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07-04-2018, 05:53 AM   #1
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Do you even need a Flash Bracket if using a flash modifier such as Mogmod sphere?

Currently I am researching and receiving a little help with the concept of using a Flash Bracket for my setup, however the more I am thinking about things I'm starting to wonder if I really need one at all, and if perhaps something more streamlined like this would work just as well;

Custom Brackets CB Mini-RC Camera Flash Bracket CB MINI-RC B&H

My setup would be;

K-1
V6ii Trigger
Cactus RF60X Flash
Magmod Sphere and/or
Magmod Bounce

I want to leave the V6ii trigger on the K-1 semi permanently. I want to sometimes shoot the RF60x as intended far off camera on a light stand etc. But I also want to be able to quickly mount it back to my camera for those event moments that are more 'capture the moment' or I think the term 'running and gunning' is also accurate.

All the much larger and convoluted flash brackets systems I have been reading about all seem to really be coming from a perspective of bare flash shooting. The main advantage is you can quickly go from landscape to portrait and still have the flash above the camera and not off to the side as you would typically if mounted in the hot shoe. However the setups are seldom talked about from having a modifier attached, indeed any modifier is going to add weight and some of the flash brackets with pivoting arms I could see becoming real PIA after awhile, flopping all over the place etc.
Flash brackets that have a rotation section for just the camera and not the arm are not cheap, and any that lock into position start running into hundreds of dollars! (as well as getting heavy and bulky etc).

Now with my set up I have to find somewhere else from my RF60x to sit, my V6ii trigger will occupy the hotshoe, and I will also be using a good deal of quality MF glass such as the Samyang 85/1.4 which means the idea of holding the flash one handed is not an option, I need both hands on the camera for shooting and focusing reasons (I have shot one wedding using the Vello cord and one hand flash and one hand camera and it is not fun to do that for hours and hours!).

My question is, if I intend to shoot almost exclusively with a magmod sphere/bounce attached, is the positioning of the flash that crucial? I mean I will imagine I will be pointing it directly up to a ceiling 9/10 times anyway.
Could I get away with something like pictured below do you think?




Imagine that picture, but now the flash head is pointing up with a sphere on top, is it going to matter overly that it's to the right of the camera when doing landscape shots? And then if I move to portrait mode (shutter button top side facing ceiling), then all I really need to do is swivel the head a bit...

I dunno... I think this would work ok, what does everyone else think?

TIA

Bruce

07-04-2018, 08:11 AM   #2
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I honestly think Bruce you'd be better with just having an extra P-TTL flash with the modifier on, and use it directly on the hotshoe. To me, taking the V6II off each time and putting the flash on will be less faff than what you're planning.

You are making the main point of the bracket redundant anyway, because the light is going to bounce.

Just have a soft camera bag ready to put the trigger in, it will only take 15-20 secs to put a flash on and be firing in P-TTL mode ..... I'm afraid there's no escaping that the RF60x is not suited to on-camera P-TTL working.

Last edited by mcgregni; 07-04-2018 at 08:17 AM.
07-04-2018, 09:26 AM   #3
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Flash brackets are useful and not always just to provide a few degrees of offset. They certainly don't replace modifiers such as a MagMod Sphere. The two are complementary. The traditional use is to provide an accessory shoe for a camera lacking such or for when one is not enough. Another common case is to allow on-camera flash TX along with one or more handheld or closely held flash while avoiding a sketchy tower of hot shoe devices on top of the camera.*

In regards to the matter of gear mix, I suggest letting pain be your guide. When something is not working for you or if your current mix of stands, modifiers, flash, and brackets is not adequate to task (i.e. you are in pain), shop for what you need. We are blessed with the curse of almost limitless information and advice, most of which is intended to drive purchase of one product or the other out of a sea of possible solutions. My opinion is that it is virtually impossible to plan stuff like lighting out in advance unless one has a wealth of hands-on experience to draw from. When the pain hits is the time to seek advice specific to the task, preferably face to face if one has such a resource.


Steve

(...personally overwhelmed by the plethora of lighting options for every imaginable scenario at an incredible range of price points...)

