February 9, 2013

how to mount multiple flashes / speedlites

Quite often, a single speedlight just isn’t enough. You need more! You might need a smaller aperture than the single speedlight would provide (even at full power), or you might be battling very bright ambient light. High-Speed Flash Sync doesn’t help you in that case. Then you need to add another speedlight.

The mount / bracket that I settled on is the  RPS Light Bar with Four Accessory Shoes RS-3102 (vendor). It is a bit unwieldy, especially when you have 4 speedlights mounted. But when you need it, you need it. It is this bracket that I use when I’m shooting family groups with speedlights, as described in this article: wedding photography: positioning your flash for the formals.

I’ve used this setup for some of the photography workshops that I’ve presented, where I need to simultaneously have Canon and Nikon speedlights. I have also at times mounted both PocketWizard and RadioPopper triggers. This bracket allows me the flexibility to choose my setup, and to do multiple setups with different systems.

Now, the reason why I settled on this device, is that none of the other devices that I’ve seen, have enough space for either the PocketWizard TT5 units, or the Radio Poppers.

While these are all ingenious solutions to the problem, they just don’t have enough space around for the base of the radio trigger, whether the RadioPopper or PocketWizard. Others that I’ve seen that do allow for this, just don’t seem as sturdily built.

The  RPS Light Bar with Four Accessory Shoes RS-3102 (vendor) is quite sturdy, as you might see in this detail image of the hot-shoe mount:

Each flash’s foot is locked into place with a screw, and each base can be shifted horizontally, or angled any way you want on the horizontal plane.

Now, most of us have at least 2 speedlights. Probably more. Then this device makes sense as an additional purpose. But if you were looking for a setup with a lot of power, by the time you add the cost of the four speedlights and battery packs and radio triggers, it becomes quite an expensive rig. Then you’re better off buying one of the larger more powerful setups such as the Profoto B1 500 W/s AirTTL battery powered flash (vendor). You could equally well decide on the Elinchrom Quadra sets or an AlienBee setup with a battery. There are numerous options which would give you a lot of juice … and be less expensive than four speedlights.

For all that, I do think a device such as this should be in your camera bag. Just in case.

 

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{ 22 comments. } Add a Comment

1 mike February 10, 2013 at 1:10 am

I asked about the bracket and you delivered a nice article, thanks Neil!

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2 Tiagoreil February 10, 2013 at 1:54 am

4 flashes with 4 radio triggers and the bracket. At what point is not better to get an allien bee ($359.95) or Einstein ($499.95), 1 trigger and a vagabond mini ($239.95) and be able to use modifiers?

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3 Neil vN February 10, 2013 at 1:59 am

I do agree. But there’s a specific way things usually scale up over time. You get a speedlight. (Every photographer should have a speedlight.) You soon realize you need another, even if just for backup. And hey, a third speedlight is cool too. You can use it for backlighting.

So very quickly you have 3 or 4 speedlights. That’s how it happens. They accumulate without you even realizing.

But, like I mention, if you were to go out with the intent of buying a single rig that has lots of juice andis easy to set up, then the larger units make more sense.

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4 Derrick Barrett February 10, 2013 at 5:19 am

Never used it before… but this bracket by Scott Roberts seems to be better designed and less cumbersome

http://scottrobertla.com/2012/06/25/srs-big-boy-bar/

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5 Enrico February 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

I got another one: the FTx2 und the FTx3 Flash Bar by Phottix. And they’ve got two umbrella holders.

http://www.phottix.com/en/flash-accessories/ftx2.html and
http://www.phottix.com/en/flash-accessories/ftx3.html

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6 denton February 10, 2013 at 9:54 am

But wouldn’t some of those lastolites be easier to get inside a softbox?

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7 Alan B. February 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Thankfully, with the radio based wireless in the new Canon 600EX-RT flashes, I no longer need to worry about where to mount external triggers. In that case the Lasolite Quad bracket look pretty cool…albeit pricy. There’s also the Foursquare…also a bit $$$. http://lightwaredirect.com/foursquare/

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8 Scott February 10, 2013 at 2:13 pm

I really like the iDC Triplethreat, it takes three flashes but mounts on the modifier shaft, you can even put two on there for a total of six speedlites if you needed to. I like them because they are a very elegant solution, they keep the flash heads closer to a single axis, the coldshoes are a better design for flashes with lever locks (Canon 580-600EX at least), I really don’t like clamp coldshoes, they can easily break plastic feet, think cheap radio triggers and older and cheaper flashes, and they don’t work anywhere near as nicely with the lever style flashes. The triplethreat is superb when used with a big umbrella/parabolic.

