It's DIY Thursday

Fancy yourself a bit of a … modder?

Well, we gots not one but two DIY tips today, courtesy intrepid readers. Hit the jump to learn both how to add a nipple (not my term, mind you) to your SB-800 and how to make a very cool speedlight-to-AlienBees adapter.

Can You See Me Now?

Reader Eric Au came up with the idea to add a cheap flashlight lens to his IR window on an SB-800 to increase the angle of acceptance from other flashes' optical signals. It appears to turn the flat window into sort of an optical collector.

He was using it for CLS, but one would presume it would also increase the angular performance for people using the SB's in SU-4 slave mode. More info on this cool mod in the Strobist Flickr group discussion thread.

One note -- DealExtreme seems to now be out of the multi-packs of super-cheap flashlight lenses. But they are pretty good at getting in stock to fill back orders. Shipping is free and the lenses are like, $3.40 for 100.

DealExtreme takes a while, but they usually come through. Oh, and if this is your first time there, plan on a few hours of late-night browsing.

Little Lights, Big Mods

With the introduction of the new Einsteins, Paul Buff seems to be paying a lot more attention to the quality of his reflectors and other mods. He has moved beyond the old conical reflectors and has some very cool replacements at typically low prices.

The grids to fit them are likewise inexpensive. And that starts to give some interesting possibilities if you can mate them to speedlights.

Here's the thing to remember: You need to change your speedlight output to the equivalent of a bare bulb with a Sto-Fen -type diffuser before the reflectors will properly do their thing.

Thus will lose you some power. But this adaptation is not about power, it's about light shaping. It is about being able to make some very cool light sources for when you are working up close (or in low, easy-to-overcome ambient.)

You can shoot like this in your speedlight's wireless TTL mode, too, if that's your thing. (Not that there's anything wrong with that…)

I love jamming a foam-wrapped, stofened SB-800 into a Profoto Magnum reflector and working in close. Just a very cool kind of light for close-in portraiture. (Example of a Magnum-keyed portrait here.)

So, without further ado, Tim Rogan's neat little DIY hack to marry your AB mod and your speedlight"

Vid not showing? Click here.

On thing to note -- this mod puts the flash a little further into the soft box than the regular AB or Einstein tube would be. No prob in a 'box, but with a reflector you want to match the focal point of your flash head as closely to the position of an AB flash tube as possible. I would be looking to saw off some of the front of the male screw threads on the main black plastic piece to adjust that flash position.

Very cool idea tho, and you can see a variant on it courtesy Tim Johnson.

Or, Go High-End

If you are the type with more money than time, frequent Strobist Flickr group contributor Elvis Pahr is now making speedlight-to-softbox adapters that look darn-near Italian as far as the design goes. More info at EP-Designs.

So, anyone else marrying speedlights to big mods using nifty DIY hacks? Gimme a URL in the comments. I'd love to help spread the word to others.

Oh, and for anyone who is confused by the lead pic, that'd be Tim "Tool Time" Taylor, a staple of US TV in the '90s. Click the pic for a much better explanation.


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OpenID jesserosten said...

Great post! I love modding lighting gear. Here's my speedlight bolted to the back of an AB beauty dish. L-bracket was from home depot.

December 02, 2010 2:05 AM  
Blogger Tomas said...

Not really DIY, but I bought two speedlight adapters for my bowens gear from jscamerastore on ebay.

Cheap, and the best money I've spent on lighting so far - Strong enough to hold up a 70cm Bowens beauty dish, and they even cope with my softboxes (1m+ in size).

December 02, 2010 3:06 AM  
Blogger said...

If you use bowens mounting - check tjis solution

December 02, 2010 4:29 AM  
Blogger Phot_One said...

Mine's not a DIY. Just to comment that I've been using Chimera's own adapter for two speedlites in a Chimera Medium for the past three years in conjunction with brollies and lastolite panels.

December 02, 2010 5:57 AM  
Blogger Marcell said...

I have a recent DIY macro photography project using optical fibers to channel the light close to the subject. I’m still waiting for the new supply of optical fibers. The leftover from previous projects was enough for only one tentacle (30 strands of 1mm diameter fibers), so I used it for a macro snoot and took pictures of snowflakes:
You can see the set-up here:

I’m planning to add more tentacles with various light modifiers in the future.

Details about my previous DIY fiber optics underwater flash modifiers you can find here:



December 02, 2010 6:10 AM  
Blogger Artur Gajewski said...

David, you forgot the great DIY version of Lightsphere:

December 02, 2010 8:23 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I've got to admit, though, that there are battery powered heads out there that will feed more power for the money as well as dual for mains studio heads. I'd rather put my money behind one of the Stellar Xtremes (or rather, something similar from someone else) rather than two more expensive speedlights and a custom ring - - for me, the wallet speaks mucho loud.

December 02, 2010 10:32 AM  
Blogger caprae said...

First, thank you for the mention. I'm enjoying using my boxes. If I could buy just the faceplate from Alien Bees I would be able to make one that puts the head at the exact same place.

Regarding the plastic lenses. I have some on order. With that many coming in we should be able to share with others for the price of an envelope and shipping. Even Joe McNally wouldn't be able to use 100. Or start a cottage industry of fixing other's flashes.

December 02, 2010 10:58 AM  
Blogger David said...


Thanks for the tip. I am not modding in the comment because I plan to post on that and one other vid very soon. Great minds think alike!

December 02, 2010 11:32 AM  
Blogger Britman said...

I've made a tri bracket for a 60" umbrella. It sure isn't pretty but it works.

December 02, 2010 11:35 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I too made a triflash. I had a ton of fun with my new milling machines.

here's a write up on how i made it:

December 02, 2010 1:54 PM  
Blogger Robertson ImageCraft said...

I needed a triple flash adapter the other day and diy'd one out of PVC pipe fittings. It could use an update, but it works and cost me about $3. Take a look.

December 02, 2010 6:02 PM  
Blogger Mariusz J. said...

I'm not sure about "nifty" but that's how I use my SB800's with two 24" Softboxes:

December 02, 2010 10:41 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

nice, did the same thing to mount a speedlight to an old beat up AB beauty dish.
AB beauty dish hack

December 03, 2010 6:36 AM  
Blogger Aki Korhonen said...

My friend needed a holder for three speedlights for his 47" octabox so I made him this earlier this year:

December 03, 2010 5:19 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Don't know if anyone's pointed this out to you yet- fantastic strobed photography of non-white ballet dancers in a UK paper:

December 04, 2010 11:20 AM  
Blogger The Photophile - Lanthus Clark said...

Nice post! I love doing the DIY stuff myself. Here is my DIY Beauty Dish:

Thanks for a great resource blog!

December 06, 2010 12:16 AM  
Blogger CarlSanSoc said...

Does anybody know if using a high synch voltage Vivitar 283 (of which I have several) will cook a Pocket Wizard?

Carl S.

December 06, 2010 2:06 PM  
Blogger stevewckrt said...

Great post!

December 07, 2010 2:30 AM  
Blogger Marcell said...

I've refined the fiber optics concept and created the fiberstrobe V3. It's far the most expensive DIY project I've ever had, but it works well with macro subjects. I can easily win the "pimp up your strobe" competition with this. See details here:

December 12, 2010 9:09 AM  
Blogger caprae said...

Here is the box comparing the AB400 to the SB800 with diffuser dome.

March 29, 2011 12:48 PM  

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