Thursday, May 24, 2012

Considering a Three-Way? Here's What You Need to Know.

After Monday's OA post, several people asked via Twitter and comments about the three-way flash brackets.

They are super-useful, small, light and cheap. Or not, if you mistakenly buy more capability than you need...
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For the uninitiated, three-way flash brackets are like an umbrella swivel except they are designed to hold one, two or three speedlights.

A lot people make incorrect assumptions about the power gains to be had by ganging multiple speedlights. In truth, it's the second flash that gives you the bulk of the extra power. Adding flashes after that pretty quickly gets you into diminishing returns.

Think of it in terms of power levels. A flash at full power is twice as powerful as the same flash at half power. But you only get one more f/stop of light. Similarly, ganging two flashes together buys you one more stop of light.

But adding a third flash would only buy you an additional half stop of light from there. (You already have two flashes. To get one more stop you would have to double that and add two more flashes.)

So yeah, you can bump your output by a stop for more power when needed by adding just one flash. Or—and this is usually more important to me—you can cut your recycle time in half by using two flashes and dialing the power down in each.

You can further get power (or recycle) advantages by adding a third flash. But with each added flash the marginal benefit decreases:

One added stop = one added flash
Two added stops = three added flashes
Three added stops = seven added flashes

To get four more stops of light stop, you'd need fifteen added flashes (or, one full McNally.) So, the low-hanging fruit is really from that first additional flash.

For the reed quintet shot, I essentially had two light sources. If memory serves, I shot it at ~ISO 400 at f/8.

I used three flashes in each source, running at 1/2 power. I could have used one flash in each source and shot at full power at about 5.6 and a half.

But by ganging all of my remaining flashes, I could bump up to f/8 and drop my power levels from 1/1 to 1/2. Meaning much faster recycles. So by ganging the lights, I could (a) shoot faster, and (b) start shooting a little earlier in the waning post-sunset light. (I.e., I can start when the light crosses my sync speed at f/8 rather than f/5.6 and a half.)

Even if you have enough power to do what you want, it makes sense to gang lights. If you have an extra flash (or, in this case, five flashes) laying around, gang them with your highest-power-level light to get some extra shooting rhythm.
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Which Three-Way to Buy?

Three-way flash brackets vary wildly in price—as in more than 300%. Which model you need is mostly determined by how forward-thinking you have been when you bought your flashes.

If your flashes have a sync jack and a built-in slave, you are golden. You do not need to re-buy that capability in the bracket, so you'll be getting off easily. The Strobies Three-Way Bracket is just $44.99.

(Note that "Strobies" has no relation to "Strobist." Just coincidental.)

Moving up the price scale a little to $60.00, the Lastolite TriFlash is another good, basic three-way flash adapter. I have used both the Strobies and the TriFlash and they are both very strong. The balance is one of size vs. price, really.


The TriFlash is small, rugged and, like the Strobies model at top, totally does the job if your flashes are already synced or slaved. They both pair very well, obviously, with my Nikon SB-800s and LP160s. The TriFlash is small enough where I just consider it to be an umbrella swivel in my bag. It comes with metal springs in the cold shoes which I found to be unneeded. I just removed them.

The Strobies model is cheap enough to just consider it as a regular umbrella swivel. In fact, for the extra $25 it costs when compared to a single flash swivel, I would recommend it as the swivel to buy when you get your second flash (if the flash is slaved). There is no downside to using it for just one flash. And that way, you can always gang your two flashes into one stronger light source.


If you are using Nikon CLS to sync (and/or shoot TTL) you'll need to be aware of where your receiver windows line up in a triple bracket. The less expensive Strobies and basic TriFlash brackets don't handle this. But McNally worked with Lastolite to make a three-way bracket with swiveling cold shoes which solves the problem nicely.

Downside: It cost more than twice as much as the Strobies basic model. But that's okay, because if you have committed to TTL you are used to paying through the nose for everything sync/strobe related anyway. Why stop now?

It is important to know that there is no extra functionality in the rotating model other than giving you line of sight for CLS-based control.



Lastly, if your flashes do not have an external sync and you want to add this feature to your bracket, no prob. But you will need to dig deep into your wallet for that. At $146.90, the Lastolite LA2455 TriFlash Sync costs over three times as much as the basic Strobies model. But it adds a ganged sync jack and a slave.

The sync is 1/8" (yay) and hard-syncs all three flashes with one remote or cord. It's a pretty sweet setup with a PW, for instance.

The shoes, while hot, do not rotate as with the McNally model. And at more than 3x the price of the basic Strobies model, you are paying yet another tax for not buying a flash with a sync or slave built-in. Just sayin'.
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Obviously, my recommendation is to be forward-thinking about your syncing needs when you first buy the flash. As usual, this is money well-spent in the long run and allows you to spend less on the auxiliary gear.

If you have done that, go with the Strobies unit or the basic Lastolite model and enjoy the benefits of more power and/or faster recycle whenever you have an unused flash available. It's a no-brainer.

If you are locked in to having to choose one of the expensive options, it's up to you to decide whether the benefits are worth the extra bracket expense.


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50 Comments:

Blogger budrowilson said...

This is probably one of the best designed multi-flash brackets I've seen:

http://www.idcphotovideo.com/store/triple-threat-traditional

May 24, 2012 7:18 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

the representative strobies image doesn't seem to jive with other pictures of the product on the intarwebz. to me, it looks more like the lastolite LA2412.

May 24, 2012 8:28 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

$480 (3x Lumo Pros)
$50 (rechargeable AA batteries)
$50 Strobie bracket
Total cost=$580
Total output @ full power=about 200 ws (generous)
Recycle time at full (4 secs)
All manual--no option for remote controllability

vs

$500 (PCB Einstein)
$230 (Vagabond Mini)
$0 (no extra bracket or umbrella mount needed)
Total Cost=$730
Total output @ full power = 600 ws (triple the above)
Recycle time with VM=3sec @full--.75 sec@160 ws (faster than above)
When paired with $210 Cyber commander/transceiver combo this light becomes highly automated and remotely controlled.

I have nothing against using single speedlites--I use them all the time. But ganging them together makes no sense compared to the above-described Einstein option. We're talking a difference of less than the cost of a softbox for an incredible increase (& range 2.5-620ws) in power and faster recycle times. The only way the triple bracket wins is weight, but even that is not a crushing advantage (3.5 lbs for 3 speedlites with batteries vs. 4.5 lbs for Einstein--battery unit can sit on ground).

Portability is not really an advantage either....not when you consider that a single Einstein is like carrying around 9-10 speedlites. I use a Naneu Pro rolling bag and carry two Einsteins, 4 primes, 1 camera body, the Vagabond Mini, and other accessories.

Of course, if you want to add remote controllability, then you need to start taking about the brand specific speedlites which cost as much if not more than one Einstein. Things get really clear at that point.

For run and gun, maybe speedlites still have an edge, but that's not really the application that's being discussed here. No one runs and guns with ganged speedlites. And in a less dynamic setup, I see no clear logic in going the multiple speedlite route (unless you already have a few--but for the new investor the speedlite route doesn't make one much of a luminary.)

May 24, 2012 8:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How do you think the PW flex TT5 would fair hanging sideways with a flash intop of it?

May 24, 2012 8:58 AM  
Blogger Kyle said...

How well do those brackets handle the Pocketwizard TT5 transmitters? Do they fit, or do they need to be dangled?

May 24, 2012 9:11 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I recently bought Lightware's FourSquare - http://www.lightwaredirect.com/ and am completely happy. It hold 4 lights and has room for pocketwizard TT5's, an umbrella mounting screw and is completely solid metal.

May 24, 2012 9:20 AM  
Blogger Kevin B. said...

Then there's the super economy option... at only $13 you can buy the interfit three way adapter. Its worked for me, but I'm always concerned about security. The extra expense of the strobies will likely give you more peace of mind.

www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/742155-REG/Interfit_STR141_Tri_Shoe_Adapter.html

May 24, 2012 10:08 AM  
Blogger Robert Davidson said...