* Not that many brackets are not sketchy enough on their own. I was watching a fellow at an event with one of those articulated brackets and a full-size corded flash. It was a wiggly mess.
07-04-2018, 09:32 AM   #4
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BTW...leaving something on the hot shoe full time is inviting disaster, IMHO. If the TX is not actively being used, its place is safe and sound in the bag.


Steve

07-04-2018, 09:54 AM   #5
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For bounce off of the ceiling or wall, the flash can be anywhere.

For other modifiers, the key is the distance from the lens center to the area of emission by the modifier. That will determine whether the light is an unflattering flat light or help provide definition to the subject.
07-04-2018, 12:10 PM - 2 Likes   #6
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I also feel that we should avoid associating and chatacterisibg on-camera / bounced P-TTL flash as " running and gunning" .....it can also be very measured, considered and precise .it is really valuable when there is not the space available for off camera flash to be positioned, or for when there simply is no off camera flash equipment on hand. In terms of exposure control and precision on-camera flash photography can be just as exacting as off, and does not have to mean a casual or constantly dynamic flavour to the photography.

In any case, I think Bruce is maybe trying to avoid needing a P-TTL flash and aiming to maximise use of the RF60x, but I fear the idea of the bracket and moving the flash from the lighting stand to the bracket each time is going to be quite clumsy in practice.

---------- Post added 04-07-18 at 19:20 ----------



To illustrate my point above, this image was taken with an on camera P-TTL flash as the only light source ....
07-04-2018, 01:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I also feel that we should avoid associating and chatacterisibg on-camera / bounced P-TTL flash as " running and gunning" .....it can also be very measured, considered and precise .it is really valuable when there is not the space available for off camera flash to be positioned, or for when there simply is no off camera flash equipment on hand. In terms of exposure control and precision on-camera flash photography can be just as exacting as off, and does not have to mean a casual or constantly dynamic flavour to the photography.

In any case, I think Bruce is maybe trying to avoid needing a P-TTL flash and aiming to maximise use of the RF60x, but I fear the idea of the bracket and moving the flash from the lighting stand to the bracket each time is going to be quite clumsy in practice.

---------- Post added 04-07-18 at 19:20 ----------



To illustrate my point above, this image was taken with an on camera P-TTL flash as the only light source ....
I know you posted for technical assistance reasons but, my gosh, what a crystalline photo of a lovely child.
07-04-2018, 01:45 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Thanks, and it's on-camera automatic flash with the AF-540FGZII ...... The flash compensation was +0.7 I think. It is bounced and flagged, with the light reflecting off a creamy coloured wall immediately out of frame on the right. She was on a sofa that is right against the wall, not possible to place any off camera flash there. But in terms of care and a methodical approach then the techniques involved are very similar to using OCF.

07-04-2018, 02:00 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies, I'll try and answer some points being raised.


QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I honestly think Bruce you'd be better with just having an extra P-TTL flash with the modifier on, and use it directly on the hotshoe. To me, taking the V6II off each time and putting the flash on will be less faff than what you're planning.

You are making the main point of the bracket redundant anyway, because the light is going to bounce.

Just have a soft camera bag ready to put the trigger in, it will only take 15-20 secs to put a flash on and be firing in P-TTL mode ..... I'm afraid there's no escaping that the RF60x is not suited to on-camera P-TTL working.
I will have an extra flash on the day, but that flash is more for backup reasons than something to use in replace of the RF60x. I actually think what you're suggesting is more complicated than mine. Example; You're shooting a wedding, most of the moments are candid, at these times the flash needs to be 'on person' somehow, for me with a K-1 and MF glass that really means a bracket or directly mounted to the hotshoe. The times when you're shooting more like a 'photo shoot' is when taking the couple away to do some more pro shots, this is the time the flash can be used off camera. I really don't see a large amount of switching and swapping, even a wedding it's a little more structured than constantly toggling thoughout the day.
But even if you were toggling throughout the day, I far more like the idea of the V6ii sitting permanently in the K-1 hot shoe and simply either taking the rf60x from a lightstand back to the flash bracket or vice versa. What you're suggesting involves carrying 2 flashes on your person, one for p-ttl direct to the hotshoe, and then also somewhere to store (and lose) the trigger as you make the swaps and changes. Meh...

