SaxonPC Grids: Straddling Store-bought and DIY
Like McNally says, if you want to make something more interesting, don't light all of it. To that end, I use grid spots a lot. In fact, probably just as often as I use umbrellas.
My workhorse speedlight grid has long been the HonlPhoto 1/8". But for those looking for a lower entry point (or more extreme beam widths) SaxonPC grids offer a second choice.
They are both designed to be used on speedlights, but take very different approaches from there. Today, a head-to-head comparison to help you decide which best suits your needs.
SaxonPC grids are sort of a DIY craft project turned into a business. Essentially, they are stock sections of lightweight grid material wrapped in strips of adhesive craft foam. They come in different beam widths, and cost less than bucks. (Prices vary by beam width.)
They slide right onto your flash with a friction fit, as seen in the photo. I use them mostly for extreme beam widths, as in the 10-degree model shown. (The taped label is my addition. It helps me ID the grid—I color code them—and also gives them some needed structural support.)
Under $10 for a grid sounds like a no-brainer, but there are some get-what-you-pay-for items to consider.
First off, the friction fit (which I like) is also a restriction. Whereas the Honl SpeedGrid is a universal fit, the Saxons are flash-head specific. So if you own a mix of small-head (i.e. SB-800) and large head (i.e., LP160) flashes—as I do—they will not be easily interchangeable.
Honl grids, on the other hand, are one-size-fits-all. They will fit anything up to and including the big-headed Vivitar 285 via their Velcro mounting system. I long-ago ditched the Velcro for an elastic speed mount hack.
The other difference is, IMO, more significant. The Saxons are made of adhesive craft foam and ultralight grid material. You can barely feel the weight of one in your hand. If you are going to carry them around in a bag or roller, you'll want to create/improvise some sort of internal case or protection for them or they won't last you very long.
So yeah, they are cheaper. But I have grown to think of them as consumables rather than gear. In other words, some you likely end up buying more than once. (And I have.) With the Honl's, it's buy-once-and-done.
Plus, even though Honls are bigger they take up less room in your bag because they do not require any type of protection in your case. Just find that last few spare cubic inches and cram them in.
How indestructible are they? Well, that's my car resting on one above. You get the idea.
That said, if you are very careful and can protect the Saxons during transport (and can deal with the flash-head-specific sizing) the Saxons offer a cheaper alternative.
The Honl 1/8" (which I much prefer over the 1/4" model) is gear. It's built to take the punishment of your grip bag. But for those light of wallet (and tender of touch) Saxons can offer an alternative way to restrict your beam.
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