web analytics
logo

Holiday Gift Guide 2020

Whew it’s been a bad year! And I’m talking BAD BAD! Adorama asked me to assemble some potential joy to make your holiday shopping list easier. I’ve broken down my list into two categories. For Everyone and For Pros. Don’t get me wrong, just because my suggestions under For Pros does NOT mean the gear is just for pros! It’s just that my view is the gear either has only an occasional or specific use and/or the piece of kit is pricey to only use on rare occasions. Other than that everything I’m listing can be used by everyone.

This holiday season, you can buy now and pay over time with the Adorama Edge Credit Card. Click here for details.

For Pros

Flashpoint XPLOR Power 1200 Pro R2 Flash System

OK so just like with cars or motorcycles most people feel that the more power the better! Except in photography it also means having to LUG gear or hire others to LUG gear. In the past I have combined two 600ws Flashpoint strobes with a 1200ws head. Works well so I didn’t really think I needed the 1200 Pro but…

What I came to find out is not only does it recycle quicker at full power than my two 600s, but it is a ton easier to carry around while on location! And my primary usage for this strobe would be for outdoor on location work where I’m either trying to turn day into night or using a modifier that sucks light like no one’s business; AKA a gobo projector. It’s a very well made unit that makes life much easier when more power is needed.

More examples

Glow Grand ParaBox Pro Softbox (70″) with Glow Grand ParaBox Zoom-In Bounce Rod

Yep in ‘some cases’ size does matter! And in those instances my go to modifier is the Grand Para 70” with the Bounce Rod. I tend to shoot most of my commercial imagery with a focusing rod modifier no matter the brand. I along with my clients prefer the look of focusing rod modifiers, more contrast and a softness or hard light that is unique. The 70” is not easy to assemble since the arms really tighten and stretch the fabric, which is what you want. But I find the assembly is well worth the effort.

More examples.

Aputure Spotlight Mount Set 36 Degree Lens

I use this modifier for so many different purposes. It is incredibly well built and uses standard class B sized gobos. For those unfamiliar with gobos, they are ‘go between’ patterns that shape how the light is projected onto a surface. It can add incredible drama or mood to your shots.

 

More examples.

For Everyone

Flashpoint XPLOR 300 Pro TTL R2 Battery-Powered Monolight

OK right off the bat I’m going to say that this little light has made me a fanboy! Of all the strobes I own this one is my go to favorite. The construction is great, the light output wonderful and the size format is just so cool! Of course the most important part, the quality of light is amazing! The only nitpick I have with it is the included swivel mount. It gets ‘creep’ when I try to tighten it down with a modifier and not one that’s even heavy. Adorama now has a Replacement Tilt Mount request to resolve that issue. Other than that it’s great. Did I mention it’s my favorite?

Imagery created with smoke and water and lit with the 300 during COVID19

Using the optional Bowens bolt on adapter allows me to use the 300 on modifiers that normally use LED constant lights with a shallow distance to their lenses, so that’s a total win for me. Opening up different instruments designed for non-strobe use is wonderful.

It has also allowed me to use it as my go to strobe for small to medium focusing rod modifiers.

My review of the 300.

Glow EZ Lock Parabolic Softbox For Flashpoint XPLOR 300 and 400 Direct Mount (33.4″ – Silver)

I tend to be pretty snooty about modifiers. Heck since I make my living with them I have to be! LOL Do not confuse my snootiness with only considering expensive or ‘well known’ modifiers. But once in a while an rather unknown modifier peaks my curiosity. Such was the case when I purchased the 300 Pro and saw it has a native built in Godox mount, whose mount I don’t own a single modifier. So I began looking into them and found this one. And as usual I turned the modifier to replicate my favorite light, a focusing rod quality of light. But even without using my modification the modifier not only produces great light, but is ultra-portable. So in those instances where I’m moving around on location this is the modifier I use.

One shot with a Parabolix 35D focusing rod modifier at almost 10 times the cost. The other with the Glow…which is which?! LOL

My review of this item.

Glow 70 Degree Magnum Reflector with Diffuser for Bowens Mount Flash Heads

I was so fortunate to know the late Paul C Buff who mentored me on many things including hard modifiers or reflectors. He explained to me in great detail how the shape and design affects his designs for light output and to not be fooled by shape or size. So I decided to purchase one of Adorama’s Glow 70’s and test it against many other reflectors I use. And guess what? It produces the most even and high output light of any of my other reflectors other than my PCB Retro Laser modifier which is no longer available! For high wind outdoor shots this is my go to modifier.

Turning mid day sun into night is easily accomplished with a single 300 Pro and the Magnum Reflector. Both shot with a Canon 1DX II 1/3200th f2.8 ISO 160

Flashpoint eVOLV 200 Round Flash Head With Accessory Kit (Godox H200R & AK-R1)

If you own a Flashpoint eVOLV 200 and don’t own one of these kits my simple question is WHY! OMG this little kit include so many items I use all of the time. The round head’s modeling light is brighter than the built in modeling light on the Fresnel head. And while I’m on the subject I’ll include the Flashpoint eVOLV 200 TTL Modular Strobe! I actually lost count of how many of these little beauties I own. So portable and their batteries seem to last forever. AND they can be used with the new 300 Pro! The modular head design is brilliant and when combined with round head or the Flashpoint XP-200 V2 Portable 200ws Extension FlashHead it allows me incredible flexibility. The light loss of the extension head is only ½ stop. Well worth it for the many things it allows me to do.

What can that little 200ws extension head do? Well how about powering my K5600 24” Big Eye Fresnel!

Not to mention they are my studio dance strobes.

Glow EZ Lock Deep Parabolic 48″ Quick Softbox

I often chuckle to myself when other photographers wonder “Why does Mark use some of those inexpensive modifiers.” Well the answer is really easy! If the quality of light it produces is delicious then it’s what I use. And in this case the EZ lock is so simple to set up and strike – comes with a grid and great diffusion materials it’s a win to me.

My blog post about this modifier

Adorama is running a special for the 2020 holidays on several items. Most likely because 2020 has been a sucky year! LOL. You are able to buy lights with 0% interest charged for 24 months using their Adorama Edge credit card beginning on November 2 2020, you know the day before the election!

  • XPLOR 1200 PRO
  • 400 PRO kit
  • 300 PRO 2 light kit
  • Evolv 200 Pro kit

Well I hope my little list gives you some ideas on what to purchase this holiday season. I just want to say that anyone who tells you that in order to create memorable light and mood requires expensive gear is all wet. Ask to see their body of work, not a one in a row shot. Then decide for yourself.  How you use a tool is much more important than the tool you use. Of course an effective tool makes life much easier. But consider a golf club or a frying pan. Tiger can use any club and make par, and a chef can use a pan, any pan and cook way better than you or I.

And BTW no one has paid me for this post. If something isn’t good I say so and how or if I’ve improved it. If it’s good I say so too.

Happy Holiday and goodbye to 2020 forever! UGH.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *