GamiLight Light Modifiers: Versatile & Affordable Flash Add-Ons

Jill Rahn's picture
GamiLight has been in the business of making light-shaping accessories for small, dedicated flash units like the ones from Nikon, Canon, Metz, etc., and has recently broadened their lineup. I had heard about their products and thought I’d give them a try, so they responded by sending me just about every modifier they make. I received their Square 43 with the Soft Plus 43 adapter, the Box 60, the Spot 2, the Event Pro, and a few mounts. As we go through this review I’ll let you know what these are all about, but my tests were aimed at determining how effectively the units work, how well they are made, how convenient they prove out in the field, and, most importantly, whether I should consider buying them to solve some of my lighting issues.

Spot 2

Square 43

Soft Plus 43

Box 60

Event Pro & Mount L
Photos above courtesy of GamiLight

The System
Before looking at the individual products, let’s explore the idea behind their light-modifying systems. First, each modifier (except the Event Pro) is made from black polypropylene. They have solid sides and the softboxes all fold up into a small and flat configuration. The softboxes are all lined with highly reflective silver. The white diffusion fabric that serves as the front of the softbox has rigid sides and corners that you unfold and cover over the assembled box. Presto, you have a softbox.

But now that you have a softbox, how do you attach it to your flash? Here’s where GamiLight has taken a unique approach. They provide you with a thick black “rubber band” with press snaps on it so you can snap on the modifier of your choice. They snap on both top and bottom and provide a very strong mount. Combined with the rigid sides, you have a softbox that won’t slip and slide and looks professional as well.

Left: This image of model Chantal Marquis was taken with the Nikon SB-800 flash unit alone without the Soft Plus 43 insert. Note the distinct nose shadow with no gentle transition from shadow to highlight. (Note: All photos taken with a Nikon D300 D-SLR, a Nikon SB-800 flash, and RadioPopper radio triggers.) Right: This photo of Chantal was taken using the Square 43 with the Soft Plus 43 insert. Note the soft edges of the nose shadow.
All Photos below © Steve Bedell

The Products
Now let’s take a look at the individual products. I used the Square 43, the Box 60, the Spot 2, and the Event Pro. Since we’ve been talking about the boxes, let’s start there.

First, the name. The Square 43 is 43 centimeters (17”) square. (This is a global product so it probably makes more sense to define the size in metric dimensions, like the rest of the world.) The first thing I did was attach the mount to my Nikon SB-800 flash. They do make different mounts for different size flash units, so you’ll need others if you want to use them on different brand/size flashes. It fits snugly with soft foam on the inside and the snaps on the outside, top, bottom, and sides. Then you open the box up, lay the fabric on a table or floor, and fit the box to it. The fabric rigid side and corners hold everything in place. Then you snap it onto the camera and you have a nice 17” square softbox. Pretty simple.

What was not so simple, at least to my unmechanical mind, was how to attach the Soft Plus 43. Even with a diagram and instructions, I couldn’t figure out how to snap in the adapter—until I found a video on their website. After you’ve done it once, of course, it’s, well, a snap, but I think color-coded snaps would make sense here. And once the cat is out of the bag, you have to put it back in again. The Square 43 will fold in half, but no smaller, and it becomes a big, flat piece to carry around. Both the Square 43 and the Box 60 do come with nice fabric bags for transporting.

In this shot I used the Spot 2 about two stops stronger than the ambient light to darken the rest of the image and highlight Chantal. No dodging or burning done.

Here’s the light setup using the Spot 2.

Moving on to the Box 60, you might think this would mean a bigger softbox. You’d be half right. The Box 60 is a 60cm long strip light. It assembles much like the Square 43, but it does have a built-in interior diffusion panel. You just open it up and put the diffusion material around it and attach to your flash in the same method as the Square 43. When you snap it on, it is in horizontal orientation.

As a portrait guy, I usually use strip lights as an accent light from behind in a vertical position. I’d like to see the snaps on this made so you have the option of mounting it vertically. Otherwise, you have to use some type of swivel mount adapter on your light stand to use it vertically. I understand that the flash unit itself is horizontal, but in either case you’re dealing with a small light source and, with the built-in diffusion panel, I doubt the results would look any different regardless of orientation. I used the strip light in the studio in conjunction with studio lights to create an accent light from behind.

Left: The Square 43 is positioned slightly to camera right. I like the look of the backlighting. Instead of overpowering the daylight, I matched it to get good, clean color plus catchlights in her eyes. Right: I really like this use of the Spot 2. I positioned it high and spotlit her face, making it much more dramatic than the images without it.

The Spot 2 was one I thought I’d like the least, yet I ended up really liking it the most. When used in close it creates a really defined circle of light, especially when using the snap-on (of course) adapter that makes the snoot even smaller. While this has many applications for commercial photos, I used it with my model to emphasize certain areas or to create more light on her than the surrounding area. This has great potential to create really unique-looking outdoor portraits with great emphasis on the face or used as an accent from behind to simulate sunlight. It’s very small and easily folds up to fit in your camera bag.

The Event Pro seeks to dethrone the white index card as the best all-around light softener for fast shooting, and it does have a few tricks up its sleeve. Depending on how you position the flap, it can be used as a bounce card or diffuser. More importantly, and here’s where the buttons on the side come into play, you can position the Event Pro to also function in the vertical position, something very few adapters do. It’s really small, translucent, and overall quite a clever design. It’s nice to have something that works in both vertical and horizontal images without the need for a flash bracket.

I used the Box 60 positioned horizontally as an accent light from behind Chantal and camera left. Note how it lights her right arm and outlines her right side.

Conclusions
So, when all is said and done, what’s the verdict? The more I used the products, the more I got to like them. The Event Pro and the Spot 2 are both small pieces you can put in any camera bag, and both are inexpensive ways to modify your flash. The Square 43 and Box 60 will not fit in your bag but are easy to carry using the included fabric bag with a shoulder strap and Velcro closure. The mount slips on and off easily and will not damage the exterior of your flash like Velcro might, a consideration when you go to replace your flash and want to resell it.

Overall, if you use dedicated flash units on location, these light modifiers are worthy of your consideration.

Approximate Pricing with Mount
Box 60 and Square 43: $68
Spot 2: $32
Event Pro: $25

For more information, contact GamiLight at www.gamilight.com, or Midwest Photo Exchange (US distributor) at www.mpex.com.

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