Honl Photo Light Paddle reflector review

Dec 01 2014

The Light Paddle 3-in-1 reflector is the latest speedlight accessory from Honl Photo, a popular manufacturer of professional flash light modifiers. In this review, we are looking at the main features and qualities of Honl Photo Light Paddle as well as comparing it to similar products in the market.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: front Honl Photo Light Paddle: back, logo

When we reviewed Honl Photo Speed Snoot/Reflector in the past, it was great as as snoot but not exceptional as a reflector. The biggest issue we had with the Speed Snoot/Reflector was the mounting on the flash. While the reflector was attaching securely, it was kind of wobbly on the flash, which was not great when using the flash on-camera. Honl Photo Light Paddle addresses the issue. Unlike Speed Snoot/Reflector, Light Paddle features a firm insert that keeps the shape of the reflector and eliminates any wobbliness. Also, when mounted, Light Paddle curves and takes shape of, well, a paddle :), which improves the horizontal light spread (good for group portraits).

Honl Photo Light Paddle: compared to Honl Photo Speed Reflector/Snoot Honl Photo Light Paddle: attachment

Honl Photo Light Paddle comes with 3 velcro strips, which you can slap onto you flash head to attach the reflector. We've never been fans of having adhesives on our gear, so we recommend getting Honl Photo Speed Strap instead (or any other similar velcro strap of your preference, if you don't have one).

The Light Paddle reflector is build extremely well, like all Honl Photo products we have tried. It really does look and feel like it's been designed for use by professionals, and therefore, it should be able to take a good amount of abuse.

The main reflective surface of Light Paddle is white to produce even soft light. Additionally, the reflector comes with a double-sided soft-gold/gray attachment. The soft-gold side is for warming up the skin tones in your portraits. The gray surface adds an extra kick and delivers higher contrast look.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: soft-gold attachment Honl Photo Light Paddle: gray on the reverse side

The images below illustrate the difference between the white, gray, and soft-gold surfaces. We expected the gray attachment to be color-neutral, but it turned out that it had some warm tint. It's not a big deal to us, but it's certainly worth noting.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: example with white surface
using white surface
Honl Photo Light Paddle: example with gray surface Honl Photo Light Paddle: example with soft-gold surface
using gray surface
using soft-gold surface

Honl Photo Light Paddle can be used on- and off-camera. There are two things that we really like about this reflector when using it on-camera: the weight and the option to mount on a narrow side of the flash. Light Paddle only weighs about 50 grams (1.8 oz), and it is almost not noticeable on the flash, which makes it perfect for event photography. Attaching to a narrow side of the flash allows it to be used in both landscape and portrait camera orientations without a flash bracket. (You can refer to our Honl Photo Speed Bounce Card review for more details.)

Honl Photo Light Paddle: mounted on a narrow side of the flash

When using Honl Photo Light Paddle indoors, you can mix the direct light thrown towards the subject and the light bounced off of the ceiling. To control the ratio between the ceiling bounce and the directional light, you need to re-attach the Light Paddle reflector at different angles. You don't get the speed of adjustment and the precision of the Demb Flip-it! modifiers, but changing the angle of Light Paddle is easy enough to be practical and very useful.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: tilted forward Honl Photo Light Paddle: tilted back

The following six images show how the lighting changes as you adjust the angle of Honl Photo Light Paddle on a flash. The flash was positioned about 4 feet (1.2 m) from the subject, and the ceiling was of a standard height. You can see how tilting the reflector further back fills in the shadows on the background and the mannequin's face. Also, for best results, we recommend setting your flash zoom to a wide frame coverage: between 24 mm and 35 mm. In the examples below, we used the 24 mm setting.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: direct flash (no reflector) Honl Photo Light Paddle: 45 degrees forward
direct flash (no reflector)
45 degrees forward
Honl Photo Light Paddle: 30 degrees forward Honl Photo Light Paddle: vertical
30 degrees forward
vertical
Honl Photo Light Paddle: titled back Honl Photo Light Paddle: ceiling bounce (no reflector)
titled back
ceiling bounce (no reflector)

If you own Honl Photo traveller 8 softbox, you can have one more trick up your sleeve. We found that the diffusion screen of the traveller8 softbox fits the Light Paddle reflector (you need to have the soft-gold/gray attachment to be installed for the velcro to work). Thus, when necessary, you can quickly turn your reflector into a softbox for even softer light. You may wonder why not just use traveller8. Well, it depends on your task. In some cases, carrying one diffuser instead of two is advantageous. Also the Light Paddle reflector sits higher on the flash, which is better for portraits.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: with traveller8 diffusion screen

The following images show the difference in light quality that you can achieve by attaching the diffusion screen. Note, how the shadows have softer edges, which is easy to see around the nose area and on the background.

Honl Photo Light Paddle: no diffusion Honl Photo Light Paddle: with additional diffusion
no diffusion
with additional diffusion

Finally, comparing to Rogue FlashBender Large reflector, which is one of our favorite flash light modifiers, we have to say that Honl Photo Light Paddle performs really well. It is about three time lighter than the Rogue modifier, which is especially important for on-camera applications. Honl Photo Light Paddle is not designed to do all the "light bending", which the Rogue reflectors are known for, but it can actually do some of it (like for example blocking the light on one side of the flash).

Honl Photo Light Paddle: compared to Rogue FlashBender Large reflector Honl Photo Light Paddle: blocking the side of the flash

In conclusion, the Honl Photo Light Paddle reflector is a high quality flash light modifier that is well-suited for professional use. Priced at about $60 (USD), it can also be an attractive buy for hobbyists, especially considering that it includes the soft-gold and gray attachment. Light Paddle is extremely lightweight, and it also provides plenty of options for tweaking the flash light by adjusting the position of the reflector. If you need a versatile flash diffuser for event and wedding photography, you cannot go wrong with the Light Paddle 3-in-1 reflector.

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