Review: ExpoImaging Rogue FlashBender 2 XL Pro Super Soft Silver Reflector

off-camera flash

These days, I’m generally not the type of photographer that shoots with a flash in the hot shoe of a camera–and in some ways it seems like the ExpoImaging Rogue Flash Bender XL Pro in Soft Silver wasn’t really designed for this. Photographers have loved the Flash Benders for a very long time due to how they bend light. They’re a staple for wedding and event photographers, but when the Extra Large came, out, they started to break more into the off-camera flash realm.

After teaming up with Frank Doorhof for their creation, the soft silver is designed to work for portraiture. It’s got the best of both worlds: the softening of white reflectors, but the sharpness that only silver reflectors can provide.

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Review: Flashpoint Xplor600 Monolight (Canon TTL)

At this point in the game, if you’ve been trying to figure out which TTL monolight to purchase, then the Adorama Flashpoint Xplor600 monolight isn’t exactly going to make life any easier. In a photography world with options from Profoto, Interfit, and Phottix you’re already quite confused about what to go with. But now you’ve got a very affordable option. The Flashpoint Xplor600 is based off of the Godox system and even uses their transmitters. It’s capable of deliver TTL flash output for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. Additionally, it can do things like high speed sync, stroboscopic modes, and offer almost full control over the monolight from the user’s remote.

One thing’s for sure though: f you’re a photographer looking to step up from the standard speedlites, the Xplor600 is an absolute incredible choice.

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Review: Godox Thinklite TT685S TTL (Sony)

The Godox Thinklite TT685S TTL is a flash that I’ve honestly been waiting for for a very long time. While Sony has announced their own radio transmitter and receiver to work with their own flashes, sometimes all you need is a really good an affordable flash and transmitter. Seriously, how do you beat $165 for a flash and a transmitter that both have solid build quality?

But that’s not all that this flash has. It’s got a radio receiver built in, TTL, groups, channels, manual control, multi-stroboscopic flash abilities, and full incorporation with what Sony’s platform offers.

If you’re a strobist, looking for a budget friendly option and the most bang for your buck for your Sony camera with a multi-interface shoe, then you’d honestly be stupid not purchase this–and I say that with complete and total honesty.

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Review: Shanny SN600EX-RF Flash (Canon TTL)

When you think about great third party flash options, what you immediately think about are both Phottix and Yongnuo–but if you haven’t checked out Shanny then you should. They’re not anywhere as popular as the others and providing that everyone and their mother suddenly think that they can grab a factory in China and throw their name on a product, it’s tough to get through all the rest. However, Shanny does a couple of things that in many ways are very true to Canon’s own interface and also much more simplistic for the user.

At the same time though, they’re not perfect–and some things may straight drive you insane when you’re on a shoot.

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Review: Phottix Laso Wireless Flash Triggers (Canon)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Laso review images (10 of 18)ISO 4001-160 sec at f - 2.8

Phottix for years now have been known as a company that offers much of what Nikon and Canon do at a more affordable price point and with pretty good build quality. The company built its name starting with the Odin triggers, and from there they expanded to flashes, light modifiers and most recently monolights. But this year, they announced the Phottix Laso triggers: specifically designed to work with Canon brand flashes with Nikon support coming.

These triggers are much different from what the public is used to seeing from Phottix. They look much more high end but share the very simple ease of use that the previous triggers from Phottix did.

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Review: Interfit S1 Monolight (Canon TTL)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Interfit S1 product images (6 of 10)ISO 2001-30 sec at f - 2.8

When you look at the TTL Monolight market, you’ve got Profoto, Phottix and the latest option is the Interfit S1. Interfit hasn’t been a household name like Profoto, Phottix, Bowens, Elinchrom or Paul C Buff, but with the S1 we get the impression that the company wants to do more with what they have. Interfit is trying to give strobists almost every feature that you can get with Phottix and Profoto, but at a more affordable price in the S1.

Typically, that comes with tradeoffs. As of the publication of this review, those tradeoffs involve reliability issues that Interfit says they’re working on. But the rest seems solid.

