Reviewing the Advanced Off-Camera Flash Kit
So by starting with the lightweight Manfrotto Nano stand, the Lastolite Tilthead Hot Shoe and the Lastolite brolly, I looked at some other accessories to help shape and control the output from a flash gun.
WexPro Super Clamp
Before I decided on the shaping tools I looked at the classic accessory, the WexPro Super Clamp. This little gem has been around for years and the Wex Pro version is superb. The Super Clamp as its name suggests can be used to hold a flashgun or studio light in many different positions. My thinking behind the choice was to add versatility. The Super Clamp can clamp onto the Nano at any height on any extension, but it can also clamp onto a table top, chair or even a ladder. So by adding the Super Clamp to the Advanced kit, it will add value as a very useful tool and offer the photographer more possibilities both in and out of the studio.
The Super Clamp looks like a big chunk of metal, which is exactly what it is; it has a large chunky quick release handle that will tighten the clamp like a vice to any surface up to 3.5cm thick. It comes with double ended 3/8 in spigot to support a flash head or the Lastolite Tilthead Hotshoe. Having both the Nano stand and Super Clamp in the Advanced kit means that there will be very few places a photographer can’t use a flash gun.
Now for those shaping tools. In choosing these I was thinking specifically about some of the comments in the emails I have received about results from flash guns being "too strong", "bland", "too many shadows". What I wanted was to find a way of shaping the light from a flash gun in a useable and consistent way. After looking a number of accessories, I chose three from the Honl range.
Honl Speed Strap
Honl offer some interesting products, and my first accessory is the Honl Speed Strap. This accessory is the key to their system, it’s basically a non slip, wraparound band that attaches easily to any flash gun and provides the surface to attach other Honl accessories. I like this because it’s so easy and quick to put on and take off your flash gun You don’t need glue, gaffer tape, string or paper! It's neat, clean and tidy.
With the Speed Strap attached to your flash gun you can then add your chosen accessory and I’ve selected two from the Honl range. The Honl 8” Speed Snoot / Reflector, and the Speed Gobo / Bounce Card. I chose these two accessories because they offer a wide range of lighting options.
Honl 8" Speed Snoot / Reflector
First, the 8" Speed Snoot / Reflector. This is basically a piece of thick material, a dull silver on one side and black on the other. It can be wrapped around the flash gun to form a tubular snoot, or used in an open position as a reflector. I liked this accessory in particular; especially the tubular Snoot that I know will produce a small pool of direct light - a great tool for the portrait and product photographer. The reflector has great possibilities too, as it can be used either with the silver side to produce contrast or the reverse black side that will totally control the output. Whichever way you use this, I’m sure you will enjoy it and appreciate the results you get from it.
Honl Speed Gobo / Bounce Card
My last addition to the Advanced Off-Camera Flash Kit is a really simple accessory that works so well. This accessory only measures just under 8in x 4in; white on one side and black on the other and is designed as a baffle, barn door or gobo. You can use it on the side, top or bottom of your flash gun to shield the lens from stray light, or simply use the white side to bounce light from your gun - two brilliant ways of helping you shape your light. You can use the Bounce Card and Reflector together to form a more directional reflector. You can always buy another Bounce card and use them in pairs as great little barn doors.
So by adding these few extra accessories, the Super Clamp and Honl system, I've extended the basic Essentials Kit into much more. This Advanced Kit will offer the portrait and product photographer great versatility in the choice of light shaping tools, from the brolly covering a wide area down to the Snoot for that small directional pool of light. Both the Nano stand and Super Clamp give the photographer so many options inside the studio and on location.
Ease of use 8/10
I hope that you like these kits and the choices I’ve made on your behalf. My thanks to Wex Photographic for letting me look round their warehouse to find these little gems!
Once again, if you use this kit, or something similar, why not share your shots by emailing them to me and i’ll put them at the bottom of this review!
Check out Steve's review of the Essential Off-Camera Flash Kit!