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Photo & Video Studio Light Modifiers: Tube

Updated: Apr 7

The tube, also known as a cone reflector, is a specialized studio strobe light modifier that produces a hard, focused beam of light. Its unique design and the quality of light it delivers make it an interesting tool for photographers looking to add dramatic lighting effects to their images. Let’s explore how to effectively utilize a tube in photography.

Photo Studio Strobe Light Modifiers: Tube
Photo Studio Strobe Light Modifiers: Tube

Characteristics of a Tube Modifier

  • Hard Light: The tube creates a very hard light, meaning it produces well-defined shadows and high contrast in the images.

  • Narrow Beam: Its cone-shaped design focuses the light into a narrow beam, allowing for precise control over where the light falls and where it does not.

  • Directional: The light emitted from a tube is highly directional, making it perfect for highlighting specific areas or subjects within a scene.

Applications of a Tube Light Modifier

  1. Highlighting Details: The tube is ideal for accentuating specific details on a subject or an object. Its narrow beam can isolate and bring attention to particular features while leaving the rest of the scene in shadow.

  2. Spotlight Effect: Similar to the effect achieved with a spotlight on a stage, the tube can be used to create a focused circle of light, perfect for dramatic or theatrical photographic compositions.

  3. Contrasting Portraits: When used in portrait photography, a tube can produce striking images with high contrast and dramatic shadows. It's especially effective for creating mood or emphasizing the intensity in a subject's expression.

Tips for Using a Tube Modifier

  • Positioning is Key: Due to its directional nature, positioning the tube correctly is crucial. The photographer and the model need to work closely to ensure the light is hitting the intended spot.

  • Limited Use for Full-Length Shots: The focused beam of a tube is not suitable for illuminating a subject in full growth adequately. It's best used for close-ups or highlighting parts of a subject.

  • Experiment with Distance: Moving the tube closer to or further from the subject will change the intensity and size of the light spot. Experimentation can help find the perfect balance for your shot.

  • Use as a Supplemental Light: In many setups, the tube works best as an additional light source, complementing other broader light sources to add depth and dimension to the image.


The tube light modifier is a powerful tool for photographers aiming to bring a dramatic flair to their images through precise, hard lighting. While it may present challenges, particularly in terms of positioning and its limited scope of illumination, mastering its use can significantly enhance the visual impact of your photographs. Whether highlighting intricate details, creating a spotlight effect, or crafting high-contrast portraits, the tube offers creative possibilities that make it a valuable addition to any photographer’s toolkit.


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