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132 of 135 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2010
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
I ordered this kit about a week or two ago and the shipping said it wouldn't arrive till February 18th. I was a little bummed about how long I'd have to wait, but it ended up coming on February 4th!

Let me describe my level of photographic experience as to put this in context: I'm an "amateur" photographer, I've been shooting for a year and in that year I have poured over hundreds of photography books and thousands of articles. Over this past summer I devoted myself entirely to photography. I have a D300, SB900, 50mm f/1.8, 18-70 f/3.5-5.6, and 55-200.

And now for the review!
I have been experimenting with off-camera flash for a while and I've read a lot about softbox vs umbrella vs diffusion panels/etc and they each definitely have their own niche. If you are like me and are just getting into the "strobist" frenzy, this kit is PERFECT for you. A stand will run you ~$50, an umbrella mount ~$20, and the umbrella itself is typically ~$20-40. That's about $100.

For 1/3 the price you get 4/5 the results.

The umbrella is pretty small as far as umbrellas typically go, but I can't really complain; the light is still very very soft. The umbrella mount feels cheap, but anyone who has any respect for their equipment shouldn't have any difficulty making it last. The stand is pretty light and extends up higher than I'll ever need.

Unless there is absolutely NO wind whatsoever, I would not recommend this kit for outdoor use (unless you have an assistant bracing the stand for you). Everything is so light that even a strong breeze would probably tip it over. That being said, you can sprint by this thing indoors without having to worry about it falling over.

FINAL VERDICT:
If you aren't sure if strobist photography is for you, or you simply want a cheap "entry-level" umbrella kit, buy this. If you have a real job and can drop over $100 for a manfrotto stand and a wescott umbrella then do that.

-----------------------------------
UPDATE: So it's been six months since I first bought this stand and I thought it'd be good to post a follow-up.

While working outside taking photos for a friend, I was using a cinderblock that had been cut such that it would perfectly brace the stand-- despite the fact that it wasn't particularly windy outside. When I moved the stand I forgot to move the brace with it. Sure enough, after a minute or two the stand fell umbrella-first into the dirt/hard pack snow mix. My SB900 stayed attached to the mount and stayed dry, the stand was undamaged, and the mount was in perfect condition. The only damage to any of the gear was that one spoke of the umbrella was bent slightly out of position. The umbrella still works perfectly and to be honest I forget that it's "broken" most of the time.

I was so pleased with these stands that when I bought another strobe I picked up another one of these stands. It came today, and I am equally impressed by its quality.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
This kit is very inexpensive (read: cheap) and you get what you pay for. This is great for a beginner or entry-level photographer who's not quite sure yet if he wants to spend big bucks on more expensive gear. I bought this kit to use with a second Speedlite flash shooting portraits at an event. It got the job done, but it has a couple of issues.

For one, the stand is very light and a little flimsy. Second, the umbrella is long and hard to pack around. I prefer a collapsible umbrella. Third, the bracket that holds the umbrella has the hole drilled straight through. What does this mean? It means that when you mount a Speedlite to the bracket, it doesn't point to the center of the umbrella, but more to the top side of it. This is not good, as it deteriorates the quality of your light.

For a starter kit, sure, go ahead and get it. But if you're a more serious enthusiast, I'd recommend checking out some pricier options.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2010
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
After reading reviews for this product I had set my expectations very low but couldn't pass up the deal. What I received was clearly not meant for high volume industrial use but is of surprisingly good build quality. The umbrella is the chintziest part of the whole thing but really is not bad at all. All of the important parts are metal and very solidly constructed. A great starter set, ideal for the hobbyist.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Style Name: MountBVerified Purchase
I purchased this kit to mount a Yongnuo YN-568EX speedlight to it. I have to say, it's pretty much exactly what I'd expected. The umbrella is extremely basic/barebones and is probably not very durable, but when handled carefully it gets the job done. The shoe swivel bracket works absolutely fine, though I wouldn't trust it with any particularly heavy equipment/light modifiers. The stand is very lightweight, which is convenient in terms of transporting it... but the cost is that it would be profoundly unstable (without some sort of weight at the base, like sandbags) in any outdoor setting with a breeze. Especially if you had the umbrella attached, it wouldn't take much to blow it over.

If I sound "meh" about the components of this kit, it's because I am. They're okay -- not high quality, but not on the verge of falling apart either. I'm still giving this five stars, because *for the price* they are a steal. I'd say they're perfect for the beginner who is interested in experimenting with studio lighting. If you're planning to do a lot of heavy, on-location shoots... then you're a fool for thinking you're going to get high-quality, ultra-durable equipment for $30.