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Review: Aperlite YH-700C Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Aperlite YH-700C flash review images (4 of 10)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 3.2

Aperlite isn’t as well known as Phottix or Yongnuo when it comes to affordable third party flashes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality isn’t there. In a world where everyone and their mother is creating a Me Too flash of some sort, getting to the best of the best is tough to do. The Aperlite YH-700C is a flash. Yes, that’s it. It’s an ordinary flash with TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras. No radio wireless control, no crazy features at all–just a flash that’s very akin to Canon’s older 580 EX II. That means you’ve got TTL, manual and stroboscopic modes in addition to a tilting and swiveling head.

It isn’t exactly doing anything to push the technology barriers, but for what you’re paying for there isn’t a whole lot to complain about.

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Review: Samsung ED-SEF580 Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samsung GN58 Flash review product images (1 of 10)ISO 1001-125 sec at f - 3.2

Samsung has been on a roll for a while with new technology in their lenses and cameras, but we should never forget about the other integral part of a camera system: flash. Not long ago, Samsung introduced the ED-SEF580, a Guide Number 58 flash that is meant to be used in the hot shoe of your camera or used off-camera and triggered via infrared transmission.

With enough of them around, a very excellent flash setup can be arranged–though that can become quite costly. For the most part, they’re very on par with what many other manufacturers offer. In general though, we have to be honest and state that at this point in the technology game, we expect much more from Samsung.

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Review: Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Adorama Flashpoint Zoom Li-on Radio flash review (2 of 9)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

The world of radio hot shoe flashes has been marinating for a couple of years now. The original is Quantum, but then Canon did it and Yongnuo and Phottix soon followed through. It was only a matter of time until the retailers started to create their own versions with their own house brands. Adorama’s Flashpoint series have been known for years to be extremely stellar products; and their new Zoom Li-on flash is really no exception. It isn’t really a radio flash per se, but it’s designed to be. At a mere $99.99 for the fully manual version, you’ve got very little to complain about.

With a Guide Number of 112 and an innovative type of battery for a hot shoe flash, the company also claims a 1.5 second recycle time, stroboscopic mode, front/rear curtain sync, and a modelling light.

But what makes it even more special is the fact that you can control the power output via Flashpoint’s own radio transmitter.

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Review: Magmod Magsphere Flash Diffuser

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Magmod flash modifier review images magsphere product photos (1 of 8)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 4.0

If a compact flash modifier promised to make the head of your flash 300% larger, what would you do with it? It would surely offer much softer lighting–or at least that’s what the Magmod Magsphere claims. The closest thing that we’ve seen to taking on the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible and offering a nice output came from a recent Kickstarter. The Magmod system isn’t totally revolutionary, but it is surely quite smart.

In fact, it’s so smart that it may change the way that light modifiers are attached to flashes in the future.

Trust us, Gary Fong is going to want to look very closely at this one.

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First Impressions: Profoto B2 Monolights

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today, Profoto is announcing their brand new B2 monolights–a compact set that in some ways bridges the gap between speedlights and monolights. Incorporating full TTL control if the photographer wishes, the lights are very traditional heads with all battery power and control coming from the battery pack. This pack can easily mount onto your shoulder, over your chest, or even on the ground as the heads can go a fair distance away onto a light stand or even by using a flash bracket that can mount onto your camera–if you’re that type of photographer.

At 280 watt seconds of power, the B2 lights offer more output than your standard hot shoe flash but less than most monolights. In fact, we’re partial to calling them the perfect in-between solution.

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Review: Godox Witstro AR400 Ring Flash

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Years ago when I was still finding my way with shooting portraits, I loved working with ring flashes. They delivered lots of punch, gave off a beautiful catch light in the eyes, and it would later on become part of a look that was highly valued by the fashion world. Fast forward, and ring flashes are still popular–and the Terry Richardson look still hasn’t gone away. That doesn’t mean that ring flashes can only do that type of work, in fact they can do quite a bit more.

