review: Bolt VB-22 barebulb flash
These are good times for photographers who love using off-camera flash. There are more and more options coming out for us to choose from and use.
B&H has rebranded their own version of a popular series of flashguns. The Bolt VB-22 bare-bulb flash (B&H) looks like the Cheetah Light CL-360, and the Godox Witstro AD360, and the Neewer AD-360. They all seem to have similar spec. So if you’ve been browsing for any of those options, B&H has the Bolt VB-22 flash at a competitive price.
For the photo at the top, I had my camera set to 1/200 @ f/3.5 @ 100 ISO to have the window appear in a certain way – bright enough, and out of focus. I used the Bolt VB-22 flash with a white Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (B&H) as the large light modifier. More about this further down in the review.
At a quick glance – what does the Bolt VB-22 offer?
- It is a powerful manual-only flash, with a guide Number: 262′ at ISO 100.
Comparing it in the studio to a speedlight, it offers 2 stops more light than the Nikon SB-910 (or Canon 600EX-RT) would.
- High-speed flash sync option
The instruction manual that came with this unit says that the flash unit is HSS-capable with a dedicated high-speed sync trigger. This is still to be released at the time of this review. Shutter speeds of up to 1/8000 will be possible then.
- The flash-head can rotate nearly 360 degrees horizontally, and has a wide motion range vertically. The flash-head is bare-bulb, but can take reflectors, and has an attached slot for umbrellas.
Using the flash in the studio for portraits
This photo and the one at the top, are part of sequences I shot in my studio to see how the Bolt VB-22 flash handles and performs. I used a white Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (B&H) as the light modifier.
camera settings: 1/160 @ f/4 @ 100 ISO.
I “scooped” the umbrella away from her so that only part of the light reflected from the umbrella would fall on her. i.e. I feathered the light like this to contain the light falling on the grey studio background. I wanted soft, yet dramatic light on my subject, Melanie … and I also wanted to control the way the light fell on the background. As you can see the umbrella is pointed more towards me than Melanie.
The Bolt VB-22 flash has an output of 360Ws which is a lot of juice in a portable flash! If you look at the previous article, comparing output: studio lights vs. speedlites / speedlights, you will notice that the speedlight had approximately 3 stops less light than the 500Ws Profoto D1 / B1 flash.
With that in mind, I expected about a 2 stop difference between the Bolt and a speedlight. This simple test compares their output when bounced into the Westcott Parabolic Umbrella. Doing so helps even things out a bit for us in the comparison.
The speedlight was set to 35mm zoom of its flash-head, and the Bolt flash had a dedicated metal reflector on it.
So this is what you can expect from this flash – a lot of power in a unit that appears quite well-built and sturdy. The controls are easily adjusted and are very obvious in their function. Once they get the HSS option on the market, it will be an even stronger contender. (I used Pocketwizards in the studio to fire the flash.)
Purchase the Bolt VB-22 & accessories from B&H
- Bolt VB-22 bare-bulb flash
- Bolt Umbrella Mounting Kit for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
- Bolt Cyclone PP-310 Compact Power Pack for Portable Flashes
- Bolt Grid and Filter Kit for VB-Series Bare-Bulb Flashes
Specs & features of the Bolt VB-22 flash
According to the manufacturer’s spec sheet:
Featuring a bare-bulb design and an output of 360Ws, the Bolt VB-22 Bare-Bulb Flash is a specialized shoe-mount flash unit that offers users a quality of light similar to studio strobes in a compact, portable package. The bare bulb design provides a full 360° specular light and is able to work with a variety of optional light modifiers, such as an umbrella mount, colored filters, and grids for creating distinct lighting effects.
The unit features a powerful guide number of 262′ at ISO 100 and covers about 28mm when used with the included reflector. The flash can also be used as an optical slave at a range of up to 33′. This mode has two settings to control whether to trigger the flash immediately when the master is fired or to ignore a single preflash.
The VB-22 flash also features a stroboscopic, or repeat, mode that allows the unit to fire multiple flashes in a row, meaning users can capture multiple images of a subject in a single exposure. The locking head can rotate 135° right and 180° left as well as tilt from -15 to 90° for added control and versatility. Additionally, the unit is fully manual and offers power settings from 1/1 to 1/128. The flash does require power from an optional external power pack which will provide a recycle time of approximately 0.1 to 5.2 seconds. It comes with a retaining ring, diffuser, reflector, power cable, protective pouch, a stand/tripod mount, a stand mounting foot, and a shoe mounting foot.
– Interchangeable shoe and stand mounts that allow more secure attachment to either a light stand, tripod, or shoe.
– Manual AF-assist light for focusing in low-light situations
– The backlit LCD display is 1.75″ in size
– Power settings from 1/1 to 1/128 in 1/3 EV steps
– Flash duration of 1/300 to 1/10,000 second
– Can be triggered via hot shoe, PC sync cord, 3.5mm cable, as an optical slave, or with a dedicated remote control
– High speed sync will be available with future dedicated remote control
Contest & give-away prize (now closed)
This contest is now closed. Check my comment at #89.
I have one of these Bolt VB-22 flash units (with accessories) to give away as a prize!
To be in line to win the main prize, (the Bolt VB-22 flash), post in the comments how you could use such a flash (which is 2 stops more powerful than a speedlight), or how it would make a difference to your photography. Make your entry informative or fun. Show us your website if you want. Show us an image or two.
I will pick one winning entry on Monday, Feb 2nd. The most interesting or informative or deserving entry chosen by myself and my assistant, gets the prize. Unfortunately, due to high shipping costs, this part of the contest is only open to people in the USA who live in the lower 48 states.
However, there is a secondary prize which is open to everyone, worldwide! A copy of Tilo Gockel’s book – Creative Flash Photography. The winner of this book prize will be chosen via random number generator.
Creative Flash Photography
Creative Flash Photography, is divided into 40 chapters, or as the author calls them, Workshops. Over the course of 290 pages, Tilo Gockel gives us insights in how he uses speedlights to photograph a diverse range of subjects: portraits, product photography, macro photography, shooting for eBay, photos for Catalogs, food photography.
Check out my book review: Creative Flash Photography for more.
92 Comments, Add Your Own
Man, these would make overpowering the sun a lot easier! It would be a lot lighter using these compared to dragging my studio lights out. Sure hope I win these!
2sheri j says
I have been looking at the similar flashes you mentioned, so this was very interesting to me. I have studio strobes but they are not so easy to be portable with as I am shooting I like to get lots of variety, which means moving quickly from one spot to another during a shoot. It is a rare occasion that I use my studio lights outdoors, but I will use them when I know I need them, like to overpower the sun, etc. I mainly shoot weddings and engagements and I generally work alone without assistants…. so it’s on me to get the job done and do it as efficiently as possible. A flash like this would allow me to have more power especially for outdoor locations. I am wanting to have enough power and be mobile but at the same time also have the ability to use flash modifiers, and I do find that you generally need more power if you want to be able to have more light than your ambient light. This past week I have been investing in lighting and camera gear to take me into 2015 weddings and shoots to be more efficient when I am with clients.
3Sreekumar Menon says
Thanks for all the great articles on flash photography and reviews. Helps beginners like me a lot, appreciate sharing your knowledge. was planning to get a sb900 , will consider this flash instead .
4Toby M. says
I am photographing large groups of people (my church), I am sure this light will help me get more even exposure in different rows as I could place it further from the group.
Also, overpowering the sun will be make my dream come true. I tried to do it with YN568 EX but the results weren’t good at all.
I can fight and beat the sun with this light! I will call it MY BEAT THE SUN LIGHT :)
I live in Minneapolis and there is lots of sun year round and I now won’t have a limit in the name of a Sun anymore :)
5Mo Gelber says
If I won the bolt flash , I would use it to do more photographic excursions into abandoned buildings. If the flash arrived in time, I would use it on my trip to Detroit to document the urban decay of the city. Currently when I trespass into decaying structures, because my current canon flash sucks I usually dont bring it, so I rely on high iso settings and wide apertures to get my exposure. It would be nice to be able to have such a powerful flash.
Because the bolt flashgun has an optical trigger, I would also use it for portraiture. I currently have 2 monolights. Putting the bolt on a light stand and using it as an accent/hair light would be very advantageous.
If I win the flash, I also promise not to whistle in public for the remainder of the year 2015. However, on January 1st 2016 I reserve the right to whistle the theme song to the Andy Griffith show :P
6David Chin says
I love the quality of light I can get out of my 60 in. white umbrella but I often have to resort to mounting two speedlites in order to get enough coverage without any dead spots. This would make that job much easier and free up my other two flashes to be used for other lighting effects/set ups. It would also make taking outdoor portraits much easier and allow me to be more flexible in my settings and possibly even carry fewer pieces of equipment. Here’s hoping!
7Donald Rodriguez says
I could use this as my faux daylight from outside a window or a large door; this would be powerful enough to be a light source to compliment the sun and have some nice blue skies; this could function as a light source indoors for some high key sessions or just shooting outdoors and needing a DoF that keeps larger groups all acceptably sharp!
Lots of possibilities, but not being limited by equipment in being able to do what you really want as far as aperture and depth of field would immediately be a plus.
Actually, I want a chance to win the Tilo’s book. :-)
I already have 3 Nikon SB-900 speedlights that I mostly use in TTL mode, so I’m not ready to use a manual-only flash.
9Lois Spatz says
love this light ans love Neil’s work!!
10Dan Kozlowski says
Winning a Bolt VB-22 would “brighten” my day and every day. I’m a family and portrait photographer in Colorado where the sun shines 300 plus days a year. Currently I am using a reflector, umbrella, an SB-700 speed light and a Sponge Bob flashlight for a kicker light. Having a light like the VB-22 would allow me endless creative opportunities and it looks cool too.
11Brad Bell says
I shoot architectural interiors and often need to overpower the sun shining through a window or just reaching high ceilings without increasing ISO. Two or even 3 speedlights are a pain when trying to move quickly through a structure. Being able to bounce a lot of light throughout an entire room would be a wonderful help. When I took your class in Atlanta a few years ago, I learned how to light a model. Lighting an entire room is quite a different story. The VB-22 would truly light up my life!
12Keith R. Starkey says
First, lovely shots of the model with the Bolt VB-22.
Now, as to what I would do with the flash if I win it…
I would take pictures of God. Why, well, I’ll tell you. See, the Bolt is bright, really bright! I could easily overpower the ambient around God…And God made light…but didn’t expect the Bolt. Kind of like the Grinch, who told Cindy Loo who, “You called down the thunder, now get ready for the BOOM!” And that’s what the Bolt is: “Yea and behold! BOOM this! In your face…I, I mean, at your feet, Lord!” (Yea, Lord, I do beseech thee: have mercy on me for my presumption…but could you move just a bit to the left. That’s it. Now move your arm out a bit…that is an arm, right? No, it’s a lovely arm! I like it. Really.)
So, with stopping power to flash at frequencies that would make angels wince, I’d gel this bad boy with a nice CTB (God’s already really warm, so we’ll cool Him a bit), and, of course, using my Hasselblad H5D-200c Multi-Shot…okay, my D3200 BUT…with my killer 35mm 1.8 DX lens, we’re talking toasting the heavens with “And let there be flash, big flash!” Strike a pose, God.
Oh, and let me tell you…with a starry host of the likes only the heavens can present, we’re talking in-color Big Blue background that will make IBM cry! Add the moon for some reflective soft light and the sun for a kicker…I’m all over this! SHOW ME THE FLASH!
There is still the problem of coordinating days off for the shoot. I think God kicks back on Saturdays. Shouldn’t be to much of an issue. Throw in some manna, pizza and pop… Wish me luck. (Hmm, now for a good recipe with manna…didn’t I read something about quail?)
13Jonathan West says
The Bolt is going to be revolutionary in my photographic arsenal of gear. Due to it’s remarkably high light output, I will be very excited to now trigger my optical slaves on my Vivitar flashes at extremely long distances. When I want to trigger a flash that is 80 yards away from me aimed at a high school football scoreboard, I will be reaching for the Bolt to send its lumens downfield to be picked up by my trusty Viv 285’s optical slave. No more hit or miss radio trigger antics. Finally, a way to reliably engage my old Vivitars from afar. I can’t wait for my next senior session.
14John Paquette says
The Bolt VB-22 would give me the shot to control the light for portrait photos. I love doing portraits and what can happen when the light is so right is a delight.
15Kevin Toman says
Never heard of Bolt VB-22 until today. Tried to stay away from speed lights, succeeded, or should I say struggled for the longest time. I broke down and got a used SB-800 for my used D200. (Living in darkness riding dinosaurs) . Toying around with a Lowel i-Light now also.
I’m outside of the 48 contiguos state requirements for the Bolt light contest; hello from Hawaii where we are always sunny and bright here.
I once showed up at group beach shoot where I strung up four Canon 580exII acting as one to overpower the sun. The other photogs had a good laugh at seeing the contraption of four speedlights with the complimentary battery packs on a light stand. A few other photogs had brought along their Alien Bees with the Vagabonds so they had no trouble. I had great shots while the few others that had one speedlight was struggling, so I had the last laugh among them.
This one Bolt would replace the four speedlights making things less unwieldy and less expensive if my top heavy four-light-stand had toppled over into the saltwater or bashed against the reef.
My understanding of using flash was mostly from following your blogs and books. Nothing is really free, so I’d gladly pay for shipping for the bolt.
If not, then Tilo’s book would be a welcome addition.
17Ron Van Note says
Winning this unit would really help this struggling photographer out! Being able to have such power in one single unit would be awesome! And I am all about the manual flash, I like having control over the situation.
18Jim Maher says
I am primarily an on location shooter who loves flash. As many have said “it’s all about the light”. Using more powerful strobes on location could be the key to being better at what we do.
Since I can’t seem to post a picture here you’ll just have to imagine! A romantic scene, a beautiful girl and a BOLT of lighting to illuminate just enough of her subtle curves to let you imagine the rest. Or perhaps something more dramatic where a lighting BOLT sets the scene ablaze.
19Misael Reyes says
This is great compact and powerful option for on-location portraits.
20Roy Barnes says
More and more I find myself not wanting to be
Yet another photographic jerk
And so it is that more and more I turn to the inspiration
Of the great Neil van Niekerk
Because of him and only him
My work has come to shine
As though he’s shone a speedlight
On the creativity of mine
His techniques still shine the way
His teaching is the best
And while the internet is replete with imitations
He’s a a cut above the rest
And while I’d love the Bolt Barebulb Flash
I’d settle for the book
Cause either would assist me
With mastering that special look.
My daughter/model thanks you Neil
For giving me the ability
To exemplify her beauty
With a tad humility!
Knocks me out. That was great!! :)
21Scott Tibbles says
Upcoming Tune-Up for Mini Van – $500.00
New Prescription Glasses so I can see what I’m doing – $500.00
Hoping to upgrade to Nikon D750 in the Spring – $2300.00
Winning a “Free” VB-22 Bolt Flash, because I’ll be broke by then, from Neil – PRICELESS
22Jay Loden says
Very happy to see my favorite retailer B&H selling these now (Adorama also sells them under the FlashPoint Streaklight brand name). I have the Godox branded version I bought direct from China, but buying them from a vendor overseas means there’s no effective warranty support or quickly available replacement parts.
Neil, I’m sure others may point this out but there are a number of HSS options for triggering these flashes too, no need to wait for a new trigger to hit market! For example I use my AD-360 with a Yongnuo YN-622N trigger and it works excellently in HSS. In fact, if you have the Godox FT-16 trigger/receiver kit (being marketed at B&H under the name “Impact ControlSync 16” – http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1080465-REG/impact_controlsync_16_transmitter_and.html ), then you can fire *all* lights associated with that transmitter in HSS mode by attaching the the FT-16 transmitter to the YN-622 trigger’s hotshoe. Other HSS compatible radio triggers will reportedly also work, but the only one I have direct experience with is the YN-622. Even though it’s a manual flash, the Godox/Bolt light just needs to get the early fire signal from a TTL/HSS compatible radio trigger in order to send it into HSS mode.
Oh and one other awesome feature – the battery pack from this flash can be hooked up to a speedlight (Canon or Nikon) with an appropriate adapter cable. Cuts the recycle times from 4s for an SB800 to around 1s when used with a doubler cable to hook it to both ports, and it’ll last all day even under heavy use.
These flashes are great for portable, powerful lights. I’ve used mine so far for fill flash at the finish line of a 5k race (thousands of low power pops all day), a day of Christmas portraits, a couple studio shoots, and miscellaneous other portrait shoots… and I’ve yet to actually kill the battery. Pretty incredible battery life when you’re used to AA speedlights. I’ve even used one of these to light a large group portrait by just bouncing it at full power off a wall and ceiling, which would have taken about 4 speedlights otherwise.
Jay, I have 2 of the adorama streaklights and I love them! while i dont need the HSS often I have tested the HSS function with my youngnou 622c on my D810, it works but i always have a small strip on the bottom of the frame that isnt illuminated..
I would absolutely love to win the flash and would be ecstatic, I’d use it in conjunction with a Profoto Compact 600 and a Vagabond pack to take my outdoor environmental portraits to higher level. My fill light is generally a Nikon SB900, so roughly one third the power of the Bolt VB-22’s output and even less with a modifier attached. It would also be a great help to my wedding photography shoots in lighting a large church or reception. I’ve been following Tangents since about 2009 and appreciate you freely sharing your knowledge. Please find a link to some of my work on Flickr.