Another thing from what I am reading is multiple people continue to report back that having the flash situated more to the right than sitting on top feels a lot better, a better balanced set up as well. I can totally understand that, personally i hate having the flash in a hotshoe, and it's the least preferred place to be if shooting portrait mode as well.


QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
BTW...leaving something on the hot shoe full time is inviting disaster, IMHO. If the TX is not actively being used, its place is safe and sound in the bag.


Steve
Oh I wouldn't leave a v6ii trigger on indefinitely, just whilst you're shooting with it for the job/session/day. Transporting and general home use etc yeah I wouldn't have it mounted. I just think to take it on and off throughout the day and juggling different items that are going into the K-1's hotshoe is more hassle than just leaving a light trigger mounted.

QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I also feel that we should avoid associating and chatacterisibg on-camera / bounced P-TTL flash as " running and gunning" .....it can also be very measured, considered and precise .it is really valuable when there is not the space available for off camera flash to be positioned, or for when there simply is no off camera flash equipment on hand. In terms of exposure control and precision on-camera flash photography can be just as exacting as off, and does not have to mean a casual or constantly dynamic flavour to the photography.

In any case, I think Bruce is maybe trying to avoid needing a P-TTL flash and aiming to maximise use of the RF60x, but I fear the idea of the bracket and moving the flash from the lighting stand to the bracket each time is going to be quite clumsy in practice.

---------- Post added 04-07-18 at 19:20 ----------



To illustrate my point above, this image was taken with an on camera P-TTL flash as the only light source ....
Nice shot.

Anyway, I think we're all missing the actual point of my thread. I want a bracket. I want one because I want to use my RF60x, I want to have the V6ii trigger on the K-1 throughout the day rather than take it on and off and have one more thing to stow away throughout the day (I am shooting primes, all my pouches are accounted for!), I don't want to ferry two flashes around if possible, one for the hotshoe of the K-1, one on a lightstand (which for me is a tripod with extension pole). I want to use a bracket to assist with that process but also and equally important to allow the flash to have better positioning when rotating between landscape and portrait mode shooting.

The real question I am asking here is if what I have linked above will work in practice with the addition of a magmod sphere or magbounce, i.e. having the flash sit to the right of the lens like illustrated above, will it be vastly worse than having it in a more upper position like how traditional flash brackets operate?

Whilst sleeping on this I had an additional thought.

I watched this video a few days ago and was impressed with the idea of the ballhead+flash;


A big complaint I hear when people use a traditional flash bracket with arm (like in the vid above), is that when in portrait mode the flash light is positioned vertical rather than horizontally;



Some users report that the light is not as good, and so some prefer to go down the flash bracket route of the ones that rotate the camera only and the bracket and arm stay fixed.

Well... if I was to use that slim bracket I first linked with the addition of a ballhead for the RF60x to sit on, then I think that actually makes that set up a lot more versatile! When in portrait mode I can rotate the flash head fairly quickly and not lose that horizontal flash head, even when those times call for the flash to be forward facing.

So imagine this with a small ballhead set up;



I even have a couple of ballhead with quick release plates kicking about getting little use; Slik SBH-100 DQ Compact Ballhead 100 with Quick Release 618-324



Have that anchored onto the flat flash bracket, will give a little more height to the set up as well, offering more choice for flash head positioning, and if my light stand has another one of these ball heads onboard then switching them between the flat bracket to the lightstand will be even less painful, a lever release set up over twisting/screwing the flash tightening mechanism (which I'm not a fan of, thank god the V6ii trigger is a lever).


I think I have to try a similar DIY set up and see the results. It would be cheaper to source a piece of metal and drill some holes and test how the light works before forking out $55 which seems pretty pricey for what it's doing!
07-04-2018, 02:25 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by mcgregni Quote
I also feel that we should avoid associating and chatacterisibg on-camera / bounced P-TTL flash as " running and gunning"
So true! Light from on-camera or near-camera location is another very important option.


