If you’re in the market for a new photographic light, an awful lot of them look pretty much the same. There’s your big stand-mounted studio head, your cobraÂ flashgun, a few hybrids and, among snap-happyÂ stalwarts, the venerable hammerhead/potato-masher.
Is that all? Some companies have â€” for better or for worse â€” tried to break the mould, launching lights in entirely unique form factors. Let’s see how they get on. After you’ve had a read through, pick your favourite and share your thoughts in the comments below!
1. Mmbel Digital LED Studio Flash
LED modelling lamps and monolight-shaped video lights are becoming increasingly common. But what if instead of shrinking a rectangularÂ LED panel to fit the strobe head, you did the complete opposite? That’s what Mmbel, a Chinese manufacturer, tried with their MB-301 Digital LED Studio Flash.Â Strangely,Â the form factor hasn’t caught on and it no longerÂ appears in the company’s online catalogue.
2. Hink Spacefish
Described as the world’s first flexible flash, the Spacefish has a War of the Worlds-type look to it. That, or an office desk lamp. TheÂ key benefit of this flashgun’s bendy neck is being able to point it any direction you like, rather than being limited to 270Â° of swivel as found in many more conventional lights. There are also some other features, like a plastic filter system and LED modelling lamp. It’s had a couple ofÂ false starts with crowdfunding projects so it’s not clear when (or if) you’ll see the Spacefish on shelves. (Or desks.)
3. FiilexÂ P200 Flexjet
“Spice up boring lighting situations,” says Fiilex. If you’ve reached the stage where Rembrandt and butterfly setups are totally old-hat, have a go with this colour-changing fibre-optic skipping rope instead. It’ll amaze your models and photo assistants in equal measure, leaving you “limited only by your imagination”. And maybe your bank balance, as it’s $800.
For a flash version of this, try the Elinchrom EL26430.
4. CononMark iQ Ring Flash
Shenzhen-based CononMark were inspired enough to come up with this monstrosity, informally known as the “Frankenflash” here atÂ Lighting RumoursÂ HQ. The iQ, presumablyÂ made upÂ of whatever was lying about the warehouse, has four cobra flash heads and four LED modelling lights in a ring-shaped configuration. It succeeds in being both incrediblyÂ unwieldy and absolutely unlike a ring light in its output, simply giving you four unflattering shadows at once.
And there’s aÂ smallerÂ Lomography ring flashÂ for hipsters:
5.Â Paparazzo Light for iPhone
This one shouldn’t really be in the list, as it is clearly the greatest thing ever. A magnificent blend of old and new. I would sell my DSLR and switch to this if it were available. But the community didn’tÂ agree with me for some reason, leavingÂ the Paparazzo Light unable to reach its $50k funding target on Kickstarter.
There we have it. Are these lights sillyÂ or just misunderstood? Which is your (least) favourite?