If you’re shooting interiors with speedlites I probably don’t need to tell you how awesome the Slik SDV-20s (pictured left) are. If you’re not familiar with this tripod (used as a lightstand) or why it’s perfect for shooting interiors read this. There’s a small problem with the SDV-20, though – they’re no longer in production. If you can luck yourself into a used one on eBay or Craigslist it’s totally worth it. Since I’m neither patient nor tenacious enough to try and track down a used SDV-20 I did some research and found a really good alternative.
The Sunpak 6601 UT is widely available and includes all the great features of the SDV-20 and then some! Like the SDV-20 it has a very small footprint, same basic construction*, and extends up to 58.3″ (the same as the SDV-20). The ~$18.00 USD price tag actually makes it cheaper than the SDV-20 was and it comes with an extra quick release plate, something that doesn’t seem like a big deal but if you’re like me you’re always losing small items so this is a nice addition. According to the B&H link they’re also including a carrying case (they didn’t when I bought mine so I can’t really comment on the quality/construction of the bag. If it’s like Slik’s – which I assume it is – it’s big enough to carry two stands inside and has an adjustable strap to sling over your shoulder). This is really handy when you’re already carrying a camera bag, a lighting bag and a tripod.
*The only obvious difference in construction is the joint extenders. The latch to release the legs opens to the right on the Sliks and to the left on the Sunpaks. It took me awhile to get used to the new latches (truthfully, I’m still not really used to it and curse silently to myself every time I want to extend the Sunpak legs and realize I’m trying to do it the wrong way).
It’s also worth noting the Sunpak’s quick release plate. Unlike the SDV-20′s, the 6601 UT’s tightening screw is a twist tab (I’m sure there’s a more technical name for it). Why is this awesome? You no longer have to carry around coins in your bag/pocket/car to tighten the quick release plates to your flash foot. As I’ve already established, things smaller than a tennis ball tend to disappear in my gear bags so trying to remember/find coins to tighten the plate down was, pretty much, a lost cause for me.
Okay, so are you all convinced to run out and buy the Sunpak 6601 UT? Let me show you how to do a quick umbrella mod for it.
Note: this wasn’t my brilliant idea. Someone from Scott’s FL workshop (identify yourself!!) did this to his lightstand and, I’m telling you, it’s BRILLIANT so I immediately modified all of my lightstands in the same fashion (and when I say “I immediately modified…” I mean I nagged Scott endlessly until he did it for me… sometimes I can be tenacious).
On with the show…
I tend to shoot with umbrellas a lot these days. It’s easier than trying to figure how and where to bounce a light and, when you’re shooting very large spaces it’s, dare I say, necessary. A bounced light can travel only so far…
A trip to the hardware store for some eye hooks (I think that’s what they’re called) and a drill (if you don’t have one already) is all you need.Screw in an eye hook on the tightening lever and one underneath the resting plate (it’s best to have an umbrella handy to make sure everything lines up properly). Line them up when the lever is almost completely tightened (this is important).
Now you can thread your umbrella through both hooks and then tighten the lever to lock your umbrella into place.
And that’s all there is to it. WordPress is compressing these photos but if you click on the images you should be directed to a larger, clearer version.
Do you have your own crazy, time saving, brilliant gear mods? Hit me up in the comments!