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Archive 2013 · Small umbrella as softbox?
  
 
Aaron D
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p.1 #1 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Hello folks

One of the weakest links in my kit is my flash. It's an old Canon 177A. I've been wanting something to soften the light from it (when I need to). The unit doesn't really have a "snout" to mount even a generic softbox. So I got the idea of mounting a small, white umbrella in front of the flash. I found a white umbrella with a 20 inch arc for $6.

Since I don't use flash much, and can't really afford even used one at the moment, this less than $10 alternative seems like a decent idea. But wanted to run it past the seasoned photogs here for opinions.

For an idea of the "missing snout" issue on the unit I'm talking about, here's a pic -



And the umbrella -


Small and portable is required. Would this work? If it's too thin, I can always adhere section of sheet or pillowcase to the inside. This would soften it up more and still be collapsible and very portable.



Mar 12, 2013 at 09:11 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #2 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
...I got the idea of mounting a small, white umbrella in front of the flash. I found a white umbrella with a 20 inch arc for $6. ...Small and portable is required. Would this work? If it's too thin, I can always adhere section of sheet or pillowcase to the inside. This would soften it up more and still be collapsible and very portable.


Size is what softens light. Adding thick fabric wouldn't make the light softer, just dimmer, which may already be an issue with such a small flash, so I wouldn't make it any thicker.

The next question is: How are you going to attach the flash to the umbrella? Photographic umbrellas have thin shafts that run through the hole in an umbrella swivel adapter for flash guns or into the umbrella holder on strobes.



Mar 12, 2013 at 11:33 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #3 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
...The unit doesn't really have a "snout" to mount even a generic softbox.


By the way, once you have more funds available, you can get a soft box that will work with that flash. There are models that have a cold shoe bracket that the flash goes on and then fires through the back of the box -- the Lastolite Exybox Hotshoe is one such model, and sells for about $190.

Another type mounts the flash inside the box on a regular umbrella adapter, and the flash then fires into the back of the box and bounces forward. The Westcott Medium Apollo, which is the one that I have, is one such model, and sells for about $130.



Mar 12, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Aaron D
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p.1 #4 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Good info, thanks Brian!

Haven't figured out how to attach it. Growing up watching almost nothing but MacGyver, I'll figure it out. I've got some spare shoe parts from a previous project that didn't pan out and lots of zip ties. I'll figure something out, lol.

While it's GN is only 25, it gets the job done when I need it and is higher than the built in flash.

I'll check out those soft boxes. Really hoping to get a more modern flash in the coming months. I keep putting it off since I rarely use one, and then kick myself for not getting one when I have had the funds.



Mar 13, 2013 at 12:55 AM
cordellwillis
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p.1 #5 · Small umbrella as softbox?


You would do better with at least this or similar.

I know you say you can't afford a used flash, but still checkout KEH for future reference.



Mar 13, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Aaron D
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p.1 #6 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Thanks Cordell (or Willis?). They make that in a 16inch too in the $30 range, which would probably be what I'm after. I may be considering a few extra dollars and go that route.


Mar 13, 2013 at 02:15 AM
cordellwillis
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p.1 #7 · Small umbrella as softbox?


... it's Cordell. You're welcome.

That softbox is an option, but you may still do better with a convertible umbrella. Either way, your other issue is triggering the flash.



Mar 13, 2013 at 02:21 AM
Aaron D
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p.1 #8 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Triggering shouldn't be a problem. The camera triggers it quite well. I checked voltages with voltage meters to make sure I wouldn't fry my body with this old thing when I dug it out of my fathers old camera bag. All falls within specs and is safe to use. I believe this is an a-ttl system, and current body is e-ttl ii (I think? Still lacking in the flash education department). But... I need to set everything manually, because metering doesn't really work. So I get full output, thus my search for softening or reducing the flash.

I would love to be able to keep it all on camera, but that may not be possible, especially with a 20+ inch umbrella. That 16 incher SB might work though. Could always rig up some kind of bracket that attaches via the tripod mount on the bottom of the body.

I also came across these -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/syamastro/6818506161/

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-modify-Canon-155a-flash-to-make-it-fully-ma/

Being the cheapskate DIY freak that I am, I might just give this a try!



Mar 13, 2013 at 03:15 AM
DigMeTX
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p.1 #9 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
I would love to be able to keep it all on camera, but that may not be possible, especially with a 20+ inch umbrella. That 16 incher SB might work though. Could always rig up some kind of bracket that attaches via the tripod mount on the bottom of the body.


hehe.. there is no "may" about it. You can't shoot with a flash AND a 20" umbrella or a 16" softbox attached to your flash. Just get a long, generic TTL cord.

brad



Mar 13, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Aaron D
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p.1 #10 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Yeah, kinda realizing that now. This is starting to defeat the purpose of keeping it cheap as possible. So due to that, I think I'm going to scrap this idea with the umbrella. I'll save this idea for when I can afford a real flash and remote firing controls.

