To improve the softening effect of the Propet handheld umbrella, I looked for a slightly larger umbrella. I looked for a shoot-through because it can be placed closer to the subject. With the increased size and the closer distance, the light would be much softer than the 19" reflective umbrella that came with the Propet bracket. I also suspected that at my usual shooting distance, a shoot-through umbrella would probably be more efficient than a reflective umbrella (see test shots here).
I wanted to get the 60cm / 24 inch Gadget Infinity convertible umbrella for versatility but when shipping cost is added ($11), I found it just a bit too expensive for what it is. Amazon offered the Creative Light shoot-through umbrella (25 inches) at a discount, so I got that one instead. I'll put up a more rigorous review later. For now here are my initial impressions:
Folded length: 18 inches / 46 cm.
Diameter when opened (measured as a straight line from tip to tip): 24.5 inches / 62 cm.
Shaft diameter: 1/4 inch. Fits the propet umbrella bracket very well (whew...!)
Build QualityCompared to my other umbrellas, build quality is fairly good. The shaft is like the Propet umbrella, with a tapered and rounded tip, and will not crush easily (unlike the hollow steel shafts of some umbrellas, such as the Westcott convertible). The tips of the ribs are rounded as well. The ferrule is short and flat-tipped, which allows closer positioning to the subject. The umbrella fabric is silk... Ha! Just testing if you're reading :) It's actually nylon.
When opened, the ribs stretch the fabric very tautly. As a result, it was a slightly harder than my other umbrellas to open and when closed, it's a bit louder than usual (prompting my wife to think some device popped when she heard it).
As expected, the light appears to be much softer than the 19" reflective because it's larger and because it can be moved closer to the subject.
(third image edited to remove the reflection of the umbrella against the window)
I'll update this post when I test the efficiency and optimal flash zoom. I will also post comparison shots with the 19" reflective umbrella.