I have a habit of buying different lighting gadgets, some of which go into my bag for the day I finally find a use for them. Sometimes a particular bit of gear goes into my bag but I never actually find a use for it. Other gadgets get used once and then put aside but occasionally I find something that becomes an essential piece of my kit.
The latest gadget to hit the sweet spot is the Godox SFUV6060 kit (http://www.godox.com/EN/Products_S_type_Speedlite_Bracket.html), consisting of a S-type bracket and a 60cmx60cm softbox.
I was originally looking for some kind of speedlight holder that would allow me to mount Bowens studio attachments to it so I did some hunting around on ebay. The Godox S-type bracket was a little unconventional in the way it held the flash but it seemed like the easy solution to my problem and didn’t seem particularly expensive ($AU30 delivered). I figured it was worth a try.
When I dug around ebay a little further, I discovered that the bracket could also be purchased with a 60x60cm softbox for just a little bit more ($AU37) so I ordered one.
When it turned up, I was a little concerned at the size of the package. Where’s the 60cm softbox? Even if it was folded flat, I knew the package wasn’t big enough to include it. My well-used Lastolite Ezybox is a similar size but it doesn’t pack that small.
I was then rather astonished when I opened it up to find that there was indeed a softbox included: not only does it collapse flat, it can then be twisted smaller like a car windscreen sun shield. Packed up it’s just a little larger than the size of my open hand.
I had seriously expected a cheap and nasty softbox, flimsily constructed and perhaps with only one layer of diffusion material on the front. After all, the main point of my purchase was the bracket, not the softbox. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this softbox was the traditional design of a silver lining internally with both internal and external white diffuser panels. Nothing about this softbox felt cheap and nasty.
So what about the bracket which is what I was originally after? I was also surprised by this: I expected something cheap and flimsy but it’s made of some pretty heavy duty plastic, with metal reinforcing in the appropriate places (eg. inside the base which screws to a lighting stand). This is robust and intelligently designed in a way that most cheap stuff isn’t.
This bracket mounts a speedlight horizontally by clamping the flash head inside the plastic ring. The clamp has a strip of textured rubber underneath to prevent the speedlight from simply falling out. The whole bracket swivels so that you can easily adjust the up/down direction but unusually, the swivel is ratcheted so you have to loosen it off a little before it will move. I assume this is a design feature to prevent slippage when dealing with the weight of heavier Bowens attachments.
It wasn’t until later that a friend pointed out to me that this bracket also features a hole and screw for mounting the shaft of an umbrella. If this was simply a speedlight/umbrella bracket I’d say it was excellent value. Being able to add a Bowens S-type attachment makes it beyond excellent. The nifty softbox just shifted the whole kit into the realms of “really awesome value”.
As I said, I’ve been using a Lastolite Ezybox for speedlight shooting but this Godox kit has quickly replaced it. Whereas the Lastolite kit has an adjustable 2-part softbox mounting bracket to handle different size speedlights, the Godox version doesn’t need it because of the way the speedlight head clamps directly into the softbox mount. The Lastolite bracket doesn’t have any swiveling mechanism so you need to add an extra swivel bracket for angling it up/down. I’m usually not a big fan of all-in-one products like this Godox kit if it means I have to replace everything when one minor component fails, but this is simple and robust enough to make those concerns vanish.
I half-expected the included softbox to have a proper Bowens S-type mount but this one is like the Lastolite kit – the softbox simply pops over the edges of the bracket for easy addition and removal. That’s effective and simple but it does mean that I can’t use this softbox with my actual Bowens studio flashes.
While the clamping system avoids the need to deal with cold shoe mounting mechanisms, it does mean that if this setup were to topple over, there is a higher likelihood of damaging the flash head. Speedlights are usually designed so that the foot will snap off under force but as this bracket doesn’t attach via the flash foot, the force of the fall will be taken by the bracket and the flash head. Replacing a snapped speedlight foot is a much cheaper problem to deal with so that’s perhaps the only negative with using this bracket.
I later bought an extra S-FA attachment (http://www.godox.com/EN/Products_S_FA_for_Speedlite_Accessories.html) for the Godox bracket that allows you to mount up to 4 speedlights. This rod places the 4 flashes in front of the bracket with 4 cold shoes to secure the flashes.
This extra part is reasonably cheap (approx $AU12 delivered) and does the job fine, but it perhaps complicates the whole setup a bit too much. While it’s perfectly fine for mounting multiple flashes behind an umbrella, using it with a softbox involves removing both of the softbox diffuser panels to attach the metal rod to the bracket. You then need to attach your speedlights (backwards if you want to access their control panels) and ensure they are configured to the correct settings before putting both panels back on. This might be okay if you’re using some inbuilt radio-triggering system but it’s going to be more difficult if you need to hook up your own radio triggers or change the power levels on the flashes. Simply replacing the batteries in a flash would require opening up the softbox and perhaps removing the flash to get to the battery compartment.
Since buying this kit, I’ve noticed that the ebay seller I purchased it from has bumped it up to $AU50 (a pricing error originally?). This still seems like amazing value to me and if you’re someone who likes to shoot with speedlights, you’re probably going to love this so much you’ll buy more than one (as I’ve done). Without the softbox it’s the best speedlighBlackAmbusht holder I’ve used and with it it’s just awesome value.You can easily find these kits on ebay.com.au – just search for “godox 60cm softbox bowens”. Watch out for cheaper versions which might include the s-type bracket or the softbox but not both. There are also larger and smaller versions of the kit available (containing 40cm, 50cm or 80cm softboxes). Some sellers will include a honeycomb grid in the kit which is worth considering.