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Lastolite Strip

Ottawa Portrait Photographer Justin Van Leeuwen

Strip lights are one of those light mods you don’t need at first. You get by with an umbrella or soft box because, really, you’re just lighting your subjects face or other important foreground details. Then you think “hey, their back is kind of dark” or “how do I light the entire length of their body?”. The former is a quick fix with another kicker light in behind, and the later is usually accomplished through larger, or even duplicate, soft boxes.

There is another way, of course, one that will avoid the harsh singularity created by a powerful, bare strobe, fired at someone’s back or side (like in this photo of Kym). Or something that keeps the foefround light controlled, what a 100″ octa won’t do for a slender human subject. What you might want is a strip light, a powerful and necessary accessory for anyone interested in controlled accent lighting and Lastolite has just released a new “strobist” small flash version: the Hotrod Stip Softbox.

Really, there are no rules on how you’d use the strip light, what I’ve mentioned above are just a few of the ways I choose to use it. So with that in mind, let’s focus on the gear:

Build

I use my gear, outdoors, indoors, wherever I need to. It’s not babied so I need it to stand up to some abuse. I already owned Lastolite’s 24″ Ezybox softbox and the Hotrod stripbox material is definitely up to the same task as that. The one change I noticed is the bracket that holds the box in place, and the flash in the clamp, is all made of a high-durability plastic now instead of metal. This isn’t a huge deal to me, it seems resilliant and it does make the whole package lighter.

Ease of Use

While not as simple as the pop-out simplicity of the ezybox, the Hotrod Stripbox isn’t complicated. You push the fabric around a centre anchor, and then feed poles (just like a tent) into the four corners of the box. Velcro tightens the rods into place and from there it’s just a matter of affixing the inner and outter diffusing fabric and dropping it onto a light stand. Check out my video of assembly here (it’s at 2.5x speed, so it took about 4 minutes):




Portability

I want to travel light, so all my gear needs to be carried by me, or an assistant, and hopefully over a bit of a distance. There’s negligable weight to this whole piece, helped by the plastic frame I doubt you’d notice it in a bag. It also folds fairly flat, which may not fit in some of the smaller tripod bags, but it should fit alongside most tripods & lightstands.

Conclusion

There’s really not much I don’t like about this product, or anything Lastolite makes. Full Disclosure: This is not a review unit, this is mine, I paid for it with my own money – that should say something right?

They have two versions currently available, a 12″x48″ and a 16″x48″ – not much of a difference, I know – I went with the 12″ version to offer me a bit more control in the spread of light. I have a larger strip for my Quadra anyways.

I think Lastolite’s got a great lineup of product this year. A “perfect” light setup for a small flash user could be a combination of two of these strip lights for rear-kickers, and a single ezybox, or an Octa (which I’d love to get my hands on). It would be light, use only 3 small flashes, and would likely produce amazing professional results. Highly recommended.

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