Lighting 101: Umbrella Swivel Adapters

To attach your flash to a light stand, you'll need an umbrella swivel adapter. They are also called umbrella adapters, or just "swivels."

This pretty straightforward. These are rugged and cheap. My recommendation, the LumoPro LP679 (seen above) clocks in at $16. Top to bottom, here's how they work.

The Cold Shoe

At top, you'll find a removable cold shoe. This will allow you to mount your flash to the top of the umbrella swivel. Ideally, this sits on a removable brass post which mounts in a hole atop the swivel. This will give you a variety of mounting options for your flash (especially the side-mounting LumoPro LP180) as you advance.

The Umbrella Mount

Moving down, this is the small hole and clamp which holds the optical umbrella (more on that in a bit) which you will use to soften your flash's light. But even if you are not using an umbrella (which you will not do all of the time) you will still need the swivel in order to attach a flash to a light stand, or anything else that is tipped with a 5/8" male stud.

You put the umbrella shaft into the hole and clamp down the screw. Pretty simple. If you are doing it right (i.e., not backwards) the umbrella shaft should point about ten degrees up (instead of down) to offset the fact that the flash is a little off-center due to the mount.

The Elbow

I'll bet you can figure this out by yourself. You loosen it, tilt the flash and/or flash/umbrella combo, and tighten it back to lock in place.

The Light Stand Mount

This is the female receptacle and locking knob that holds the whole assembly to the top of your light stand. Or anything else with a male, 5/8" stud.

The Extra Stud

Some swivels ship with an extra brass stud. (The LP679, which is pictured above does.) This has a female, threaded ¼" x 20 hole at one end and a 3/8" hole at the other.

This is a very cool accessory to have. So even if you don't use it for a while, try not to lose it. With a little ingenuity (and a bolt of the right size) you can figure out all kinds of positioning devices and/or brackets that might support a flash in a tight or unusual spot. This stud will marry your frankenstein lighting creation to the swivel and allow you to connect it all together. Go nuts.

A Very Important Note:

For some unknown reason, swivels often are assembled and shipped upside down. I have no idea why. Just know that the umbrella hole and the cold shoe should be on the same end of the swivel when you use it. (Both up top, as shown above.) Not the reverse, where they sometimes mount the extra stud in the end with the umbrella hole when assembling them at the factory. Sigh.

Knowing this (and swapping the studs, if necessary) might save you some confusion the first time you try to use it.

Next: Synching Your Flash to Your Camera


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
Save Money: Browse MPEX Weekly Strobist Deals