only open and collapse a reflector once during a shoot, so the extra set-up time is negligible.

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5. Profoto Collapsible Reflector 120cm

If you don't mind spending a bit more the Profoto reflector is really robust

Specifications

Size (open): 120cm
Surfaces: diffuser; silver/white; Sunsilver/white; gold/white; black/white

Reasons to buy

+
Ultra-tough hard case
+
Dustproof and waterproof

Reasons to avoid

-
Shorter handle extension
-
Customisable dividers are extra

Profoto has become synonymous with professional, high-end lighting and while it's pretty difficult to make a reflector stand out, Profoto has done its bit. The collapsible reflector comes in two sizes: either a large, 120cm version best for small groups or a medium, 80cm version which is best for singular portraits. Often smaller reflectors are easier to manage - especially if you're shooting with no assistance on location as they're lighter to hold and the wind won't catch them as easily. 

Although several color options are available you can only buy them as double-sided, 2-in-1 reflectors which means you'll have to buy multiple if you want to achieve different effects. Your options are Silver/White, Sunsilver (light gold)/White, Gold/White, Black/White, and a translucent diffuser. If you only buy one, we’d go for the Sunsilver/White option, as the pale gold side adds some warmth to your sitter without producing an unflatteringly yellow reflection, as can happen with a conventional gold surface.

(Image credit: Interfit)

6. Interfit 5-in-1

A reflector fit for every scenario and it even comes with a stand - perfect for shooting solo

Specifications

Size (open): 107cm diameter
Surfaces: black, white, silver, soft sun, half-stop translucent diffuser

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile 5-in-1 kit
+
Folds down well

Reasons to avoid

-
Simpler than others

If you need something not too demanding, that'll pack down well and get to your location without causing too much stress, the Interfit 5-in-1 fits the bill. It's a pretty no-fuss, no-frills reflector, but the Interfit name means you know you're getting a solid, well-made product. You have five options for the quality of its generous surface area, allowing you to take control of your light in a number of different ways, and for the photographer who just needs a reliable reflector that works, this is a solid choice.

The Interfit 5-in-1 comes as a kit, so for the money you also get a stand and a useful carrying case, making it that much easier to transport the reflector to your shooting location, and set it up once you get there. If you plan on getting out of the studio and want to be able to control the light quickly and effectively when you're on location, the Interfit 5-in-1 will do you just fine.

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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he's in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He's also the team's man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he's a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys.