Right now my last blog post, where I shared my Rubbermaid-based DIY flash bracket, is getting all the attention – mostly because DIYPhotography.net featured it yesterday (which is way cool, by the way!). And although I was somewhat amazed that the thing actually worked, I don’t have a lot of faith in it’s ability to last through a location shoot.
On a scale of 1 to 10 it gets an 8 for DIY coolness, but a 2 for usability. And that bugged me enough that I was back to the drawing board the next morning.
Actually, the drawing board is where I did end up, in the form of Google SketchUp, where I puttered around with a few more ideas before coming up with this:
Unlike it’s plastic predecessor, this new DIY multi-flash bracket is all metal; if it dies during a location shoot, it’ll be because someone ran over my lightstand, not from plastic fatigue. In a twist of irony, the inspiration came from the DIYPhotography blog, which shared a post back in February: “Two Flashes are Better than One + Simple DIY Multi-Flash Bracket Tutorial.” The bracket in that post is a two-flash version of the one above; I saw the picture of it and the thought popped into my head, “Why not just double it?”
The final product is very much like the plans above; I added some locking nuts to keep the horizontal mounting plates in place, and used a spacer instead of a connector between the two plates – once all the parts are tightened down, it’s pretty darn solid.
Each coldshoe mounts to the plate in the pattern of: thumb-screw+nut+fender washer+plate+coldshoe. The nut is really just a spacer, to keep the thumb-screws from coming up through the center of the coldshoes. There’s just barely enough space between the two plates for the opposing thumb-screws to fit. And by using the thumb-screws, I’ve maintained the ability to rotate the coldshoes in a full circle, so I can keep the E-TTL sensor on the flash pointing in any direction.
It’s still lightweight and takes up very little room in the camera bag, although I’m afraid that it’s DIY coolness factor has fallen a bit. But since usability is up, I guess it’s a small sacrifice to make. And it does get that 4th flash on-board, which will go even father in terms of lighting power.
Now I just need to use it. The model I had lined up for last Saturday bailed in the morning, so I’m looking to re-book her for this weekend. Failing that, I’ll beg my girlfriend to step in front of the camera. But I definitely want to take this out in broad daylight with my 50mm f/1.8 and see how they’ll play together!