Product Review: Rogue FlashBenders

By Diane Berkenfeld

rogue flashbenders product shot for picture-soup.com

(l. to r.) small, large, bounce card

Rogue FlashBenders are shapeable light modifiers that are designed for shoe mount flashes. They come in three sizes and fit practically all shoe mount flash units. One of the great things about the FlashBenders is the way they’re made. They hold the shape that you bend them in (hence the name).

I’ve been testing them out for a few months now and they’ve become a vital addition to my camera bag. In fact, quite a few times I’ve been asked, “Just what the hec is that thing on your camera’s flash?” One time I was even told, “You know, an index card and rubber band used to do the trick for me.”

The FlashBenders are made out of Cordura nylon and fasten around the flash units using Velcro; and each one is a single unit, because the Velcro is attached to the main part of the reflector. The white, reflective surface is made of a durable, wipeable, synthetic fabric that is neutral and won’t affect the color temperature of the reflected light.

The different sizes include large, small and the Bounce Card. The large reflector measures 10×11-inches. The small reflector measures 10×7-inches. The Bounce Card is 5×9-inches in size. What makes the FlashBenders hold their shape are the positionable rods that are incorporated inside them, and won’t lose their shape while you’re shooting—three in the large, two in the small, and one in the Bounce Card.

zach for picture-soup.com article on flashbenders

Zach was lit with window light, with the small FlashBender on the camera's flash for fill. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

According to the company, the large reflector is perfect for off-camera use, and is ideal for shaping into a snoot. It, along with the others can be used to bounce light or as a flag to keep light off of a subject. When its not shaped into a snoot, the large reflector is meant to be used on a flash that is positioned at a 90 degree angle.

The small reflector can be used as a mini-snoot or to bounce light.

You can use the Bounce Card as a reflector or a flag. It comes with a piece of black fabric that attaches by Velcro if you position it as a flag.

Sure you could take an index card and rubber band and make an impromptu bounce card—and it works—but the FlashBenders work much better. They’re simple to use, much more durable and since the Velcro strap is attached to the reflector, there’s no way you can lose it.

joey playing harmonica photo illustrating flashbenders for picture-soup.com

Joey playing harmonica. The small FlashBender was on the flash atop the camera's hot shoe. You can see the shape of the catchlight in his eyes. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

My favorite FlashBender is the small reflector, which is perfect for use on camera, and provides a really nice softened quality of light. To focus the light, I’ll bend the sides inward and if I’m shooting a group of people, I’ll unfold the reflector to provide more of a surface to reflect the light off of.
I used to bounce my on-camera flash a lot but since I’ve gotten the FlashBenders, I’ve found myself using them all the time, for portraits and events—pretty much anytime that I’ve got the flash on the hot shoe, the small reflector is attached. Like I said, it is my favorite.

bouquet of bride's flowers for picture-soup.com article on flashbenders

Photos outside get the FlashBender treatment too. The softened light is much more natural looking and flattering on most subjects. Photo © Diane Berkenfeld.

I haven’t had that much of a chance to use them as a snoot, but am looking forward to shooting still life with them on multiple flash units. I’ll post those photos as an addition to this review.

The Rogue FlashBenders are definitely worth the price. The set of three sell for just over $100. The large, small and bounce card sell for $39.95, $34.95 and $29.95 respectively. For more information, go to www.expoimaging.com.

Share

Nikon Announces D7000 DSLR, Two Lenses & a Speedlight

By Diane Berkenfeld

You know a big trade show is close when every day brings announcements from another camera maker about their latest new innovations. With photokina just a week away, Nikon today announced the D7000 DSLR, two prime lenses and a Speedlight. The D7000 is positioned above the D3000 and below the D90—both cameras will remain in Nikon’s product line.

Nikon D7000 DSLR

The Nikon D7000 with optional vertical grip attached.

The D7000 uses a newly designed 16.2MP CMOS sensor (APS-C size) and EXPEED 2 TM image processing engine, with 14-bit A/D conversion, along with both a new metering system and new AF system.

The company describes the metering system as “groundbreaking”—it is a 2,016 pixel RGB 3D Matrix Metering System. Another Nikon first, this system interprets scene data for improved control of light metering and i-TTL flash output. Additionally there is now a new Ambient white balance setting which gives images a warm rendering in Automatic White Balance.

The 39-point AF system includes nine center cross-type sensors that operate with more than 60 Nikkor lenses. The system is designed to acquire the autofocus of the subject faster and track it better. Additionally, photographers can activate dynamic or single point AF, configurable in varying combinations of AF points to match a variety of shooting situations. Photographers can also activate 3D tracking, which continuously follows moving subjects within the 39 AF points.