24Mary Kelley says
I would love to have this unit! I am hoping to turn my basement into a studio in the near future. Although it is a walkout, the stairs and sliding glass doors are tucked all the way into the corner and sit below ground so there is very little light that gets through. I had to retire from my job as a nurse because I was disabled with Lupus 3 1/2 years ago. Although I have taken a handful of classes when I could, I am pretty much doing self learning. Photography has become my therapy of sorts (physically, mentally and emotionally). Unfortunately, with lupus we are supposed to stay away from the sun as much as possible and when we do go out we need to be covered completely and slathered in oily suntan lotion! These conditions really limit my ability when trying to get great outside pictures during the day (not to mention, the lotion really messes up my equipment. Thus, the decision for my inside studio. I’m not giving up, I just want to gear my passion towards inside photographs and portraits. I don’t have a website as of yet, since I’m really just starting out. How awesome it would be to start out with awesome equipment!
25Chris Matthews says
I would use the greater power of the Bolt VB-22 to step outside of my home studio comfort zone and move up to on location portraiture. I’ll be studying your Off-Camera Flash Techniques book and attempting to replicate your great work (with lesser expectations!)
In addition, I would use the Bolt in my studio to get more creative with my portraits under controlled conditions, and as a learning tool for my 11 year old son. The more he and I learn about light together, the better our results will be. It would be exciting to attempt to exact full use from such a powerful flash. I would predict a great many high key shots!
Thanks for running this contest and sharing so much on your blog. –Chris
First off, thanks for your support through your knowledge share – blog, book, videos. Amazingly helpful.
How will this be helpful?
It adds lot of freedom. Freedom in turn frees your mind a bit more to focus a bit more on creative aspect. And there is always more to create. You can still pack compact but don’t have to make same level of compromise on freedom of choices as you do with a speedlight.
Above all, more power to do one important thing – which is to capture amazing beauty in people and more power to transcend on beauty that is hard to perceive in words but sits in all its amazing glory on my picture. And the bonus joy of watching the reaction from people affected (not just the subject but family etc.). Amazing Glory…
Thanks for the opportunity to go little reckless :)
With a guide number like that and a useful battery pack, the possibilities are genuinely endless.
A lot of my photography is focused on impromptu portraits on the street, using flash. An HSS flash like this would fill a reflective umbrella (I use a normal rain-umbrella with a silver side on the inside, usually on a cable) and let me shoot at any time of the day with very good control over depth of field.
I also shoot weddings, and once again a barebulb flash opens up creative possibilities immensely – especially in backlit photos with a bit of reflection throwing the light back in (something like a Lastolite tri-grip on a boom arm). I can also see use for the stroboscopic effect (if you can control the cycle frequency) in dance portraiture.
On another note, Neil, the window in the background looks really, really good, too =D
As I’m in the UK I don’t have a chance winning the flash, but to be honest I’d like to learn more about using flash first, so the book would be the top prize for me. I already feel like I win every time I visit Neil’s website anyway because I learn so much each time, not just from a new post on his amazing blog but from re-visiting past posts and from the Tangent. If I ever struggle with lighting this is my first port of call. Thank you Neil.
And if you don’t think I need help just look at my images! http://www.chesterphotography.co.uk
30Nuno Figueiredo says
Thank you for the article, very usefull as always.
This flash would be great as it’s more powerfull than a Speedlight and because i do a lot of session at the beach with sun sometimes stronger than i want it can overpower it. Also great during those time of days when it’s too much sun outside and you need to photography the guests with B&G.
Life would be easier.
31Nick C says
Well, I can’t compete against the prose of Mr. Barnes (#20 – well done), but I’ll toss my hat into the ring for a copy of Creative Flash Photography. Thanks!
Recently I shot a wedding where outside the town hall I had to take a group picture of about 40 to 50 people overpowering the sun… Not an easy task, even with multiple speedlights and umbrellas. I haven’t tried this yet but I think a couple of these using umbrellas could have made it a lot easier, especially since I had to spend a lot of time organizing people for the picture. Thanks!
33Alison Carlino says
So I have been using Profoto D1Air 500 watt heads for several years now for my wedding and fashion work. Because of my back surgery about five years ago, I knew there would come a time when I wouldn’t be able to carry the stand, head, beauty dish, and portable battery pack around anymore. Last fall I started playing with the idea of using 5-6 Canon 600 speedlights to equal just one of my Profotos due to the speedlights being lighter weight. I am still not happy with the results because I used to a more powerful system. The Bare bulbs would be a great mid ground and I am super anxious to see if they can create my style… bold colors, dramatic lighting. I sure would like the chance! Thanks for offering.
I could really use the Bolt unit for formals in a church for shooting the formals if the church had dark or wooden walls and ceilings.
I would love to finally be able to break out of an AC-power limited environment and bring powerful lights outside. I have been wanting to try to photograph the children softball teams portrait picture and needed something small, yet powerful and battery operated for the individual shots.
I teach photo classes to photo, reporting, PR and advertising students, and we hardly have any money for gear. Plus, we’re looking at a 13% budget cut. So this would be a great item to have in our studio because so many different students would be able to use this for their portrait and still life assignments.
I’d love to finally have the motion-stopping flash power to not have to try to gang two speed lights. I love my 5-tube continuous fluorescent light, but it’s just not bright enough for fast shutter speeds. Very cool prize!
Right now I don’t have an external flash and I refuse to use my camera flash unless it is absolutely necessary. I have wanted to get an off camera flash for a few years now but just haven’t had the money to invest in one. I love shooting concerts and just outside in general. My photography is limited because I can’t use a flash. I did a photo shoot with a friend and it just got so dark that nearly all of the light was added in post and its just not the same. I would love to be able to shoot a larger library but I can’t without at light. Here are some of the shots I’ve taken over the last few years: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cander90/
39Kathy Beach says
Hi! Boy would I love to have that Bolt VB-22 flash. My husband and I are a team who specializes in the increasingly popular small weddings and elopements. My husband officiates and I am the photographer. After the ceremony, he joins me with a camera. He has the Nikon D700 and I have the D7000. As any photography does, I constantly look for the good light. Our weddings are sometimes at a beach or other outdoor venues. I am not just interested in capturing the moment at these little weddings, but I always try my best to get beautiful portraits of the bride or of the couple. I aim for studio quality portraits with our less than perfect “studio” in the outdoor elements. Either the sun is too bright with sand reflecting more light, or the sun is going down after the ceremony and I still want that Wow portrait. With the Bolt VB-22 I think I can get just the look I am after. I would be so excited to be able to provide my clients with the beautifully lit portrait that would be possible with this flash. Our wedding business, Weddings With a Heart consists of just the two of us. We have to get all of our shots in a time span of an hour. This includes 15 or 20 minutes of the ceremony and then about 45 minutes of fun and romantic photography after the ceremony. We need to get the shot in this time. There is no “later”, since we usually do not go to receptions. Sometimes it is a struggle when the skies are becoming dark with clouds and the sun is going down. I want to provide my clients with studio quality lighting right there on the beach.
