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Better Beamer Flash Extender
Posted By: stormtech, 02-06-2013, 11:21 AM

When I was shopping for a flash extender to use on my AF540FGZ while shooting my longer lenses, there was little information available. The question comes up in the forums quite often about which model fits our Pentax flashes, and how they actually installed and work. Here is just a brief article on the flash extender and how it is installed.

Here are some pics and some explanation on how the Beamer goes together. The exact one I bought was here:

Amazon.com: The Flash X-Tender Better Beamer FX-6 Flash Output Booster for Nikon SB-900 Flash: Camera & Photo



In this first pic are the parts. You get the 2 side pieces, a strip of velcro and the lens. Disregard the velcro on the flash in this pic as that is my Lumiquest strip for holding my softbox and gel holder. The side pieces are labeled L and R so when they are installed the proper angle is achieved. Also, each side panel has a piece of velcro fastened to the outside of the u-shaped part to help hold it steady with the velcro strip.



In the above pic, I just loosely installed one side, and left if a bit forward on the flash so you can see how the u-shape of the side panel fits on to the side of the flash. With mine (FX-6) it is a perfect fit.



This photo shows the side panels installed The velcro strip simply wraps around it all and holds fairly well.



Another view from the underside of the flash.



Here are the panels installed. Notice at the ends are thin velcro strips. This is how the lens is attached.



Here is the lens which comes with its own plastic pouch. Notice the velcro on the edges where it will attach to the ends of the side panels.



And here is is with the installation complete. It is actually kind of a cheap setup, but it works very well, and there really aren't any commercially available alternatives that I know of. Sometimes a little adjustment is required to the vertical orientation - it will sometimes seem that it is shooting too low. The problem here is that if you try to adjust the flash head up just a little bit, it won't stay. If you go as far as adjusting the flash up to the first click, it is way too high. I've seen a couple folks on the forum try different things, but even in the straight forward position it is usually close enough. I tried this out in the near dark one night - amazing how far the flash will carry with this. I like up my tractor in the pavilion just fine which is ~50 yards from my deck. I also saw some gear setups where the camera/lens was mounted on a gimbal, and they made a bracket the attached to the gimbal somehow, and held the flash/beamer up above the lens a bit while they used an off camera flash cord to connect it. If I was going to use the beamer on a regular basis, I would fix myself up something like that.

Last edited by stormtech; 07-03-2014 at 11:10 AM.
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03-07-2013, 11:02 PM   #16
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FX6 arrived tonight. I had to jerry-rig a way to place it on the gimbal since I have not decided on which bracket approach to go with yet,
I used an Arca Swiss clamp from a cheap tripod head and attached it to a flash bracket handle to be able to place it on the gimbal dovetail.
I also employed a flash joint to be able to aim the flash, seems like aiming will be one of the challenges in daylight.
I found that outdoors the AF540 will have trouble seeing the trigger flash from the Q so a reflective card was employed to make it perform consistently.
Initial tests look promising.
Here is the setup with the DA*300 and Q and a sample with and without the beamer.







03-08-2013, 06:09 AM   #17
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Nice job with the reflector card - good thinking!

How far was the subject? I haven't done any tests to see what distance the flash is good to with the BB.
03-08-2013, 09:29 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Nice job with the reflector card - good thinking! How far was the subject? I haven't done any tests to see what distance the flash is good to with the BB.

This is a shot of the distance I was testing at. The dove is the dot on the wire.
03-08-2013, 09:46 AM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
This is a shot of the distance I was testing at. The dove is the dot on the wire.
Wow - that was a good distance - especially in the dark. For fill flash during daylight it would probably have even a better effect.

Thanks for testing this out - I think my AF540 and BB will be a fairly permanent fixture when bird/foul shooting now. I also need to decide which bracket to get and get it ordered as my warmer weather is soon upon me!

You and Derek talked about mounting a bracket on the dovetail of your gimbal heads - not sure what you are talking about. I wanted to see if I had something similar on my cheap gimbals.

Then when thinking more into this, I might want the bracket to be mounted to the lens plate anyway as then it will still be on there for hand held shooting.

03-08-2013, 09:51 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
When I was shopping for a flash extender to use on my AF540FGZ while shooting my longer lenses, there was little information available. The question comes up in the forums quite often about which model fits our Pentax flashes, and how they actually installed and work. Here is just a brief article on the flash extender and how it is installed.

