Strobist: buying an umbrella

Discussion in 'General flash photography, lighting, and technique' started by Uncle Frank, May 17, 2007.

  1. I never realized how much there was to picking out an umbrella until I started researching the topic. After considering all the options, I made the traditional choice... a slightly silvered 45" Photoflex with a removable black backing. It's pretty huge for indoor use, but I bought it primarily for my location shoots. Here's my new light modifier.


    I had to try it out, of course, so I drafted my long suffering bride as my test model. Here's the setup:

    Camera: d200
    Lens: 35mm f/2.0 Nikkor

    Main: sb8800 in iTTL mode, no ev offset, on a stand at 45 degrees frame left. The flash was bounced off the silvered interior of the 45" Photoflex umbrella.

    Fill: sb800 in iTTL mode, offset -1.0ev, on a stand at 30 degrees frame right, fired through a white 32" Westcott umbrella.

    Flash trigger: su800

    Shooting data: 1/125s f/5.0 at 35.0mm iso100 (camera in manual mode).

    View attachment 95982
  2. mugman


    Dec 2, 2006
    Make sure you have a nice heavy sandbag or other weight to hold down the stand. If you use that umbrella outdoors it only takes a little bit of a breeze to blow your rig over. Congrats on your lighting setup.
  3. Good deal Frank. I'll second what Mugman said, I lost a flash that way!
  4. genehsu


    Apr 15, 2007
    Hi Frank. Between the umbrella holder and the light stand looks to be an adapter. You can avoid using that by taking out the one in the umbrella stand and feeding the adapter directly into the umbrella stand. It's a lot easier to do than to explain. I read about that trick on one of the Strobist flickr threads.
  5. I'm having a hard time figuring out what you're describing, and what the gain would be. Can you go a little slower, or refer me to the Flickr thread?
  6. Thanks, Mugman. The thought of carrying a heavy sandbag in addition to all my gear is a little daunting. I was planning on using my camera bag to weigh down the stand a little.
  7. genehsu


    Apr 15, 2007
    Hi Frank. The only advantage is fewer physical connects between the light stand and the umbrella bracket. I think the brass thingy that I see in the picture comes with the light stand. There's another brass thingy in the umbrella mount that you're connecting the light stand to. You can remove the one from the umbrella mount and insert the one from the light stand directly into the umbrella mount. Yes, it's just a minor thing, but I thought it was a good idea.
  8. Ah, now I see what you mean. The problem is, if I remove the brass extension, the bracket will sit so low that it will interfere with the knob that tightens it. Maybe the example was about a different bracket. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I got a suggestion on another forum that really makes sense:

    That makes a lot of sense. The aluminum "deadshoe" holder is terrible; I've already had my sb800 slip out of it when I was repositioning the stand. Fortunately, it hit a soft grassy spot and wasn't damaged. The plastic sb800 stand gives a secure hold, and no electrical problems. It's a great solution!

    Here's what it looks like. Note that I have the bracket rigged so the flash is in a fixed position with respect to the umbrella, and I can raise or lower the aim of the umbrella.

  9. Frank, another option to keeping the flash tigher on the coldshoe (deadshoe) is to put some electrical tape on the bottom where the flash contacts would touch. This would also keep those electrical problems from happening... it's what David recommends in Lighting 101.

    As an aside, thanks for starting these threads. i am learning a lot, and I like this site much better than navigating the Flickr site, plus people here are more helpful and friendly. I hope to be getting my own two-umbrella, one reflector, 3 flash set-up soon, so i can also start contributing to these threads! :smile:
  10. WayneF


    Apr 3, 2006
    If you remove the bottom brass insert so the mount fits over the stand 5/8" mount, you can simply rotate things so there is no knob interference. Works either way of course, except some stands top 1/4" threaded screw is too tall to fit inside there sometimes. The brass insert obviously fits nice, but some stands are a little taller. And the stand is several feet tall, so one more inch cant matter much. :)

    I didnt like the Nikon plate in this use because it seemed too thin and bendable extending out from the screw, afraid it might break if it were hit. Which probably doesnt matter, works either way, but it just seemed flimsy.

    I had my SB-800 slip out of the aluminum block shoe too, and it fell to the carpet, but didnt hurt it. Then I ground a small notch in the foot, just where the screw hits it, and had no more problem. Works well then. A bit loose still hangs in there.


    I never had any issue at all with the aluminum block, never needed any tape, works fine with the two SB-800s. But I sure do like the $10 Stroboframe 300 shoe instead. It clamps the flash foot like a vise, over the full length of it, and it wont come loose.
  11. I've been learning from them, too, RG, which was my motive for starting them. Strobist-style lighting is a different animal from studio lighting, which is why my long term goal is to convince Cafe management to create a forum for non-pro, non-studio lighting.
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