I’d use it to fill a large softligher or a PCB parabolic umbrella…seems perfect for it…
41Valent Lau says
I’m building a cyc wall in a smallish space (3x6m) and was going to do it grey instead of white. What shade of grey would you suggest so I can easily go to black or white with speedlights to start with then bigger lights later?
i used 2 of these during the recent snowmaggedon Blizzard….. i wanted to shoot first responders who were pulling all night shifts for epic portraits….. unfortunately they all canceled on me, so all i am left with is my test shots and a shot of my brother.
the setup was:
1 bare in reflector (under clear garbage bag) roughly 10 feet behind me, pointed 45 degrees upwards
1 into a pop-up softbox mounted in the awning above camera and to the side, and camera on tripod about 10 feet away
I would LOVE to win another one!
43Scott Thomason says
I would use it as a main light for a series on fitness I’m working on at my workplace. We’re a bunch of engineers, so having a sedentary lifestyle is WAY too easy. I’ve got a bunch of people together to do a photo essay on their health improvements and their lifestyle changes to maintain good health, given our sitting-all-day type of work. I’ve only got 1 decent speedlight, but I’ve got a few umbrellas and one softbox. I had to borrow flashes from some friends but they were not really bright enough to light the space adequately. With this type of light I can probably do whatever my imagination will allow – I’ll need enough light to freeze action for moving figures in a large space, but still be easily portable to work with my speedlight-size light modifiers. I’m also trying to get into some event and portrait photography in my town to earn enough to pay for the next lenses and photo trips, and this light would really help that endeavor.
I’m entering more so for 2nd prize since I don’t live in the continental US T_T I would totally like to use it for more out door shoots since 1 flash isn’t enough over powering the sun.
45Tony Benson says
What I would do if I won this Bolt flash is to use it on my wife. You see my wife is my model who I use to practice with any new techniques or newly aquired gear. She finally stopped resisting and even strikes a few good poses once in a while but man does she makes me work for them and you gotta be fast to catch them – so its real good practice.
My only transport is my Harley Davidson motorbike so I have been putting together a more compact camera system which I can carry on my bike. I downsized from my Nikon gear which was too heavy and so now have my new Fuji X-T1 with 3 lenses and my Fuji X100 both of which I absolutely love for their stunning image and low light qualities. All thats missing is that powerful little Bolt flash and I have myself a real compact mobile studio on a motortbike. My speedlights just dont always have enough power to light the scene and on street photography at night you dont have time to set up several strobes – you need one that will do the job no matter the circumstance. I had already settled on the Godox 360 and was busy saving my pennies for this when your newsletter and contest came along!
I have often riden to downtown LA after work at night, found some strangers, talked my way into doing a photo shoot of them, had a blast doing so and watch them losen up, change demeanor and brighten up when I show them the images. Almost always they want me to send them the images and I do. I dont charge for the images as the pay is that exhilarated feeling you get doing a photo shoot and meeting people you know nothing about and then hearing some of their amazing life stories. And as a result i get to capture some very satisfying shots. I go home answer up to my wife for being late (actually not true – she knows me so well and knows that I go walkabouts with my camera and laughs about it). Somehow time seems to stand still when your trying to capture the moment or create the image you really want. Several minutes can easily turn into half an hour or more …… and… more explaining to the wife to do.
I think people should get out and start talking to people more often, you soon find yourself pretty cheery if you do so. Photography is a wonderful means of breaking down the communication barriers. Im a 55 year old white Australian living in LA but I gotta say that many of my street photos are of black people because they are often so much easier to strike up a conversation with as a total stranger. Im not saying that to offend anyone but its just an observation.
So what this Bolt system represents to me is the last item to complete a compact mobile studio. And that equates to meeting new strangers who I get the chance to empower a little happiness into their lives through photography, meet some interesting people and hear some more wonderful life stories.
Keep the Tangents newsletters coming – I always learn something more from studying the articles. And thanks for the change to win some really good lighting gear. Keep up the good work.
P.S. I dont have a website and while I’d love to share a few street images I cant figure out how to add them into this damn little box Im typing in.
I have been using my two speedlights for portraits, one for bouncing and one for rim light. With a powerful VB-22 I plan to use it with an umbrella or soft box as main light and use the other speedlights for rim light and other effects. So far I am not able to get a decent rim light with just one speedlight.
Winning the Bolt will make my setup complete.
If I won one of these I’d go along to the meatpacking district with a model friend and hide somewhere. Then, when Neil came along we’d jump out and do exactly the same photo shoot and compare our results with Neil’s when they appear on the Tangents blog.
48bill hanley says
I’m going today for an MRI to determine the next step in getting my spinal stenosis improved so I can continue my hobby of the last forty years.
Rather than give up photography I have created a MicroStudio in my den with a backdrop and some old strobes. I will still, I hope, be able to do some portraits and nudes in the space provided. The space is barely ten by ten feet but it will afford me the room I need to do some intimate portraiture.
I plan to use an old Sunpak flash in various modifiers. The Boldt unit would make a higher quality lighting available. I am laughingly planning to call my blog The Semi-mobile photographer.
49Bruce B says
Always excellent & inspiring information on the tangents blog!
If I won this Bolt unit it would allow me to pass on some of my older gear to a local photog I’ve been mentoring.
