Two identical, cylindrical nylon cases arrived in a tightly packed box. One contained a 50cm Strobius StrobiStrip whilst the second contained the 100cm model.
On removing these modifiers from their packaging, the first thing that struck me was the quality of the materials and construction. The diffusion panel seems quite thin, yet durable, with four lines of stitching providing an extremely strong bond to the main nylon body. This theme of quality and care extends throughout the product.
Though I was certainly impressed with the workmanship and quality, I wondered just how easy they would be to put together…?
There is a clear plastic or acetate sheet, which is laid over the inside of the diffusion panel and held in place with corner pockets. Quick and easy. The tricky part was rolling it into a half-pipe to be able to anchor the side with the hook-and-loop strip. Having now done this several times, I have to say it becomes easy very quickly. Like folding those infernal wire-framed pop-up reflectors, it’s easy after the first time! The larger (100cm) StrobiStrip actually turns out to be a little easier to assemble, as the acrylic sheet has a strip of loop material bonded along one edge, which allows the anchoring of the sheet to be quite quick and confident.
The Strobius StrobiStrip then becomes a tube-shaped affair with a flat back. One side is topped off with a silver-lined cap, held in place by hook-and-loop. This leaves the opposing end to take the speedlight of your choice.
Initially, I inserted the speedlight “flat”, in line with the rear panel. I soon realised the weight would cause the head of the speedlight to change position too easily. I then rotated the head of the speedlight within the modifier by 90 degrees. This meant that the speedlight could be clamped with the StrobiStrip in a horizontal position, without the speedlight sinking or suddenly changing position mid-shoot.
The fit is surprisingly good, and due to the tension caused by the acetate sheet, works very well indeed.
So how well does it perform?
Given that StrobiStrip is a tube with the light source at one end, I expected to find a measurable drop in light output at the far end of the modifier when compared to the edge of the diffusion panel nearest the speedlight. This can actually be seen in the image above.
I wanted to see how well the modifier worked in a shoot. I worked with one of my photographers, Wayne, to create a water shot. We set the StrobiStrip 50 to frame right, and gelled it red. The StrobiStrip 100 was set frame left with a blue gel that didn’t completely cover it. The bottom quarter was left uncovered, as it was below the shooting target area.
We got the image we wanted: the StrobiStrips worked nicely to create a controlled strip of light over a specific area that could be used for a targeted image. See the result below.
What of the diffusion abilities, and how usable are they in portrait photography? To this end, Wayne (and his beard) were thrust in front of the camera. And I have to say: I was pleasantly surprised by the results. Yes, the modifiers eat a fair amount of the light, but not as much as I expected. The high quality silver reflective lining obviously did its job very well. I set the two StrobiStrips either side of Wayne, then placed a studio head firing through a 100×100cm softbox as the key light.
The Strobius StrobiStrips operated far better than I expected, to be honest. They pack small, are quick and easy to assemble, and I feel that they actually represent good value for money. The 50cm StrobiStrip is priced $39 and the 100cm version costs $53, both from StrobistShop.com. I’ve previously paid similar amounts for modifiers made from card. Don’t get me wrong: I still have and occasionally still use those card modifiers. But these Strobius strips are in a different league with regards to quality of materials, workmanship and obtainable results.
I am seriously looking at the the 150cm model.
Just as an aside: my main location kit is the Elinchrom ELB 400, and the StrobiStrip doesn’t quite fit the Quadra head. Well, not unless you don’t quite close the hook-and-loop at the head end, and use a secondary strip of hooks as a fixing strap around the back of the head.
Oh, the possibilities!