Here are some pics and some explanation on how the Beamer goes together. The exact one I bought was here:

Amazon.com: The Flash X-Tender Better Beamer FX-6 Flash Output Booster for Nikon SB-900 Flash: Camera & Photo



In this first pic are the parts. You get the 2 side pieces, a strip of velcro and the lens. Disregard the velcro on the flash in this pic as that is my Lumiquest strip for holding my softbox and gel holder. The side pieces are labeled L and R so when they are installed the proper angle is achieved. Also, each side panel has a piece of velcro fastened to the outside of the u-shaped part to help hold it steady with the velcro strip.



In the above pic, I just loosely installed one side, and left if a bit forward on the flash so you can see how the u-shape of the side panel fits on to the side of the flash. With mine (FX-6) it is a perfect fit.



This photo shows the side panels installed The velcro strip simply wraps around it all and holds fairly well.



Another view from the underside of the flash.



Here are the panels installed. Notice at the ends are thin velcro strips. This is how the lens is attached.



Here is the lens which comes with its own plastic pouch. Notice the velcro on the edges where it will attach to the ends of the side panels.



And here is is with the installation complete. It is actually kind of a cheap setup, but it works very well, and there really aren't any commercially available alternatives that I know of. Sometimes a little adjustment is required to the vertical orientation - it will sometimes seem that it is shooting too low. The problem here is that if you try to adjust the flash head up just a little bit, it won't stay. If you go as far as adjusting the flash up to the first click, it is way too high. I've seen a couple folks on the forum try different things, but even in the straight forward position it is usually close enough. I tried this out in the near dark one night - amazing how far the flash will carry with this. I like up my tractor in the pavilion just fine which is ~50 yards from my deck. I also saw some gear setups where the camera/lens was mounted on a gimbal, and they made a bracket the attached to the gimbal somehow, and held the flash/beamer up above the lens a bit while they used an off camera flash cord to connect it. If I was going to use the beamer on a regular basis, I would fix myself up something like that.
This is a very good and inexpensive setup!
Thanks for sharing.


QuoteOriginally posted by Miguel Quote
i keep meaning to secure something like that for photographing owls. I've seen some DIY setups that look pretty cheap and easy. You just reminded me to get my tush in gear. Thanks.

It "amazes" me to see people using flash when photographying owls!

M
JP
03-08-2013, 10:06 AM   #21
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The Katana has the vertical mount bar for the lens clamp that continues past the pivot point.
It has Arca Swiss compatible dovetail on either side so you can mount a clamp inside or outside.
On your gimbal you could probably do something similar but on the inside below the pivot.
I will probably also go with the Amazon bracket though, I just want to be sure it will clear the Red Dot finder as I don't want to lose the use of it on the tripod.

03-08-2013, 11:00 AM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
The Katana has the vertical mount bar for the lens clamp that continues past the pivot point.
It has Arca Swiss compatible dovetail on either side so you can mount a clamp inside or outside.
On your gimbal you could probably do something similar but on the inside below the pivot.
I will probably also go with the Amazon bracket though, I just want to be sure it will clear the Red Dot finder as I don't want to lose the use of it on the tripod.
Thanks so much for the pics and details Larry - going to take a good look at mine again in a couple minutes. Just from the looks of both brackets, it looks like the Desmond will sit much higher than the C-shaped one where you will be able to keep your view with the Red Dot. I will see if I can find some actual dimensions of the Desmond.

For reference sake since we are talking about flash brackets to use with out Better Beamers, here is a post with some pics with the C-shaped bracket talked about above - need to scroll down a bit to see the flash bracket - and once again big thanks to cmohr for this!

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/174187-my...lots-pics.html

And as far as the Desmond bracket from Amazon, it is also available on ebay for the same price from the same vendor:

Desmond Arca Compatible Camera Flash Bracket Top Mount All Metal Lightweight New | eBay

Also take a look at OEC accessories ebay store - lots of goodies that I didn't know I may need!

My own thoughts - the C-shaped bracket would work especially since I don't have as large a lens as cmohr is showing (Sigma 300 2.8) so I believe I would have a little more clearance using my FA* or DA* 300. But, once you add the cost of an arca-swiss clamp, you are getting fairly close to the price of the Desmond anyway. I'm just trying to figure out if the Desmond would be adjustable vertically or not.

Edit to add: I found the dimensions of the Desmond - here is a c/p of the entire description. One thing of note which I didn't realize - you would need a double dovetail lens plate to attach this to a lens plate:

Desmond brand. Integral Arca Style Clamp Clamp style flash mount. Reduces"red-eye". 265mm (10.5") tall. 20mm (0.8") wide. Weighs 7.6oz (215 grams) Ideal for use with a telephoto lens and a double dovetail ARCA compatible plate. Integral 20mm wide Arca Style clamp mounts to any arca-swiss compatible double-dovetail plate or rail. Integral 20mm wide clamp style shoe mount includes 1/4" screw socket Black anodized aircraft aluminum and all metal hardware. Includes Rubber grip, 1/4" metal screw 1/4" bottom mount. <-

Last edited by stormtech; 03-08-2013 at 11:05 AM.
03-08-2013, 11:49 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
For reference sake since we are talking about flash brackets to use with out Better Beamers, here is a post with some pics with the C-shaped bracket talked about above - need to scroll down a bit to see the flash bracket - and once again big thanks to cmohr for this!
The C mount doesnt look tall enough to clear the Red Dot, but I wouldn't be using the Q hand held normally.
I think I will go that route for hand held since it it pretty compact., I already own a clamp I cannibalized from a cheap ball head.