50Corey Bell says
For years I have been flashing. As I look back it has been 35 years of flashing for me. I started as a senior in High School, and have never looked back. My father introduced me to flashing in his spare time, between the two jobs he had. I guess you can call me a second generation flasher.
The first time I flashed is one that will never be forgotten, as is for many flashers, the need to flash again boils in your veins, and you all know the funny or strange looks you get, hard to accept at first, however you do get used to it over time. Some even go as far and laugh at you, but I decided at that young awkward age to stick with it and use my growing flashing skills to be one of the best flashers around.
Fast forward some 35 years and I am proud to say that after close to 200,000 flashes I am still going strong. I do still get laughed at, teased, and made fun of for flashing, however I will not let all the ridicule get me down or hinder my flashing obsession. I have been quite fortunate to flash in many different countries, beaches, restaurants, street corners, sporting events, weddings, and even scuba diving! Sometimes I even flash my wife and kids and now with two grandchildren have been busy flashing them as well.
In closing I would like to say that if I were to be chosen as a winner of this contest, for the Bolt VB-22 bare-bulb flash, I know it would greatly improve my flashing skills and help me take my flashing to a new level. I would even be happy to come and visit and show you some of my flashing techniques that I have learned over the years. We could even spend the day together flashing each other to hone our skills and share our flashing experiences with the younger generation so it will not become a soon forgotten, laid to rest, never spoken of, dying art.
I have taught my own son how to be a good flasher, and hope many of you are teaching your young ones to be good flasher also.
Sincerely Corey Bell
51John Mattson says
Ahhh so many uses for a speedlight with 2 extra stops of power! I do a lot of studio photography where I mainly use PCB Einsteins, and use them outdoors with them as well to over power the sun. It can be a bit excessive, but fun!
I generally use a variable ND filter with the Einsteins to control the ambient, but have wanted to get into using speedlites and HSS lately. Not only for the ease of shooting but just the amount of gear that I have to carry around. I could definitely see me using this at weddings as well!
Here are my website and facebook page:
Thanks for all the info and inspiration, keep up the great work!
52George Warren says
Most of my photography is dealing with sports, and I could use this flash when dealing with outdoor events. Thanks for your consideration.
This flash not only would increase outdoor flexibility, but it could replace some of my studio lights – adding more mobility. It would also be a great addition for OCF at weddings.
54Deon Maartens says
Neil thanks for all you have shared with us over the years , much appreciated.
55Gonzalo Bunag says
I would use this for events and portraits. One way I would use this is to use the bare bulb to bounce light all around a room. I will flag the bulb so that the light doesn’t travel forward.
56Joe Morris says
I would love this flash because I am in position to make really good use of it. Unfortunately I live across the pond so can not win it.
Just to say I love your website and learnt so much from it.
57Mike Perrino says
The Bolt puts me in mind of the old saying about have/need. In the case of the Bolt, it’s always better to have more light and not need it, than to need more light and not have it. I’m working toward finalizing my website and am shooting mostly environmental portraits to include on it. Extra light is always welcome, especially in this context.
Thanks for this opportunity, and for Tangents.
58Molly M says
I would love to have this flash. I’m really into experimental portrait photography and I recently did a shoot for handbags in an old mill. This flash would have created awesome dramatic flash that I was wanting that day. If I had this flash I’d be able to use the extra power to make my portraits more dynamic.
I own all of your books and watch your videos religiously. Other than practice, you have had the greatest influence on my flash photography. Thank you for sharing all that you do!
60Karri Hodges says
So, I don’t have enough drama in my life. Drama-tic lighting, that is!!! Bring it on – would love to win the light and stroke it, caress it and have a pet name for it. The light will reign among my speedlights and wear a crown. Come to mama, little Bolt!!!
61Corey Ann says
::puts on tophat::
*please sing to yourself in your best Barry Manilow*
Formals, we got formals! *yeah!*
This would be so awesome for formals!
Light and easy,
this would make light so breezy!
No more shadows on Nanny’s face,
No more MOB’s saying this photographer is a disgrace!
::kickline in a chain::
Give me the bolt,
so I stop looking like a dolt!!
**bits may have been exaggerated to make the song more fun**
62Sue McFarland says
I am trying to put together a studio and lighting is my next big thing. I have used my speedlights exclusively and this Bolt light looks like it would be a great addition! Love the books and I have learned a lot from your FB posts and Tangents blog!! Thanks for the opportunity to win!!
63Demecio Sandoval says
With this awesome flash the heavens would shine down on me and give me the powers of the Neil. I will create awesome photos with just a thought. I will have models, brides, kids and even babies picking up the phone (in my dreams babies can use a smart phone) to call me to take their awesome portraits. I’ll use a nice big umbrella to over power the sun then ill position it just right then ill break open Neil’s book on off camera lighting and read a little more (all the while the model will be patiently waiting) then ill take the picture. That’s how it will go down once I win that flash although hopefully I don’t need the last minute read from Neil’s very great book which I’ve recommended to everyone I know even if they only take photos with their smart phone.
64Jim Buckley LSIFGP says
Not eligible for the Bolt VB22, even though I’d love it! I do most of my portrait, fashion and glamour work with off camera speedlights so this would fit in really well and extend what I already do. Oh well, hopefully I’ll be lucky and win a copy of Tilo Gockel’s book :)
Wow, I actually saw this in B&H the other day, and I was very much interested in it cuz my kit is one light, I like the creative aspects of using one light doors, and as of now am using a canon 430exii so this will be perfect for my creative adventure!
Seems like a great flash, will absolutely look into it. Definitely a set up from my Yongnuo 560.
Hi again Neil
As I’ve learnt everything I know from oncamera flash techniques from you, and as I look up to you and your blog, it would be an honor to receive the guidebook from you personally! That is if the lucky number is the devious 69, of course ????
Thx anyways for the blogging, guru!
