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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2011
Verified Purchase
I'll start off by saying that I've used many lighting accessories over the past few years - the Ray Flash Ringflash Adapter for Canon 580EX II Flash with Canon 1V/1Ds/1D DSLR Cameras, the ePhoto A121BH 22-Inch Beauty Dish Bracket with White Diffuser and Honeycomb Mount, the Photek 36" Softlighter, Diffusing Umbrella with Black Cover.,Gary Fong Origami Flash Diffusion System,Gary Fong WhaletailTM Complete Studio System,Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce for the Canon 580EX Flash and umbrellas. I think each one has it's uses and I still use (most of) them to this day.

The one thing these have in common are that they're designed for portable flashes -- if you're using portable flashes, "portable" is often the important part. You can't really be hauling around 30 pounds of gear for every photoshoot you want to do. A lot of the Speedlight Softboxes are made of metal and not the most compact.. they're fine if you want to set them up at home, but a pain if you plan to bring it all to the part for a photoshoot. That's where this comes in.

I will note that the model I'm reviewing is the Ezybox 24" Hotshoe Kit Mark 2. One problem I've noticed are that a lot of people refer to these as the "Ezybox" or "Ezybox Hotshoe" so it's hard to tell exactly what is being reviewed (I was surprised when mine showed up and was different from what I've seen online previously).

The difference between the Mark 1 ("Ezybox 24" Hotshoe") and the Mark 2 (this one) are all in the bracket (from what I can tell, the softbox itself is the same):

Mark 1 Bracket:
* Made of metal
* Circle opening (much like that for a studio strobe to fit in)
* Shorter height
* 1/4" threaded coldshoe

Mark 2 Bracket:
* Made of thick plastic
* Rectangle/Oval-Opening (to fit the speedlights' head)
* Higher maximum height (so you can use a radio trigger on your flash or a larger flash like a Nikon SB-900)
* "Double-Coldshoe" (one side fits most flashes, the other fits the SB-900)

The Mark 2 bracket is sold separately if you own the previous Ezybox Hotshoe, but it's very expensive at almost 100-bucks: Lastolite LL-LS2414 Ezybox Hotshoe Mark II Mounting Bracket New

The Mark 2 bracket comes as 2 pieces: The speedring and the coldshoe/lightstand adapter. They slide together easily and lock in place with thumbscrews -- the reason they come as 2 pieces are so that you can store them inside the carrying bag along with the softbox (when assembled it's too thick to store this way).

One big downfall of the Mark 2 bracket is that it no longer uses a 1/4" threaded attachment for the coldshoe -- the previous Mark 1 did. The Mark 2 uses a slightly smaller version (not sure of the exact size, but not a standard photography thread size) - this means you can't directly attach any alternate coldshoes you might have (such as a Stroboframe Bracket Shoe Mount,Flash stand for Canon 580EX 550EX 430EX 380EX 220EX, ETTL cables, Pocketwizards or Radio triggers). You're pretty much forced to use the included hotshoe. (I'm sure you can take a trip to the hardware store to buy replacement parts that will fit, but it was very disappointing to see it not come with the standard 1/4" or 3/8" threading).

The bracket uses knobs for "up/down" positioning (based on speedlight size) and "front/back" positioning (to move the flash close to the opening)

The included coldshoe is made of the same thick plastic as the stand, but includes a white plastic insert to "hold" the speedlight foot. You can see the coldshoe here: Lastolite LL LA2433 Ezybox Cold Shoe for Nikon Sb900 Flash Units - my problem with this is that I don't like to trust these "held in place by friction" coldshoes, and it doesn't work too great with a flash like the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras which uses a rubber weather-sealing around the locking mechanism.

