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 was one of the many backers of the MAGMOD Kickstarter project in 2013, and ordered 2 kits early on for my SB-800s. I received both of my kits on Feb 14, 2014.
Update 4/17/2014 / Quick Summary
I have been using my MagMod kits for a little while now, and quite simply, I like them a lot. I can’t imagine going back to not having one. I highly recommend them, and can happily say that they are worth every penny. Get it, you won’t regret it.
The Kickstarter Project
I first found out about the MagMod project on FStoppers, and immediately knew that MagMod was the solution to a problem that everyone had, so I was interested. Once I viewed the presentation by the originator, Spencer Boerup, I knew that this was a real project that would be completed. It was obvious that this was a well planned and organized project, and I am happy to say that this is one Kickstarter project that started on time, stuck to its schedule, and delivered the project right on the project timeline. There were no delays or excuses, only a well executed production and delivery cycle.
I highly recommend that you watch his presentation video located on his original Kickstarter page, as it explains exactly what MagMod does for you – better than I can explain here.
The original Kickstarter project page is located at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/spencerboerup/magmod-magnetic-speedlite-modifiers-for-hot-shoe-f
When the Kickstarter backers received their MagMod kit, it came in a little yellow 6×6 carry pouch/drawstring bag, with the MagMod logo on it. The bag looks like it will be useful to keep the gels and grids in one when you aren’t actually mounting them to the MagGrip. I don’t think that it is included for non-Kickstarter purchasers, but it is an option that you might want to consider getting if it is inexpensive.
The product shipped in three boxes, and it’s obvious that MagMod keep their design clean and simple, styled very much like Apple. It’s quite impressive.
The first contains the MagGrip, and if you were one of the Kickstarter backers, it also contains a transmitter band.
The second is a MagGrid box, and it contains 1 grid.
The third is a MagGel box, and it contains the gel holder, and the gels that were ordered with the kit. In the case of the Kickstarter backers, that is six gels.
The MagGrip fits my SB-800s perfectly and fit right on them. It definitely looks like it was designed especially for them. The way that it mounts still allows the SB-800 to retain all of it’s functionality, including the wide angle diffuser and the bounce card that is built into the flash head. It also does not interfere with positioning the flash head.
Another key thing is that it is lightweight and does not make the flash “top heavy”.
The MagGrip contains two magnets, but they will not hurt the flash, and they are mostly covered by rubber, so they won’t scratch anything.
The MagGrid is pretty big – larger than the MagGrip, but much smaller than the Honl grids. It simply slaps on, and instantly stays in place. The magnets are strong enough that you cannot shake it loose, but when you want to take it off the MagGrip, it comes loose without too much force.
It’s made of rubber, and is easy bendable. That’s a huge plus, as you can’t break these grid pieces, like you can plastic grids. A neat thing I noticed – the MagMod logo is made into the long edges of the rubber grid. It’s a nice, professional touch. This doesn’t look like a DIY or backyard project – it is definitely professional quality gear.
I got two grids since I got two kits and found that they are stackable with easy, allowing you to make a tighter, more focused beam.
The Gel Holder
The gel holder is the same size as the MagGrid, and stacks with it. You can actually stack multiple grid and gel holder without any problem.
To put a gel in the holder, you simply stretch the rubber edge away from the gel that you already have in there, and pop it out. The new one goes right in by stretching the rubber around it. There is no risk to a gel falling out on its own, and you can easily put in two gels at the same time in the holder. I haven’t tried any more than two yet.
The gels are probably the most disappointing item in the kit, although it’s hard to be disappointed by anything in the kit. The gels came a little scratched up, which I understand is just part of the manufacturing process. The scratches are minor though, and do not affect the way that the gels work. The light comes out just fine, and the scratches do not affect it.
The gels included in the Kickstarter package are: CTO (Full, 1/2, and 1/4), 1/2 Blue, 3x ND, and a diffusion (opal frost) gel. There is a +plusgreen gel also, but I’m not sure what that correlates to in Roscoe. I have not yet verified that these are “correct” colors, but I do believe that the gel material is made by Roscoe, which is very good gel material. The gels are bendable, but solid, unlike the cheaper film gel kits (I have a Roscoe film gel kit also).
As a bonus for Kickstarter backers, a transmitter band was shipped with the MagGrips. Basically, it is so that you can put it around your flash, and then it holds your Pocket Wizard to the side of your flash without you having to stick velcro on both. I don’t use Pocket Wizard, instead I use Yongnuo, so it really isn’t something that I need, so I won’t test it. It looks like it might be nice for someone that does use Pocket Wizards though.
The carry bag came with the Kickstarter kit, and it is about 6×6 with a drawstring. It’s pretty useful to keep all of your MagMod accessories in.
Comparison to Other Flash Modifiers
Honl 1/8″ Honeycomb Grids
It’s not even close. I hated velcroing the Honl grids on my speedlights. As soon as I got the MagMod grids, I put the Honls up for sale. I’m sure that I will never use the Honl grids again.
I have a Rogue grid, and it works well, but it still falls off too easy. I’ll probably keep it for awhile, but I doubt that I end up using it a lot. I’ll probably end up selling it.
The “Baseball Glove”
I have some cheap white vinyl bounce cards that I use when I need a medium sized bounce reflector on a speedlight. I suspect that the MagMod will work quite well with them, and I plan to use them together some this year.
I have the larger Flashbender from Rogue, and I have the diffusion panel. The MagMod kit is different, and does not perform the same tasks, so they really can’t be compared. I doubt that I will use the MagMod kit in conjunction with the Flashbender, as the sizing and mounting just don’t appear to be a good fit.
How To Order
If you want your own MagMod kit, you can order it now through their website at www.magnetmod.com