Better yet, they used to be $69 each, but as competition has heated up they are now down to $33.99 while the final stocks last. I got three yesterday.

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9 Scott February 10, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I forgot to add why I have so many speedlites! I have 5x550EX’s and 3x600EX-RT’s, I do mainly paid real estate and I often need a small pop of flash in a cupboard or two in a hallway to even out exposures, for me big lights are too unwieldy and overkill, small flashes, and lots of them, work much better for me. This means when I want to do other stuff I already have the small units to gang up.

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10 Steve Holmes February 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

The four square bracket from Lightware is also nice. That and the IDC triple threat are my favorites.

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11 Kevin W February 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm

Neil- sorry if you’ve mentioned this earlier. When you gang Canon strobes with TT5s, such as on the bar,
which model are you using to avoid RF problems?

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12 Neil vN February 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I had these Canon 580’s modified to get rid of the RF problem.

Otherwise, I’d still do this workaround as described here in section B: Canon wireless e-TTL flash triggers / radio transmitters.

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13 Paul M February 11, 2013 at 4:17 am

My flextt5/sb9x0 breeding program has allowed me squeeze 3 of this combination onto a Lastolite quad bracket. It looks like I could also fit a fourth in there, if I had it. Festina Lente :-)

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14 Stephen February 11, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Hi Neil,
I have a Lastolite 24×24. I could definitely see myself mounting two speedlights with this bar in the future. What softbox would you recommend while still using the RPS light bar? The Lastolite 24×24 doesn’t have room for two speedlights.

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15 Neil vN February 11, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I use an umbrella with these – either a shoot-through, or a bounce umbrella.

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16 Michael Mowbray February 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm

I was just going to write a blog post about this little beauty. Thank you for saving me the time! :) The only thought I would add is that if you put it on a tilting umbrella adapter it is easy to get all four (or however many you want to use) into a vertical orientation that is nice for full-length shots. I’ve also Macgyvered it into a Westcott strip box using this technique.

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17 Julian February 11, 2013 at 1:01 pm

With radiopopper px you can control up to 8 flashes with 1 receiver using the michael bass hack:
http://michaelbass.blogspot.ca/2007/01/misc-custom-connections.html#IR_EmitterSplitter_InlineDual1x4

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18 Dave February 12, 2013 at 11:12 am

I came up with a DIY approach that I really like. I took a length of square tube steel and drilled through both faces (so a total of 4 holes at each mounting position along the bar) using my Drill press and a 1/4″ metal drill bit. Then with a 1/4″ threaded bolt and a plastic knob, I can mount directly into my Stratto Multi triggers. Since I drilled vertically and horizontally, I can mount the flash vertically (like the one you’ve reviewed here) and horizontally (with the flash head in the up position pointED directly into the umbrella). I think i’ll spray paint it black and put on a few clear coats so it doesnt look so DIY…

If you’re having trouble pictureing it, I did a post on my blog (just click on my name and then I have a link to my blog)

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19 David from SC February 12, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Minor correction–the Lastolite tri-flash *does* fit three 580EXIIs mounted on Flex TT5 triggers. I use mine in exactly that configuration. The Tri-Flash would also provide more even/symmetric light than the light bar approach.

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20 john February 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm

do you mean that you trigger the both the nikon and canon speedlights from a single transmitter on a camera??
if you do then in the case you only use the wizards as a remote trigger right with all of them in manual mode is that correct?
if that is the case I think you can save on the triggers.

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21 Neil vN February 15, 2013 at 4:39 pm

You could with a radio transmitter like the PocketWizard Plus III Tranceiver (B&H), but you do lose TTL functionality.

The photo at the top is just for illustration though, but yes, you could do it that way.

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22 Mike Zurynski April 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I was curios if anyone has tried the new mini boom arm from phottix? I use an apollo on occasion and it sure would help with tilt angle as well as mounting several speedlights. http://www.phottixstore.com/store/flash-accessories/phottix-multi-boom-16-flash-bracket.html

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