Neil, thanks for your site and the incredible amount of rich information on photography especially flash!! I am learning but passionate about creating great images. I was recently asked by a friend to do some ‘fashion’ photography, a new style and field for me! The first shoot was fun, but made me realise i have a lot to learn! Well, right on your site is so much of the mystery explained. I would love to be in the running for your book prize. Thankyou for giving your knowledge to many! Regards
I would love to win this. I am hoping to make my photography stand out and not be limited to “natural light” photography by blending in artificial light more effectively. It would be great to have more options on location to accomplish this goal. Thanks so much for your blog and your books – have learned so much from them. And I’m not just saying that to boost my chances to win:).
70Kent DuFault says
If I won the Bolt flash, I would use it to conquer the world! No, I’m just kidding. At the moment, I currently own only one Canon 580 EX ii flash unit. While it is a beloved instrument of photographic opportunity- let’s face it- it’s no Bolt VB-22! I would use this awesome technological wonder to expand my horizons and set my photographic foot where it has never set before… (fade down the Star Trek theme music). I would also like more opportunity to photograph in dark castles, rain forests, and ice caves. This little wonder would be just the ticket. Pick me please!!!!!!……..
Above is an example of my work, a light-painted Viper GTSR shot in near total darkness using a single sb-80dx. With the camera on a tripod and me moving the light from one position to the next, these shots are captured on multiple frames using radio triggers and then combined in Photoshop. A typical image will be made up of 20 to 50 frames or more, depending on various factors — such as how much of the background is being lit.
I sometimes use two sb-80 flashes in tandem to enhance my ability to gain either distance from the subject or aperture flexibility. Syncing two speedlights is not difficult but it’s not without occasional issues either. Misfires happen. Batteries sometimes fail faster in one flash than the other for whatever reason. Having a small, powerful flash such as the Bolt would make my life simpler by removing a layer of complexity and letting me concentrate more on the process of making photographs and worrying a bit less about the gear.
Thanks for your consideration,
72Patrick Sullivan says
I’d use this flash (with a modifier or two) to learn studio lighting. I’d also give it a try for the product photography I do, something that my speedlites don’t seem quite up to. It would be sweet to have.
73gene tewksbury says
I am a pet photographer. That means my subjects are always outside, often in bright sunlight and often the shots include “action shots”. While I’ve managed to squeak by with my basic speedlight units I’ve missed way to many perfect photographs because I just couldn’t pump out enough power to either overcome the dynamic range of the sun or to freeze my subject. Additionally sometimes my subjects are quite large (think horses) which makes evenly lighting the entire subject difficult with my small lights. A More powerful light would allow me to use a larger umbrella for truly lovely equestrian photos.
I want to produce better work for my clients, but this is a tough niche to make a living. Maybe you’d be so kind as to help me out with this game changing piece of equipment.
74John Ledyard says
I am amazed how powerful they are and they would be perfect set up for beach photo shoots in the middle of the day.
75Mary Robinson says
This would be wonderful for location shoots, I currently use speedlights when I am shooting out and about. And the speedlights don’t always have the reach needed. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, I have learned so much through subscribing to Tangents.
76Lane Anderson says
To paraphrase an army ranger who once said that there were few problems in this world that could not be solved by the judicious use of high explosives, there are a lot of problems in photographic lighting that can be solved by the judicious use of high power photons.
My photography doesn’t fit a specific category. It covers shooting individuals and groups outside in harsh sunlight when no other choice is available, to shooting wedding receptions in poorly lit, cavernous venues. Not having the spare cash to buy the new profoto ttl lights, I stick to my sb800’s and sb900. The addition of the Boltvb22 would go a long way to squeezing out that extra stop or two without having to raise my iso to the noisy level. Although I shoot with a Nikon d7100 with very good low light capabilities, anything I can do to keep the iso lower is a good thing. I can promise that the vb22 would find a good home here and be well taken care of.
77Richard Carter says
Photography has been a journey for me. As I watched other photographers like yourself post such beautiful images, I almost felt as though I could never create such a wonderful body of work. For a long-time the fundamentals of lighting eluded me. I would read the articles you posted over and over again until I begin to grasp the concepts. If I were fortunate enough to receive this bare bulb flash, I feel it would allow me to move beyond the limits of my speed light and produce a broader body of work. I have been shooting natural light, in-expensive LED lights and flash. My desire is to grow in my abilities as a photographer and I feel this prize would open the door to a new world of lighting for me.
78Ari W. says
I would love to try using the Bolt VB-22 on location in Downeast of Maine. With its power, I should be able to place it farther back than my speedlights while shooting close to the water, keeping it out of the shots so I can show more of the wonderful rocky coast while providing flattering side light on my subject. I can visualize wonderful portraits in that unique setting. I hope you will let me take the VB-22 on a great photo road trip up north!
omg! I’d love to use the Bolt outside!!! It would be nice to have a flash that didn’t heat up so bad you thought it was going to melt!
I’m in love with the Bolt VB-22 flash, Ive been looking at these kinds of products for some time and so far the specs on this blow the others out of the park for the price!
81Andrew L says
The new flash seems to be a great option for pumping out more watt seconds during the triathlons I shoot. My SB-910 has a hard time shotting against the rising sun as they come out of the water for T1,requiring more post production than I would like. I would love to use it for the weddings and environmental portraits I do where my softlighter could really use the extra umpf when doing group shots. Lastly, my plan to shoot our triathlon team from a vehicle with fill flash while cycling presents the need for more power as well. Keeping my fingers crossed!
82Dustin Marmalich says
First off I would preface that one of the biggest problems we run into in wedding photography is equipment weight and ease of portability. Not only to and from the site but also moving from different places within the same venue. This has always been where the on camera speedlight shines. It’s quick, weighs very little, you can put it on a stand or leave it on camera, aim it anywhere you want and be ready to shoot in no time. However as you very well know, when shooting large venues and/or high ceilings using bounce flash to keep the light natural and open you rely on pushing your ISO and or opening more aperture. The end result at least for us tends to be more of both. The overall image result is pleasing to the eye as long as you don’t become too critical of grain, loss of detail, etc on larger prints or expanded digital images. The other thing is having more narrow depth of field secondary to the wide aperture. Narrow depth of field of course looks great and has it’s place. But what about when you have the bride and groom in the foreground and want to simultaneously capture the emotion of the family in the background? The answer of course is closing down the aperture and/or decreasing focal length and/or moving away from the subjects. A lot to think about in a couple of seconds? Of course! Having this new flash would obviously allow greater flexibility. It would allow me to lower the ISO a bit, close down the aperture or any variant of the two. This would allow for an amazing bump in creative liberty.
