Strobies Shoe-Mount Flash Accessories; Turn Your Shoe-Mount Flash Into A Versatile Studio Lighting Tool

Interfit Photographic (www.interfitphotographic.com) has introduced Strobies, a system approach to shoe-mount flash accessories. Strobies are designed to take many popular shoe-mount flashes and turn them into versatile lighting tools for studio and location use.

Strobies Portrait Kit
The Portrait Kit is compact and lightweight, fitting inside a box that measures around 17” long x 7.5” deep x 11.5” wide. I would hold on to the box, as it makes a convenient carrier and storage container.
Courtesy Interfit Photographic

Imagine a studio monolight. Practically everything is built-in—except the one thing you really need to further shape the light. So, next imagine attaching a softbox to soften the light, a snoot (that conical-shaped schnoz) to concentrate the light into a spot, or a set of barn doors to control the spread of light—just a few of the possibilities.

Strobies promise to replace that weighty monolight by using only our shoe-mount with supplied light modifiers and shapers. Strobies largely consist of two parts: the light-shaping device itself and an adapter. All the pieces are available separately or in kits targeted at specific applications.

Strobies Softbox + Barn Doors
For this portrait series with actor/drama therapist Alexis Ashley, I began by setting up a Strobies softbox as my key light on the right attached to a Nikon SB-900. The second SB-900 with barn door set serves as both my backlight (for the fabric backdrop) and hairlight. While the tightly cropped headshot reflects soft lighting, the original picture shows dramatic light falloff resulting from the use of such a small light source.
All Photos © 2010, Jack Neubart, All Rights Reserved

The Flex Mount
Most Strobies light shapers, especially the ones included in the Portrait Kit, require an adapter—a Strobies Flex Mount (sold separately). Think of the Flex Mount as a more versatile speed ring, since it not only permits attachment of the Strobies softbox but also a wide array of additional Strobies light shapers.

The Flex Mount slides onto and over the flash head, making a snug fit. While there is a bit of leeway, each Flex Mount should be ordered for a specific shoe-mount flash (for the most part, Nikon or Canon) to ensure a secure fit. While these pieces appear to be resilient, made largely of plastic and resin, it doesn’t pay to take chances with a loose or uncertain fit. The one component I would be most careful with is the beauty dish, being especially watchful of the baffle when storing and handling (a typical advisory with this accessory).

The next step to is to attach the Strobies light shaper to the Flex Mount after the adapter is mounted securely to the flash. Most of the attachments snap into place into four flexible resin clips on the Flex Mount. The one Strobies accessory that works differently is the softbox. This light shaper, like any conventional softbox, uses rods, which fit into grooves around the outer perimeter of the Flex Mount. You first attach the softbox to the Flex Mount, and then slide the combo onto the flash head. The final step is to attach the flash to a light stand or tripod via the mini stand that comes with the shoe-mount flash, and you’re all set.

Portrait Kit Components
Left to right, the Portrait Kit consists of a beauty dish, globe diffuser, softbox, barn door set, conical snoot with two grids that fit inside for different-sized spots, and grid attachment.
Courtesy Interfit Photographic

The Portrait Kit
While there are other Strobies kits designed around umbrella lights, bounce-panel lighting, and more, the two principal Strobies kit configurations are EFX and Portrait. I received the Strobies Portrait Kit, which I consider the most versatile in the group. Why? Because you can use it with a variety of subjects, not just people. I even used it with a still life. The EFX Kit includes elements of the Portrait and Bounce Kits.

Strobies Globe + Barn Doors
The globe diffuser is perhaps my favorite Strobies. Not normally used as a portrait light, I found it worked beautifully to fill in shadows and create a pleasingly soft contrast. In this instance, the globe occupied a similar position to the other key lights, with the second strobe once again barn-doored.

The Strobies Portrait Kit consists of an 8x12” softbox, 7” beauty dish, 6” globe diffuser, four-panel barn doors, snoot with grids, and separate grid attachment. While you could use certain Strobies light shapers in a one-flash setup, others (namely the snoot, grid, and barn doors) work best in a supportive role—as a second light. You could have the softbox, beauty dish, or even the globe as key light, the other as background, hair, or accent light. The globe can also serve as a background light, but you may need to flag it off the subject with a black card to block spill light.

Strobies Beauty Dish + Barn Doors
You can see from the donut-shaped catchlights in the eyes that the Strobies beauty dish was used here as the key light. I again employed a second SB-900 with Strobies barn doors on the left. The beauty dish produces an edgier form of lighting, with higher contrast.
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