If you ever used speedlights with umbrellas or softboxes, you probably faced the challenges like trying to get even light distribution across the front of your softbox, or placing a speedlight on the axis of your umbrella.
Umbrella softboxes are fairly new to the market, but they are getting more and more popular, because they are much easier to set up compared to the traditional softboxes. However, umbrella softboxes are almost impossible to tilt when used on a standard light stand.
In this review, we are taking a closer look at Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket, which is designed to address all the issues mentioned above.
Why use multiple speedlights? If you know the answer to this question, you can skip to the next paragraph. If you don't, read on. There are three main reasons: maximum power, recycling time, and light distribution. By using two equally powerful speedlights, you double your maximum light output, which is often needed when using large light modifiers, like umbrellas or softboxes. Recycling time is not shorter at the maximum level, but it can be shorter compared to a single speedlight at a lower level. For example, two speedlights fired at half the power produce as much light as a single speedlight at full power, but at half-power, flashes recycle much faster. Finally, speedlights have fresnel lenses that focus the light into a spot, which often does not cover the whole umbrella or softbox. By using multiple flashes, you can illuminate your light modifier more evenly, taking full advantage of the size of your diffuser.
Now, back to the Phottix unit. It is designed to work with either an umbrella or umbrella softbox. If you have a conventional speedring-based softbox, you need something like LumoPro LP739 Flash Bracket.
Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket is extremely well built. All the parts and materials are top-notch. The bracket can hold up to 4 speedlights. It is essentially a stick with a crossbar that has 4 cold shoes. However, the beauty is in the details. The brilliance of Phottix Multi-Boom 28" is in its simple but versatile design and great attention of the manufacturer to every single aspect of the design.
You can mount the bracket by inserting the end of the boom arm into your regular umbrella adapter. This is perfect when you install one or two speedlights on the bracket (so it's not too heavy) and don't intend to tilt the softbox too much. (Otherwise, use a C-stand and sandbags and make sure your light stand is stable.)
The Phottix Multi-Boom 28" bracket comes with a short column, which can be attached to the boom arm in different places, depending on the weight and number of flashes in use. The short column can be inserted into an umbrella adapter. Such configuration is great when you need to angle your light source more or when you need to use it as an overhead light. Obviously, you need to use a counterweight, which can be a sandbag or, for example, a battery pack, as shown in the images below. Attaching another umbrella adapter to the boom arm can help you hanging the weights in a secure manner.
For adjusting the tilt angle, you can use the hand grip on the boom arm, which prevents your hand from slipping. (This can be important if you build a heavy assembly.)
The boom arm of Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket has multiple holes, so you can position the flash plate depending on the size of your flashes, use of radio triggers, and the light modifier type and size. The cold shoes can also be places in many ways. They can be spread out evenly, or moved left and right, or even flipped to hang down.
The left image below shows how you can position 4 speedlights to fill with light a very large light softbox or a stripbox. The right image has probably a very limited practical use, but it is shown here just for fun :).
We are also very pleased with the cold shoe design, which features oversized screws and knobs. We really liked it, because it is very easy to adjust the cold shoe position and mount a flash, even if you have large fingers. The hands in the images below are not particularly large but above the average size.
If you don't use an umbrella softbox, there is also an option to remove the boom arm and use just the short column and the flash plate. In this configuration, the weight is not shifted off-center that much, so there is much less worry about the light stand stability.
Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket also includes a single flash mount, which can be used instead of the flash plate. It allows you to position your single flash right on the axis of your diffuser, instead of being slightly to the side.
Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket folds flat for storage, and you don't even need to disassemble it. Simply loosen one screw and flip the flash plate 90 degrees. The included carrying case is very thick, and it will protect your other equipment from the metal parts of the bracket. The pocket on the case can hold the additional single flash mount.
Please note that Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket ships as a single unit or as a combo with the Phottix Varos BG Umbrella Adapter.
To summarize, Phottix Multi-Boom 28" Flash Bracket is a highest quality flash mounting solution that allows you to use up to 4 speedlights. The well-thought-out design delivers a lot of versatility and makes the bracket very useful in a wide range of applications. Besides umbrellas, Phottix Multi-Boom 28" specifically targets umbrella softboxes and solves the umbrella softbox tilting issue. In you are looking for a multi-flash bracket, we don't think you can go wrong with Phottix Multi-Boom 28". It is currently available at Phottix web-site for $120 for the flash bracket or for $140 for the combo (bracket + umbrella adapter)
If you have any questions or comments, please post them below.