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Dual Macro Flash brackets

Douglas Stemke , May 07, 2002; 11:56 a.m.

I've been playing around with flash brackets for some time. First I picked up a Stroboframe system that I think is meant mostly for Dental photography; it had a curved bar that you could place one or two flashes. I found I could never get a comfortable flash set up with this system. I next picked up a home-made system that looks a little like the Lepp dual flash system. It's ok , but a little too flimsy. I recently switched to Arca Swiss QR so I wanted to get a little feedback on what others use.

One I am considering is the Really Right stuff system. I have a 200mm Pentax macro with tripod colar and this looks like an option. The only problem is that it it dosen't seem to me to be too flexable. The bracket wrappes around the lens and goes straight up. Since I'd like to stick with a dual flash system I'd need a bar on the top of the bracket that attaches both flashes. Noteing the expense of this system I don't think it something I can simply purchase and sell if it doesn't work well.

Plan B is to get the true Lepp system, but it would be nice then to know how one deals with it with the Arca Swiss QR as it would be important to attach the bracket to a ballhead (I really never shoot without a tripod). Issues of how well it travels would also be appreciated.

Any other brackets that people have come up with would be appreciated.

Responses

Juan Pons , May 07, 2002; 12:29 p.m.

I would take a look at the kirk Brackets.

http://www.kirkphoto.com/brackets.html

I use the FB6 with a tiny Giotto Ball head ($10) and it works great!!! They also have some 2 flash brackets that mount on a tripod collar, which is more desirable than mounting on the camera mount.

Beware that you cannot easily use two FB6 since the mount on the bottom of the flash bracket is oriented at 90 degrees to the arca-swisss clamp.

There is also the Shape-Shifter system from Wimberly, http://www.tripodhead.com/brackets.html I think this may work for you , as you can buy different parts and put them togther as needed.

I am curious about the Lepp System... I have never seen it. Do you have a link some to it?

-J

richard potts , May 07, 2002; 12:33 p.m.

I recently got the Bogen macro flash bracket, and it may fit your needs. I haven't used it much, but I can see its versatility. It consists of an 8"x2" central camera/lens mounting platform, and two 8" arms which swing in a horizontal plane and slide under or out from the central platform. The flashes can thus be positioned out to each side, or swung forward (and length adjusted) so that each is next to the end of the lens. The central platform on which the camera/lens is mounted hinges at one side to go vertical; together with the ballhead flopped to the side, this would allow an arrangement with flashes above and below the lens. At each moving joint (flash attach. point, arm attach. point, camera/lens plate hinge) as well as the main camera/lens mounting screw, are the handy folding D-ring bolts, making adjustment quick and easy. On the bottom of the camera platform are 1/4 and 3/8 sockets where you would mount a tripod QR plate. Another great feature: it is only $40 at Adorama! At that price, it is well worth trying out. I believe the only functional difference between it and the Lepp bracket is that the latter has additional arm joints, i.e., longer two-piece arms, and mini ball heads on each arm. It wouldn't take much to add homemade extensions to the Bogen arms if necessary.

Alex P. Schorsch , May 07, 2002; 05:38 p.m.

Your lucky because you have a colar on your lens. You might try mounting the flash bracket on the body's tripod mount and mount your kit on the tripod with the colar's mount. It seems that the big problem is using the same mount for both the camera/body and the flash bracket. You with your lens colar can bypass this. I'm going to start tests with the right half of my macro ring for fill and a hand held flash on the left side as main light. Anybody have any comments on this set-up. Sorry douglas, I'm butting in abit on your thread but I'm really interested in this subject. Thanks, and please post a shot taken with the system you go with.

Michael Bird , May 07, 2002; 05:46 p.m.

I purchased the Bogen dual flash unit after consulting with Steve Hoffman (Steve Hoffmann's Nature and Scenic Photography) and looking at his setup. Read his comments in the ?Bellows Technique? section of his web site.

http://www.sphoto.com/techinfo/phototech.html

I bought the Bogen because the arms seemed more rigid and the price was right. I removed the flash shoes and drilled a hole to fit a 1/4 inch bolt in there place. I bolted down a couple of Bogen ball heads ($20 ea.) - their second smallest - and the price was still right. I screwed Stroboframe flash shoes ($10 ea.) onto the top of the ball heads. Can?t say that I maintained the price advantage in the final product. *~*

I use pliers to reef down on the tightening screws on the adjustable arms, but they can always find a way to move in transport. I mention this because I use a manual system (F2 and Vivitar 283s) and fixed magnification for a particular shoot. This requires me to set things up before leaving the house and carefully transport the adjusted system to location. I find it works best if I have a family member hold it for me instead of setting it on the car seat. A TTL flash system would be much less of an adjustment headache, but I doubt I will go that way for macros.

I use the Bogen Hex plates and that DOES get in the way of the proximal ends of the first arm segments...at times. I can usually find a way to contort the system to achieve the desired results, however.

Ryan Taylor , May 07, 2002; 06:09 p.m.

I don't own the dual strobe bar but I do own the RRS flash bracket so I'll give you my experiences with it. I do like the bracket in the sense that it is well made, solid and quick to use once set up. Although it gives you a downward tilt, the bracket and dual bar combo itself doesn't allow you the flexibility to position your strobes down to the sides of your lens. For this, you would need to attach a mini ballhead on eithe side of the dual strobe bar. However, your strobe positions would still be limited relative to something like Kirk's shape shifter bracket.

Just another general comment: the RRS bracket does not sit (tilt) low enough to light the front your subject very well at 1:1 when using a 100 macro. Most of the light gets thrown behind the subject. At 1:2 and farther, this problem tends to go away as your subject-lens distances increases. Although this won't be a problem for you using a 200 mm macro.

Lester LaForce , May 07, 2002; 08:38 p.m.

I have the RRS flash bracket and dual strobe bar -- the bracket works well for telephoto photography with a collared lens. But it takes about 5+ minutes to set it up each time – you have to be very careful not to drop the smallest screw-bolts used to attach it to specially drilled holes in RRS plates. Once assembled, the whole setup is very stable and reliable. It is not compatible with Kirk’s plates (intentionally I assume).

If you should suddenly want to switch lenses, it would take about 10 minutes to remove from one collared lens and attach to another.

I’ll add my dissatisfaction to the above comments re: the inadequate flexibility re: options to adjust for lighting macro subjects.

Wimberley (www.tripodhead.com) (the makers of the famous gimbal tripod head favored by BIG class shooters) has a new line of flash brackets. They claim to assemble/disassemble very quickly and be capable of nearly unlimited positioning and adjustment of the flash heads. Their phone number is (540) 665-2744 – e-mail wimberly@shentel.net.

Bob Stewart , May 08, 2002; 09:59 a.m.

I use a wimberly flash bracket with a wimberly head, its well made and easy to work with. Its a modular system and can be set up for dual flash macro, although I haven't done it. The Wimberly people are very helpful with questions if you call them. website is tripodhead.com

Douglas Stemke , May 09, 2002; 03:37 p.m.

Thank you all for some really interesting ideas. I'm not yet certain which of these I'll chase down, but I've got some really good food for thought.

Cheers,

Doug

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