83Mike Yamin says
This is my third time submitting a comment! Maybe this different email will work?
Oh the things I could do with this flash, Neil! I’ve been shooting for quite a few years – portraits, food, products and now mainly weddings. What I’m having trouble with is bringing my knowledge of lighting to my wedding work. I’m feeling very limited by my current gear in terms of power and portability and have been looking for a light that would make logistical sense for my style of shooting. That darn money thing is an ever-present factor as well, so I think this VB-22 could really set me free for the 2015 wedding season to take my work to the next level. I submitted my site, but please check out this private page for some of my non-wedding work as well: http://www.mikeyamin.com/general
Thanks for your consideration!
Today, in my search in amazon for a good book about photography lightning i found and buy Direction & Quality of Light…Then my curiosity send me to your facebook page and blog…and obviously to the contest. I’m a beginer in portrait lightning, but i know that your book will increase my knowledge in this area. I hope i can win the contest book too!!!
85Justin Goodson says
No children, flashes, or ponies were harmed in the making of this post.
I specialize in location photography for portraits, seniors etc. I have been in this strobist movement for a while and I started out by lusting for armatar flashes (modified vivitar 283’s) But then, armatar’s and sunpak 120j’s were priced out of sight for a starting photographer. So I would read every post available about them and decided to purchase two broken armatars and build my own from various parts from ebay, radio shack and where ever I could get parts from. I successfully built several of them, but was never really happy about the size and sometimes unreliability of them.
Also, I was faced with the issue that they just weren’t powerful enough to use outside other than fill or main if under a structure or someplace with no direct sunlight. So, off again, I attempted to get sunpak 622’s with barebulb heads, but they were practically non-existent and were overpriced. So, again on the build it yourself train, I purchased four 622’s over a period of time trying to get things a cheap as possible, purchased 4 of the non-zoom heads and modded them to accept norman or lumedyne flashtubes. They work great, but the weight and finding carrying cases that are reasonable has been a hassle.
I have been following you for several years and I believe that you are the best in the business!! You have been practical in developing your style and gear and you had put it right out there!! I have your books and videos and all are excellent,
As you developed your gear style for what you do I have came to understand that you must always evolve first in mastering your craft and secondly getting the best gear possible that you can afford. Well, I have to admit that I have been lusting for the Godox, Cheetahstand, and flashpoint portable gear, as you well know they are pretty much the same except for being rebranded.
That Bolt has the power, functionality and confidence building that a photographer like myself needs, but can’t afford. I took me a long time to build the kit that I have currently, and It is all ancient in a sense, but does work. (2 canon 1d’s, 6 vivitar 283’s with varipower modules, 4 sunpak 622’s, various umbrellas and softboxes, lightstands and misc. I had been wanting to ebay all of the flashes, but I know that at best I probably would only get at best possibly enough to purchase one bolt kit and as you know you need at least three kits to be able to do location, studio and wedding work.
I really need and would use the bolt daily and know that one of the best gave me such an opportunity to receive, use and continue to follow his work and photographic theory on how to become a great photographer in this very competitive field. I see people popping up on facebook daily in my area trying to be photographers, but I know that it takes more that having a digital camera, photoshop and alot of actions to make you good. I want to be outstanding!!!!
87Neil vN says
This was a tough decision. There was such variety in replies, and several people who sounded deserving in having some new and bigger lighting gear.
I kept a tally of those that appealed to me, and then asked my cosmic photographer friend (and occasional assistant) for her opinion, and then checked carefully where our choices intersected.
Here are her comments:
I had to nix Roy Barnes who lives in Australia. Sorry bud!
Two entries I also heavily favored were by Justin Goodson who took real effort, and Terry. And in the end, the scales tipped towards Terry who then wins the flash!
Then the random number came up for entry #83 – Andrew, who wins a copy of “Creative Flash Photography”.
Justin’s reply (#87) was too good to not get recognition, so Justin also wins a copy of “Creative Flash Photography”.
Thank you everyone for chiming in and participating.
(In case someone stumbles on this post much later, and the entry numbers seem out of step, do keep in mind that subsequent comments may be nested, and will bump the numbering of other comments.)
We are all winners really though eh Neil.
I want to thank Neil and his assistant for choosing me as the winner of the Bolt Vb-22 flash kit. I was and still am very excited about winning and Neil sent the flash kit to me almost immediately! I did receive a little surprise in the package, there was a pocket wizard in the package with sync cord attached. I figured that someone might of put it in there by accident, so I contacted neil and he said that was correct. I need to get it back to him, have been very busy the past few days and testing and using my new flash.
The flash is a beast! and the battery pack is so lightweight that you might think that there wasn’t a battery in it at all. I’m not going to do some intensive review on the flash due to neil reviewing it and there is a lot of information on the net on the flash system. This baby will be getting a lot of use already ordered the FT-16 flash trigger for it. I have a Valentine’s party to photograph and can’t wait to use the unit.
As I stated in my previous post, I believe that Neil is one of the best sources of how to become a photographer, how to learn the process of actually taking photographs past the I got two or three nice pics out of fifty. If you go through his site from beginning to end and utilize his knowledge and techniques and persist in developing your skills, you will be on your way to the next level in photography. I just happened by his site a few years ago and I have not let go of it, it stays in my primary bookmarks and it is my go to resource for photographic knowledge.
Thanks Neil, and I will continue to follow your post and continue to refine my photographic skills.
And to add to all the 360w new power flashes Phottix announced Indra 360 with TTL and HSS like its bigger brother in April http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-indra-360-ttl-announced/