New toys arrived.. stands/umbrellas

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by usayit, Jul 25, 2008.

  1. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've never really been a "strobist" even though I use flash frequently (on camera and off camera held by hand) to get the photo I want. My focus has always been in composition and exposure rather than being creative with light. So I wanted to try it out but on a very shallow budget. Did a lot of research and discovered that $$ doesn't go very far in terms of quality... local camera shop selection of "kits" for a shallow budget is complete crap.. to put it lightly. Wobbly stands, small umbrellas...

    After some research this is what I ended up with:

    [​IMG]

    Two Lumopro air cushioned stands
    One Silvered lined umbrella
    One Soft white with removable back umbrella
    Two Umbrella brackets
    1 Cactus V2s transmitter
    2 Cactus V2s receivers.
    2 PC to hotshoe adapters.
    Two Sunpak 422D

    With the exception of the Sunpak flashes the kit cost about $230 (incl shipping). The flashes were purchased from a camera swap for about $20 each. I just got it yesterday and took a few test shots of stuff around the house.

    I am VERY surprised with the quality of the stands and umbrellas given their low price. The stands blow away (in terms of quality) anything I saw locally in the same price range. They are taller and more stable than the common Bogen 001B equivalents even though they are longer when collapsed. The main support and legs are tubes rather than cheaper pressed bent metal. They are also air cushioned which is a nice feature as well.

    The Umbrellas are equal in quality. They are nice 43 inchers and double fold down to 15. The silver one works really nicely with the relatively lower powered flash packs.

    The cactus units are not at all impressive looking BUT they do work. In the short time I used them, they triggered reliably. I was shooting about 15 feet away from them and they still triggered. They do have a hotshoe built-in but the make for an unstable perch for your heavier flash packs. I suspect that the cheap plastic bodies wouldn't hold up well over to the weight of an attached flash pack. As such, I highly recommend purchasing PC to Hotshoe adapters and hanging the cactus units to the side instead (connected via their external PC connector).

    The Sunpak 422D have been in my possession for a while now.... used with my rangefinders and older cameras. The "D" version have lower trigger voltages and I like the power adjustment slider on the back. Makes for adjusting the flash from FULL to 1/16th power quick. The only issue is that they don't have a zoom head.

    The "kit" was purchased from MPEX.com with the advice read from www.strobist.com. I highly recommend both sites. Shipping was quick and easy via ground.

    Just sharing my new purchase for those considering the same path. I'm hoping to try them out a bit in a few days.. assuming I can get time off and a subject (wife is camera shy and my kid moves too much.. hehehe lol). The only thing missing is a bag. I thought I can use my duffel bag but I didn't realize that the stands are too long to fit. oh well.. I'll probably through a strap sling them over my shoulder.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2008
  2. Bifurcator

    Bifurcator TPF Noob!

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    Looks like a bunch of fun man! Congrats! I can't wait to see some of the images you create with this!
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Nice!

    Have fun with that stuff.
     
  4. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Have fun and post lots of pix. I second your comment about strobist -- I love that site. Anyone who hasn't been through the tutorials there is really missing something in their lighting education.
     
  5. NateS

    NateS TPF Noob!

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    Sweet purchase. I need to get a lightstand and umbrella myself. I do the same as you with holding my stofen diffused flash where I need it or set it on the ground with the little stand it came with.

    Icassell I agree, Strobist is awesome and you can get information overload if you're not careful.
     
  6. Dao

    Dao No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Cool!! Look forward to see some works from you. And this is something I would like to get into later after I have more experience and of course, the money. And I was really amazed by those creative lightning controls. I mean how a powerful off camera flash can do to a photo. Even in outdoor daylight situation.
     
  7. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    I have a question (which is part of strobist I haven't read yet, so I apologize). What is the advantage of the radio transmitter system over a regular optically driven slave-flash? I use a Vivitar 283 as a slave with a photodiode trigger on it -- alot cheaper than the radio technique.
     
  8. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Plenty of advantages. Firstly, an optical trigger works well in smaller rooms because the light can bouce around. In larger spaces or outdoors, you would probaly need direct line of site from the master flash to the slave. Also, when outdoors, the slave's ability to read the flash is reduced (or so I hear). In bright sun, it's supposed to be very hard.
    Also, an optical slave trigger is susceptible to any flash that goes off. So it works when it's only you shooting, but other people's cameras/flashes can also set off your slave.

    A radio system doesn't need line of site and the range is much higher. The top end Pocket Wizards have a range of 1600 feet, the cheap ones don't work that well but can be surprisingly good.
    With a radio system, you don't need a master flash. With an optical system, you obviously need fire a master, which is probably on the camera. What if you don't want any light coming from the camera's angle?

    You could combine the two, and fire your master flash, off camera with a radio trigger, then use optical triggers for other lights.
     
  9. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Gotcha! Makes perfect sense. No problem with these direct orders from Hong Kong?
     
  10. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    MPEX.com seems to be a reseller of these Cactus V2s for the similar price you'll find on ebay. MPEX is based in the U.S. No problems with my order but I have seen reports of MPEX being out of stock. No surprise given that there are no other low cost alternatives to radio triggers.

    The weathe ris suppose to be nice this weekend ... sucks that i'm working.
     
  11. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Thanks! Didn't know them ...
     
  12. RyanLilly

    RyanLilly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Usayit, thanks for the brief review on quality. It's really hard to tell from a photo online how sturdy something is. Knowing you experience and some of the high end stuff that you have, I think you probably have reasonably high standards for quality, so I would feel pretty confident in purchasing some of this equipment based on your opinion.
     

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