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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Westcott Does Us a Solid


Kelly Mondora started out with FJ Westcott as a temp in data entry 12 years ago. Now she's VP of the entire photography industry division.

Why? Because of stuff like what you see above.

Our go-to umbrella, the Westcott Double-Fold, is now crush-proof on the business end of the telescoping staff. A little backstory, a DIY workaround and a cool coupon code, inside.
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In March of last year, I went to PMA as a speaker and to check out some of the new toys. That's where I met Kelly, who has that rare combo of really caring about her customers at a ground level and being high enough in the company to do something about it.

We talked the near-perfect Westcott Double-Fold, and she quickly honed in on the "near" part. Small, light, cheap -- but crushable if you tighten down on the shaft with your umbrella swivel.



There was even a DIY hack, as seen above, where we shove a pencil up the shaft (New! Graphite Shaft Edition!) to support it.

She told me then and there that they could fix it, and now they have. Redesigned, solid-shaft tip versions are trickling up through the supply chain as we speak. Awesome.

If you get an hollow version (or want to strengthen your current umbrellas) the pencil trick works great. But soon, you won't have to.

And for those who say, "why not a solid shaft," please bite your tongue.

For one, they are heavier. For two, they have to screw apart. And trust me, you do not want extra loose parts which love to drop and roll under your car when you take an umbrella out of your trunk. Been there.
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Coupon Code

This weekend, Westcott is kicking off a "Top Pro Tour" roadshow. (If you haven't, heard about it, info is here.)

Kelly sent us a coupon code (as if the solid shaft wasn't enough) in case anyone wants to head out. It's $89.90, but entering the code TPT4949 gets you $20 off.


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17 Comments:

Blogger Joey said...

Finally.

September 09, 2010 1:16 PM  
Blogger Debbi_in_California said...

David,
I'm on the Westcott Facebook Friends list and according to that, if you buy a ticket for this tour, even if you have no intention of going in person, you will have full access to 1 hour videos of all 26 cities visited at the end of the tour. If it's really true, that is an amazing amount of training video for $70 bucks!
Debbi

September 09, 2010 2:05 PM  
Blogger Perry Martin said...

I have one of the new umbrellas.

I love the idea and what was trying to be accomplished by this design modification, but the tip on mine fell out of the umbrella after only 3 uses. Perhaps they need a better bonding agent to hold those in. For now it is back to using super glue/epoxy to put a pencil in there and then replace the tip over the end of the pencil.

Otherwise still a very nice umbrella for its weight and portability.

September 09, 2010 3:14 PM  
Blogger Spencer said...

I must have gotten one of the first to roll off the production line when I receive my solidshaftie a month or so ago.

September 09, 2010 3:16 PM  
Blogger droptheshutter said...

the westcotts i've bought here in the netherlands about 4 months ago already had these solid shafts both on the normal and the double-fold i have. when i saw the pencil-tip i was suprised you didn't have these solids yet.

keep up the awesome word david!

September 09, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger Nicholas said...

This is great that they're finally doing this. A good number of manufacturers use hollow shafts.
One of the best work-arounds to this is taking your umbi's to Home Depot or Lowe's and looking through their selection of round bar stock, usually found in the hardware dept. I've been able to "fill" all my hollow umbi shafts with usually 3/16" or 1/4" round bar thus making them crush-proof.

Happy shooting.

-N

September 09, 2010 6:19 PM  
Blogger Derek Campbell Photography said...

David,

What makes the Wescott, the go to Umbrella for you ?

With so many brands on the market why this one ?

Derek Campbell
www.photosincancun.com

September 09, 2010 6:36 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I just bought a Strobist Starving Student Kit from MPEX and was very pleased to see that the umbrellas I received had these modifications already. I assume that the body of the shaft is still hollow though, so do I still need to be a little bit careful clamping the thumbscrew further up? Or does having the solid end provide structural support for the entire shaft?

September 09, 2010 8:01 PM  
Blogger David said...

@Derek-

Light, small (short), super-compact and so inexpensive they are damn near disposable.

-D

September 09, 2010 8:09 PM  
Blogger Darren Whitley said...

Yeah, but I can't use these with my Balcar lights at work because the shafts aren't round. And that's not ideal since I like how broad the umbrellas are. Poop!

September 09, 2010 11:51 PM  
Blogger shaggy dog pix said...

Hi, David,

O.K., I'll confess - it's a deep, deep, deep personality flaw, but....it's "HOME in", not "hone in". As in "homing pigeon". With "home" there's a target toward which something moves. With "hone" there's an edge which is refined. The difference is that with "home" something actually exists toward which one can move. With "hone" there's only a hypothetical edge (we're generally referring to knives and such like, here). Which means, of course, that there's no actual target to move toward.

I wonder if there's a twelve-step program for overcoming a pedantry addiction.

Gotta say, though, that I'm a huge fan of your blog.

September 10, 2010 12:31 AM  
Blogger SS Buchanan said...

Yeah, same question - do most people tighten up the umbrella holder right on the end of the shaft?
I don't think I've ever done that, since the umbrella holder is usually under the strobe, and the umbrella opens up much further up the shaft, I'd expect a lot of spill clamping the brolley so high up?

September 10, 2010 3:36 AM  
Blogger DevKom said...

I picked up a pair of the double folds and find them perfect for minimalist packing. One 'design flaw' I would like to see improved upon is a way for the black cover to stay on once it's been removed and replaced. As it is I keep one 'white' and the other 'black' as it's a bit of a pain otherwise.

September 10, 2010 8:58 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Hi David,

Maybe Westcott can push the envelope a little bit more by offering just these umbrella tips to those who already own hollow shafts. Sort of an "upgrade" part :-)

September 10, 2010 7:34 PM  
Blogger Linda Matlow, PIX INTERNATIONAL (pixintl) said...

Why don't they make the umbrella with threads so the attachment can just screw in.

Linda Matlow
http://pixintl.com

September 10, 2010 8:10 PM  
Blogger Will said...

@shaggydogpix,

You can actually use both "hone" and "home".
you are right about the definition of using home, however when you "hone in" a knife you are working towards a target (like a 20 degree flat grind or whatever)
So both are correct, its just a preference. I usually use hone

September 12, 2010 12:41 PM  
Blogger John Rohde Jensen said...

Just received mine today. Two plain whites and one with removable black cover. They are just gorgeous, can't believe You call them disposable.

September 15, 2010 7:19 AM  

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