MaticKos Photography
21Jan/150

Flash and umbrella holders

holders

Over the years I've bought, destroyed and lost a number of different speedlight & umbrella holders. Some were great, some were crap adequate, what I have left I put together and did a quick comparison review.

There are A LOT of holders out there, with different speedlight mounts, different light stand mounts, type and number of joints, materials, weight capacity, etc, as well as different prices. Basic ebay holders start at around 4€, the big gun from Manfrotto costs 35€ or more. But the most expensive might not be the best one, it all depends on your needs.

 

basicball


Basic ballhead

One of the most basic and cheapest ouf there is a ballhead holder. Made partly from metal, partly plastic, this thing weights only 98 grams. Ballhead is a plus, there's a 360 degrees of rotation, so you can point it anywhere you want. Minus is the plastic shue mount, where you put the speedlight in. It holds it by friction, no locking mechanism here, so it's not the best solution. Another problem is the position of the speedlight mount. Since it's only screwed on the ballhead, you can't really position it the way you want it, you can either fully screw it on (and be stuck at the position that is it) or you can unscrew it a bit, to position the speedlight the way you want in relation to the umbrella. It's better to fully screw it on, then rotate the head of the speedlight. Umbrella hole is on the neck of the ballhead, so no individual position of the umbrella. Another problem is the hole for mounting onto a light stands - it's too short. You can't firmly fix the holder to the stand if it has a shaped head, it slips off and locks at an angle. But it is small and light, if you're on location it might be ok for background lights, where you set it and leave it alone.

 

german


German double joint

These holders were one of my first and probably the best. I found them years ago on german ebay, made by a guy in his garage. Totally metal, with standard hotshue mount with locking hole as well as pc sync, they weigh only 150 grams. Huge plus for me is the dual joint. Umbrella shaft is on it's own section so you can align your speedlight with the umbrella shaft. This minimizes the blocked light and centers the light with the umbrella center for maximum efficiency. Hole for light stand is long enough for secure fix, so there's no chance it'll slip off.  Sadly, these aren't on the market anymore. I bought 4 with hot shue mounts and 2 with 1/4 screw mount and I still love them! Sadly, 3 got stolen lost over the years.

 

foldable


Basic steppable

Very popular are these black steppable holders that you can find all over the place. They're small and light at 140 grams. The head is made from metal, body from strong plastic. But not strong enough. I broke 2 of these by over-tighting the light stand screw. Sure, if you're carefully that won't happen, but when you're in a rush you forget and the plastic side cracks. But that doesn't mean it's useless, I still use them since the plastic is strong enough to hold even with a cracked side.
Same as the ballhead one, this one has umbrella hole on the same section as the speedlight head, so no individual positioning. Big plus for this holder is steppable angle lock that actually works. There are plastic teeth that interlock at different position (there are about 60 teeth, so it does a wide degree of angles) to secure the head and eliminate slippage. I personally don't like this screw-type fixing heads, but they do offer a big area to fix the speedlight. Another thing with this head is, if you have an L shaped speedlight shue, it will block the head from locking securely. That's why I made a modification with a chinese seller to include three grooves on the head. Those now allow the L shape shue to slide in the groove and you can securely lock it. So look for version nr.2 if you're buying this type of holder or click here.

 

3fold


Selens double joint

Another dual joint holder that I got a while back is the Selens brand. At around $25 it isn't the cheapest one, but it looked the best and strongest. Made from all metal parts, with locking teeth on all joints and metal wing nuts screws, I was hoping I found my favorite holder. Sadly, that didn't happen.
Those locking teeth are the first problem, they do lock at the position of the first teeth, but there's still some movement left, which I don't like. Wing nut screws are the second and bigger problem. I don't know if I got a bad copy (or two, since I bought two of these) or is it just cheap materials and metal, but on three screws the wings just broke off. They didn't fall off, the top section just broke away from the screw and now turns with no friction and no effect. Since one did that on a shoot I was stuck with a screwed screw and no way of unscrewing it. Luckily I had pliers with me, so that did the trick. But since I couldn't rely on those screws anymore, a trip to the metal store was necessary, buying and replacing all screws and nuts. Which still annoys me. Due to the screws I now don't really have faith in these holders, I'm always a bit worried when I put something heavier on them that something will break or bend.

