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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Strobies XS: Beautiful; Math Challenged?

Interfit has released some pretty cool-looking speedlight accessories and bracket system under a line called "Strobies."

Name similarities aside, there is absolutely no connection of any kind between this site and the Strobies XS stuff. And from a quality of light standpoint I really dig where they're going. My concern is how well the math holds up.

More wishy-washy waffling and indecisiveness inside...
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Remember when we talked about the difference between a speedlight and a mono with respect to the architecture of the tube and reflector?

This new mounting frame, left, brings the two different types of flashes together in terms of quality of light. At first glance it looks like any one of several DIY speedlight-into-softbox mounts, but they take it a step further and include a system-oriented mounting flange at the business end.

Now, the flash head (mounted into a beauty dish / soft box / reflector / etc.) has its light positioned in the focal point of the light modifier. The diffuser dome sends the light out in all directions, completing the deal.

This architecture (or, rather, the lack of it) is what is wrong with just about every DIY speedlight beauty dish. David Tejada's version comes close, but still does not duplicate the bare-tube-and-beauty-dish combo.


So, What's Not to Like?

Think about what has to happen for that speedlight to get to the quality of a decent-sized bare tube mono. The tiny little flash tube emits light, it is reflected (with some loss) by the built-in reflector and thrown forward. Then it is collected and diffused by the plastic dome.

This diffuser dome step eats up a lot of light, and it happens before the light ever gets to the first light-sucking bounce or diffusion surface of any of the Strobies mods. Thus, high 9's on quality of light, and (an estimated) low 6's for efficiency -- I would not expect a lot of output along with that beautiful light quality.


Maybe a Mono?

In essence, you are spending both dollars and lumens to get your speedlights to create the same quality of light as monoblocs.

They look very well made, and I would be curious to see a price list. Because for the cost of outfitting one of these strobe-to-quasi-mono setups, you may well be able to pick up an actual, small monobloc. I am thinking AB400 or Elinchrom D-Lite, maybe. And you would still need a speedlight to stick inside the "Strobie" if you went that route.

If you already have the speedlight of your dreams, and are working indoors for close-in portraiture, the "Strobies" might be just the ticket. This is especially true if you are looking for beautiful, beauty dish light and TTL workflow. That's a plus the monos don't offer. But if you need high quality and high quantity light, be sure to take a look at all of the factors before you make the jump.

These are new, and I haven't seen any prices yet. So a lot will depend on that. Please update us in the comments if you see any hard numbers floating around.
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More info: Interfit Strobies XS



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38 Comments:

Anonymous JMCblog said...

Do you know this stuff? Seems a bit sturdier and is already available:

http://jmc.bz/vwr5ff

April 30, 2009 12:56 AM  
Anonymous Todd Walker said...

I work at a pro camera shop in Tulsa. We will be carrying the Strobie line, including the Strobies XS. It will be retailing for $49.99 - not too bad in my opinion. Also, the other Strobie products will be very modestly priced as well. Check out www.interfitphotographic.com for the official website info.

April 30, 2009 1:53 AM  
Anonymous Todd Walker said...

I work at a pro camera shop in Tulsa. We will be carrying the Strobie line, including the Strobies XS. It will be retailing for $49.99 - not too bad in my opinion. Also, the other Strobie products will be very modestly priced as well. Check out www.interfitphotographic.com for the official website info.

April 30, 2009 1:53 AM  
Blogger Charles Verghese said...

Guess, like you mentioned, it all boils down to price. One thing I think also will factor in is the portability of the setup. I am all for the strobes compared to the mono's.

April 30, 2009 2:02 AM  
Anonymous Graham said...

From Interfit's UK press release-

Initially Strobies will be available in two highly specified kits; both will include 3 x Flex Mounts of your choice.

