It’s DIY Thursday

03 Dec

Fancy yourself a bit of a … modder?

Well, we gots not one but two DIY tips today, courtesy intrepid readers. Hit the jump to learn both how to add a nipple (not my term, mind you) to your SB-800 and how to make a very cool speedlight-to-AlienBees adapter.

Can You See Me Now?

Reader Eric Au came up with the idea to add a cheap flashlight lens to his IR window on an SB-800 to increase the angle of acceptance from other flashes’ optical signals. It appears to turn the flat window into sort of an optical collector.

He was using it for CLS, but one would presume it would also increase the angular performance for people using the SB’s in SU-4 slave mode. More info on this cool mod in the Strobist Flickr group discussion thread.

One note — DealExtreme seems to now be out of the multi-packs of super-cheap flashlight lenses. But they are pretty good at getting in stock to fill back orders. Shipping is free and the lenses are like, .40 for 100.

DealExtreme takes a while, but they usually come through. Oh, and if this is your first time there, plan on a few hours of late-night browsing.

Little Lights, Big Mods

With the introduction of the new Einsteins, Paul Buff seems to be paying a lot more attention to the quality of his reflectors and other mods. He has moved beyond the old conical reflectors and has some very cool replacements at typically low prices.

The grids to fit them are likewise inexpensive. And that starts to give some interesting possibilities if you can mate them to speedlights.

Here’s the thing to remember: You need to change your speedlight output to the equivalent of a bare bulb with a Sto-Fen -type diffuser before the reflectors will properly do their thing.

Thus will lose you some power. But this adaptation is not about power, it’s about light shaping. It is about being able to make some very cool light sources for when you are working up close (or in low, easy-to-overcome ambient.)

You can shoot like this in your speedlight’s wireless TTL mode, too, if that’s your thing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)

I love jamming a foam-wrapped, stofened SB-800 into a Profoto Magnum reflector and working in close. Just a very cool kind of light for close-in portraiture. (Example of a Magnum-keyed portrait here.)

So, without further ado, Tim Rogan’s neat little DIY hack to marry your AB mod and your speedlight”

Vid not showing? Click here.

On thing to note — this mod puts the flash a little further into the soft box than the regular AB or Einstein tube would be. No prob in a ‘box, but with a reflector you want to match the focal point of your flash head as closely to the position of an AB flash tube as possible. I would be looking to saw off some of the front of the male screw threads on the main black plastic piece to adjust that flash position.

Very cool idea tho, and you can see a variant on it courtesy Tim Johnson.

Or, Go High-End

If you are the type with more money than time, frequent Strobist Flickr group contributor Elvis Pahr is now making speedlight-to-softbox adapters that look darn-near Italian as far as the design goes. More info at EP-Designs.

So, anyone else marrying speedlights to big mods using nifty DIY hacks? Gimme a URL in the comments. I’d love to help spread the word to others.

Oh, and for anyone who is confused by the lead pic, that’d be Tim “Tool Time” Taylor, a staple of US TV in the ’90s. Click the pic for a much better explanation.


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