I have been using Cactus flashes and their remotes with my Fuji system for a couple of years now. They have been quite reliable and their portability make them my go to lighting system. As I get older, smaller and lighter gear becomes a necessity. I am a location photographer and I don’t have an assistant to help lug everything around. Hence the speed light flash system being used the majority of the time.
Now there is no denying the quality of light that one can get from a much larger studio light is gorgeous. I just can’t be lugging that crap around all of the time. I have tried multiple flash brackets, multiple types of modifiers and other various doohickies to help make my small lights act bigger to various degrees of success but never really matching studio lighting. That is until now!
I feel like I am going to be giving up my secret sauce recipe here but here goes. Keep in mind I want the big light feel with the portability of small lights. I don’t want to be like Joe McNally and hauling twenty of these small lights around, but then again, he has an assistant to do that for him. Last year I came across the Magmod system. In of itself it is a great system for photographers on the move. It does give a decent quality of light that for a lot of instances would be just fine. The magnet attachment is superb and once you have used it you become addicted to the system. No more velcro or tape etc. Terrific! But it doesn’t give that big soft light feel that a large light with modifier can give.
Now one problem with using speed lights like the Cactus lights or any other light is the fresnel front doesn’t offer the spread of say a bare bulb studio light. Yes you can buy some that do now, such as the Godox AD200 but for now I wanted to stick with what is working for me and what I already have remotes for. Now Cactus lights aren’t small as far as speed lights are concerned. One has a pretty good amount of power and two has a really nice punch of power. I have used them doubled up through a Photek Softlighter and it does make for a really nice light. But for a guy that is on the move all of the time, the Softlighter is a bit on the fragile side and hard to carry on a train with stands etc. What to do what to do?
Enter Lastolite. I use their reflectors and sometimes one of their original soft boxes. In fact that is how I came up with this recipe. I love how their equipment folds up small which makes it easy to transport. The original Ezybox is ok but never thrilled me. Neither did it’s original bracket. Well now they have come out with the EzyboxII system and a new two light bracket. I ordered up the EzyboxII Switch soft box and the two light bracket. The Switch soft box can be modified to be a strip light or a large soft box all from the same unit. Very cool! I got the big one and it is a large modifier but thankfully not too deep. All materials are of high quality and the new two light bracket is much nicer and sturdier than the original one light bracket. Yes it is plastic but that means less weight for me to carry so I am good with that. It is a very robust plastic so no real worries there.
Yeah yeah so what is the recipe you ask? Well you take two Cactus RF60 flashes, put them in the Lastolite two light mount. Attach the EzyboxII to the bracket and add the final seasoning which is…two Magmod magspheres and two maggels to the flashes. The magspheres make the Cactus units more like bare bulb flashes by spreading the light around inside the modifier. The other beauty of the spheres is they don’t cost you in light power…at least not much. The gels are just 1/4 cto gels to warm the light a little. The soft box has a double diffuser system so all of this combined creates one really nice soft light setup that is portable.
That attached photos won’t win any prizes. Teenage boys never smile for photos especially when it’s your kid and you twist their arm to be a light tester. But they do show that quality of light that came out of this setup. I was on 1/35th power at ISO 200 @f2. Yes F2 is wide open but I had lots of power left if I wanted to narrow the aperture for more depth of field. I will continue to play with this setup and try to update this post at a later time. Until then, try the secret sauce, you might like it!