Three ganged flashes sounds neat, but it seems to me that this could be a tipping point to consider an Alien Bees B800 + Vagabond Mini instead of speedlights. Considering that 3 Lumopro LP160's + a Strobies 3-way bracket costs $525, and a B800 + Vagabond Mini costs $520, the cost of equipment is a wash. While the B800 + Vagabond Mini together weigh about 5.2 pounds, that is only twice the weight of the 3 Lumopros + 3-way bracket. Since only the B800 needs to be mounted with the umbrella or softlighter (or whatever light mod), it only weighs 2.9 pounds (not much more than the 3 LP160's + 3 way bracket). The Vagabond Mini can be strapped to the light stand near the bottom, adding ballast to help steady the stand.
The B800 should also provide more even lighting on a large light mod.
Before I get too excited about ganging three speedlights, I would give very serious consideration to the B800 + Vagabond Mini option.

May 24, 2012 10:12 AM  
Blogger Raph Nogal Photography said...

I've used a tri-bracket for a wedding i shot in Mexico. Worked like a charm ! The bracket was rather inexpensive from B&H and was well built (not plastic). I had one Sb-800 triggered via PWPlus II and two SB-26s on optical slave. I found that since the flashes were so close together on the bracket, even in full sun the sb-26s optical sensors worked well.

Here's a sample shooting into full sun (http://raphnogal.com/weddings/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/trash_the_dress_mexico_toronto_wedding_photographer-1.jpg)

and here's where you can see the triple shadow (flashes were bare) (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YZb1Tg5TQBk/TchBeauJnfI/AAAAAAAAAdo/cMDAgM1EMq4/s1600/toronto_wedding_destination_photographer_mexico-21.jpg)

May 24, 2012 10:38 AM  
Blogger Raph Nogal Photography said...

I've used a tri-bracket for a wedding i shot in Mexico. Worked like a charm ! The bracket was rather inexpensive from B&H and was well built (not plastic). I had one Sb-800 triggered via PWPlus II and two SB-26s on optical slave. I found that since the flashes were so close together on the bracket, even in full sun the sb-26s optical sensors worked well.

Here's a sample shooting into full sun (http://raphnogal.com/weddings/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/trash_the_dress_mexico_toronto_wedding_photographer-1.jpg)

and here's where you can see the triple shadow (flashes were bare) (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-YZb1Tg5TQBk/TchBeauJnfI/AAAAAAAAAdo/cMDAgM1EMq4/s1600/toronto_wedding_destination_photographer_mexico-21.jpg)

May 24, 2012 10:39 AM  
Blogger Bob K said...

Two more cheap options:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/742155-REG/Interfit_STR141_Tri_Shoe_Adapter.html

Not sure if that'll work with 3 flashes, the bases might interfere with one another.

This one should be fine for two flashes:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/811643-REG/DIYP_LK_DFB_Double_Flash_Bracket_Kit.html

May 24, 2012 11:18 AM  
Blogger Lachlan said...

I saw McNally shooting with some TriBrackets today. Got to say it's a really awesome solution for speedlight use. But yeah, if you're shooting with many it does add up after a while.

And McNally knows how to shoot with less lights ;) But More is more control I guess.

May 24, 2012 11:22 AM  
Blogger KamakaPhotography said...

Just to clarify, is a full McNally 16 flashes, or 4 stops? I'm thinking the latter, just because that scales infinitely.

May 24, 2012 11:46 AM  
Blogger RFS said...

If you own a drill and a hacksaw, it's very easy to make a very strong two- or four-strobe bracket from an 8-inch section of 1/4-inch aluminum bar stock from the hardware store. The stock is also easily bendable in a vise so you can make whatever offsets you like to match your softbox or umbrellas.

May 24, 2012 11:53 AM  
Blogger RFS said...

And also, once you pay for more than three or four speedlights, you could have bought a much more powerful monolight and portable battery pack (unless, of course, you have found a secret cache of SB-28s).

May 24, 2012 11:56 AM  
Blogger Joshua Bernie said...

I want a Three-way, modded with Frio Cold Shoe Mounts.

Please make our dreams come true.