Have reasonable expectations for equipment at this price, and you cannot be disappointed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2009
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
This kit works well. The stand is as sturdy as other lighting stands I have. The adapter mounts securely. The umbrella rod fits well through the adapter and adjusts properly. My flashes, 430exII and Sunpak 363 mount securely onto the adapter. I just might purchase another of these kits.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2013
Style Name: MountBVerified Purchase
So I received the item, set it up, the construction of the item is very poor. I will review the three items I received.

1. The umbrella - this is a low quality umbrella, and this is because the metal tube of the umbrella is hollow, so if you tighten the screw on the holder a little too tight, it will make a dent, or may even perforate the tubing. Also at the end of the tube there is a small metal attachment which came off. However this does not affect the function of the umbrella, but I am guessing it will not last very long at all.

2. The attachment that you hook the flash to. This attachment is too high, i.e. when you place your flash light on this, the flash light is quite high up, the light will not hit the center of the umbrella, it will hit the top portion of the umbrella. This does affect how you shoot and the quality of light on the subject. The screws on the attachment are also not very good, and are super tight to turn.

3. The stand - the stand is like any other stand, it is quite sturdy and very acceptable.

Having said that, I guess you cannot expect much more for this type of price, I will however now be looking for an umbrella with a solid metal tube, and the attachment which can sit closer to the center.

It is ok if this is you first time buying an umbrella, but you will quickly notice its limitations
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 12, 2010
Style Name: MountMVerified Purchase
This is a perfectly fine kit. I'm only writing to point out one thing. There are three very similar versions of this stand at Cowboystudio. I've purchased two; they're both fine. However, if you have a Sony alpha camera (which has a proprietary hot shoe), this is the model you want. The top attachment easily screws off so that you can mount your flash's mini-stand. The other models do not offer this flexibility. (Well, at least one of the other models does not.)
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2011
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
As most of the reviewers have commented, if you're looking for a cheap entry into the world of umbrellas, look no further. As most reviewers have also commented, this stuff is cheap in more ways than one!

I ordered two of these units to start my fantasy home photo studio. Upon opening the first box I was greeted with little white pieces of plastic falling onto the table top. Not a warm fuzzy feeling, but I was prepared for cheap. Turns out the small ring around the upper-most part of the inside umbrella was cracked (could have been shipping, could have been temperature related, could be just cheap plastic). This didn't seem to harm the function of the umbrella (it opens), so I shrugged it off.

Next, I found the mount for the umbrella. As some reviewers have commented, it doesn't...quite...fit. Or at the very least it fits oddly onto the base stand. Again, not a huge deal. Mounted that and fit the umbrella into the hole. Fits very loosely. Not great. Umbrella sorta sags in the socket. Found my flash (SB-600) and mounted that in the shoe fairly well. Hoisted up the stand (it extends high enough for me) and thought - not bad.

A few days later I opened the second box to discover the mount is COMPLETELY different, the umbrella is a different shade of white and also carries the CowboyStudio logo on it. I found it odd since the first umbrella was a much nicer white and no nasty logo on it. The mount mounted differently on the stand (odd) and the worst part was the flash shoe (being different) wouldn't hold my other SB-600. In fact, when I thought it was secure I backed away from the stand and IT FELL OFF!! I tried adjusting the screw as tight as I could and the metal that is supposed to secure the flash in place just hiked up the side of my flash base. Did I mention cheap?

So, in summary, if I had ordered one of these and it was the first one I probably would have told people to deal with the cheap factor and buy something more expensive if they wanted quality, but this gets the job done. Now I'm not sure what to say. The only similarities between these two (supposedly identical) products I ordered is the base stand itself. It is light and does not stand up well over a certain height, but it's fine. The mounts are hit or miss and even the "good" one is so/so.

Go for the non-logo umbrella and enjoy learning how to be a strobist. Oh wait - you never know what you're going to get when you order this product. Then again, surprises are always fun.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2010
Style Name: MountNVerified Purchase
Overall I'm happy with this product. The stands are sturdy even at full height. My one complaint about this package is that the umbrella swivel does not angle the umbrella so the flash points to the center. In fact the umbrella hole is at a straight 90 deg to the bracket so there is no way it could have ever been tilted. There is another package that has a different swivel that is the same price. Search for it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2010
Style Name: MountMVerified Purchase
This is the first lighting stand I've owned, and for my purposes as an enthusiast it's great. I'm a student, so I was on a budget, and you'd have a hard time arguing that the difference in quality between this setup and others in the hundred-dollar range equals the price difference.

Will wind knock it over, even without the umbrella on? Maybe. I live in Lubbock, Texas, where 20 mph winds are normal, so I can't make a fair judgment on how it holds up in lighter conditions. The clamps on the stand are plastic but lock very securely. I suppose the umbrella rod could pinch if you screw it in too tightly, but it's easy to lock it into place without doing that.

It doesn't come with any instructions, but it's pretty self-explanatory. Delivery was very quick. I have no complaints considering the price tag (about the service or product), hence five stars.
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