I preface every review with the same disclosure. I am not a professional. I do not shoot test charts. I do not try every lens with every camera. All opinions are my own, and are only based upon my own experiences with the gear. I haven’t had a ton of gear, or all of the expensive gear. I won’t list every specification or test for every specification. My review is not meant for professionals – if you are a professional, you shouldn’t need a review from an amateur. The information below is simply my own observations while doing normal photography, and is for other car enthusiasts and amateurs like myself.
I snagged a deal locally on a Flash Frame Flash Flip H.O.T. Bracket and a Nikon SC-29 TTL flash cable. I was buying another SB-800 and SB-600 from another photographer, and it was offered to me quite cheaply. I decided to get it for event photos, such as wedding receptions, where I expect it will come in handy once in awhile. You can’t always bounce against what you want to bounce against, and sometimes, you want a semi-flat light as a filler to a key light. I don’t expect to use it constantly though. This one just happened to fulfill all of the things I wanted in a bracket, and at the right price.
Flash Frame Flash Flip H.O.T. Bracket
The Flash Frame Flash Flip H.O.T. Bracket is made in the USA and regularly sells for $74 at B&H, and I had long decided that I would not pay that much for a flash bracket, as little as I have opportunity to use one. The reason that this one is different than the others is the way that it is designed to be used. Generally, flash brackets bolt to the tripod threads on the bottom of the camera, and wrap up around the opposite side (left side from back of the camera) from your shutter button hand (right hand). The problem with this design is that if you do change from shooting from landscape to portrait, then your right hand has to be on the bottom of the camera to reach the shutter button. Even if you have a battery grip, the shutter button on the grip is placed on the bottom in an awkward position. This is where the Flash Flip H.O.T. comes into play.
The H.O.T. stands for Hand-On-Top. Rather than the bracket wrapping around your left hand, instead it wraps around the opposite site, and wraps around your right hand. With it’s custom platform, the camera mounts a little farther back, allowing more room for you hand to be comfortably behind the flash bracket, so it doesn’t get squeezed in there. What this does is allow you to flip from landscape to portrait in a more natural motion – your right hand pivots the shutter button side to the top, and your left hand goes under the camera on the left side to support it – which is much more natural.
The Flash Flip rotates the flash from landscape to portrait position normally – except it is on from the left side of the camera to the top – which is more natural as well. This simple change makes a big difference to me, so I like it.
One reason that I never liked flash brackets is that all of them screw into the bottom of the camera, and I use an RSS camera-specific Arca-Swiss quick release plate on the bottom of the camera. Changing the plate just takes too much time, and that was just not acceptable to me, nor do I need or want a flash bracket on all the time. Additionally, most flash brackets don’t have a big enough flat area on the bottom, so if you have a flash bracket, your camera really didn’t have a way to set it down, without risking it flipping over. The H.O.T solves this.
The plate that the H.O.T has on the bottom has feet at the front and rear, and an extra screw installed on the side as a foot. This lets the bracket act as a stand that holds the camera steady when mounted, and solves the problem of the camera flipping over, as you can set it on any flat surface, like a table top. The platform also has a wide base, and is corked, so you can easily mount a quick release on top of the platform, allowing you to quickly pop the bracket on and off the camera, just like you would a tripod. For my needs, I got a Sunwayfoto DDC-60LR quick release lever clamp to mount on the platform. I chose to spend a little extra and get the lever clamp, rather than have the screw type protrude from under the camera. I got the Sunwayfoto discal clamp a little while back for my Feisol monopod, and was impressed with the quality, so again, I went with Sunwayfoto, as it was about half of the price of what RRS offers.
In short, this is the first and only flash bracket that I have found that solves my needs and wants, and I’m thrilled that I got it ultra-cheap. I still don’t think that any flash bracket is worth close to $75 unless you are a professional, but if you can find a Flash Flip H.O.T. for cheap, get it.
One additional clarification – the name of the company is Flash Frame, and the model of the flash bracket is Flash Flip, and they make several options. All of the Flash Flip models are traditional left side brackets, except for the H.O.T., which is right side.
Nikon SC-29 TTL flash cable
The Nikon TTL cable works perfectly, and allows me to mount a SB-800 on the bracket, and have the AF assist on the top of the camera, in alignment with the lens. The camera seems to focus better in low light with the SC-29 cable AF assist sensor.
If you want to use the AF assist sensor on the flash itself instead, all you have to do it click the knob on the SC-29 to break the connection pins away from the bottom of the flash.
There are several videos on YouTube showing how it works, and it’s not as popular of an item as it once was, so I won’t go into more details on it here.
If you have any questions, just use the Comments form below, and I’ll try to answer them.