Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Rogue Flashbenders - speedlight modifiers

Middle sized RFB - bendy rods are sewn inside the blue material
Let's face it, there's a plethora of small flashgun light modifiers on the market these days. From the DIY Fairy Liquid detergent bottle remnants held on with a rubber band to sophisticated units such as Gary Fong's Lightsphere and WhaleTail. We are all trying to eek the best quality light we can from the most portable flash we use and we want the modifiers to be simple, unobtrusive and easy to handle.
So when the Rogue Flashbenders landed at GWP Towers I was interested to see how they fared against the opposition. But before I do let's go back a bit. I bought into the fairly similar Honl system pretty soon after it was released, buying my set up direct from David Honl in America. The Honl system is base around a thing called a 'speed strap' which wraps around the gun head and to which light modifiers are attached by Velcro. Snoots and flags can be used as well as coloured gels.
Rogue Flashbenders are thus called because they incorporate bendy metal rods inside the fabric , allowing the user to push and pull them about to shape the light to what is required or to add a signature look. They come come in three sizes - or at least I got three sizes! Smallest is the bounce card/flag which is 228mmx127mm and can be used to bounce a little catchlight into eyes and soften the light a little. A piece of black material can be slipped over the item to convert it into a flag to prevent light spill. The second model is the small positionable reflector which measures 254mmx178mm and has two rods inside that allow you to really move the shape around. It can be rolled into a small snoot,for example. Largest of the trio is the (drum roll) large positionable reflector and at 245mmx280mm is a veritable spinnaker on your gun! But it also offers a much larger area to bounce the flash from and thus a softer light. This size 'bender' has three rods and is infinitely 'shapeable'.
Large RFB (fitted and bent) and smaller brothers
Apart from the ability to be formed and deformed to suit, the other difference between the Flashbenders and the Honl system is that the former have their own attachment strap built into each unit.  I found this easier and more convenient to use. The Velcro patch is smaller and seems more pliable (One of the beefs I have with the Honl speed strap is that (on mine) there is a rigid plastic tradename patch that demands the strap be placed accurately which is time consuming, although I think this is now much smaller and located on the end of the strap) And a short piece of flat elastic makes for a really snug fit on the gun. Even the sailsize of the LPR never felt like it was about to fall off. (Something that the Fong Lightsphere is prone to in my experience).
slingshot on the banking at Gent Six Day
In practice at the Gent Six Day track racing, I found the middle of the three sizes added just the right amount of punch without forming any sort of hotspot that a 'bare' gun might. Yeah, I looked a little odd next to the press and agency guys but so what-it's results that count and I was more than pleased with the outcome of this testette. The RFBs are small enough to throw into most camera packs and, of course, can be collapsed to fit smaller bags. I like 'em. Product photography courtesy of my iPhone just so you know!

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