Looking for suggestions about twin flexible arms for flash

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MarkSturtevant
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Looking for suggestions about twin flexible arms for flash

Post by MarkSturtevant »

I am asking for a friend. Does anyone know of a suitable set of flexible
arms that can hold a pair of camera flashes? The basic idea might be
like this:
https://backdropoutlet.com/products/oct ... mera-sc261

Only...
I am a bit leery of these particular arms since they are described as being both extremely stiff but also prone to break (but does anyone know if either is true?)

The flash heads will NOT be like these full size ones. They are small flash heads that normally mount on the end of a macro lens (it will be the dual flash heads from Nikon). These are small and light

My friend wants to free the heads from the lens so he can switch out lenses without it being a big hastle. So mounting them on flexible arms seems a good idea.

Thank you for looking!
Mark Sturtevant
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RobertOToole
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Post by RobertOToole »

Hi Mark,

I do have some experience with this type of twin flexible bracket made in China.

Sample quality is all over the place with these. Some are usable, others are junk and break in your hand while using them in the field.

Also $39 is way too much, these are probably at least 50-80% cheaper buying them directly from China.

I wouldn't recommend this type of flash bracket to friends.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Robert

RobertOToole
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Post by RobertOToole »

Interesting...

Just checked, the same item is $22-23 on Amazon. That means cost is about $9-10 direct from china.

Best,

Robert

kaleun96
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Post by kaleun96 »

I was looking at the same item recently but I bought two of these for €56 each instead. Definitely expensive but I was hoping for good quality and something that will last a long time.
https://novoflexus.com/products/other-p ... marm-k.htm

To be honest, I'm a little underwhelmed. They don't hold their form as well as I would have liked and it's relatively difficult (requires two hands) to position them given this. With a Godox TT350, I can have them hold a 135 degree bend (measured from the external angle, so 45 degrees measuring the internal angle) but any slight movement back towards the 90 degree line and they will lose their form. They can really only keep a 90 degree bend with a normal amount of jostling.

They may be OK for the field, haven't tried yet, but likely better suited for studio work. One issue for studio work is you likely won't be able to get any extreme flash angles out of these arms, they'll only be good for normal flash positioning. You'd run the risk of the arm losing its form over time and moving the flash mid-stack. I had been using SmallRig MagicArms up until now but they're annoying to reposition on the fly. Though the Novoflex's are also heavier than both MagicArms and Gorillapod-style arms.
- Cam

MarkSturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

kaleun96 wrote:I was looking at the same item recently but I bought two of these for €56 each instead. Definitely expensive but I was hoping for good quality and something that will last a long time.
https://novoflexus.com/products/other-p ... marm-k.htm

To be honest, I'm a little underwhelmed...
I was hoping that sort of arm would work well, at least for holding a lightweight light. Probably not suited for problem-free positioning of a small flash with batteries in the flash, though.
Mark Sturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

Here is something I had tried, although it was mostly a failure. This is a twin LED light rig I had made to provide lighting while doing focus bracketing. It has some decent ideas in it, but the execution -- not so good.
The mount at the base is a cold shoe. The problem with this one is the little ball clamp can't hold the weight of the rig hanging out in front. It is not nearly robust enough, so it will droop down very quickly.
I thought the arms would be a good idea. This is actually one of those 'gorillapod' tripods. You can de-couple a leg, and use the balls of that leg to extend the length of the other two legs. Problem here is that a joint or two has gone loose, possibly b/c of a tiny fracture. So one of the arms won't hold the weight of the light on its end.
The lights themselves are relatively problem free. These are from a pair of LED bicycle headlights attached to the ends of the arms with some sheet metal screws. The batteries are in packs that are attached on the arms, so the LED lights are very light. Image
Mark Sturtevant
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Post by Chris S. »

Sample quality is all over the place with these. Some are usable, others are junk and break in your hand while using them in the field.
With no-name parts, this is unsurprising.

On the other hand, I'd expect consistency if making something similar out of name-brand parts such as Loc-Line. I haven't had a chance to try them, though.

--Chris S.

dickb
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Post by dickb »

I've used some original Loc Line and a Gorillapod copy tripod for similar purposes.

The Gorillapod copy snaps easily into its separate elements, which is sometimes nice and practical, but often not. Long arms made out of this hold very little weight steadily, but the individual elements can move in a large arc, making positioning easy. For stiffer movement I coated the matching surfaces with a bit of glue, making the connection much grippier. I now use a few of these elements at the end of stiffer joints for the best compromise between easy adjustment and rigidity.

The locline version I used most is the larger 3/4 variant. Still quite lightweight, the individual elements have a much smaller arc of movement, so you need a larger number of elements to make a bend. These elements are hollow and have quite a large inner diameter ( their other purpose is for delivering coolant in machining setups and as a flexible pipe in aquariums) so if you have cables you could route them internally. Also Adam Savafe from Mythbusters and Tested uses this to hold his workbench LEDs and reinforces these with a flexible metal thing inside.

The smaller 1/2 variant may be a better match for macro purposes, having a greater arc than the 3/4 version. I haven't that yet though.

