Lastolite Triflash Sync: Triple Threat
Why not just buy a monobloc, you ask? Well, for one thing, it is easy to gang up small flashes. But it is a little more difficult to hack a monobloc into key, fill and background lights. Different folks, different workflows.
There are a few options for ganging speedlights into a more powerful, single light. And they have all been pretty much the same -- until now.
Ahead of the Curve
Unlike most multi-flash brackets, the Lastolite TriFlash Sync includes three hot shoes, as compared to the typical cold-shoe versions.
And that 1/8" (3.5mm) jack you see out front? That is parallel-wired to all three, effectively giving you the minijack sync option that frees you from the PC Cord Mafia.
Which means you can use an audio patch cord as a sync cable. A mono cord is supplied, but my stereo cords also worked with a PocketWizard to sync three speedlights at once.
You can also even mount the PW on the center hot shoe and have it securely fastened if you just are firing two strobes. Lastolite includes a cold-shoe adapter for that, lest your PW get locked into an endless relay-mode feedback loop from triggering itself.
Built Like a Tank
With three SB-800s connected as shown, the bracket/flash combo feels like one solid unit. The shoes all have both clamping rails and locking pin holes for Nikon and Canon models.
The clamps are really solid, which is important when you consider how much money could potentially be attached to this thing. I'd hang this one out over water without the usual ball bungee wrapped around the shoes for insurance. The tilt mechanism also has locking teeth, and is quite solid.
(Please note that the above photos are of a beta unit, and the final version may have slight differences.)
Radio Not Required
Obviously, you can go with a 1/8" hard sync cord into the bracket. But if you are, say, filling with an on-axis flash you can trigger a multi-speedlight key light with the built-in slave.
The slave is intelligent, and battery-powered -- which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
First off, batt-powered slaves are generally more sensitive, which is good. And you can set it to ignore from one to four pre-flashes, if you are into combining manual and TTL.
But that also means that the slave is battery dependent (in this case, a button cell) so if you are going to be using the slave you have to remember to turn the thing off every time.
It's a non-issue for me as the PW input is convenient and immune from syncing the flashes from other nearby photographers. And if I needed to use a slave I'd probably opt for the version built into my flashes -- the SU-4 mode on the SB-800s is as good as it gets.
That way, I also have three slave eyes pointing in different directions. So the best-aimed slave would trigger, and that flash would easily set the other two off. But most flashes do not have built-in slaves, and the Triflash Sync is inspired thinking for a multi-flash bracket.
They are not yet available, but are coming soon. If you are in the UK you'll get them first (est. in a couple weeks) as they are UK-made and distributed by Lastolite. And they should be trickling out to other countries via the normal Lastolite outlets in fairly short order after that.
Price is expected to be ~$149 in the US. And who knows, UK might even get a relative break this time. Or at least, not have to pay the usual ~1.5x price...