 

manfrott


Manfrotto

Manfrotto is a well known Italian brand and it's products are always high quality. Same goes for this holder. Made 100% from metal, with 416g weight, there's no chance anything will break anytime soon. Umbrella hole is on the same section as the speedlight mount, so sadly no independent tilting, but for bigger umbrellas and/or speedlights/flashes Manfrotto is capable of handling almost everything. For studio work or when I need something secure and reliable - this are my "go-to" holders.

 

tripple


Selens 3in1

One specialty holder that I got is Selens 3in1. As the name says, I can put 3 flashes onto one holder. The reason I got this was my 188cm umbrella (which I'll do a review of sometimes soon). With that size you need quite a bit of light. Since I don't like carrying big Elinchrom lights and power packs out into the field, this 3in1 holder + 3 flashes seemed like a good and compact idea. But again, chinese have failed me.
The holder does what its supposed to, it holds 3 flashes, has correct angles so it covers the whole surface of the umbrella, even has a single 3.5mm sync hole so you can trigger all the flashes at once, but quality of materials just isn't there. It feels flimsy, it doesn't hold secure, it feels it'll broke in the first wind. It doesn't have the standard hole to mount it on a light stand, instead it uses a 1/4 thread which is way to small and insecure in my opinion. With 188cm sail and 3 (expensive) nikon flashes I'm just not taking my chances. I've used it 2 or 3 times indoors and even then I was worried. But, it's out there if you need it or have a smaller umbrella. I have recently switched to AD360 (360Ws flash with real bulb, almost the size of a regular flash with it's own (and small) power pack; I'll do a review sometimes soon) flash for most of my outdoor shoots, so I don't need this thing anymore.

There are many different type of holders out there. Do you need something small for the background lights, something light for field work or something strong for studio, the choice is yours. There isn't a universal holder that would do everything, so you have to plan in advance and get/use what you need.
My personal relationship with flash holders isn't over yet as it seems.. I have found (and ordered) a new holder, a mix of manfrotto holder with double joint. Will add it to this review once I get it, so stay tuned.

 

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15Mar/140

Speedlight light spread in umbrella test // Flash razprsitev v dezniku

I finally had some time and did some sample images of speedlight diffusion inside a white umbrella with different settings. I never did any testing like this before, I knew from experience what different settings bring you, but it's still interested to see how light behaves with different modifiers. I was mostly interested in the way light spills inside the umbrella, what makes the most even spread. Stofen (or any other brand) dome and internal flash diffuser are quite similar, but I'd say internal flash diffuser is better.

So, nothing to scientific, Nikon SB800 on a stand, manual mode at 1/16 power with a 100cm Elinchrom white umbrella. Nikon D800 in manual mode, ISO200, f16. Triggering was done by PocketWizards Flex units.

First set was done shooting into an umbrella, second from the opposite side, outside of the umbrella.
Sequence was:

1.) SB800, 1/16, no aditional modifier - 24mm
2.) SB800, 1/16, stofen diffuser or dome - 14mm
3.) SB800, 1/16, internal flash diffuser was pulled out - 17mm
4.) SB800, 1/16, internal flash diffuser was pulled out + stofen dome on top - 14mm

After the sample shots, I measured the light output using a Polaris light meter set at ISO800.
The results were:

1.) f5
2.) f4.5
3.) f4.5
4.) ???*

For the #4 sequence, light meter was unable to measure light at one meter. At around 70cm it gave a reading of f4, then was unable to read anything lower then that. I found that very strange and still don't know the reason why the meter couldn't read f2.8, f2, f1.4,... etc.. I tried with a new battery but it didn't help. Tried the same measurement with #3 setup and it gave a normal readings down to f0.5 with more distance used. So, no reading for #4 sadly, but it's clear from the sample shots that the light was very weak, 2-3 stops loss at least.

umbrellatest
Končno sem imel nekaj časa in naredil nekaj vzorčnih fotografij kako se svetloba razprši znotraj oz z uporabo dežnika. Kako se svetloba razprši sem vedel po izkušnjah, vseeno pa je zanimivo dejansko videti kaj povzroči različni modifikator in različni milimetri. Po pregledu fotk lahko vidimo, da stofen in interni difuzer naredita zelo podobno razpršitev, a vseeno je interni difuzer malenkost boljši.