The Portrait Kit STR100 is priced at £139.99 and includes Beauty Dish, Globe Diffuser Softbox, Barn Door, Snoot, and Honeycomb Grid “20 Degree”. Each item is easily swapped without the need for removing the flex mount from the flashgun via the retaining clips and simply pushes on for a secure fit.

The EFX Kit is priced at £99.99 and includes 2 x Honeycombs Grid 20 & 30 Degree, Snoot, Velcro Strap, Bounce Card set, Honeycomb and Bounce Tube. Ideal for use in addition to the Portrait kit, highlighting the background and creating visual effects.

Available from May 2009, further information will available on the Interfit website shortly.

April 30, 2009 2:05 AM  
Blogger steppelch said...

It is listed in the UK for £39.99 - hard to get a monobloc for that price.

(http://www.jacobsdigital.co.uk/index.php?thequery=INTERFIT+Strobies)

April 30, 2009 2:07 AM  
Blogger carlos benjamin - benjphoto.com said...

Wow. Those prices look great considering all the gear they put in those kits.

I looked around on the site and also liked the reflectors that fit around your camera lens. Those would be great for some backlit situations (although it makes it difficult to gain rapport with your subject).

April 30, 2009 2:27 AM  
Blogger Michael Zelbel said...

I would be really curious about the acutall difference in light this makes. If anyone ever shoots a portrait with this kit compared to a simple speedlight and umbrella setup then please share your results.

Best light!
-- Michael

April 30, 2009 3:38 AM  
Anonymous Kev M said...

That link to jacobsdigital is only for the mounting kit and doesn't include any of the light modifiers.

Not such good value after all.

April 30, 2009 4:35 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

To get the best of both worlds just use a bare-bulb flash instead of a speedlite and diffuser. I use a Sunpak 120J with my Kacey Beauty Reflector to get the largest light spread. The reflector element can be adjusted to modify the spread as well.

For my review of the Kacey dish I did a few comparison shots between a Sunpak 120J and 383 with the beauty dish to visualize the light-spread patterns, and there's a significant difference with the bare-bulb.

-mark

April 30, 2009 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Michael Brochstein said...

Interfit is on to something with the Strobies XS and they're close but not entirely there IMHO. What is needed is something very very similar to this model. They need a model where the front of their bracket is a speedring itself or can mate with a speedring. The scenario I am thinking of it as follows; Many people already own various softboxes and don't want to have to buy another proprietary one. They also wish to use the Nikon CLS system (or similar). If I had a Strobies bracket where the front actually was a speedring or would mate with a generic speedring then I can use my Nikon flash in CLS mode as well as any of the softboxes (and other speedring mating assesories) that I already own.

April 30, 2009 9:40 AM  
Anonymous Marky Marc said...

If you could squeeze two lights onto that bracket it would help considerably (a full stop...)

April 30, 2009 10:05 AM  
Blogger john said...

And to think, I was about to sell my old interfit softboxes and hot lights, guess I can wait to see what the prices look like because all I would need is the mount.

April 30, 2009 10:53 AM  
Blogger captaindash said...

This is directly from the website. You can't make this stuff up:

"The Barndoor will give a soft uniform light source and is ideal when combined with a reflector or other Strobies products to add a fill light.

Barndoor's are generally used as a hair light or a fill light on the backgroun.".

How...is...a...barndoor...a...large...lightsource? If I was a newb, those sentences would totally confuse me. If I were you, Mr H, I'd be both flattered, and a bit pissed (seems you already are) that they are trying to cash in on your very recognizable 'brand'.

April 30, 2009 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Alan Lapp said...

Very cool, very clever. The rubber "flex mount" looks like a very tidy solution to the problem of attaching 'stuff' to a flash.

This mount could be a great foundation for DIY solutions, if you're so inclined.

Also, David, you mention efficiency. It seems like this would be a good use for older handle-mount flashes with high GNs such as the Sunpak 622.

April 30, 2009 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Phil Winterbourne said...

High Speed synch is the one advantage of a small strobe over a mono block, so that could be a reason to get these?

