Photoflex’s LiteDome Kits; Versatile Softbox & Strobe Combos

Photoflex's newest lighting series are the LiteDome Kits, versatile softboxes that have been designed for strobe lights using the proprietary Photoflex Strobe Connector. There are a number of things that the LiteDome Kit has going for it, including portability, power, and outstanding performance. Even though it's being targeted at all levels of photographers, it's probably best suited for a shooter who has had some experience with studio-type lighting, possibly working with a portable self-contained umbrella setup, who wants to move up to the next level in professional lighting. LiteDomes come in various sizes, including extra small (xsmall), small, medium, large, and extra large (xlarge). Sizes range from 12x16x9" for the xsmall to 54x72x32" for the xlarge.

This was shot with a single light, set high. It worked well enough, but if I were to reshoot it, I would probably cut the power and bring the light down a little, to reduce the hot spot on the forehead. Also, I'd add a soft fill light. (Model: MeLinda Allen.)
All Photos © 2006, Ron Eggers, All Rights Reserved

The full kit contains two medium (24x32") LiteDomes, two StarFlash 1000 strobe heads, two StarFlash connectors, and two LiteStand 2214s, which are medium weight stands that are light enough to cart around, but sturdy enough to hold the equipment when they're being used. To keep it simple, since the images were shot at a remote location, a single LiteDome configuration was used. Sometimes on-camera flash was added for fill light.

The heart of the system is the StarFlash 1000, a self-cooled monobloc head that offers variable power up to 1000 ws, a variable modeling light up to 500w, and self-contained slave capabilities. Besides the LiteDome, the StarFlash 1000 can also be used with a reflector, an umbrella, and other types of light-modifying devices.

All the StarFlash controls, including the main power switch, a 12-click power control knob, the modeling light power switch, the test button, the sync cord connector (which takes a 1/4" plug), and indicator lights are on the back of the unit. Also on the back is a handle to carry the unit easily. The slave sensor is positioned on the top of the unit, so it can be easily tripped, regardless of the position of the triggering light. The LiteStand 2214 is a lightweight three-section stand that extends up to 8'2". It supports up to 12 lbs.

With its slave capabilities, the StarFlash can be triggered remotely with the on-camera flash. It can be adjusted so that the triggering flash only provides fill. (Models: (Left to right) Covo Kesselmark, Margarita Curiel, MeLinda Allen.)

The StarFlash is attached to the LiteStand by a Tilt Swivel Mount that has a tilt range of 170Þ. There are tracks at the base of the flash that can be used to reposition the head on the mount to ensure that the strobe and softbox combination is solidly balanced on the stand. The larger the LiteDome or other softbox that's attached to the strobe, the further to the front the mount has to be to keep the entire setup balanced correctly. I had a little problem getting the StarFlash to slide along the track, but once it went past a small sticking point at the start of the track it was easy to slide the head along the track to balance the setup. The ability to balance the head like that is a nice feature.

Assembling the medium LiteDome was quick and easy. There are only four aluminum-tipped steel support rods that have to be inserted into the StarFlash connector. All the corners and softbox attachments are touch fastened. Quick-release corners make it easy to set the softbox up and tear it down again.

The connector snaps into the strobe head.

There are two diffusers in the LiteDome, an inner baffle and front diffuser face. The baffle is attached with clips while the diffuser attaches to the dome with touch fastener strips. By using the two diffusers separately or in combination it's possible to come up with lighting results from soft to relatively high contrast.