Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Selens Triple Flash Bracket Review

I got a Selens triple flash bracket, a bracket with three hotshoes to allow you to use three speedlights at the same time.

The Selens triple flash bracket has an umbrella holder in the middle, and has a 1/4-20 socket at the bottom.  I like the way the bracket positions the axis of the umbrella in the middle of the three flashes, which can make the light distribution more even.  I prefer this design over other triple bracket designs where the three flashes are mounted side-by-side or on a square-shaped bracket.

With more power, you can use larger modifiers.  At the same time, because each speedlight has its own batteries, you don't need to bring a separate power source.  Even with three flashes, the whole assembly was lighter than I expected.

The hotshoes are connected to each other, and there is a 3.5mm sync port to trigger all three speedlights.  In the sample shot above, I attached a Nikon SB-800, a Yongnuo YN560III, and a Yongnuo YN560IV, each in manual mode, with slave deactivated.  To trigger them, I used a Yongnuo RF603 as receiver, and connected its PC sync port to the 3.5mm port of the triple flash bracket.  For my transmitter, I used a Yongnuo RF603II.  As the shot above shows, it triggered properly.

There were a couple of times when one of the flashes didn't trigger, due to user error.  It was either because the flash went to standby mode, or because I hadn't fully secured the flash to its hotshoe.

Of course, you don't have to use the sync port to trigger the flashes.  I prefer to use a YN560TX to remotely adjust the YN560III and 560IV.  I then put the SB800 on optical SU-4 slave mode to sync with the 560III and 560IV.

Here is a comparison of how the speedlights fill a 32-inch silver umbrella, compared to a monolight (the Godox e300).

I found that zooming the flashes made little difference to the way the umbrella was filled.  Interestingly, the combined output was slightly higher when the flashes were zoomed to 24mm compared to 105mm.  However, when I tried to use the built-in diffuser (14mm coverage), the combined output dropped noticeably compared to either 24mm or 105mm.

I compared the output of one, two, or three speedlights,  against the 300ws Godox e300 monolight.  Unfortunately, I don't have a flashmeter anymore, so I can only estimate the difference.   I was surprised that the output did not change as much I expected with each added speedlight.  Below are the results with a fixed exposure of f/11, ISO 100, using the silver umbrella.

one flash
two flashes
three flashes
Godox e300
It appears that the 300 watt-second Godox e300 is still more powerful than the three flashes.  In post, I had to raise the exposure of the image with three flashes by +0.5EV in order to have a similar histogram to that of the Godox e300.

three flashes +0.5EV
The Selens triple flash bracket works pretty much as advertised.  I was a little surprised that the combined output of three speedlights was not more powerful than I expected.  Of course, depending on what speedlights you have, YMMV.  If I had the choice, I would still use the Godox e300, not only for its power but also for its faster recycling, resistance to overheating, modeling light, and lower total cost (less than $100, plus ~$30 for the transmitter and receiver).  On the other hand, the triple flash bracket is a versatile accessory.  It allows me to reallocate my speedlights to other functions when necessary.  I also liked the quality of light -- it is at least equal, if not better than the light distribution of the Godox e300.  I will probably use the triple bracket combination for outdoor shooting instead of the Godox e300 so I won't need to bring an inverter.