April 30, 2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Photo Curber said...

this definitely interests me as i use calumet travelites ... and i already have S-Mount speedrings as well as snoots and a beauty dish with the same mount.

April 30, 2009 5:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just received the MSRP list from Interfit:

Strobies
SGM100 Flex Mount Nikon SB600/SB800 $8.99
SGM200 Flex Mount Sony F32X/Canon 430EX $8.99
SGM300 Flex Mount Sony F56AM/Nikon SB26/27/28 $8.99
SGM400 Flex Mount Canon 580EX /550EX $8.99
SGM500 Flex Mount Vivitar 285 $8.99
SGM600 Flex Mount for Nikon SB900 $8.99
SGM700 Flex Mount Canon 580EX11 $8.99
STR102 Mini reflector / Beauty dish (Flex Mount needed) $32.99
STR103 Globe difuser (Flex Mount needed) $38.99
STR107 Honey Comb 20 degree (Flex Mount needed) $21.99
STR108 Honey Comb 30 degree (need Flex mount) $21.99
STR106 Snoot (Flex Mount needed) $30.99
STR104 White softbox (Flex Mount needed) $22.99
STR105 Barndoor (Flex Mount needed) $23.99

STR109 Strobies Flash Gun Bounce set $42.99
Curved Silver Bouncer/ Tube
Honey Comb
White Bounce Card

STR100 Strobies Portrait kit ( Flex Mounts need to be ordered separately) $159.99
Beauty dish
Globe difuser
White softbox
Barndoor
Snoot
Honey Comb 20 degree

STR101 Strobies Efx Kit ( Flex Mounts need to be ordered separately) $109.99
Snoot
Honey Comb 20 degree
Honey Comb 30 degree
Flash Gun Bounce set

Hoeps this helps! They said they should be available in about 4 weeks...

April 30, 2009 5:53 PM  
Blogger Geert Vanden Broeck said...

and I thought that the point was to use lightweight and compact equipment...

April 30, 2009 6:47 PM  
Blogger Bill Giles said...

This is interesting, but not interesting enough to get excited about with the possible exception of the flex mounts. These might be useful for adapting speedlights to regular modifiers. As it is, I have two small photoflex softboxes and mounts that I can use with speedlights, Sunpak Pro120Js or with standard studio heads and monolights. Without a really compelling system like the Nikon CLS, I can't see sinking the money into gear like this. I've got battery packs that I can use on monolights and other studio gear, so I'll probably go with a blend. Some speedlights to travel light and some bigger lights to use when appropriate and the weight is justified.

April 30, 2009 7:40 PM  
Blogger Odyssey said...

Thanks for sharing. But I've got to say, I share your skepticism. The kits look cheesy and rather cheap, although I can easily imagine them being overpriced.

And the fact that they show most of the modifiers being used on a camera-mounted flash... Talk about limiting the creative potential.

I'm not impressed by Strobies... I'll be curious to see what kind of real-life reviews they get.

April 30, 2009 8:47 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I recently purchased the Speedlight Pro Kit you guys featured here a while back and am very pleased with it. By the way, I bought it from Midwest Photo Exchange and their service was excellent. This kit is actually better than I expected. In the product photos the grids looked (to me anyway) like they were made of some type of paper-like material. I was very pleased that they are in fact made of a very sturdy plastic. This kit should be seriously considered by anyone seeking light control accessories for their strobes. The materials used for construction are light and durable and fold flat to boot. And most important, they work great! I just wish that MPE would hurry up and get the full line of accessories offered by the manufacturer. I am anxious to get the barn doors and internal domes they offer.

April 30, 2009 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

even though adaptors are already available, at least they thought of Sony/KM users!

I am a bit concerned about the positioning of the flash with all the weight horizontally leveraging a plastic adapter.. They need some strobist ball bungees to make it sturdier!

April 30, 2009 11:03 PM  
Blogger Chris Homan said...

