Thursday, September 2, 2010

HonlPhoto (Flash Modifier Kit for everyday photographer)

Introduction to HonlPhoto by

HonlPhoto Product

What is HonlPhoto Flash Accessories?
With any lighting, controlling the nature of the light is as important as where you place your lights. These compact light modifiers give photographers shooting with camera flashguns (strobes) greater control of the spread of illumination and even colour, opening even more creative possibilities, whilst keeping the size and weight down to a minimum. Professional photographer, David Honl devised the system and has used them himself on a variety of assignments. His website has a selection of instructional videos available to help you get the best of these accessories.

Features and Handling
The Honl Photo System centres around the Honl Speed Strap, which is essentially an inch wide rubber band with Velcro loops on the outside. On its own it seems like a bit of a gimmick, but it really comes into its own when used with the rest of the Honl system making it easy to put a bit of space between the accessories and the lens on the flash, so that nothing gets damaged due to overheating during heavy use. I normally have a strip of sticky Velcro around my flashguns for this purpose, but I found the accessories fit much more securely with the Speed Strap.

HonlPhoto  SpeedStrap

Once you have you flash Velcro'd up, you're ready to choose from one of the light modifiers in the range, depending what the look you intend to achieve. Each of the accessories have the hook half of the Velcro in just the places you need them, making swapping and changing between them a breeze.

HonlPhoto Speed Grids
A grid placed on the front of a flash narrows the beam of light emitted, allowing a certain area to be emphasized, or simply to keep light from spilling into areas you don't want it.

Those who like to indulge in a bit of DIY may have already experimented with strips of corrugated card, Corflute or drinking straws taped together to achieve the same look. Apart from looking more professional than either solution, the Honl grids are more rugged and are available with holes of either a quarter of an inch diameter, giving you more control over the nature of the light. Being completely black and bordered with a black plastic frame, light is less likely to reflect or spill onto areas of the image you don’t want it too.

Using these produces a very hard light effect, which can either be used as the main source of illumination for effect, or with a softer fill light to help lift an otherwise flat image.

HonlPhoto Speed Grids

HonlPhoto Speed Gobo/Bounce Card
Bouncing your flash off a light surface such as a ceiling will produce images with a softer quality of light than you would get with direct flash, but the problem is you often get shadows unless some of the light is directed forwards. Attaching this accessory with the white side facing the flash tube will do just that, evening out the exposure and creating a more pleasing, softer appearance, whether the flash is mounted on, or off the camera.

Flipping the card over so that the black side is facing the flash tube allows this item to be used as a Gobo, (or go-between) which can be used to control where the light from you flashgun spills. Say for example you wished to light a person from the side, but didn't want the background illuminated, you may use a Gobo to keep the light off the background in your image.

For what is essentially a piece of card, this item is very well constructed, being made from heavy-duty nylon, which is stiff and does not crease easily. The materials used mean that it is easy to keep clean, and should last a very, very long time.

HonlPhoto Speed Gobo/ Bounce Card 

HonlPhoto Speed Snoot/Reflector
Available in two sizes, one 5in wide and the other 8in wide, these wrap around the flashgun to create a long snoot-like tunnel, to narrow the beam of light. This can be very useful for highlighting a specific area of an image, such as a person's hair in a portrait and the longer the tunnel is, the more narrow the beam of light will be.

As these items are lined with a reflective material, they can also be configured to function like a large bounce card. When set up like this, they function in a similar way to the popular Lumiquest Pocket Bounce diffusers, although they don't hold their shape as well when used like this. It works by throwing some light forward to fill out the shadows that normally occur when bouncing flash directly off a light ceiling. Having this second option adds to the value of this item, making it useful for general photography as well as when you wish to be creative with off-camera lighting.

The build of this item is very good, although it's not as rigid as the Speed Gobo/Bounce Card, it's fairly easy to set up in either configuration quickly.

 HonlPhoto Speed Snoot/Reflector

HonlPhoto Colour Gels
Completing the system, coloured gels for balancing the colour temperature of the flash with the ambient light or deeper colours for special effects are available. The gels are large enough to fit easily over most flashguns and have the hook Velcro fasteners along the top and bottom, making attachment quick and easy.

 HonlPhoto Colour Gels

Honl Photo Lighting Accessories Verdict
Those looking for a lasting, more professional solution for modifying the light produced by their flashgun when using them off-camera, should enjoy the extra creative options these accessories put at your disposal.

Some of these items do seem a little pricey for what they are, but if you require something long lasting, and reliable that you will be using them time and time again, these are definitely worth a look. They are built of high quality materials and are easy to set up in a hurry, so will provide good value to heavy users of off-camera lighting.

Honl Photo Lighting Accessories: Pros
  • Excellent build and materials
  • Plenty of creative options
  • Easy to set up and remove

Honl Photo Lighting Accessories: Cons
  • Price may seem a little high to casual users
  • Velcro fasteners could weaken in time

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