Quick Review: Vivitar 285HV Manual Flash

The Vivitar brand name has often been maligned with products that aren’t the highest of quality, or with those random film camera commercials you see targeted towards older, less tech savvy folk. However, for many years (and even still today) there are many that use one flash in particular: the Vivitar 285HV. As a full manual flash, it is also perhaps one of the best and easiest to use manual flashes available considering it’s very analog functionality.

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Review: Yongnuo 560 EX II Flash (For Canon, Nikon, Micro Four Thirds and Any System)

The Yongnuo 560 EX II speedlite wasn’t announced too long ago, as so is a relatively new speedlite flash. The company is known for making excellent flashes at a super affordable price that makes them attractive to various photographers: including Todd Owyoung.

As a proud owner of Canon’s current flashes, this little light intrigued me; so I actually went out and purchased it. And after various shoots with it, it is perhaps the one flash that I can recommend to the both the amateur and experienced group of users: but not the middle ground of strobists.

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Review: Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger for Nikon

 

One of the most important things I have learned when it comes to using a flash is getting it off the camera. There is a good reason for that: it allows for more control over where I place the light. A very important tool for this is a wireless flash trigger. I tested out the Hahnel Combi TF Remote Control & Flash Trigger for Nikon DSLRs and, for the most part, I like it. It is a question of value really. If you can manage without a typical name brand like PocketWizard, you will find this interesting.

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Review: Chimera Softbox Octa Speedring for Canon Speedlites and Nikon Speedlights

Like many of you, I use on-camera flashes. In fact, I love them. If I don’t want to carry a giant monolight out, a speedlite (or speedlight for you Nikon users) can get the trick done with some use of the inverse square law and some smarts. I currently own the Photogenic SB2432 softbox that I absolutely adore. Adapting it required a bit of some trickery. But by using the Chimera Octa Speedring with on-camera flash adapter, I can actually use nearly any softbox there is with the exception of Westcott’s.

But is it really everything I need?

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Review: Photogenic Fresnel Lighting Modifier

Photogenic announced a Fresnel lighting modifier a while back. Fresnel modifiers date back to the days of lighthouses: indeed the giant towers would take existing light and use a Fresnel glass to focus the beam of light out onto a specific spot. That’s how the idea of spotlights came about.

Fast forward to modern day and they’ve been modified for commercial photographic use: complete with barn doors that could also prove very useful to videographers. But just how useful is this thick piece of glass?

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Review: Impact One Light Umbrella Kit

Impact is a brand that has been known for creating gear that is extremely capable but at a very affordable price. When the Impact One-Light Umbrella Kit was sent to me for review, I initially thought that it was one heck of a weird kit. I mean you get one lamp, a reflector for said lamp, a stand and a large shoot through umbrella plus a light bulb for a super affordable price.

But is it really worth it?

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How the Canon ST-E3-RT Differs From PocketWizard Flex + Mini and Phottix Odins

Canon recently announced their new ST-E3-RT radio trigger and therefore also announced their entry into the radio transmission game in the strobist world. Now, PocketWizard Flex and Minis have been the darlings of many strobists: and rightfully so. They’re consistent, provide TTL metering and are super reliable. However, I’ve been a user of the Phottix Odins for many months now. And to be honest, I can’t imagine myself with anything else.

But when Canon announced the ST-E3-RT (or ste3rt), I was a bit confused about the differences in the triggers. Here’s an explanation for you all.

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Review: RoundFlash Ring Flash Light Attachment

As far as Speedlite Ring Flash lighting modifiers go, my favorite for a while has been the ExpoImaging Ray Flash (overtaking the Orbis, DIY, and the GoPro.) However, when the RoundFlash, was announced, I immediately needed to try it out for myself. Promising to turn your hot shoe flash into a larger (and therefore softer) lightsource that is also collapsible, what’s not to like, right?

Marketing is one thing: actual trials and real life use is another.

Editor’s note: Product photos are from the company’s Flickr page.

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Review: OCF Gear TTL Cords (Canon and Nikon)

In today’s high technology photo world, I often state on this site that we sometimes need to return to basics. After reviewing the very excellent Phottix Odin TTL triggers and Vello’s Freewave Fusion wireless triggers, I contacted Syl Arena about his very own OCF Gear TTL cords that he developed by himself.

Syl was kind enough to send them to me in both Canon and Nikon and over the past couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of testing them out during other different reviews. So can they really outdo today’s complicated wireless radio triggers?

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Review: Phottix Strato II Wireless Flash Triggers

Top View
Top View

Top View

I think we can all agree that Pocket Wizards are the most popular wireless flash triggering system on the market today. I think we all can also agree that they are the most expensive wireless flash triggering system on the market today. Lucky for all of us non-millionaires, many companies have rose up to challenge Pocket Wizard for people’s business in this arena.

One of those companies is Phottix with their hot shoe wireless flash system they’ve dubbed the Strato II. In this post we’ll take a look at how well these perform and whether they are a viable alternative to the more expensive, yet proven Pocket Wizard.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog posting by Travis Lawton. You can find more of his work on his website at Travis Lawton Photography as well as his blog at The Lawtographer.

