Wednesday, March 2, 2011

New Camera Toy Review

Last month my family bought me a new hot shoe flash for my birthday.   I had one of those plastic diffusers to put on the front of my old flash, but of course it didn't fit the new flash.   Instead of getting another diffuser I decided to try something new -- The Rogue Flash Bender.  The old diffuser did fine for softening some of the harsh flash shadows but this neat little toy does a lot more.

The FlashBender, which comes in small, medium and large sizes, is made of an optically neutral reflective fabric backed by Cordura Nylon and a material that helps it keeps whatever shape you manipulate it to take. It has an elastic strap that wraps around the top of the flash and attaches with Velcro.

A backing material allows you to mold and shape the light so you can have anything from a flat reflector to a snoot.  You have many options for shaping the light from the flash.  Once you’ve manipulated the material, it holds its place.

I've done a few test shots with it set up as a reflector and it does a great job on the shadows.   Recently, I used it as a snoot outdoors on bright sunny days.

The snoot shape focuses all the light from the flash into a narrower beam of light over a longer distance.   It's not as effective as something like a Better Beamer, but it's much more "flexible"  (pun intended).   The first time I used it was at a Revolutionary War Reenactment.   It was a bright sunny day, which put anyone with a hat on in dark shadows.   With the snoot I was able to light people's faces under their hat, sometimes from 30 feet away or more.

Compare this man's face with that of the man on the right side.   The man's face on the right is completely black but the man in the center is well lit.  I think this was taken about from about 20 feet away.

The second time I used the snoot arrangement was taking bird pictures.   This woodpecker would land on the same branch, which was probably 30 feet away but in the shadows.   The first shot was without a flash.   In the second shot I used the snoot to focus the light on the bird.  Both shots were taken with a 400mm telephoto lens on a Canon 7D camera, which gave it an effective focal length of 640mm.  Instead of using the flash I could have bumped up the exposure compensation, but that would have showed my shutter speed, changed the depth of field, or if I increased the ISO introduced more noise in the picture.

The Flash Bender folds up flat and fits easily in my camera bag.   It's versatile and effective.   It's now one of my favorite "Camera Toys".

I bought mine from Adorama but they are carried by a number of different places.

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