Recently, Godox came out with the Witstro AR400 ring flash–a compact solution and alternative to many of the more expensive offerings out there. While it’s very capable, it has a few drawbacks.

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Review: Phottix Indra 500 TTL

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra 500 TTL product images review (8 of 8)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 3.5

This is the review that almost didn’t happen; and we have pretty much no one else to blame but ourselves.

The Phottix Indra 500 TTL was announced back during Photokina 2014, and we got our test unit back in December. Phottix’s reputation is associated with delivering products that are affordable, reliable, well built, simplistic, and effective. And when the company stated that the monolight included TTL capabilities with both Canon and Nikon cameras in one monolight plus lots of creative controls offered with other lights, it seemed like an immediate win-win situation.

Then the unit came in: and what I didn’t know at the time was that my 5D Mk II was slowly on its last legs. Additionally, we didn’t know that the first version of the Odin trigger (used the transmit and control the light) didn’t work so swimmingly. Instead, we switched to the Canon Rebel SL1 and the Canon 6D–additionally we used the Odin version 1.5. When these switches were made, we had pretty much no problems; which a high emphasis on pretty much.

We played with the Phottix Indra back around Photo Plus 2014, and found it to be a great deal. In a single package you get a light that is both AC and DC capable, has TTL transmission for both Nikon and Canon (with the possibility of Sony coming), manual light control, stroboscopic mode, an adjustable modelling light, ports for other transmitters like PocketWizards, and a well built body.

Despite how incredible the Phottix Indra 500 TTL is, it’s still not the perfect monolight–but it’s possibly the closest thing to it on the market.

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Review: TriggerTrap Flash Adapter

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer TriggerTrap Flash Adapter review images (5 of 12)ISO 4001-180 sec at f - 1.4

A while back, Triggertrap introduced the Flash Adapter, which allows Triggertrap to become its own flash trigger. When used with its sound sensor, Triggertrap can trigger a flash or strobe with just a loud sound to make it go off. The setup is very simple gear-wise, but setting this up otherwise can take some work and will need planning and experimentation. But once you have it down, you’ll be able to apply many more creative decisions to your photography.

If you’re a fan of droplet photography or capturing high speed moving subjects, then you’ll want to check this out.

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Review: Metz 64 AF-1 Flash (Sony Alpha E)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Metz flash product photos (1 of 10)ISO 6401-50 sec at f - 4.0

Editor’s Correction: In an earlier version of this article, we called the flash the 54 AF-1. It is indeed the 64 AF-1. We apologize for this mistake.

Metz believes that the future of the flash is very…touchy. To be specific, we’re talking about a touch screen. So when the 64 AF-1 was shown to us around Photokina 2014, we were quite intrigued. The flashes are available for Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Sony and the Micro Four Thirds world. It tries to be futuristic with its massive touch LCD screen. Metz has been long known in the industry for having a more affordable alternative to the camera manufacturers, but in recent years they’ve stepped back to Phottix, Lumopro and Yongnuo.

The Metz 64 AF-1 otherwise is like many flashes on the market: it can rotate around and tilt its head. Unlike Sony’s flashes, the 64 AF-1 isn’t a cobra head design. But like many of Sony’s flashes, some of the settings can be controlled via the camera thanks to its interactions from the multi-interface shoe. This means that it will work with the NEX 6, A7, A7s, A7r, A7 Mk II, A99, A77, A77 Mk II and a couple of others.

The flash is also one of the first designed for the new Sony shoe since the company introduced it a couple of years ago. While it’s a good first attempt, it fails in certain aspects.

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Review: Canon MR-14EX II Macro Ring Flash

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon MR14 II ring flash review product photos (1 of 14)ISO 2001-50 sec at f - 4.0

Earlier this year, Canon introduced their MR-14 EX II ring flash. As the successor to their aging offering, the new flash brought minor upgrades with it including new ergonomics, a new LED lamp to help with focusing, and new controls on the back. But otherwise, it’s a mostly unchanged flash. To begin with, it was very specialized and the world of macro photography has changed quite dramatically as the years have progressed. Many photographers tend to go for diffusion off of large panels instead of direct light from a harsh flash.

