For those of you looking for a flash bracket, the options can be daunting.
I primarily shoot in landscape orientation now even with a flash (I like the encompassing look of landscape), but I have shot extensively with flash brackets in the past. Here is my experience with two of the major (less expensive) designs.
Flip the flash or rotate the camera?
Opteka Camera Flip
Pro: I love the concept of this bracket – hold the bracket with your left hand while rotating the camera with your right. Flash stays stationary. Simple… but, not in practice.
Con: Rotating the camera isn’t so easy – when I am using it in front of people, I feel like I look like I don’t know what I am doing.
If you use a lens with any weight, this will tip over (so no better than the Quick Flip).
Forget using a battery grip on the camera. You won’t have room.
This was not a problem for me, but if you use direct flash, with the camera rotated, you might get darker bands at the top and bottom if you use wider lenses since the flash doesn’t match the camera’s orientation.
Both my large flash brackets are marketed under Opteka and Stroboframe. Although both my Stroboframe flash brackets have very good flash clamps, the Opteka one is not as sturdy.
Stroboframe Quick Flip
My favorite setup is my Canon 7D and Canon 430ex II on a Stroboframe Quick Flip. Sometimes I mount the handle on the left, but most times flush on the right (my hand is big enough to grip the 7D and the handle). This right-side mount works better for me because in the portrait orientation, I am still holding the camera naturally (shutter release on top).
Pro: The hinge and flash clamp are surprisingly strong. I sometimes carry this dangling from a slight strap and the flash barely moves (and the 430ex is not a small flash).
The foam is surprising good quality. I have had it for years and it isn’t flaking or breaking down.
Con: It doesn’t remotely sit up on a table without pushing on your lens, and it tens to pinch my skin when I flip the flash (you think that I would have learned by now).
Considerations for both
Because I use this combo of Canon gear (7D + 430ex II), I don’t have to use any wires. The 7D has a built in radio transmitter that matches the 430ex. I can even change the flash’s zoom (for ceiling bounce) and use the flash’s AF-assist light (the red, laser-like, flashing grid).
I’ve also used these with old Vivitar 285HV which have a PC sync port. Both of these get a sturdier mount because they are directly connected to the flash bracket (vs needing additional adapters to connect to the camera by wires or transmitter).
This bracket is just… weird.
Pro: It sits nicely on a table and is built really well.
Con: It’s imbalanced (front heavy), doesn’t give much clearance even at its tallest setting, you can’t zoom easily and it tends to pinch your skin painfully.
Blog featured image from Masterfile. The old bulb flash isn’t exactly on a flash bracket, but I like having an image to remind us it wasn’t too long ago that we used flash bulbs.