UPDATE, JUNE 2024: Strobist was archived in 2021.
(Here is what I am up to now.)


Westcott's Convertible Double-fold Umbrella: Made Just for Us

I had a few minutes after work before dinner was ready tonight, and decided to quickly try out a new toy: The Westcott convertible double-fold umbrella.

Moishe at MPEX actually had these manufactured special (just for us) and he has gotten a big batch of them in. MPEX logo on the side and all. I can't tell you how cool this is that he would go and have something made-to-order like this.

I have known about it since October (these things do take a little time) but just got a chance to play with one for the first time today.

I really like this umbrella.

Here's why. It is efficient when used as either a shoot-through umbrella or as a bounce umbrella. In shoot-through mode, this headshot of my daughter was done with a Vivitar 285HV on just 1/16th power at ASA 400. And I still got f/6.3 as a working aperture.

(Click for a big version.)

In shoot-through mode, the beauty of this thing is that it can be used as a very soft light source, because you can put the umbrella very close to the subject. That makes it both soft and efficient if you are trying to squeeze some extra f/stops out of your small flash, which is a good thing.

Here's a wide shot of the setup, which we were racing through before mom called us both to dinner. (Spaghetti night - everybody's happy...)

You can see how large a light source this setup is when you bring it right in close. I picked up some internal lens flare because I included the raw light source in the photo, BTW.

But slip the cover back on that bad boy, and it offers more control of the light spill light, like a traditional umbrella. Even shooting right into the flash with the backing on, it can barely eke out a medium grey through that material. That's my boy, by the way, grabbing some equal time in this shot.

Just like the other Westcott double-folds, it is very compact when collapsed. For you international types a piece of US paper currency, by comparison, is about 15 cm long.

And this umbrella won't set you back much more than a sawbuck, either. At $26, I think it is a very fair price for all of the versatility it offers.

It's lightweight, which is actually good for my purposes. It is not particularly heavy-duty, but with care it should hold up for many assignments. Fortunately, it ships with both a nylon cover and a clear plastic case. This will protect it while in your bag, rattling around in your trunk. That's where your gear takes the hard knocks.

And back to the thought of Midwest proactively having these things made for us, I can't tell you how pleased I am about that.


New to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist
My current project: The Traveling Photograher's Manifesto