One issue that has always frustrated me and I assume others from reading online was the limitation of the umbrella style softbox’s for speed lights. Some of theses are like the Westcott Apollo softbox, and the Phottix easy-up softbox *Note: Phottix easy-up softbox is no longer available in the united states.* Both are very similar. The main issue that pledged these softbox was the limited tilt down capabilities of it. On 90% of all my shoots I need to tilt the umbrella of softbox down especially since I do allot children’s photography. I also love my key light coming from a higher up location. To solve this there were some DIY solutions and some retail solutions to by pass the solution. Most of the solutions was still with use of the standard single speed light. The “Phottix Multi-boom” Has seemed to solve this issue quite well also it allows for an customizable multi-flash platform. With many different configuration possibilities, also customization is always an option. More on this later in the review.
-Multiple placement locations for Brackets.
-Ability to fold down to easily storage and mobility in provided bag
-Very solid construction.
-Customizability in possible configurations.
-Can lay flat to be flash stand on table or surface
-Fast setup and breakdown
-Ability to hold 4 flashes with 2 mounting plates or extra thumb screws and cold shoes on one baseplate.
Basic kit contents:
-hardware for two cold shoes that can be slide along the baseplate to any position.
-carabineer and hook to hang accessories and sand bags.
Before with the standard umbrella swivel and softbox combination where you ran into issues was when tilting from inside the softbox the stand could not go any further than the opening in the bottom fabric of the softbox would let it. If you had the mount at the end of the shaft allowing for maximum light spread you could basically not tilt down at all. If you then slid it all the way back basically jamming your speed light into the back you could tilt an little more but not much. This would effect your light spread and your ability to add more than one light would be limited because of space and location.
Example of limited tilt at end of umbrella shaft:
Example of limited tilt if put all the way in the back causing limited light spread:
Example of tilt use with Multi-Boom:
As seen above to solve this the joint needs to be below the softbox allowing for full tilt capabilities. This is where the Phottix Multi-Boom 16″ comes in. Basically it is an extension shaft with a platform to mount different flash and battery pack/ trigger combinations to. So you tilt the whole softbox and bracket with the umbrella swivel.
Note: You really need an metal umbrella swivel to hold it safely because of the increase in weight torque. Manfrotto makes one, and so does Phottix and a few other companies. The manfrotto one seems easier to adjust because the join is smooth the Phottix ones has teeth for extra security and you lave to loosen it more meaning you need to hold the full weight of the setup while adjusting.
Some metal swivel options are:
Manfrotto 026 Swivel Umbrella Adapter (Lite-Tite)
Phottix Varos II BG Multi-Function Flash Shoe Umbrella Holder
When I got the bracket the first feature I was excited to see was how much I could tilt my softbox because before I could barely tilt it limiting its use before. I quickly pulled it out of the shipping box. It was in an nice bag I pulled it out grabbed my softbox and started setting it up. I was able to tilt it all the way pointed down you also can tilt all the way back 180 degrees. This allows for that high up key I like. The one important part here is to have an strong metal umbrella swivel, and to weight your stand. It will tilt down with two flashes all the way fine but any little push on the stand it could easily turnover. The optional hand grip you can add weight to it and that helps. In addition to weight at the bottom of the light stand. However I was able to set it up without any sandbags fine. I also like the quality of it is very very study the cold shoes lock better than other ones I have used in the past. Also the ability to slide the cold shoes along the baseplate was very nice. You just un-tighten and slide to where you want them and tighten down on the baseplate. I have some other brackets and the cold shoes that came with those are no were near the quality of this bracket. You can also position the baseplate position up and down the main shaft to allow for the flashes to be at the optimal location for flash center coverage depending on your configuration. This also allows for you to balance the weight on the bracket some. There are different position holes for positioning the baseplate. It is very easy just unscrew the thumb screw and then move to the location you want then put it back in. I would however recommend doing this when no flashes are on the bracket so you won’t accidently cross thread because of any accidental tilt. It is pretty fool proof but I would not risk it. Also he thumb screws tighten down nice and are easy to use.
Whats a review without example shots and who better to test it on then my wife with our next child on the way. This was shot with the softbox tilted down from upper camera right angled down.
Example from Will’s shoot with the new bracket and softbox upper camera left.
My video review:
Like described earlier there are most likely going to be options to add baseplate’s, or additional cold shoe hardware that will slide capabilities. However that is not finalized as yes or no at the time of writing this review what extra hardware you can buy. There are a couple of options from where to get the hardware. What I did was use what I had. That is what most photographers on an budget do right? I had some cold shoes and some thumb screws. So I used the 1/4 thread hole that is put on there for the battery packs and used it for the cold shoes I already had. Because we are dealing with all threaded parts because of the hole it was a little tricky. What I had to do is use gaffers tape to create a sort of rubber washer to allow for the cold shoe to tighten down all the way. I plan on going to the hardware store to find an better solution. I then had a 4 flash setup. Mainly I started using 3 flashes and one cold shoe to hold my radio receiver.
The possible additional hardware there are a few additional ¼ thread points on the bracket that are designed for connecting a battery pack. You can get things like a ¼ hook and hang stuff like pocket wizards or anything with an sling. You also can mount whatever you like. This is another thing I love with this bracket is you set it up to suit your needs. I sort of hack all of my photography equipment to suit my needs and this one really gives you options to try. The stability was awesome. I was not scared of carrying it around and moving it. I have had flashes fall off stands in the past and how solid this is I felt very safe. Still like always make sure you have everything tightened down correctly.
Another thing I like about the bracket is I have an another tri bracket I feel because my old bracket has my flashes hanging on their sides it is putting an non needed amount of pressure on the hot shoe. I can now mount 2-4 without side pressure on the flashes with the new multi boom.
-quick setup and breakdown
-Customizable and flexible to different setups.
-Wide tilt range.
-Can fold down for easy storage and portability
“I couldn’t find any cons, so I made them up…”
-Can not attach 40 speed lights to bracket
-No provided gremlin to setup it up or break it down mischievously for me.
-No pez dispenser
Would I recommend this bracket to any one with an umbrella style softbox, some one wanting an mini boom setup with an umbrella, or some one wanting an flexible platform for multiple flash’s and battery packs? Yes I would in an moment. It is quick and easy to setup and very study. This is something that I am now going to bring around with me to most likely most of my shoots where I plan to use off camera lighting.
Where to buy and price?:
You can get the bracket directly from phottix here: http://www.phottixstore.com/store/studio-accessories/phottix-multi-boom-16-flash-bracket.html
The price is 69.99$ USD.
The bracket is designed by our very own in the strobist community Elvis Pahr. You can read his post on it here. http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-multi-boom/