LumoPro LP632 'Shorty' Swivel
Reader's Digest condensed version: Smaller, better lighting axis, less flexible and the shoe could be better. Some will like this better than the standard umbrella swivels, and some won't.
Find out if it is right for you -- and how to hack it to make it better -- after the jump.
First off, it is significantly smaller than the standard shoe-mount flash umbrella swivels:
Here they are side by side. If you are packing tight and every cubic inch is at a premium, the new one is gonna save you some room.
An added bennie of the small design is a fix for a problem that irks a lot of umbrella-mount shooters: The distance between the umbrella shaft (center of the light mod) and the flash head. This new swivel gets you a good inch closer, which minimizes the "off-center" quality of your light in the umbrella.
I am more familiar with the standard models, so I am partial to the big lever and smooth movement to tilt the flash/umbrella combo. But the new swivel incorporates a geared movement that bites well without a lot of torque on the lever. Which means you can get away with a smaller locking device. Which saves space.
The screw that holds the umbrella shaft is also smaller. Which actually might be a good thing for those who tend to crunch their shafts with too much torque. (There is a fix for that here.)
So, that said, what's not to like? I am irky about a couple of things. One of them depends on the flash you are using, and the other is fixable. So no big whup. Here they are.
First, the shoe is a little weird with newer Nikon (and other "pin-lock" flashes.) If you are shooting SB-24/25/26's or Vivitars, no biggie. But If your flash pin locks, like an SB-600 or -800, it does not sit very well.
There is a metal springy thing, which is a little weak and is, well, metal. So you need to tape it to kill the conductivity which would be right against your TTL contacts. And I also suggest sticking something under the spring (it is removable) to give it more pressure. I chose a wadded up rubber band.
In short, the shoe works great for older flashes but not as well for newer ones. And since it is not removable, you are locked into it. Not so the other swivels, which have shoes you can replace and/or mod with a drill and pliers to fit better.
The head on the new swivel is held by two rivets, not a screw. It is very secure, but it is a little wobbly on mine. Dunno if this is on all or just mine, but it is easily improved. A rubber band will easily get you nice and solid, so the rivet thing is a non-issue.
Remember, you can still use the swivel to mount to 1/4x20 platforms (like a monopod) with the included brass insert with female threads for 3/8 and 1/4x20 mounts, so don't throw the insert away. Heck, that and a $0.99 Home Depot clamp and you have the makings of a poor man's Superclamp.
So, the choice is yours. But at least there is a choice.
Anyone else old enough to remember these? They (on the left -- the dinky one) were from the old Spiratone catalog (70's and 80's) and had a 1/4x20 mount on the bottom.
Thanks for the pic, Malikmata52.
(The top three photos on this page, BTW, were shot with the idiot-proof -- and tested -- cardboard macro studio.)
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