May 24, 2012 12:03 PM  
Blogger MasterOfGoingFaster said...

I use the "Gaffer-Tape" flash bracket with a home-made 3-into-1 connector for the hot shoes.

May 24, 2012 12:11 PM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Adorama sells two triple flash adapters with one 3.5mm sync (fires all three flashes) and standard tripod (1/4-20 female) threads for mounting for around $25 and under. NB - not as sturdy as some of the other pricier options available, and I've occasionally had odd problems with flashes going off on their own. Still - a cheaper option for non-TTL users:

http://www.adorama.com/DLCFSTS.html
http://www.adorama.com/FASSC5.html

May 24, 2012 12:15 PM  
Blogger Joey (aka Pepe) said...

Since I already own a good number of umbrella flash brackets, I went with the cheaper model. Works fine, but lacks tightening screws, so I have to be careful when using my Phottix triggers, which don't have any hot-shoe tightening mechanism.

May 24, 2012 12:31 PM  
Blogger Bob Rockefeller said...

Has anyone tried the Strobies mount with 3 Nikon RadioPopper PX triggered flashes? Does it all fit together?

May 24, 2012 12:36 PM  
Blogger Tampa Photography Classes said...

Excellent info on multiple flashes and diminishing value of added light! Thanks.

May 24, 2012 1:12 PM  
Blogger Tampa Photography Classes said...

Excellent info on multiple flashes and diminishing value of added light! Thanks.

May 24, 2012 1:15 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Several people-

Thanks for the heads-up(s) on the mismatched photo. I posted without the Strobies bracket as intended. Then. of course, headed out for a half-day shoot as the "hey numbskull..." comments flooded in.

Fixed it at first opportunity upon return. Should be much clearer now... :)

(And thanks for the catch!)


@Matt and Robert-

True, all. If your only criteria is watt-seconds per dollar, this is not the cheapest route. But I can split the three ganged speed lights into three separate light sources whenever I need. so there's that. Also, this is typically a light/cheap/portable solution for people who already use speedlights and occasionally need more oomph or faster recycles.

May 24, 2012 1:22 PM  
Blogger Nas said...

I bought a Calumet branded ti-bracket last month and it works really well. The build quality is excellent.

May 24, 2012 4:49 PM  
Blogger Gerry M said...

Here's a very low cost, easy to make triple bracket. It took less then 30 minutes to make two. It's just a simple "T" bracket from the hardware store. There is a 90 degree bend on the vertical portion. The horizontal gets a gentle curve. A thumb nut attaches it to the umbrella holder and you attach three cold shoes It's worked well enough for two years that I haven't needed to buy one.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27384111@N00/5012842513/in/photostream
--Gerry

May 24, 2012 8:52 PM  
Blogger Danny Jenkins said...

I have a couple of these brackets made by a guy here in Australia. He ships worldwide too.

http://ep-designs.com/MFX.html

Better design in my opinion as the flash heads are all as close together as possible, lessening the double shadow effect.

In regards to the comments above regarding the PCB and Vagabond setup;

I have considered swapping for this but the problem of portability still remains. I need to be able to carry everything in one backpack (plus a small light stand bag). I primarily shoot skateboarding and the pace we all get around the city is quite fast. I need to be able to keep up with those guys skating through the streets, and this means a setup I can carry while I too am riding a skateboard.

With this rig I can gang three flashes together, giving me enough consistent power to get through around a 16-20 shot sequence.
Most guys shooting sequences don't bother with flash or use it incorrectly, having the power drain after 4 shots.

Also with the sync limited to 1/250 the extra power of two or three flashes helps balance out strong daylight.

Also for anyone interested you can get around on a skateboard carrying following without too much trouble (this is what's in my bag):

7D body
50mm 1.4
70-200mm 2.8 IS
17-40mm L
Elinchrom Skyports (transmitter & 3 receivers)
Flash Bracket (as per link above)
3 x Nikon SB-28
1 x 580EXII
Canon 7D batteries and 8 sets of 4 AA batteries for the flashes

In the light stand bag I carry in my hand there are 2 x light stands and two umbrelllas (all pretty lightweight).

