If you are a portrait photographer, you will probably have a reflector in your camera bag.
In my camera bag, I normally have a collapsable circular reflector. It’s a medium size one with 4 different surface: Gold, Silver, White and Black.
If you have not used a reflector before, here is a quick summary of what the different colours are for:
– White reflector gives you soft netural reflection
– Silver creates a stronger reflection and can be used to create a high contrast look
– Gold is similar to silver but creates a warm golden tone to liven up the skin tone of your model
– Black is not really a reflector, it’s more or less a light subtractor as your reflector will become a light shield instead.
For me I use the white and silver reflector surface the most. Sometimes i use the gold one to warm up my model’s skin tone a little bit. But quite often i have the problem when the silver is too reflective or gold is just too gold. I want something that is half silver half white, or maybe half gold half white as the pure silver or gold reflector just doesn’t look natural enough.
Another problem with my circular reflector is that it’s impossible to hold it myself when I’m shooting photos. I need someone to hold the reflector for me. This is okay when i have an assistant but the problem is I don’t always have an assistant with me at every photoshoot.
I remember seeing Joe McNally (www.joemcnally.com) uses the Lastolite Triflip (trigrip) in some of his books and videos. The Triflip is basically a triangle shape reflector/diffuser with a handle at one end so the photographer can hold the camera with one hand and hold the Triflip with the other hand.
The Triflip comes in three different sizes: 18″, 30″ and 48″.
Personally I found the 48″ one just a bit too large and the 18″ too small and only useful for close up shots, so I like the medium size 30″ one the most.
And Lastolite is also selling something called “Lastolite Professional Triflip 8:1 Deluxe Kit” which includes not only the Triflip but also some useful accessories.
The Lastolite Professional Triflip 8:1 Deluxe Kit contains:
1 x 30” TriGrip 2 stop diffuser
1 x Set of TriFlip covers containing 7 different surface: white, silver, softsilver, gold, sunlite and sunfire reflective surfaces as well as a black surface.
1 x Air Cushioned Lighting Stand
1 x TriGrip Bracket
1 x Carry Case with shoulder strap.
Pretty much everything you’ll need are included in this kit.
I contacted the NZ Lastolite distributor Focal Holdings and after a quick trip to their Auckland office I came back with a nice blue Lastolite bag.
My first impression of the Triflip is, I can easily feel the difference between the Triflip and the cheap unbranded reflectors. The Triflip is made of high quality material. While so far I have only used it for about 2 months, i believe I will be using this kit for a long long time.
Apart from the build quality, the main difference between the Triflip and other generic reflector is it’s triangle shape design and the handle at one hand. With this handle, I can hold the Triflip reflector comfortably with one hand while my other hand is holding the camera.
Or if you got 2 triflip, then one can be held in each hand by an assistant to have more control and create some more creative results.
There are a total of 7 different reflector surface comes with this kit: the basic white, black, gold and silver. And there are three more that is a mix of white, silver and gold. The different surfaces allow you to fine tune the reflected colour and strength easily.
The lightstand can fit inside the supplied carry case. But while it’s quite compact when collapsed, it can actually be extend up to over 3 meter tall (312cm exactly)! Just like the Triflip, the air cushioned lightstand is also a very good quality one. It is a lot stronger and better construction then the other light stands I got of similar size.
The kit comes with a set of brackets so you can mount the triflip on a lightstand.
The Triflip can be mounted onto the supplied lightstand easily and quickly. And you can adjust the angle of the triflip reflector easily using the adjustable ball joint bracket.
The brackets not only allows you to mount the Triflip, you can also mount a speedlight and turn it into a active light source when there is not enough ambient light for reflection or when you want to give a bit more light power to your reflector. Out of the box (or bag), you can mount only 1 speedlight onto the bracket. But you can easily modify it to take 2 or even more speedlights if you want to have more firepower.
The only major problem I found with the kit is that the lightstand can get blown over easily when it is used on a windy outdoor day. But to be fair, this is a common problem for pretty much any medium to large size light reflector or modifier such as umbrella or softbox. At least the Triflip itself is flexible and will deflect a bit of wind. If you really want to use it on a windy day, make sure you bring a few sandbags or find someone to hold the lightstand.
But on a normal day or when used indoor, then the lightstand + adjustable bracket combo works perfectly.
Yes indoor, the Triflip works very well indoor especially when you are inside a tiny room and you don’t have space or time for the bigger lighting/reflector gears. You can just hold the triflip one hand and take photo with the other hand. As you are controlling the reflector yourself, you can quickly adjust the position and angle to get the result you want very quickly.
After using the Lastolite TriFlips 8:1 Deluxe Kit for about two months and shot a number of weddings and portrait photoshoots, I’ve now decided to replace my old reflector/umbrella/softbox/lightstand setup with this little kit. I just love how versatile it is and how it allows me to setup and shoot easily, even when I don’t have an assistant with me. It works very well both outdoor and indoor as long as it’s not super windy. And with the adjustable lightstand, brackets and multiple reflector surface, it gives me a lot of flexibility and adjustability on how to light up my model and scene, either using it as a passive reflector/diffuser or add a speedlight or two and make it an active light source. The best thing is, everything fits inside the carry case and i can setup and pack up everything very quickly. This is really important when shooting weddings as we normally don’t have a lot of time to waste.
The price may not be as cheap as the unbranded diffuser + light stand setup, but you get what you pay for. The quality of the Lastolite gear is excellent.
– Suitable for solo photographer. Triflip can be used by only one hand.
– Everything you need comes with this kit, just need to add your camera and speedlight.
– Good quality material and build quality
– Easy to carry around, easy to setup, easy to pack up
– Can be used as a passive or active light source
– Not as cheap as the unbranded equivalent gear
– Not suitable for windy day (which is a common problem for most large size diffuser/reflector..etc)
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Reviewer: Richard Wong
Richard is an award winning wedding/portrait Photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. Richard’s website is www.photobyrichard.com and his facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/PhotoByRichard
Richard is also a freelance contributor for New Zealand D-Photo magazine (www.dphoto.co.nz)
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