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In the ever-present quest for the "perfect" flash modifer I purchased a new ROGUE FlashBender flash modifier from www.expoimaging.com.
The one I got is the largest one which measures about 10x11 inches. (254x280mm). I was afraid of getting one too large for event/wedding photography, but with the larger flashes I'm frequently using (Metz and Olympus handle-flashes and Vivitar 285HV) I'm glad I did. I wouldn't want the reflector to be any smaller because it would limit the options too much. It has it's own Velcro straps not requiring anything to be put on the flash itself. Highly flexible and welcome in that regard.
The FlashBender uses internal stiffening wires which allows you to bend the reflector into almost any shape. Most modifiers, such as those by Lumiquest, have a particular shape manufactured into the unit. In most cases they work well and have been nicely engineered, but they are predefined and have little adjustability beyond what the manufacturer intended. The FlashBender doesn't offer the evenness and smoothness of light some CAD-designed flash modifers have, but where it lacks a little in pattern control, it makes up for it in flexibility. There are even little Velcro strips on the edge of the reflector allowing the reflector to be rolled into the shape of a snoot.
For storage, just roll it up and slip it into a pocket in the camera bag, or since it will lay flat, slide it into a thin slot or under the iPad. The ExpoImaging website has a number of pictures showing how the modifer can be twisted and turned into many usable shapes. (Click on read more for the rest of the review).
Using the FlashBender with Handle-Mounted Flashes:
Although I usually use a Stroboframe-mounted flash, I did discover a use for the FlashBender which was a very pleasant surprise. The Olympus T45, like the Metz Cx-45 is a handle-mount flash, meaning that it sits to the side and above the camera. This presents a problem nowadays with the lighting style change influenced by the wildly successful Stroboframe. Unfortunately, most handle-mounted flashes can't be used in the modern lighting style even though they offer substantially more power, faster recycling and more battery life.
To illustrate the problem here is a photograph taken with the handle-mount flash in horizontal mode. Note the harsh shadow. These photographs were all taken with camera-to-subject distance of 2m and the background is another 1.5m farther back.
This shadow-casting is no longer acceptable and illustrates why Stroboframes were invented. Unfortunately, with Stroboframes, we still end up with harsh under-nose and under-chin shadows combined with unsightly dark blobs behind and below the subject's head in the background.
Same shot, but with the FlashBender:
There is a slight exposure variance. As most of us use some form of auto-flash exposure these days, seeing how the flash exposure system responds to the varying light is important. With the FlashBender, the shadow is softened, the overall contrast is reduced, but the under-chin shadow remains and may actually be accentuated because of the raised elevation of the lightsource.
To use the FlashBender with a handle-mounted flash, turn the flash head itself sideways pointed away from the camera. Then turn it facing the ceiling. Mount the FlashBender to bounce the light forward. The result for horizontal shooting is the light as you see above. But what about verticals? Just turn the flash head from pointing straight up back to the sideways position. Rotate the camera to shoot.
Here is the handle-mount flash picture without the FlashBender.
And with the FlashBender.