So there's just a few things to consider if you're thinking about going with this rig, I've spent a while trying out different gear to get the best bang for buck/weight.

Best regards,
Danny Jenkins

May 25, 2012 12:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I also made my own.

But a little more involved than just strapping and bolts. I am an experienced machinist so I had some time to whip up a proper one with some aluminum hex stock.

Took way too long but the results and fruits of my efforts are fun.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/100thousandquestions/sets/72157624976635311/

May 25, 2012 12:25 AM  
Blogger cesar cabezas said...

i made my bracket for 15 $ actually i think it was 13 https://twitter.com/#!/cesarnitro100mi/media/slideshow?url=pic.twitter.com%2FZfzpJuCi

May 25, 2012 4:29 AM  
Blogger Tattoo Al said...

David , I too shoot with TT5. I'm wondering if three TT5s would fit on a triflash...
Or if on TT5 on the synced triflash would trigger the other two flashes and would they still be compatible w the AC3?

May 25, 2012 6:56 AM  
Blogger Rick D Joy said...

I'm currently using the McNally bracket and I haven't regretted my purchase. Since I like to mess around with high speed sync a lot, it works fine for me to keep all the lights where they oughta be. It's portable, it kicks butt, and I like it. The only thing I would get if i wanted to bump it up just a little is... maybe a quad flash bracket. I have also seen people get crafty and have their machinist friends fashion them an octa flash bracket... crazy stuff... Gotta love it.

May 25, 2012 8:37 AM  
Blogger Kevin Fishel said...

I like @Matt's comments because I'd love to have a couple Einsteins and Minis (those things just seem useful on so many levels....as you have pointed out before).

Your response was great though. It's about choices. The speedlight option gives you creative choices the couple Einsteins would not provide.

McNally's boat shot from the CLS video, or your glass blower/metal worker shot are good examples. In his case, creative use of 10+ speedlights gave him the option to really 'paint' the scene with exactly the light he wanted where he wanted it. In your example, it's a whole lot easier to stick a LumoPro up in a rafter than an Einstein or Bee, or Profoto...etc. Lots of ways to arrive at the same destination, just depends on what roads you like to travel on.

May 25, 2012 9:12 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I recently read Joe McNally's new book. He had a good breakdown of large light versus multiple small lights.

I'm considering this route because, as an enthusiast, I like the flexibility of a 5 light basement studio setup that has two mono blocks and 3 speed lights that can be a field ready 3 speed light setup or higher power 1 or 2 light setup.

Add in Nikon's High Speed Sync capability and it can be a very interesting option.

May 25, 2012 9:50 AM  
Blogger spiritualspatula said...

I totally agree with everybody about the cost of purely speedlights vs AB's (for instance) in w/s per dollar, and as Hobby pointed out, we all know the outcome. But, for somebody like myself who has three strobes that I've accumulated over the years, they're great and work better in many ways than an Einstein setup.
For instance, when I shoot downhill mountain biking, I need to be very portable, as I'm lugging that grip all over the mountain typically by bike or foot. Assuming I'm using my usual 3 flashes, I can either do three separate sources, two on stands, one on gorillapod on tree/ground, or if I need to add power to my key, throw another in on the stand without doing the haphazard bungie attachment method of lashing them together (which works but is not very confidence inspiring). With this approach, I have an extremely versatile setup that can fit great in a single backpack with a body and my 28-70 and 80-200 and not be too unwieldy when traversing severe terrain.
I can't do this with Einsteins unless I have some poor sucker I've bribed with beer following along, plus I'd have wires all over the place or I'd be running two or three Vagabonds.

Undoubtedly, there is a time and a place for both approaches. Evaluate how this pertains to what you shoot and decide from there.

May 26, 2012 5:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To answer the question about using PocketWizard Flexes with a tri-flash bracket: I have the Lastolite cold-shoe bracket and the Bruce Dorn IDC tri-flash bracket, and the cold shoes are too close together to fit Flexes on each, but there's a simple solution with the Lastolite. Each Flex comes with a cold shoe-filter. For each Flex, just put the filter into the tri-flash bracket's cold shoe and then attach the Flex to the filter. The filter then acts as a riser, so that you then have enough clearance to fit the three Flexes and the flash units mounted on the Flexes.