I can see how the math doesn't add up with the dome attached. But why attach the dome if you use a softbox or brollie in front of it? I think a real world review will tell us more.

May 01, 2009 4:53 AM  
Blogger Wiliam R.S.P. MacLeod, Jr. said...

It'll all come down to price... I built something similar with the salvaged parts from a burned out monobloc with a bowens "S" mount....but the rig cost me about $50.00 (US)... mine does hold 2 flashes, though.
I'm just loving how different companies are finally figuring out the there's a HUGE market for this stuff!

May 01, 2009 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at the XS bracket i can see that there is an SB800 positioned inside which takes up most of the room, therefore i would think it would be impossible to get 2 SB800's inside and S type bracket. look pretty neat to me i have one on my shopping list.

David i think you may be right when a beauty dish is connected but not a softbox or other accessories, still go to hand it to interfit for trying sure it will be a big hit for them.

May 01, 2009 11:00 AM  
OpenID almostinfamous said...

@captaindash at 11.49AM - to be fair, ALL their lightmodifiers have the same text - i think someone went wild with the ctrl+c/ctrl+v a little bit.

to wit:
"The snoot will give a soft uniform light source and is ideal when combined with a reflector or other Strobies products to add a fill light."
and
"The Honeycomb 20 Degree will give a soft uniform light source and is ideal when combined with a reflector or other Strobies products to add a fill light."

May 01, 2009 1:26 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I've been talking with Interfit for a while. The last message was that this isn't the end of the story. There is more to come. That was all I was told.

At some point I'll be getting an adaptor and running it with my S bayonette soft boxes to see what happens.

By the time I've got my hands on one, though, other people will probably have done the testing.

May 01, 2009 4:00 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

For what it's worth to anyone, I did some testing a short while ago.

A shoot through lost me a stop of light - http://msknight.com/index.php?page=526 about half way down the page; of course you can mitigate this by choking up or zooming, but that's at the cost of coverage and hot spot.

A big S-bayonette soft box lost me about half a stop when measured on a mains mono, and a diffuser cap lost me half a stop in the battery soft box test, http://msknight.com/index.php?page=527

...so in theory it shouldn't mean that much difference in total power loss to the surface.

I just can't wait to get my hands on a bracket to test it out with a light meter, but Jacobs want nearly another £8 in postage on top of the price, so I'm waiting for Warehouse Express to see what they charge. They wouldn't get a poor little end-user like me, a unit for testing.

I might cobble up a bracket to test with, later this weekend.

May 02, 2009 1:44 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Here we go ... the heath robinson test.

I heathed together a 70x100 S bayonette softbox (cheap e-bay variety) on to one of Moishe's Lumo Pro flash guns - via an Alzo Digital 40cm soft box mount and a ton of electrical tape. Long story ... don't ask.

I used the Lumo Pro because it is about the average battery strobe output before going in to silly money territory.

Also, I used a second light stand to position the strobe head in the box according to the advertising photo put out by Interfit. This took account that the thickness of the S-Bayonette ring itself adds depth and that put the surface of the strobe head roughly about equal with the surface of the ring.

My personal determination was that running a flash gun, loaded with batteries, head extended, positioned horizontal, is a little on the precarious side, but nothing I'd be too concerned about so long as I had faith in the strobes foot strength.

With the bare flash sat in the soft box, I got f38 straight out and down to about f11 at the corners.

With the diffuser cap fitted, I got f22 at the centre and about f13 at the corners.

With the first diffusion layer, the centre came down to f19 but the corners stayed at f13.

With the outer diffusion layer fitted, I got f16 at the centre and f11 at the corners.

My other, "tests," showed that the mono bloc in the same box gave a difference of half a stop from centre to corner, while the battery strobe in a 40x40 soft box also gave a half stop difference between centre and corner.

This one stop difference is showing that a battery strobe in a larger soft box, is losing something in the physics of the layout; never mind the actual power output.

