6 Nifty Photography Lighting Gadgets
NOVEMBER 14, 2013
By Theano Nikitas
Lighting a subject or a scene can be as easy as planning a shoot at sunrise and heading out with a single camera and lens, or as challenging as lugging bags of gear up a mountain to capture the pinnacle of a snowboarder’s jump. And, of course, there are countless situations in between. Photographers are resourceful, clever and creative, and can work with a minimal amount of equipment to make magical images. Naturally, there are countless solutions for every situation but we’ve put together a handful of some of our favorite lighting products, all new to the market in the past year and adaptable to a variety of shoots.
In the past, Sony has been called to task for its proprietary hot shoe design. But, the company has been using an ISO-standard Multi-Interface Shoe for its newer cameras and camcorders, including the NEX-6, Cyber-shot RX1 and Cyber-shot RX100 II, and recently refreshed its HVL-F43M flash to match. In addition to compatibility with Multi-Interface Shoe-equipped cameras, the HVL-F43M (which bears the same name as its older shoe-mount compatible predecessor) now features an LED video light. Like its predecessor, the HVL-F43M is designed with Sony’s Quick Shift Bounce system, which allows users to rotate the flash head so it’s in perfect position when switching camera orientation between portrait and landscape—a feature that comes in very handy. The flash offers a number of other features, including wireless control for up to three flash units, but we think its rotating flash head is probably its most notable attribute.
Lastolite Strobo Gobo
There are any number of ways to create interesting backdrops for your subjects, including purchasing a premade, prestyled hanging or freestanding backdrop. But using the same styles over and over again can get boring; it’s pricey to continually refresh what you offer your clients; and if you’re shooting on location, you have to drag more gear along. That’s where Lastolite’s Strobo Gobo comes in. We think it’s a fun and economical method of creating custom backgrounds. As the name implies, this accessory allows you to simply and easily project background patterns from an off-camera flash. You’ll need an adapter, like the Strobo Direct to Flashgun Bracket or Strobo Ezybox Hotshoe Bracket, to attach the device to your flash. It comes with a removable lens for de-focusing and two gobo discs are included in the bundle, with different designs available. The Strobo Gobo’s holder is compatible with traditional B-size (86mm) gobos and, if you have the time, you can create your own design by simply cutting it out of a blank disc. There are a ton of different optional accessories like grid and gels, too.
Profoto Pro-B4 1000 Air
If you feel the need for speed, as so many extreme sports and dance photographers do, check out the Pro-B4 1000 Air from Profoto. Utilizing special Hybrid Capacitor Technology, the Pro-B4 features amazingly fast 1/25,000 of a second flash duration and the capacity to fire up to 30 flashes per second. It offers a broad 11 f-stop power range and, as part of the Air system, offers a handheld control. Recycling is fast at between 0.03 and 0.99 seconds, and you’ll get 220 full power flashes from a single charge. But it takes only 45 minutes to recharge the battery with a standard quick charger (included).
broncolor Move 1200 L Power Pack
Although this portable power pack was announced at the 2012 photokina, as promised, it started shipping in the second quarter of this year. It’s not broncolor’s first battery-powered pack but, at a mere 13.7 pounds (including its lithium ion battery), it’s certainly the lightest and most portable. Recycle time at full power ranges from a speedy 0.02 to 1.9 seconds and the pack delivers about 170 flashes per charge (more in eco-mode). The Move offers a selectable nine f-stop power range in 1/10 or full stop intervals; can shoot as fast as 1/20,000 of a second; and it’s lithium power system promises up to 4,000 recharging cycles—making this pack even more attractive. Borrowing technology from broncolor’s Scoro A4, the Move uses ECTC (Enhanced Color Temperature Control), which helps keep color and light output consistent across the pack’s power range. Bundled with the pack is an outdoor trolley backpack, weatherproofed power pack softcase and battery belt bag. Several kit configurations, with lamps, softboxes and other accessories, are also available.
Price: $5,100 for Move 1200 L; starting at $6,400 for kits
At 2.3 x 2.6 x 2.5 inches and 4.2 ounces with two AAA batteries installed, the new SB-300 is the baby of Nikon Speedlights. It will be dwarfed by most Nikon digital SLRs, but it’s the perfect accessory for the Coolpix A or the Coolpix P7800 advanced compact cameras. The flash head tilts up to 120 degrees when you need to bounce the light and, although the unit is tiny, it has a reach of about 59 feet. This little Speedlight is i-TTL compatible and manual control is available with compatible cameras. While it doesn’t function as a master, its output intensity can be adjusted and used to trigger other Speedlights.
broncolor Para 177 and Para 222 Reflectors
Broncolor recently started shipping the new Para 177 and Para 222 reflectors, which like broncolor’s Para 88, provide photographers with beautiful, yet versatile, lighting options. The Para 177 and Para 222 offer even more versatility with their center focusing system. They feature titanium construction and a new focusing system based on a universal mounting pin to enable use of heads from broncolor, Kobold, Profoto and additional diffusers.
Prices: $5,894 for Para 177; $7,244 for Para 222
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