The IDC version implements a very clever idea for a tri-flash bracket to be used with umbrellas. There is an umbrella hole through the middle of it. But I have to warn you away from it. The bracket is a single block of heavy metal, and the cold shoes are not separate, but just cold-shoe-shaped slots cut into the metal. They have no "end-stops" or rightening screw, and they are too big for a Flex or a Canon flash to grip them firmly. The first time I used it and tilted the umbrella shaft holding the bracket, the Flexes and attached units felt out and landed on what was, fortunately, soft grass.

More promising is an RPS version of this concept (umbrella hole through the middle) that has actual cold shoes with tightening screws on each side. Unfortunately, these units are on back order (at least with B&H) and I have been waiting for weeks for one.

www.lawrenceruss.com
lawrenceruss.wordpress.com

May 26, 2012 1:23 PM  
Blogger thorir vidar said...

I have a few brackets made by already mentioned www.ep-designs.com/. One of them is a U shaped aluminium plate, mounted on a basic (low profile) umbrella swivel, with a cold shoe on each side. To be honest I don't know if he still makes them, but I can't recommend him enough. Excellent craftmanship, and a super nice guy to deal with.

Oh, he goes by elv0000 at flickr. I'm sure many of you have seen his work.

(If not against comment policy, here's a list of his current ebay listings: http://www.ebay.com/sch/elvooo/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_from=&_ipg=25)

May 26, 2012 3:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Great post Dave. I was just thinking of buying one this week for a shoot that I'm doing that might need extra power or faster recycle times. What do you think about the Lastolite Quad bracket? I mean just for hanging 4 flashes and an umbrella and not the extra stuff used for the EZBox. I like the fact that you can mount 2 umbrellas opposite eachother so you can fire the flashes in a reflected silver or white umbrella and have the light go through another layer of diffusion through shoot through. If used with two parabolic umbrellas the light is gonna be super big and super soft and it comes with sync cables for 4 flashes so you will need only 1 radio receiver for all 4 flashes and it costs 100$, less than the tri-flash sync

May 27, 2012 3:12 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Just wondering why no one ever mentions Phottix Odin when talking about remote wireless triggering? I've been using this system for several months now and could not be happier. They do everything the Pocketwizards and the RadioPoppers do, only better and cheaper, in my opinion. The transmitter sits in the hot shoe and provides full ttl control, remote manual control, remote zoom of flash head and it is fully capable of high speed sync up to 1/8000 of a second. the transmitter has a backlit lcd panel and could not be simpler to use. user controls are so intuitive that you don't even need the manual that comes with it. Just sayin!

May 27, 2012 8:03 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here is another one
http://www.calumetphoto.com/eng/product/calumet_three_flash_mount/mf6720

May 27, 2012 11:30 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Unknown-

Yep, the Lastolite quad bracket (or the Lightware FourSquare, which was actually first with this idea) would work fine. If you had another flash, you'd get an add'l 1/2 stop over the 3-way bracket, too.

@Bill-

Given that you are asking the question about Odin on the site, you may well not know that this is not (nor does it seek to be) an all-encompassing review site.

It is more of a teaching site that also occasionally chronicles my own gear journey. Thus, the relative lack of comprehensiveness on the gear side of things.

I have been a PW user since the early 1990's, so that tends to be what I discuss on the remotes. That said, there is a healthy discussion of the Odins on the Strobist Flickr group (link is to a search of "Odin" in that group.)

May 27, 2012 11:30 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

For those who rate speedlight power very lowly. I've now read on several occasions that they put out an equivalent of 100-150Ws. So four small flashguns will actually pack quite some oomph. Combined with an efficient pseudo-parabolic umbrella - presto.

What I don't like about the multi-flash adapters, is that the heads are very far off the umbrella shaft. A mount where the flash head lies flat would be much better.

