Saturday, October 28, 2006

From PW to any Hotshoe Flash in $12

You can attach your Pocket Wizards to any hotshoe flash without any expensive PC sync cords and without multiple cables. And it can cost you as little as $12.

What you see there is a female port 1/8" mini plug to hotshoe adapter. It's exactly like the PC sync models only with a 1/8" mini plug instead. The beauty of this adapter is that the PW already uses a mini plug port, so the only cable you need is male mini plug to male mini plug. As luck would have it, these cables are pretty easy to find at Radio Shack, Fry's or your local electronics store and come in different lengths. I had one laying around the house; you might have one too.

You can get your hotshoe adapter from an ebay vendor. She doesn't auction the adapters directly but she will sell them to you for $5 a piece with $2 shipping ($3 International). Contact (I think her name is Julie) and ask for a hotshoe adapter or just paypal her with your $7 and your address. I ordered a backup adapter and it got here in a few days.

So here's the math:

$5 Hotshoe Adapter
$2 Shipping for above adapter
$5 Price of a stereo male mini plug to mini plug cable
$12 Total

Last I checked the PC sync to mini plug cables were like $40-50 so this is a pretty good deal by comparison. I hope this helps those of you on a budget.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Review of Umbrelsoft II by DyanPhos

36" Umbrelsoft II by DyanPhos sold on ebay via

I found this interesting umbrella/softbox on ebay. At $.025 plus $10 shipping I figured it was worth the investment to see if it was a worthwhile investment over a shoot thru umbrella.

I've disliked the idea of having the round portion of my shoot thru as the diffuser since light spreads everywhere, making it hard to control. This looked like a better solution since the diffusion panel was flat and could be spun around just like an umbrella to only light certain areas.

As you can see the flash head is supposed to enter the diffusion area, bounce off the silver backed umbrella and leave thru the diffusion panel. Simple idea that sounds like it'd be perfect for us Strobists.

The Umbrelsoft 2 comes with a little nylon sleeve to put the umbrella into. The Umbrelsoft itself is made of decent weight nylon but certainly nothing I think would withstand abuse. Certainly not as well made as my Photoflex Softbox, but then it was 10x cheaper too. Care should be taken when retracting the umbrella as the white diffusion panel can snag on the umbrella tips.

moment I realized I had a problem. My Sigma EF500 flash didn't quite fit into the hole where the strobe is supposed to go; it was too tall. I could stretch the material around the flash and insert the flash into the Umbrelsoft bIt sets up exactly like a regular umbrella, only the Umbrelsoft 2 is brought much closer to the stand so the flashhead can poke thru the special hole in the diffusion panel. It was at thisut even then the flashhead itself was pointed much higher than the umbrella's center. I believe these were designed for studio strobes where the distance from the head to the center of the umbrella shaft is rather close. My 6" flash was maybe an inch too tall. Adding my hotshoe adapter to use my Pocket Wizard just made the issue worse.

About 8 hours later, I thought of a possible solution. I decided to reverse my umbrella adapter. One end of your umbrella adapter connects to the lightstand and the other end is supposed to hold both the hotshoe flash and umbrella. By reversing the adapter so the umbrella was held by the bottom end, I was able to rotate the upper portion so the flash was angled toward the Umbrelsoft.

This lowers the flashhead considerably and as you can see the flash can now fit into the hole in the panel. Of course this sacrifices the adapter's ability to tilt the umbrella so it's stuck parallel to the horizon. However for my applications, I don't think this will be a major issue.

The Umbrelsoft 2 provides nice diffused light that is more directional than a shoot thru umbrella. It's more efficient as there's no light lost either. For $10 its not bad and certainly better light than my shoot thru umbrella. I'd recommend it for anyone with a shorter flash or anyone for which tilting the Umbrelsoft II is not important.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New Toys, Yeah!

I just received some new toys! I'm quite excited to get out and play with my new Pocket Wizards Plus.

Thanks to David Hobby at the Strobist for providing a great source for them. I'm looking forward to using them on new and exciting ways. I think it'll be a little while before I'm really using the PWs in creative ways but I'm quite excited about the possibilities.

I also picked up two Nikon SB-26's flashes. I'll be using these as remote flashes. I got them from KEH in bargain & ugly condition. I'll have to test them some more to make sure I'll be keeping them but so far the idea seems sound. That will give me either 3 or 4 flashes. Sounds like a lot but after using them a bit I realize that 4 really isn't too many.