The D7000 can capture full 1080p HD video, with full-time autofocus, giving photographers the ability to produce sharp movie footage without having to manually focus during capture. Photographers also now have manual exposure control while shooting video. The camera can even track up to 35 faces for critical HD focus. Frame rates include 24 fps at 1080p, or 720p recording at either 24 or 30 fps for up to 20 minutes a clip. And, video clips can be trimmed and edited in-camera to save post-production time.

The camera utilizes dual SD media card slots.

Exciting new features of the D7000 include the ability to process RAW images in-camera, and add special effects via the retouch menu. The ISO range of the camera is 100 – 6400, expandable up to 25,600. The camera has the ability to shoot six fps for a burst of 100 images. Other features include a dual SD media card slot, compatible with SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards; a built-in iTTL Speedlight and wireless commander support; a 3-inch LCD, Live View, and a brand new battery designed to offer more shooting on a full charge.

Nikon’s D7000 is durable; the body is built from magnesium-alloy and incorporates a 150,000 cycle-rated shutter system. Additionally, the DSLR is dust and moisture sealed and features Nikon’s dust reduction system. A new Mode Dial eschews traditional Scene Mode icons for more advanced manual functions and two user-defined settings. Placed under the control wheel is a Release Mode dial, which allows access to the burst modes, timer, and Quiet Shutter.

While the D7000 is priced at the enthusiast level, we definitely see pros using this camera, and can only assume that some of the groundbreaking new technologies incorporated into the D7000 will be making their way into new pro level models soon!

AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G lens

The D7000 DSLR is scheduled for mid-October delivery with an MSRP of $1,199.95 for the body only and $1,499.95 for body/lens kit including the AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens.

Two  Nikkor Prime Lenses

Nikon also announced the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G and AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2 ED VR II professional lenses.

Both are fast prime lenses, featuring Nikon’s famous glass, and hefty price tags. The fast apertures of both lenses make them ideal for low-light shooting and movie capture.

The 35mm lens can be used on Nikon DSLRs with both the full-frame FX format image sensors as well as the smaller DX format sensors, such as the brand new D7000. When used on a camera with a DX sensor or on an FX format camera in DX Crop Mode, the lens has an effective focal length of 52.5mm.

AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II lens

The AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II, like its 200mm f/2 predecessor, is incredibly fast. The VR system provides up to four stops of correction. Because the lens uses an Internal Focusing (IF) system, the lens barrel doesn’t extend when focusing. There are three focus modes on this lens, the conventional M/A and M modes, and an A/M mode. The lens also features a Tripod Detection Mode, which automatically compensates for minute vibrations when mounted on a tripod and allows users to keep VR image stabilization on and active.

The AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G lens will be available in mid-November with an MSRP of $1,799.95. The AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II will be available early October for an MSRP of $5,999.95.

SB-700 Speedlight

Today, Nikon also introduced the SB-700 Speedlight, designed for a range of photographers. The flash incorporates a wide zoom range and FX/DX-format identification system that optimizes the flash based on the camera body used. The SB-700 can be used as an on-camera flash or wireless flash (set up as a Commander or a Remote) for use in multiple flash set-ups. An improved user interface includes a large easy-to-read LCD panel. The flash can recycle in approximately 2.5 seconds for full power with NiMH batteries and 3 seconds with AA Alkaline batteries.

SB-700 Speedlight

For improved durability, heat-resistance and ease-of-use, the SB-700 uses new hard plastic-type color filters for fluorescent or incandescent color temperature balancing. When using the supplied filters, the flash automatically recognizes which filter is being used and adjusts white balance accordingly on select Nikon DSLRs.

Similar to the Nikon SB-900 Speedlight, three illumination patterns (standard, center-weighted and even) can be selected in SB-700 to match each shooting situation. And, like the SB-900, when the SB-700 is mounted on a camera compatible with user firmware updates, the SB-700 firmware can be updated using the same procedure as with a Nikon DSLR camera.

To enhance the weatherproof capability of the flash/camera, optional water guards will be available for select cameras to protect the connection between the flash and camera.

The Nikon SB-700 Speedlight is scheduled to be available in mid-November 2010, and will have an MSRP of $329.95. The SB-700 comes bundled with the Speedlight Stand, Bounce Adapter, Color Filter Holder, Intelligent Color Filter Kit, Diffuser Dome and soft case.

For more information, go to www.nikonusa.com.

Share