Lastolite EzyBox Quad Bracket – 4 in to 1 does go

I first saw the EzyBox quad bracket at the Wilkinson Cameras Digital Splash event. After a good discussion with Keith Sanderson from Lastolite I decided to purchase one to use with my Speedlites and a Lastolite EzyBox 60cm x 90 cm softbox that I normally use with my studio lights.

EzyBox Quad Bracket

EzyBox Quad bracket with Speedlites fitted

EzyBox Quad bracket with Speedlites fitted

Lastolite offers the EzyBox Quad in two versions, one without the additional metal support arms for their sofboxes and one with. Opening the package you need to assemble the metal arms on to the main section, fortunately the needed tool is in the pack too. The bracket was designed to accomodate up to four Speedlites around an umbrella shaft or two. In fact there are four holes for umbrellas, two are 8mm and two are 10mm size. This means you can put a silver umbrella one side and fire the flashes in to that then the bounce passes through a white umbrella to the other side. Or you use two white shoot through umbrellas for a “ball of light”. The 10mm holes are to accomodate Lastolites triple fold brollies. I had other plans, the metal arms fit in to the back of the studio EzyBox softboxes from Lastolite. This means that I can have a 60cm x 90cm softbox on location and use it with the Canon E-TTL II flash system.

Lastolite EzyBox Quad bracket side view

Lastolite EzyBox Quad bracket side view

Lastolite supplies a couple of one to four cables that would let you fire four flashes in manual from a radio trigger, but I had other thoughts… Syl Arena’s OCFGear 10 metre cable would be my trigger choice. This allows me to make one of the four flashes on the bracket a master and then the other three flashes are set to slave mode. All flashes are set to be in group A of the Canon system, and since the slaves are in the same softbox as the master, they will see the control signals from the master flash even in bright sunshine. I’ve already found that the design and placement of the flashes in the softbox makes it almost impossible to trigger them all as slaves from a camera mounted master flash. There’s usually too much quad bracket, softbox and other flashes in the way for all of them to reliably see the master on camera. As you can see a variety of flashes all fit on the quad bracket, I’m using a Speedlite 430EX, Speedlite 430EX II, Speedlite 550EX and Speedlite 580EX II in these pictures.

Remote control from the camera

Camera flash control menu

Camera flash control menu

With the long OCFgear cable I use the Speedlite 580EX II as the master in the softbox, and I can still access all it’s settings from  the camera menu. I wrote about this in the E-TTL cord for Canon Speedlites post.

In this configuration, the master can be set to automatic, the slaves will follow it’s desires and you have a big automatic E-TTL II capable softbox delivering nice light. Since there’s four flashes working together then they usually don’t need to give out full power, your recycle time will be short and batteries will last a long time. However if you want you can choose manual flash, dial in the power level you want from 1/128 to full power a 7-stop range in 1/3 stop increments.

So of course with new tools, it’s best to test before using them in anger. I booked some time with a model and popped in to Orchard Studio in Hurst for a shoot. It seems a bit strange to go to a studio carrying bunches of Speedlites when it’s already full of white infinity cove, Elinchrom studio lights, softboxes and other fun stuff. Hey it’s November in the UK and the weather can be miserable. My early trials with the setup in the studio gave me the expected results, nice soft light from a softbox, but controlled by E-TTL II in the camera. I tried a couple of cameras and all worked fine as I’d hoped. From a previous visit to the studio, I knew that outside behind the studio was a narrow walkway that was a bit overgrown with bushes and brambles. So with the softbox and Lastolite Quad bracket in the studio and aimed out of the window I took myself, camera and model outside to the cold and thorny environment to shoot.

Model in the cold, softbox inside in the warm!

This is one of th first shots, and my camera was in manual but E-TTL II was doing the flash metering. Dropping the shutter speed would let more of the ambient in from the dark alleyway, but if once you’ve seen one dark alley they all look pretty similar so I carried on with higher shutter speeds and the dark alley. Seeing the results on the camera LCD, allowed us to fight on against the worse that the brambles could do, and a change of position for me included a reflection of the model in the window.

Reflection

Reflection

So with the test of the softbox indoors and controlled with E-TTL from the camera via the long cord it made sense to switch things around and banish the softbox and quad bracket to the cold and me and model indoors in the warm.

Softbox outside, model inside

Softbox outside, model inside

For  this last picture the eagle-eyed will have seen that there’s another flash being used. Actually I took one of the slave flashes from the softbox, and placed it on a stand to the camera left and aimed it to give me a rim light. I set this flash to manual and a low power. Even though the master flash was in the softbox outside of the window, the slave was still able to see the command “fire now” and duly gave me a rimlight.

Going forwards I’ll be trying the softbox and “heaps of flashes” outdoors where the unwieldy nature of something that big will mean plenty of sandbags and a strong lightstand.

Thanks to model “Natalia Kalashnikov” [model profile NSFW].