About 1 metre away from the strobe, the power hitting the subject was about f6.7 from full power - that's not much juice.

Long story short, I'd want more power from my battery strobe before this kind of thing becomes feasible for me.

May 02, 2009 2:58 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Apologies - the earlier test was a 50x70, not a 70x100.

If anything, it begs consideration that a 40x40 could be thought to be the maximum comfort zone for a soft box meant for a battery powered strobe.

May 02, 2009 3:11 AM  
Blogger Boris said...

Hello,

there is a german firm on http://www.flash2softbox.com/ which has nice stuff for speedlites including softboxes etc for a fair price.

Just have a look.

Boris

May 02, 2009 1:00 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Doh! Call me an idiot - it WAS a 70x100 soft box. Pictures here http://shutter-fug.blogspot.com/2009/05/can-battery-strobes-grow-up.html

May 02, 2009 2:45 PM  
Blogger midwestphotoexchange said...

It looks like the Strobies line is not going to be available for another 4-8weeks.

I had a chance to look at them at PMA this year and it definitely looks like an interesting line. The shoe on the speedlite speedring leaves a bit to be desired. Also the velcro accessory line up is virtually the same as the Honl line, just made cheaper with cheaper materials.

@kim, we should have the full Speedlite Pro Kit accessory line-up in a couple weeks. Looking forward to it!

Moishe
mpex.com

May 02, 2009 6:16 PM  
Blogger picturesque said...

I made a small beauty dish for my speedlite (cost less than $8), the info is below.

http://photo.net/photography-lighting-equipment-techniques-forum/00Sm3F

I have used the unit on weddings. It works great.

Sterilite also makes a large, approximately 12" bowl, which could also work.

Mark--I have a Sunpak 120J too, and if you use the Norman 19" octagonal softbox (has a fitted neck to go right around the tube), you end up with results very similar to a regular beauty dish.

May 04, 2009 7:39 PM  
Blogger JLykins said...

David, I just picked up one of the Beauty dishes from Midwest today. I stopped in there and asked about them(they didn't even have them on the shelve yet) $29.99 for the Beauty Dish, and $7.99 for the adapter to fit an SB800. Took some shots with it today during a engagement session(the whole reason I was in Columbus) I'll get some shots up in the flickr pool tomorrow. Just let everyone know that they are in stock from Midwest now.

July 02, 2009 11:02 PM  
Blogger David Weaver said...

I picked up the mini beauty dish and the mount for about 40 bucks. The price is very reasonable and a reason for me to pick one up and test drive it in production.

The Interfit beauty dish provides a small incremental softer light over a sto-fen and it does so with significantly less light loss over a Gary Fong tupperware device. The beauty dish from Interfit allows you to remove the center diffuser too. This results in all the light coming our from the white reflector (with or without the center diffuser in place). Thus the light goes towards the subject. Whereas the Fong device losses a lot of light (about 4 stops) the Interfit does not.

The mini beauty dish does not work well for close subjects as it causes a halo effect of light near close subjects - caused by the diffuser in the beauty dish.

For subjects at 6+" the light mellows out but is only a bit more diffuse and only a bit more powerful (about 1/2 to 1 stop) than using a sto-fen.

I've done a lot of shots this week with it and I've decided to relegate it to some studio work for 2 reasons. First, it has a large profile and thus isn't very appropriate in crowded situations as the whole thing tends to get knocked around. Second, the sto-fen has a smaller profile and works well in crowded situation and the light loss is acceptable for me. I can shoot in close or farther away with the sto-fen and get great results consistently.

The Interfit stuff will come in handy for small studio work but it is cumbersome in the field.

July 19, 2009 3:21 AM  
Anonymous g1 said...

hello
has anyone been testing the XS bracket ?
is it already orderable ?
b&h seams to have it in stock for now
thanks
g1

July 31, 2009 12:54 PM  

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