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My Contact with ExpoImaging:
Prior to the publication of this review, I contacted ExpoImaging for clarification on a couple of issues and to talk with them about what I feel is the glaring design error of the FlashBender--the Velcro straps. I had an extensive conversation with Erik Sowder and he recommended several changes to how I was using the FlashBender.
First of all, it really wasn't designed to be used with a large diameter flash, such as the handle-mount flashes nor the classic Vivitar 285HV. When I purchased the modifier, the guidence from ExpoImaging didn't really exist yet on their website, where now it does. You CAN use the FlashBender on these larger flashes with Velcro extensions as I have done, but it is designed to work with all of the modern dedicated flashes from Nikon and Canon.
Secondly, the flash-head itself is to be used in the vertical position. Many of the flashes today have a button-lock feature which will lock and hold the flash without flopping down. I had found that I preferred to have my flash pointed slightly forward with the FlashBender bent downward a little bit. This caused the flash to constantly be moving on me because the weight was leveraged so far forward. The FlashBender is specifically designed to work with the flash in the vertical position.
Thirdly, about the strap. The length of the strap is too short for anything greater than 11 inches in circumference, but some flash heads are actually too small. To address this Expo Imaging has changed the Velcro strap so it attaches to the body of the FlashBender with snaps. Not only is the Velcro now replaceable, but also allows for greater adjustment to be used on the smaller flashes. The folks at ExpoImaging are perfectionists and the FlashBender is a product which will continue to see improvements as time goes by.
Fourthly, continued development. There are a total of five strips of Velcro around the perimeter of the FlashBender. Two of them are used to hold the unit closed for snoot operation, but all five are there for the attachment of additional modifiers. These may include color changes, surface changes and other light shaping add-ons. Essentially, the FlashBender is part of a growing family of products designed to work with each other. I look forward to what ExpoImaging is going to bring to market.
The FlashBender is a unique product in construction quality. This is a very well built unit, designed to last for a long time in professional use. Lumiquest makes products which sometimes yield better shadow control, but ExpoImaging makes a far more robust product. There really is no comparison--one is a flimsy piece of plastic, the other balistic nylon, steel, and a high-grade reflector. The excessive weight is because of this industrial-quality construction and it does hold up to windy days in outdoor shoots. It doesn't whip around like other modifiers do. For outdoor photography, the FlashBender is by far the best modifier I've ever used in 35 years of photography. It goes with me everywhere. If I have a flash with me, the FlashBender is also with me.
So, if I were the product manager for the Rogue Flashbender and wanted to come out with a second version, I'd lighten it a little, improve the straps, make it slightly larger and make the reflector less glossy. But I must also keep in mind that there are two other versions which are smaller and lighter weight and the glossy surface is addressable with the upcoming attachments.
It's really close and without a doubt, one of the best flash modifiers on the market. I'm very pleased with my purchase and will purchase more. Maybe the fact that I'm going to buy more is endorsement enough. Is it "perfect"? Of course not! But it is a very good product. If you shoot outdoors and struggle with other modifiers in the wind, the FlashBender's stiffness and mass is quite welcome.
ExpoImaging is a fantastic company to deal with. They stand by their products. The FlashBender is built by the same USA-based company that brings you the ExpoDisc. Expo Imaging takes customer service seriously--a phone call gets a real person on the line and they are dedicated to providing customer satisfaction.
The FlashBender is a Zone-10 highly-recommended product. You can help support this website by purchasing the FlashBender from our advertisers or through the Amazon link below.
Rogue FlashBenders ROGUERELG Large Positionable Reflector (See all Photographic Lighting Reflectors)
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