The tricky bit is the two partly contradicting properties you are looking for, a rigid setup that is easy to adjust. All the plastic solutions I have tried are easy to adjust but not that rigid, they tend to settle a bit after you adjust them and can flop when the whole system is moved quickly.

kaleun96
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Post by kaleun96 »

MarkSturtevant wrote:
kaleun96 wrote:I was looking at the same item recently but I bought two of these for €56 each instead. Definitely expensive but I was hoping for good quality and something that will last a long time.
https://novoflexus.com/products/other-p ... marm-k.htm

To be honest, I'm a little underwhelmed...
I was hoping that sort of arm would work well, at least for holding a lightweight light. Probably not suited for problem-free positioning of a small flash with batteries in the flash, though.
I can take a video for you once my Customs Brackets flash bracket arrives. My hope is I can use one of these arms with the TT350 flash for field macro. In that situation I don't need any difficult angles so hopefully the arm is steady enough.
- Cam

RobertOToole
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Post by RobertOToole »

Chris S. wrote:
Sample quality is all over the place with these. Some are usable, others are junk and break in your hand while using them in the field.
With no-name parts, this is unsurprising.
The problem is that sometimes you can't tell what you have with so many knockoffs around, especially on Amazon!

Famous brand label doesn't always guarantee the best performance even when its genuine.

Nikon, for just one example?

The rear of my D810 pentaprism housing, where the eyepiece mounts, failed on three separate shooting trips. The aluminum failed, mostly due to cold I assume. The fastener held but the little tab that held the fastener failed, rendering the camera unusable each time.

Each time I would take it to Nikon, the rep would look at the open pentaprism, you can see all the folded PCB exposed, and write "warranty" across the NPS repair order, no questions asked.

They service tech wouldn't admit anything but it was a simple design flaw.

When the D850 came out and I took delivery of one, I checked, they added as second tab and a second fastener to the rear section of the pentaprism housing. Fixed.

And that's Nikon!

When I worked in the automotive industry and worked with the OEM manufactures everyday, the engineers with companies that supplied the parts for BMW, MB, Porsche, Toyota, Mazda, you name it. We would sit back and laugh at all the stories of screw-ups, blunders and failures with designs with all of them. Even Honda the most conservative and reliable had issues with parts failures.

On the other hand, I'd expect consistency if making something similar out of name-brand parts such as Loc-Line. I haven't had a chance to try them, though.

--Chris S.


Problem with Loc-Line? They are a bad choice for a flash arm since they can't support weight rotationally. The segment will just spin in place.

They were designed to carry only the weight of fluid passing through the segments.

The Chinese designs would include a flexible metal rod inside the plastic flex joints to support the weight of the flash. The problem was the poor quality control.

Sorry for the long reply!

Best,

Robert

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Post by MarkSturtevant »

This discussion has been very useful, not only for helping to direct efforts toward having a dual arm device for flash heads mentioned at the start, but also for my own scheme of having a dual arm system to hold LED lights.
Over this time I have done some more perusing of the internet, and found what look like successful commercial designs:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4191675
A similar one that someone made:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmKms6po5NA

https://www.nickybay.com/2018/02/meike- ... -r1c1.html
That one is here:
https://www.macrodojo.com/product/fotop ... s-bracket/

And similarly:
https://www.shutterbug.com/content/test ... sh-bracket

And finally:
https://owlbracket.com
https://www.photomed.net/r2_dpfb.htm

And so on. These are generally rather expensive, though the one shown by Nicky Bay is not that bad. What is shared by these designs is that the armatures are generally rigid over much of their length, especially at the camera body where strain is greatest, and many other joints are restricted to only horizontal action which is a good thing in that they can not droop by weight. The one shown by Nicky Bay and the similar Strobe System one are my favorite designs since they have a short set of ball joints on the end, so one can have more control in the direction of the light.
I would like to try to make one like those with some elbowed camera brackets and some Loc Line tubes for the flexible ends. It is noted By Robert that the flaw with those is they are not good for rotation. So one should come up with a joint, maybe between the Loc Line and the light, which enables rotation. I am leery of those ball clamp joints like I tried with my dual arm. I don't know if any of those are any good.
Mark Sturtevant
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RobertOToole
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Post by RobertOToole »

Hi Mark,

Hard to beat a QR clamp, plate, and an generic articulating arm with a cold shoe at the end and a wireless controller.

The arm is $10-15 or $50 for a Bogen fluid arm. Clamp and plate are $5 each. Stable, solid and flexible and re-configurable.

Just use a larger bracket and another arm for a twin flash.

Hard to go wrong with the setup.

Best,

Robert


Arm (fluid control):


Image

Clamp bracket:

Image

kaleun96
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Post by kaleun96 »

I wonder if the flex and play in the mechanics of gorillapod arms and goosenecks help stop them from unthreading compared to rigid Magic/articulating arms. That's always been a problem for me in the field with them, even when mounted vertically, it only takes a small bit of sideways movement with a flash on the end to cause the arm to unthread.
- Cam

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Post by MarkSturtevant »

RobertOToole wrote: Hard to beat a QR clamp, plate, and an generic articulating arm with a cold shoe at the end and a wireless controller.
The arm is $10-15 or $50 for a Bogen fluid arm. Clamp and plate are $5 each. Stable, solid and flexible and re-configurable.
Just use a larger bracket and another arm for a twin flash.
Thank you. Maybe magic arms, but those might or might not take the weight. The Manfrotto variable friction arms seem to be in the $100 range and above and I would need two of them.
Mark Sturtevant
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RobertOToole
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Post by RobertOToole »

MarkSturtevant wrote: Thank you. Maybe magic arms, but those might or might not take the weight. The Manfrotto variable friction arms seem to be in the $100 range and above and I would need two of them.
I posted the wrong arm, this is the correct unit, the 819.

Manfrotto rates the arm for a 3 kg payload and I can tell you when you lock it, its locked.

It's hydrostatic, uses fluid pressure to dampening movement and locking.

Looks like its discontinued, but you can find them used.


Image

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