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The Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox is an elongated softbox designed to produce a narrower band of light when used with portable flashguns.
It can be used for fashion and portrait photography or for product photography where a strip style catchlight is required. It comes in two sizes - the 30x120cm (£120) or the 40x120cm version (£132) tested here.
The bracket adjusts in height and depth so almost any hot shoe mounted flash can be accommodated with ease.
The shoe mount is plastic so any dedicated flash contacts wont come in contact with the metal adaptor.
The softbox has a diffuser panel in the center that helps ensure the light is distributed more evenly so the flash doesn't produce a hot spot.
You may not need the instructions... if you're used to building flash gadgets, this one will be second nature, although you may need a few attempts to get used to which bit goes where if softboxes are new to you, especially the bracket assembly.
There's a useful new method of attaching the softbox to the support rods. The softbox has Velcro strips which extend from the corners. It's easy to push the rods in without needing three hands to bend, flex and stretch to get them into their pockets. Once in the pockets you then pull the Velcro fastening strip over each end to stretch and tighten the softbox material. These should be much easier than any previous softboxes you've used.
Once erect, you add the inner diffuser and front panel using the Velcro fastenings and then mount the softbox on a flash stand and attach the flash. There are several knobs to adjust position of the bracket so that the flash tube is centered in the softbox adaptor window. The one issue we had was the base of the flash height adjustment bracket can be too close to the horizontal / vertical locking nut so the bracket has to be moved out of the way to unlock the nut. This makes things a bit of a faff if you're wanting to work fast.
Pentax K20D. The flash, a Vivitar 283, was pointing in from the left.
- 4 sec at f/8
|Vivitar 283 flash on manual
- 1/125sec at f/16
|Hotrod attached to flash
- 1/125sec at f/8
As you can see the bare flash is harsh and falls off at the left of the background where the concentrated beam misses, while the version (right) with the Hotrod Strip is a more diffused light with an even spill on the background, but still has the concentrated light and shade on the arm, making the photo much more three dimensional.
Next was a shoot with model Sarah, a dancer from nearby Barnsley.
The shape of catchlights is an important factor for flash modifiers and this one can be really good, or really bad. Below are two shots taken with different eye positions. On the left Sarah was looking directly at the light and the strip catchlight runs right through the center of her eye and looks poor.
On the light she's looking at camera and the strip is running down the right of the pupil (viewer's left) and curves perfectly to her eye giving a lovely catchlight when viewed at a reduced size. When magnified you can see it's cutting into the black slightly, but the softbox position could be adjusted slightly to avoid this.
The light from the Hotrod is diffused just enough to reduce harshness of shadows but keep them in subtly to ensure depth.
With bare 283 flash gun
With Hotrod Strip attached
Using the flash direct from the side at 90 degrees produces a harsh image with deep shadows (above left). Adding the Hotrod Strip diffuses the light but maintains the shadow depth for a better balanced exposure. Two stops of light are lost when the inner diffuser baffle is used.
|The Hotrod is easy to assemble and provides good diffused flash light
Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox ProsLightweight
Diffuses light evenly
Accomodates most flash guns
Easy to guide rods in to corner pockets
Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox ConsInstructions may be hard to follow
Locking nut can get in way of sliding part of adaptor
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Lastolite Hotrod Strip Softbox Specifications