But I'm gonna give that DIY mod a go. Will still have to get a bounce dome / diffuser / gels / filter of some kind though. But those are pretty cheap.

Was thinking too, with some Dremel tool work, ABS plastic, steel pins, small screws...I can probably convert this into a tilting head for bouncing it. Will find out when I take it apart to do the manual control mod. I love DIY stuff, especially when it comes reusing old gear.



Mar 13, 2013 at 10:14 PM
 

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BrianO
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p.1 #11 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
...This is starting to defeat the purpose of keeping it cheap as possible. So due to that, I think I'm going to scrap this idea with the umbrella. I'll save this idea for when I can afford a real flash and remote firing controls.


Aaron, if you don't mind using a PC cord between your camera and your flash, send me a PM with your mailing address; I'll send you a Vivitar 285HV flash, a Vivitar PC cord, the rare and hard-to-find remote cord for the Vari-Power module, and a small shoot-through umbrella (part of my NYI student kit that I don't need). All you'll need to do is supply a light stand to mount it all on.













Mar 14, 2013 at 03:54 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #12 · Small umbrella as softbox?


BTW, for any who don't know what it's for, the extension cord for the Vari-Power module allows one to adjust the Manual flash output, or use one of the four Automatic levels, with the flash inside a soft box or facing away from the subject for wall bounce.

It was a brilliant idea in the days before through-the-lens metering.











Mar 14, 2013 at 04:10 AM
rico
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p.1 #13 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
Yeah, kinda realizing that now. This is starting to defeat the purpose of keeping it cheap as possible. So due to that, I think I'm going to scrap this idea with the umbrella. I'll save this idea for when I can afford a real flash and remote firing controls.

The umbrella idea is fine, as is any diffusion material (shower curtain, white trash bag) taped onto a cardboard frame. Cheap is good. No need for a remote trigger, either: just use your finger. With camera self-timer, you can easily sync a 1/2sec shutter by ear. Shot below is an example, and is actually two frames color-balanced separately. Taking camera was a lowly Lumix FX150 with no hot shoe. Never mind that the lights cost several thousand.





Mar 14, 2013 at 04:49 AM
Aaron D
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p.1 #14 · Small umbrella as softbox?


BrianO wrote:
Aaron, if you don't mind using a PC cord between your camera and your flash, send me a PM with your mailing address; I'll send you a Vivitar 285HV flash, a Vivitar PC cord, the rare and hard-to-find remote cord for the Vari-Power module, and a small shoot-through umbrella (part of my NYI student kit that I don't need). All you'll need to do is supply a light stand to mount it all on.


Wow, really Brian? This is one of the kindest things anyone has ever offered to do for me. I sent you a PM with address info. Thank you very much! i'll see what I got laying around I can put in the freebie thread so I can return this karma!

rico wrote:
The umbrella idea is fine, as is any diffusion material (shower curtain, white trash bag) taped onto a cardboard frame. Cheap is good. No need for a remote trigger, either: just use your finger. With camera self-timer, you can easily sync a 1/2sec shutter by ear. Shot below is an example, and is actually two frames color-balanced separately. Taking camera was a lowly Lumix FX150 with no hot shoe. Never mind that the lights cost several thousand.


That's a thought I suppose. Never thought of that, thanks. Mmmm....a Yashica lens! I gotta get some new pics of my Yashinon DX, Soligor and other alt lenses on my cam.



Mar 14, 2013 at 10:06 AM
BrianO
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p.1 #15 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Aaron D wrote:
...Thank you very much! i'll see what I got laying around I can put in the freebie thread so I can return this karma!


You're very welcome. If instead you could give whatever you have laying around that you don't need to the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, The Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, or whatever similar charity that's local to you, that would be really cool.



Mar 14, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Corojo
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p.1 #16 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Very, very cool BrianO...


Mar 17, 2013 at 07:24 PM
Aaron D
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p.1 #17 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Corojo wrote:
Very, very cool BrianO...


I'm still overwhelmed by this act of kindness.



Mar 19, 2013 at 12:29 AM
TMGraphics
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p.1 #18 · Small umbrella as softbox?


Thumbs up to Brian for kindness!

To Brian: That cable for the vari power adaptor, does it connect to the round removable plug on the flash body? Im looking into this plag for my 2 285HV flash bodies. Thanks!



Mar 27, 2013 at 03:02 PM
BrianO
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p.1 #19 · Small umbrella as softbox?


TMGraphics wrote:
...To Brian: That cable for the vari power adaptor, does it connect to the round removable plug on the flash body?


Yes, it does. You pull out the Vari-Power module, plug in the cable, then plug the module into the other end of the cable, which has a cold foot allowing it to mount on the camera's hot shoe.

I haven't seen one of these cables for sale anyplace in a long, long time, and I don't know if they're still available.



Mar 27, 2013 at 04:52 PM





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