Nič posebaj tehničnega, Nikon SB800 na stojalu, ročni (manual) način z 1/16 moči, 100cm velik Elinchrom bel dežnik. Nikon D800 v ročnem načinu, ISO200, f16. Proženo z Pocket Wizards Flex enotami.

Prvi komplet je bil fotkan v dežnik, drugi pa z nasprotne strani, zunanja stran dežnika.
Vrstni red je bil sledeč:

1.) SB800, 1/16, brez dodatnega modifikatorja - 24mm
2.) SB800, 1/16, stofen difuzer - 14mm
3.) SB800, 1/16, uporabljen je bil interni difuzer - 17mm
4.) SB800, 1/16, uporabljen je bil interni difuzer + stofen difuzer - 14mm

Po izdelavi fotk sem zmeril še izgubo svetlobe z Polaris svetlomerom pri ISO800.
Rezultati so bili:

1.) f5
2.) f4.5
3.) f4.5
4.) ???*

*Pri zadnji meritvi svetlomer nikakor ni želel izmeriti svetlobe. Pri cca 70cm razdalje je podal vrednost f4, nato pod to ni šel, tudi pri par cm dodatne razdalje. Zakaj ni podal vrednosti f2.8, f2, f1.4,.. itd si ne znam razložiti. Tudi z novimi baterijami v svetlomeru napaka ostaja. Podobno meritev je pri postavitvi št. 3 normalno opravil, vse do f0.5 pri večji razdalji merjenja. Tako žal za postavitev št. 4 nimam vrednosti, vseeno pa je že po fotkah videno, da je izguba svetlobe občutna, vsaj 2-3 zaslonke.

23Nov/110

Nikita

Ko so vsi normalni ljudje še spali, smo nekateri v soboto ob 9h ze letali po megli. Sicer smo zaradi mraza bolj kofetkali, samo par arhivskih fotk je pa vseeno nastalo..

When most normal people were still asleep, some of us were already running around in the fog on Saturday morning. Due to the cold we spent most of the time in the coffee shop, but still managed to produce a couple of archive pictures..

 

12Oct/110

PhoneBooth

Za prihajajočo flash delavnico, sva s Saro pred časom naredila par fotk za prikaz usklajevanja nočnega ambienta in bliskavice. Seveda Muphy tudi tokrat ni počival in je dodal še tretji vir svetlobe - luč v kabini. Tako gre za usklajevanje treh virov svetlobe, vsak različne moči, smeri in seveda barve.
Dodamo še malo obdelave, glass efekt (ki sem ga mimogrede opisal v tekoči številki revije MojMikro), zeleno/modri ton in voila..

For an upcoming Flash workshop, Sara and I did a few sample shots about combining night ambient and flash light. Of course Murphy showed up and introduced a third light - booth light. So we have three light sources, each with different strength, direction and color.
We add some post-production, glass effect, green/blue color cast and voila..

sara-phonebooth-blog

 

15Sep/114

Kombinacija bliskavice, tungsten in ambienta.. flash delavnica

Za prihajajočo delavnico "Bliskavice" sva s Saro naredila nekaj referenčnih fotk, med njimi tudi mix treh virov svetlobe: bliskavice, tungsten luči in ambienta. Glede na različne nastavitve zaklopa, zaslonke in bliskavice je možno nadzirati vsak vir svetlobe in prilagoditi razmerje med posameznimi svetlobnimi viri ter tako vplivati na končni stil fotke.
Uporaba, nadzor, svetlobna razmerja in mešanje različnih svetlobnih virov je samo majhen del tem, ki jih bo možno spoznati in preizkusiti na delavnici "Bliskavice", na programu meseca oktobra. Več o tem pa čez nekaj dni..

For my upcoming workshop "Working with Flashes" Sara and I made some reference shots, mixing three different light sources: flash, tungsten light and ambient light. With different shutter, aperture and flash settings it's possible to control each light source separately and adjust light ratios to influence the style of the photo.

sara-blog-v2 (click for full size)

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