DIY Multi-Speedlite Mounting Bracket 2

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:

(Click for a larger view)

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!

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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8 Comments

  1. This is an awesome upgrade. What’s interesting is the DIY Blog entry is how I first found your blog but your bird photography and 7D review is what I’ve read the most.

    • Brent Pennington

      Thanks – glad you’re enjoying my ramblings! The 7D is a sweet camera for birding, for sure!

  2. This is an excellent upgrade. Any idea how much it cost aside from the cold shoes? You’d have $40 in cold shoes, but it looks like maybe $10 in other hardware. I’m going to have to build something similar soon…

    • Brent Pennington

      I’d say it’s between $10-$12 in general hardware. The connector rods are the most expensive, at about $2.40 for a pack of two – the rest is a dollar or much less. I guess when I was figuring costs I didn’t count the cold shoes, since I already had them from a while back. But still, figure an all-metal 4x mount for under $65, which is the price of a Tri-Mount – which only holds three. On the other hand, I do still have to figure out how to mount an umbrella to this…

  3. If 4 speedlights in one spot blinds someone, is that covered by insurance?

    • Brent Pennington

      I wondered how long it would take for you to comment on this…

  4. I found some 1/4x20x3/4″ set screws at my local ACE hardware store. I put small rubber pads cut from those foam place mats at any local craft store and still using the cold shoes as a mount put Teflon pipe tape on one end of the set screw and tighten it in with an Allen Key. Note you can tighten the Allen key through the hole in the cold shoe. The Teflon tape helps keep one set from turning. You can get all four Speedlites on one bar using the ‘extension’ threaded rod you have.
    Good idea the extension rod. I was sort of stumped. Looks like your way gets the fourth Speedlite past the umbrella holder knob. Next step is to get a DIY umbrella holder that fits so all the lights aim toward the center of the umbrella.

    • brentpennington

      Great thoughts here – I especially like the idea of the set screws. The thumb screws I had used did the job, but take up a lot of space below the bar, which means spreading the lights farther apart. The DIY umbrella holder is the part I’ve had the most trouble with as well. As much as I hate admitting defeat to any of the machined chunk-of-metal commercial designs, they do seem to have the smallest footprint, fewest parts, and most integrated designs…

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