Mounting Speedlites

I’ve been looking for the perfect way to mount a speedlite onto a light stand.

It didn’t take long to realize there isn’t ONE perfect solution. What works best depends on requirements.

Just about everyone has seen and probably used one of these:

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Its a serviceable adapter with an attached cold shoe. I have several of them and have been using them for a number of years. But I wanted something that gets the flash tube closer to the center of the umbrella or modifier. These umbrella adapters are available from multiple sources, mine are from Calumet Photographic and cost about $20.00

It has been my go-to adapter, but I’ve wanted something better.

For umbrellas, one goal is to have the flash tube as near the center of the umbrella as possible.

I found a plate bracket that permits mounting two speedlites and it can be mounted via an adapter onto a normal umbrella adapter. A friend turned me on to a D type adapter that is even better.

Heres what it looks like assembled with two speedlites attached.

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This works well for umbrellas, whether reflective or shoot through. It also works well for Apollo type umbrella softboxes as I’ve described in an earlier post. The new adapter suggestion makes it even easier to use. The adapter is less than $12 on Amazon and the bracket is just less than $20 from B&H. This gets the light where I want it and has the advantage of holding two lights for added power if necessary.

Which brings up another consideration, what about more speedlites in the modifier?  The bracket above will handle two.

And I found this adapter that will handle three.

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The speedlite heads can be angled to distribute the light around the modifier to help smooth it. I’ve use this setup with an 80″ PLM and the speedlites deliver relatively uniform light bounced into the modifier. Generally, I’d be more comfortable using it with the smallest PLM, probably soft silver or the white as a shoot through. Using radio triggers that support ETTL means remote control of the light which is a significant benefit. The bracket was about $23 on Amazon.

I found this 4 speedlite adapter on Amazon. I think Adorama has them as well. It was about $45.00

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4 speedlites attached and controlled via wireless makes it convenient, especially if they are buried inside a Westcott Apollo, or in my case a 90x90cm knock-off. It also means I can shoot at 1/8000 shutter, ISO 100, at F1.2. Not quite enough to over power the sun but certainly enough to darken the background and pop the subject out. If the sun comes out and I can find a willing model I’ll give it a try. 🙂

And now for the find of the month;

I noticed Joe McNally using justin clamps with a ballhead and coldshoe during his road show with David Hobby awhile back. It looked like a nice approach to getting a speedlite attached to a light stand, a door or whatever. Manfrotto makes them and B&H, Adorama and others sell them. I just had trouble justifying the cost. A month or so ago I attended Syl Arena’s Speedliting seminar and he had a home made mount that consisted of a ballhead with a coldshoe and an adapter to fit on a light stand. The parts cost nearly as much as the justin clamp version McNally was using.

On Syl’s website he suggested an optional ballhead. I found it on Amazon for about $20, and along with the adapter and cold shoe built this:

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It works great. Which means the ballhead friction is sufficient to hold the speedlite with a modifier attached at various odd angles.

I had tried this about a year ago with a Giottos head that cost about $20 from Adorama. The head couldn’t reliably hold the speedlite and modifier at off angles so I abandoned it. The Vello head that Syl recommends does hold the speedlite and modifier. It too is about $20.

Then, today I was at Calumet Photographic in Chicago and I found this:

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Its their version of the Justin Clamp with ballhead and coldshoe. And the price is right. $40. About the same as buying the pieces for the ballhead adapter in the previous picture. The ballhead tightening lever can be pulled out and repositioned which is a nice bonus.

So, now I have the perfect speedlite mounting device(s). Different mounts for different applications.

Which would I suggest as a starting place? That depends on what kind of modifier you plan to use.

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