The Scrim Jim System; Light Control Via Diffusion And Reflective Panels

Whether it's ambient light or light we provide, light is always available for photography. Controlling that light to give the exposure level, quality, and mood we desire is the goal of every photographer. And tools that allow us to achieve that goal in the simplest, easiest, most cost-effective manner are the ones that last in the marketplace. That explains why the Scrim Jim light control system from The F.J. Westcott Company has been popular with still and video photographers for more than 10 years.

Four basic screen sizes make up the Scrim Jim system. Each of these sizes takes a wide variety of diffusion scrims, reflective fabrics, Chroma-Key fabrics, nets, and egg-crates.

The Scrim Jim system is an extensive line of light control material designed around four basic frame sizes. The frames are made from lightweight aircraft aluminum with a rectangular cross section. And the design is modular. The Small 42x42" frame expands to the Medium 42x72" size with the addition of a 30" extension along one side. The Medium frame expands to the Large 72x72" size by adding 30" extensions to the shorter sides. And the Large becomes the X-Large frame with the addition of 30" extensions on all four sides.

Each frame piece is covered on one face with touch-fastener hooks. The touch-fastener loops tape sewn into the perimeter of the fabric provides a secure, fairly taut fit when the fabric is carefully stretched and attached to the frame. Fabric choice is the real value of a system like this and the Scrim Jim has a wide range of fabrics available. They fall into five classes: diffusion scrims, reflective, digital, nets, and egg-crate.

Model car shot in the studio with a 1/4-stop silk stretched on a Large Scrim Jim frame above the car and the silver side of a silver/white reflector mounted on a Medium Scrim Jim as fill. The light source was a Nikon SB-800 flash mounted above the silk and triggered with an Elinchrom Skyport radio slave. Exposure was f/8 at ISO 100.
All Photos © 2007, Stan Sholik, All Rights Reserved

Versatile Panels
There are four diffusion fabrics. The least diffuse is the 1/4-stop silk, followed by the 3/4-stop, 1-stop, and 11/4-stop rip stock nylon. I tested the 1/4-stop silk on a Large frame and it lowered the exposure almost exactly 1¼4 stop with an insignificant change in color temperature. The diffusion fabrics are available for all frame sizes.

There are also four types of reflective fabrics, each one reversible with different fabrics on each side. The sunlight/silver fabric is not available in the X-Large size, while the silver/white, gold/white, and flat black are available in all sizes. For digital photographers, a reversible Chroma-Key with blue on one side and green on the other is available for the 72x72" screen only. Nets are used more often by videographers than still photographers to soften and darken the background behind interview subjects, to cut light intensity and to darken shadow areas.