Steve
07-04-2018, 08:32 PM   #11
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I miss the flash shoe on top of the grip like PZ-1 - SF-1 etc. Kind of like an on camera bracket. The flash was above and to the side always.
07-05-2018, 12:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
I miss the flash shoe on top of the grip like PZ-1 - SF-1 etc. Kind of like an on camera bracket. The flash was above and to the side always.
Interesting, didn't know that.

-----

I've been spending some more time thinking about things concerning this dilemma I have. I know long term I will be happy to break free from cords and use the Cactus system, hopefully adding more RF60x's to my set up. But to make it all work I think the switching and swapping has to feel fluid and quick. It's one of the reasons I opted to cash in a flash and get a new RF60x rather than a second v6ii, I wanted things to be more streamlined.

I think I'm definitely liking the idea of that flat custom bracket coupled with a ballhead for the flash to mount into. I've attached a couple of images here to show what I currently have to work with and where I think I'll be going. I'm even considering ditching the arca swiss plate system where possible, including the L Plate. I have always really detested the L Plate, it adds so much bulk to the camera and for what... to take the odd portrait shot, with the ability to pan? Eh... I feel like I can do pretty well panning handheld these days...
It's funny how one purchase has a knock on effect to another, and another and another;

So the picture of the three tripods on the table, lemme explain this.

The first tripod on the left is my camera tripod, it's a small light slik tripod and I actually use this the most so I have taken the Joby ballhead off the Joby tripod and placed it on this one because the Joby ball and head and plate has a spirit level thingy (which can be mildly helpful at times, see base of camera).
The middle tripod is a promaster tripod with an extension pole and the Slik ball & head mounted. When everything is extended on this tripod it goes very high indeed, plenty high enough above a persons head. The idea here is to never really unscrew the rf60x from the coldshoe it's connected to, just unhinge the lever and take it out and place on another slik ball and head (that I will have to purchase, they cost $25).
That's where the second picture comes in of just the camera and the rf60x. That's not really a flash bracket plate there or anything, it's just an arca swiss base plate but I think it kinda illustrates where I'm going. The flash can then be attached into that ballhead easily via the lever. When turning the camera to portrait mode i can just quickly untighten the lever on the ballhead slightly and move the flash to the right so that it's still pointing up to the ceiling AND in it's right orientation with the flashhead in its traditional horizontal position.

The only question left is if I am going to run into wireless issues. Setting the cactus to short and long waves, I hope they still communicate ok when set to short, as they do look like they are quite near one another...

Things to look into;

- The custom bracket, are there other ones like it, cheaper perhaps?
- I would like to make sure there are plenty of holes in the custom bracket to make modifcations like this and mount a ball head, I think this rig would work quite well for macro work too!
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07-05-2018, 05:14 AM   #13
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So it's a thing, a bracket for a flash that comes with a ballhead;

Novoflex Flash Grip Flash Bracket with Strap & FLASH-GRIFF

07-05-2018, 06:10 AM   #14
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I'm sorry to be such a cynic Bruce, but that really looks like an accident waiting to happen! If you can't afford a P-TTL flash as well as the RF60x, then you'd be better off using the RF60x in Manual right on the hotshoe.

All this bracket stuff is a lot of faffing for very little gained. It's the quality of light that matters, and neither of the diffusers you've shown me will give much quality. For your on -camera work you really want a flag type diffuser that causes the light to slam sideways straight into a nice big wall, and prevent any from spilling forwards. That is how my shot was taken, and its very quick and secure to manipulate the flag and flash head when they are securely on the hotshoe.

I also use the Battery grip with my K7, it adds to the hand contact and strengthens the grip on things .....I think you'd be better getting the grip for your K1 than any of that bracket and ballhead stuff. Trying to manipulate the flash, flash head and the diffuser positioning with it all sticking out on the side there is asking for confusion and trouble .....

You've got a second camera as well, so why not have that fitted with a P-TTL flash ready to go ...?

