Is it Really Worth it?
Recently I was in a major photo retailer in New York after attending a conference. I was browsing in the lighting modifier section and happened to come across what some may consider a moderate sized (24 x 32") softbox by Prophoto and was amazed at the $$$$ price tag. I have purchased softboxes in the past of similar size from other suppliers for $$$ or even $$ if I managed to catch a good sale. So if took a close look at the outer material as well as the inner diffusers. So the question is the added cost really worth it to the end user?
To be honest depending on your needs, photography can be very expensive. When it comes to electronics we want them to be reliable, versatile, and produce the effect(s) that we need to produce in a consistent basis. We probably want the vendor to be responsive in the event that something malfunctions and we need support or accessories. Major manufacturers certainly spend quite a bit of $$ each year in marketing and development to keep up with current trends within the industry. While accepting all of this to be true, how much is too much?
In the case of a softbox, there are no electronics, but we also don't want the fabric to rip when we assemble the unit, and hope that assembly is fairly easy. Of course there are numerous tutorials out on the web to built your own softboxes, which certainly can be fine for product photography. Portrait photographers though often don't want clients to see duct taped equipment and often go to a variety of long term reliable supplies such as Neewer, Godox as well as others that supply a wide range of equipment that in many cases operate as well as the top brand names within the industry.
Is this a question of prestige? Or is a belief that if one gets equipment from a top brand name that product automatically translates into the best that one can purchase? A leader in new accessories and customer support? Perhaps at least some of this is true, but what is also true is that some of the smaller companies certainly have a solid history with many happy customers.
As with most products that we purchase today, it certainly beneficial to look at what you need, which may or may not be the same thing as what you want. Think to yourself...is it really worth it?