And while you should be excited about the ETTL capability improvement that this flash brings, you should also scratch your head a bit about how it fits into Canon’s ecosystem.

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Review: Roundflash Beauty Dish

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Roundflash dish review product images (7 of 7)ISO 4001-50 sec at f - 2.0

Roundflash has been creating collapsible and portable light modifiers for years. They started with the original Roundflash Ring flash, then they upgraded the Ring flash to version two. But now, they’re out with their take on the beauty dish. The dish is meant to mimic the look of an actual beauty dish–except that the version from Roundflash provides a permanently attached diffusion sock. That’s totally fine if you prefer your beauty dishes to have extra diffusion besides the bounce and reflection that they already have implemented.

Beauty dishes are best known for their work on fashion shoots and portraiture. But in recent years, they’ve become more popular amongst the wedding crowd for photographers that want their clients to have a swanky, high end look to their images.

And the results? Well, surprising is a really big understatement.

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First Impressions: Phottix Indra 500 TTL

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Phottix Indra 500 TTL first impressions (1 of 10)ISO 8001-60 sec at f - 2.8

We’ve been in touch with Phottix for many years about the delivery of a monolight to the mass market. It went through lots of changes and redesigns, but at Photokina 2014, the company announced their Indra 500 monolight. Like Profoto’s B1’s, this light is a monolight with TTL light transmission built into it. The fact that it outputs around 500 watt seconds also means that it can deliver as much light as many speedlights.

We had the chance to spend some quality time with the Indra 500 at Photo Plus 2014; and we walked away feeling that this has to be the most exciting monolight that we’ve seen in a while.

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Review: Elinchrom ELC Pro HD 1000 Monolight

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Elinchrom Pro HD 1000 Watt second light product images (11 of 11)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 3.5

Elinchrom doesn’t have a name as strong Paul C Buff, Profoto, or Broncolor–but their products are in the hands of many pros who do some incredible work with their lights. When we first saw the ELC Pro HD 1000 watt second light at a meeting with the company, we saw some very rudimentary features. And for the most part, Elinchrom isn’t reinventing the wheel. But the big selling points of this light are the 1000 watt second output, 1.4 second recycle time, and the promise of being able to shoot 20fps at the lowest power setting.

But is that enough to make you want to upgrade?

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Review: BounceLite Flash Modifier

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer BounceLite Flash Modifier review (11 of 16)ISO 4001-40 sec at f - 1.4

The BounceLite flash modifier has to be one of the more unique offerings that we’ve seen in the past couple of years. It isn’t a piece of Chinese soup dome, it isn’t a giant reflection pad, and it isn’t some weird all white box. Instead, what it is is some sort of partial softbox, reflection panel, and diffusion dome–making it truly one of the more unique offerings that we’ve seen.

We had the chance to test a prototype recently; and while it’s surely unique it also has its share of quirks that need to be ironed out.

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Review: Profoto B1 500 TTL (Canon)

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Profoto B1 500 TTL product lead image (1 of 1)ISO 4001-10 sec at f - 2.0

When Profoto first announced the B1 500 TTL light, it rocked the industry. This light is the world’s first monolight that can shoot at full TTL exposure metering with Canon’s DSLRs. The company promises that a Nikon version is coming later on as well as further improvements to the Canon version. This light is capable of not only shooting at full TTL with Canon DSLRs and cameras, but it can also shoot in manual mode. With an interesting design incorporating the battery into the unit itself, it’s also not going to take up more room in your camera bag when you factor in dividers and the like.

Capable of shooting at 500 watt seconds of power, the monolight is pretty much around the output of six speedlights. Those tend to sell for around $500 a pop. And while Profoto’s B1 500 is around the same price (at least according to MAP) you still get the space advantage and much better color consistency. Plus, there is no need for extra batteries for each monolight because they’re integrated in.

But Profoto’s B1 500 TTL is best for wedding photographers and high end portrait/product photographers. However, it could convince others to jump on the bandwagon.

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