As for the future, Crooks says to keep your eyes on cool lights. "Cool lights. High-powered fluorescents," he says, enthusiastically. "Behind a 1/2- and 1/4-stop face, it's going to blow the market wide open. And oh, by the way, Photoflex just introduced our CoolStar 150-watt, high-output fluorescent! And there will be more to come, I'm certain of that."
Bob Otis of PHOTOGENIC agrees that the light modifier segment of the industry is doing well. "However," notes Otis, "the product mix changes depending on what modifiers are hot at the moment. Right now, hot items are softboxes and grids. We have seen a dramatic increase in [their use]." Otis adds that umbrellas remain perennial favorites, as do flat-panel reflectors and diffusers. "There is also considerably more interest among professionals in larger parabolic reflectors with barn doors and diffusers, which produce better facial modeling and specular highlights."
Otis, however, disagrees with the opinion that the digital revolution has had a major impact on the modifier industry. "Digital imaging has affected lights more than it has affected modifiers," he says. "Photographers are much more concerned about color temperature, color shifts, and crossovers, because digital is so much less forgiving in these areas than film." Otis adds, "There have not been any significant changes in light modifiers. The major changes are in the lights. Note the increase in fluorescent and LED light sources. More people are buying lights than ever before, and the same holds true for modifiers." Otis does concede that "the digital revolution has brought a higher level of technical sophistication to photography and as a result, most photographers are more technically capable and willing to use more complicated light-shaping devices than in the past."