QuoteOriginally posted by stormtech Quote
Edit to add: I found the dimensions of the Desmond - here is a c/p of the entire description. One thing of note which I didn't realize - you would need a double dovetail lens plate to attach this to a lens plate: Desmond brand. Integral Arca Style Clamp Clamp style flash mount. Reduces"red-eye". 265mm (10.5") tall. 20mm (0.8") wide. Weighs 7.6oz (215 grams) Ideal for use with a telephoto lens and a double dovetail ARCA compatible plate. Integral 20mm wide Arca Style clamp mounts to any arca-swiss compatible double-dovetail plate or rail. Integral 20mm wide clamp style shoe mount includes 1/4" screw socket Black anodized aircraft aluminum and all metal hardware. Includes Rubber grip, 1/4" metal screw 1/4" bottom mount. <-
Thanks for the specs on the Desmond, 10.5" is plenty tall. The lensplate end has to look like an X, right. I think most of mine do look like that except one tiny one.
I'm thinking I may just do the C mount for hand held, and rather than the Desmond I am going to go with one of these L on a clamp for the gimbal, along with my flash swivel from the pics above.
Dual L Flash Bracket for Nikon D7000 D300S D700 D3 D90 | eBay

Actually, since the L pair is adjustable in height maybe it will work like the C mount as when you need it short you can adjust it. Just needs the C clamp.
See http://www.ebay.com/itm/Beike-BK-01A-Aluminum-Alloy-Tripod-Ball-Head-Ballhea...item35c517987a


Last edited by crewl1; 03-08-2013 at 11:54 AM.
03-08-2013, 12:46 PM   #24
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
Thanks for the specs on the Desmond, 10.5" is plenty tall. The lensplate end has to look like an X, right. I think most of mine do look like that except one tiny one.
I'm thinking I may just do the C mount for hand held, and rather than the Desmond I am going to go with one of these L on a clamp for the gimbal, along with my flash swivel from the pics above.
Dual L Flash Bracket for Nikon D7000 D300S D700 D3 D90 | eBay
I'm probably missing something obvious, but how do you plan to mount that to the gimbal or lens plate?
03-08-2013, 01:16 PM   #25
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I was thinking like this:
03-08-2013, 02:35 PM   #26
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
I was thinking like this:
I see now - best of both worlds. Nice illustration!
03-17-2013, 10:33 PM   #27
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I received the L brackets and turns out the Katana makes it super easy to mount the flash because it has two pre-threaded 1/4-20 holes on the arm.
I was able to attach the L to the arm using the supplied tripod knobs that come with it.
On the flash end I used the top part of my previous swivel and attached it with the another supplied tripod knob.
Here is the result.



Samples with / without.




Last edited by crewl1; 03-17-2013 at 10:41 PM.
03-18-2013, 04:46 AM   #28
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Are you relying on the in-built flash to trigger the external as a slave? Wouldn't this set-up work a lot better with a flash cord?
03-18-2013, 05:57 AM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by crewl1 Quote
I received the L brackets and turns out the Katana makes it super easy to mount the flash because it has two pre-threaded 1/4-20 holes on the arm.
I was able to attach the L to the arm using the supplied tripod knobs that come with it.
On the flash end I used the top part of my previous swivel and attached it with the another supplied tripod knob.
Here is the result.
Very nice setup Larry - I'm going to study your pics to see if I can do the same with my generic gimbal.

And as audiobomber says - I use a cable for mine - it might not make a huge but might make for a more accurate flash control especially in daylight.

This is the one I got and works great - I'm sure there are some on ebay also:

Aputure Pro-Grade Flash Cable
03-18-2013, 07:10 AM   #30
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I don't yet have a trigger cable to try so will look at getting one.
For the k-5 that will probably be preferred.

With the Q using the on board flash as a trigger lets me keep the Red Dot on the hotshoe and also allows shutter speed up to 1/1000.
Putting any type of external flash contact on the Q limits shutter speed to 1/250.

My reflector card mod so far makes the wireless trigger consistent but I will have to test in full daylight.
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