My advice is to get your flash onto the hotshoe, get your diffusser on and work at getting the nice directional light you need with consistent and repeatable exposures until you can nail it eyes closed! Get a really strong hands on feel for the adjustments and security of grip needed to do it all professionally ..... Only after that, if you find that there really is a problem, should you start to look for solutions.
07-05-2018, 07:03 AM   #15
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Hello,

This is a very interesting thread, let me join to the party. I'm not really on the same boat because you plan to use only cactus triggers and flashes, but I can tell my experience with brackets. When I started to get paid works, I was thinking about a flash bracket. My needs were simple: to set the flash so I could avoid side shadows behind my subjets (on walls, etc) regardless if I shoot landscape or portrait, and also to anchor a trigger to control external flashes. I made a little investigation and bought the demb flash bracket (+ saucer flip-it card) that I still own. At the beginning I was using this bracket the 'correct' way. You put it at the right side of the camera, between lens and grip, so you can get your camera, handle your lens for zoom/focusing, and with some velcro I had my trigger attached to the bracket too. You can find pics about this bracket searching, here is one:



With this configuration I had two cables: main, big, corded P-TTL cable and a little one from camera's sync port to trigger's sync port.
The main disadvantages for me, that made me abandon the idea of putting a flash on a bracket were:
* added weight and bad balance. Flash bracket and cables added extra weight and stress on my right arm, also, cables were bothersome. But the flash on top of the bracket made the whole set unbalanced, added more strees to my right arm/hand. After two hours of use your are tired.
* there were really not so many situations were I need to shoot vertical, that would justify the flash bracket. Even if you need to shoot vertical, if you mix ambient and other lights with your main flash, the side shadow is not so obvious. Moreover, most of the vertical pics can be taken horizontal, just zoom out, crop the pic, done.

So last year I was rethinking about the bracket, main flash, trigger, cables, weight, balance... my decision was:
* to put the main flash on the camera's shoe, just so simple
* 'configure' the bracket so it's on the left side of the camera, just as a simple L-bracket
* put my trigger on the bracket instead of the flash

This way the set is more balanced, I put my right hand on camera grip and left hand is getting the bracket, and this is more rested. So the bracket is just a way to have the trigger attached. Similar to this pic (my second 'HSS-device'), but forget about the two triggers stacked on the bracket , just flash on camera, trigger on bracket, sync cable from trigger to camera's sync port. Yes, you still have a cable.




Negative points: this bracket is not intented to be used in this way, too high, the trigger can interfere with the flash (can be solved), has not a real grip... but worked for me this year... it's not too ugly.

I think that I finally will get a good/strong and simple L-bracket with a grip and will put my trigger on the bracket's shoe, and this will be my final configuration: not so high so I can put the trigger without interfering with the flash, a real grip so was comfortable to handle, light, simple.

About diffusers/bouncers on main flash. My most used device is the demb saucer flip-it, but there are very similar ligh modifiers on the market. This is a 'big bounce card' style modifier, I like it because is easy to set and use, really ligth, doesn't put stress on your flash... there are a lot of similar bouncers, but this does the job for me.

I read a lot about the magmod, and plan to buy the magbeam, but just to project patterns on the wall.

Last year, when I was re-thinking about how to use my flash bracket, triggers, etc, one of the options was to get a RF60x to use as main P-TTL flash, controlled by the Cactus V6 II (so cactus on camera's shoe and RF60x on flash bracket again), similar to your setup, but I dismissed the idea:
* again the added weight and balancing issues
* not sure if worked because the cactus be so close to the RF60x
* have to use the xTTL firmware, and I use the multibrand HSS firmware for the Cactus.

About using the same flash on camera and off camera. My setup is different, as all my external flashes are manual, and only my main flash is P-TTL, so if I need to go outside to get a pic, I get my foldable light stand + umbrella bracket + AD200 + light umbrella with one hand, and my camera + trigger with the other, set the lights in a minute or so and start to shoot. So I have a flash on camera if needed, and other off camera with stand and umbrella, it works for me.

Please tell us your final experience with cactus V6 II + RF on flash bracket. I still didn't find my ideal bracket, but I'm near.

Regards,
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