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Review: Elinchrom 500/500 BXRi To Go Light Kit

Product Shot Example 1
Product Shot Example 1

Product Shot Example 1

A few months ago I reviewed photographer Scott Kelby’s newest book, Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It. Mr. Kelby loves to use Elinchrom lighting gear which is evident by watching any of his videos or viewing his behind-the-scenes images. He’s even gone as far as to create special Light It, Shoot It, Retouch It Lighting kits that consist of Elinchrom BX 500 Ri monolights and light modifiers. In this post, we review the Elinchrom 500/500 BXRi To Go Kit that consists of everything you need to get started in studio lighting photography.

 

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Review: Rokinon D900AFZ-OP Flash (Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds)

The Rokinon D900AFZ-OP is a TTL flash designed for budget level users that don’t want the hassle of having to figure out calculations in terms of flash output, exposure, etc. The one I tested was designed for Four Thirds cameras, but the TTL algorithms translate right over the Micro Four Thirds language (and therefore, both Panasonic and Olympus.)

Read one to see why this flash was recently chosen in our best budget flash post.

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Review: Sekonic L-358 Light Meter

Sekonic L-357
Sekonic L-357

Sekonic L-358

Light meters are one of those things that can start a comment war online. Some photographers swear by them and others say there is no way you need one because of how accurate camera metering systems can be nowadays. While it is true that today’s cameras do have very sophisticated metering systems, a light meter will give you much more accurate results ultimately giving you a better idea of how the image will look before taking the picture. One of the more popular light meters out there today is the Sekonic L-358 Flash Master Light Meter and I was able to get my hands on it. Click through to see how it does.

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The Best Budget Off-Camera Flashes and Constant Lights

Many people are already intimidated enough by off-camera lighting that isn’t ambient or natural. But the truth of the matter is that you really don’t have to be if you’re willing to experiment a bit, analyze your mistakes and then re-evaluate your approach. In no time, you can actually learn to master the flash quite well. Then there is the issue of cost: which can be settled quite easily.

Here is a list of some of the best flashes, monolights and constant lights from a guy that has experimented and own three different camera systems and has played with lots of different lighting units. Note that all units named in this round up have been tested by me.

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Review: Photogenic SB22 Square Soft Box

Sample 1
Sample 1

Sample 1

As a lighting enthusiast, I’m a big fan of light modifiers. These are the tools that really let us be creative with out lighting. We use them to shape our light and make it work for us. By far the most popular type of modifier is the soft box. Reviewing soft boxes is nothing new to us here at The Phoblographer. Check out this post by our Editor-In-Chief where Chris uses a pretty nifty hack to use a speed ring soft box with a regular speedlight.

Today we look at the Photogenic SB22 24″ x 24″ square soft box. The SB22 is currently the smallest soft box that Photogenic sells but does it’s size hold it back? Read ahead to find out.

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Review: Profoto Acute2R 1200 Value Pack And Ringflash

Closer Look
Closer Look

Closer Look

When I think of high-end photography lighting companies, Profoto is the first one that comes to mind. Originally founded in the late 1960s, Profoto has been consistently producing high-quality equipment, making them the first choice for professional photographers. Profoto sent along an Acute2R 1200 Value Pack with Case which included the power pack, two Acute D4 heads and Tenba carrying case specifically designed for Profoto. This accompanied the Profoto Acute2 Ringflash.

So, how did they perform?

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The Photogenic SB2432: Best Speedlite Softbox Ever?

The Cardinal Rule of photography is that boredom leads to creativity. The other day while bored in my room, I started playing around with the Photogenic SB2432 softbox. It’s an awesome light modifier being 24 x 32″. Then I tried to figure out how I could get a speedlite in there for extra portability. After some very quick experimentation, the result is something delivers security to your flash and softbox while delivers some really amazing light output.

So how did I do it?

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Review: Photogenic CL500 Monolight

Though I’m usually a strobist and love my off-camera flash, there are times when a continuous source of light have been more favorable. Back at the Samsung NX200 announcement party, I was able to meet with the folks over at Photogenic, who introduced me to some of their monolight options. I’ve been testing and reviewing the Photogenic CL500 monolight for a while and for various uses. For the most part, I used the CL500 with the 24×32 softbox and FL55 bulbs.

So how does it hold up? And why did they blow out three outlets in my house?

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Review: Phottix Odin TTL Wireless Radio Triggers for Canon DSLRs

Previously, we did a hands on review of the Phottix Odin TTL Radio Triggers. After shooting different portrait sessions and two trade shows with the units, I’ve learned them backwards and front. Being marketed on the internet as a more user friendly option to Pocket Wizards but at a more affordable price, do the Odins really have what it takes to earn a place in your camera bag?

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Review: The Profoto D1 Studio Kit 500/500 Air


Sometimes our readers ask for us to review higher end gear. With that in mind we decided to test the Profoto D1 Studio Kit 500/500 with Air. It’s fairly undisputed that Profoto is the best-of-breed for studio lighting and chances are pretty high that if you walk into a professional studio and rent their gear you’ll be handed Profoto power packs and heads. They’re reliable, consistent, fast, durable and include every feature the demanding professional expects. They’re not as well known for their more portable monolights, so how let’s see how they stand up.

Note: A rep from Profoto just read my article and sent some corrections and clarifications. Edits are in bold.

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