Also regarding the cost issue: YN560II cost $80 or 50 quid. They also seem to have gotten a better hold of their QC issues, if you can trust the data Cotswold photo (medium ebay seller) has published somewhere on flickr.

So, in the UK that makes four flashguns with accessories certainly cheaper than portable light solutions. PCB equipment costs an arm and a leg here, the website looks 1990ies and the service is apparently almost non-existent.

May 28, 2012 5:00 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

@Mike-

Hmm.

1. Speedlights tend to be about 60ws, not 100-150ws.
2. Parabolic umbrellas and speed lights are uniqule unsuited for each other, because of the inefficiencies of the beam pattern and requirement.
3. YongNuo flashes? Cheap, yes. But you can get much better reliability for not much more $$.
4. Triples actually spread the flashes around the umbrella, offsetting the off-axis problems speed lights and umbrellas have. Provided your umbrella is not parabolic, re: above.
5. PCB products are primarily US-based. Buying them in other countries is akin to buying foreign vinyl. Not a cost-effective thing to do for reasons of price or service. But here in the US, the price/service proposition is off the charts.

I would suggest going local rather than PCB or YN. Maybe looking at what Elinchrom mono your budget will allow.

May 28, 2012 11:04 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Thanks David.

You might find the bottom part of this article interesting - re: parabolic umbrellas and speedlights. http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10046-10396-10407

I probably just vented some steam as PCB is so cheap in the states.

May 28, 2012 3:10 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Mike-

I am familiar to it, and in fact linked to it when it came out. That said, I own and use both and my experience has shown the Softlighter II to be a much better choice for speedlights.

And FWIW, Paul Buff's price to value equation is fantastic largely because it disintermediates distributors, and at large scale. Which, of course, is not great for you guys.

May 28, 2012 3:32 PM  
Blogger Paul S said...

I find it's just as easy to bungee four flashes together onto a single cold shoe adapter. It's simply a matter of attaching the first flash onto the adapter, then inverting the second flash directly on top of that one. Then you just bungee the third and forth flashes onto either side of the first two. Four flashes securely fastened together for a total cost of about £1.50...

May 28, 2012 6:07 PM  
Blogger Yugo said...

MPEX has a nice compact "Strobies Tri Shoe Adapter and Bracket Kit" with umbrella swivel for just $26.99 ($22.58 in a Strobist kit). I grabbed one for my very first light stand and Softlighter II, since it wasn't much more than a regular umbrella mount and could utilize both of my flashes (and a third if I get another).

Thanks for the heads up in general, David! This site has taught me a ton, and I used a lot of it to make some portraits for an artist friend!

May 29, 2012 12:08 PM  
Blogger Alex Sharifi said...

A couple of years ago, I flipped when I saw the price for the Lightware bracket, so I decided to make my own. It's cheap, simple, and just as expandable and adaptable as the lightware product imho.

http://www.diyphotography.net/how-to-build-a-quad-flash-bracket-from-pvc-pipes

It works well, is solid, and is infinitely cheaper than any commercial solution :)

May 30, 2012 4:58 PM  
Blogger Jeff Freeman said...

What's better more powerful than a 3-way, more professional than a hunk of pvc, and infinitely more flexible? The McNally-izer! ;-)
https://plus.google.com/112495104906026979653/posts

Jeff

May 31, 2012 3:03 PM  
Blogger oli said...

DIY triple bracket:

Pic1:
www.oliver-wendel.de/pics/triple1.jpg

Pic2:
www.oliver-wendel.de/pics/triple2.jpg

Just got out of my shop ;-)

Oli

June 19, 2012 2:43 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Someone already asked this...but does anyone know of a RadioPopper-compatible triple- or quad-head? I currently use the Bruce Dorn softbox double header. Its nice cuz I can screw in either two Speedlites or two quantum t5drs.

But I'd love to be able to screw in 3 or 4 Speedlites mounted on RadioPopper pxs with a softbox option.

Thanks for any advice!

Steve Fogarty
www.FOGARTYFOTO.com

June 29, 2012 3:20 AM  
Blogger David Hobby said...

Nope. Doesn't exist.

June 29, 2012 9:47 AM  

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