I plan to use this flash wirelessly, so I put my Yongnuo 2.4GHz Wireless Flash Trigger/Receiver and Shutter Remote for Canon 1D/5D/7D/10D/20D/30D/40D/50D DSLR on the coldshoe. It does hold in place with the friction-grip of the coldshoe, but for my own piece of mind, I wrapped it up tightly with Gaffers Tape to prevent it from sliding out (if you're using a 500-dollar flash, the last thing you want is for it to slide out and down 5-10 feet to the concrete! Heck, same applies to a 50-dollar flash). That was a big downside for me. If you have a flash receiver that does NOT have a "hotshoe" type piece on it, there is no way to connect it to this unless it (and your camera) have a PC-sync input, and that method isn't as user-friendly. An example is the YN CTR-301 Hot Shoe Flash Light control Remote Trigger w/ PC Cable which only has a flat base with 1/4" threading on the bottom.

The Ezybox itself is very lightweight - I would guess it weighs 1-2 pounds with the bracket.

The size (when in it's case) is much bigger than I thought. Watching videos online, the Ezybox Hotshoe is shown as being able to fold up into a very small carry bag (looks like an 8" circle). This must be one of the older models (or a smaller version) as the 24" model only folds up to a (roughly) 24" triangle (about 2 feet for each size) which is a bit less compact if you need to carry it around all day (won't fit into a bag/backpack and is a bit big to carry by itself). The included bag seems fine as far as materials go, but it's a cheap-looking blue color which stands out quite a bit (this seems to be their signature color, I just think it looks bad.. but it is just a carrying bag. No deductions to the score for this, this is more of a "For your information" bit of information)

The material appears to be made out of a traditional Neewer 110CM 43" 5-in-1 Collapsible Multi-Disc Light Reflector material.. you can tell the 4 sides of the "Softbox" are made of this.. fortunately it keeps it lightweight and easy to fold up (or unfold). The exterior is black and the interior silver -- I'll note that the exterior does have a 3x6" LASTOLITE EZYBOX logo on it (again, "for your information only")

Finally, there are 2 sheets of diffusion material included - the smaller one goes in first and fits roughly right in the middle between the flash and the front of the softbox, the 2nd one goes on the "end" of the softbox. Both have velcro on the borders and snap in place VERY easily. Material seems very high in quality (both material and craftsmanship with the velcro being attached) compared to some of the cheaper alternatives. I will note that because it uses velcro to attach, it is somewhat noisy when you remove the diffuser sheets (this is important if doing a photoshoot somewhere that needs to be quiet -- you won't want to take the diffuser apart in the middle of a wedding ceremony.

The softbox attached very easily to the bracket/speedring (I was very surprised by this -- literally 5-10 seconds). This is often a lengthy process with some of the traditional softboxes. It detached just as easily.

Light quality from this is very nice -- it's nice and soft and looks very nice (I didn't notice any color-casts from it). The falloff is pretty fast, so you probably don't want to be too far from your subject with this (5-8 feet is what I'd assume is the max I'd want to go). You probably also won't use this for group shots. For 1-2 people though, it works nice (particularly if doing a waist-up or headshot).

There is quite a bit of light-loss from the diffusion material. I can't measure it, but I would safely say at least 1 stop of light per diffusion sheet. The way this is designed, the flash points in through the back (outside of the softbox), aimed directly at the diffusion sheets (with the silver lining of the softbox along the exterior walls). Most of these portable softboxes like the Westcott 28" Apollo Speedlite Kit for Shoe Mount Strobes. go for a different approach.. the flash is INSIDE the softbox, pointing at the rear walls (silver) which then bounce it forward through the reflection material. I would assume the "inside" method works a bit better since it reflects much more, but I HIGHLY prefer the method of the Ezybox as it allows you to adjust the controls easily (the Apollo, for example, requires you to open it up and go inside the softbox to change controls).

With the bracket on the Ezybox, I had no problem with my radio triggers (sometimes they're too long and won't allow the flash to get close enough to the opening, or require you to put it on sideways and twist the flash head) - I had none of those problems with the Ezybox and RF-602 radio triggers linked above.

One other nice touch is that all 4 sides of the Ezybox have a velcro strip on the outside. This is great if you use other velcro accessories (flash gels, diffusion sheets, HONL accessories, etc..) as you can easily "hold" them in place using this (so they're always there if you need them). If you need to take out a diffusion sheet briefly, for example, you can store it on the side of the unit instead of putting it away or sitting it on the ground.

The bottom of the bracket does NOT include a 1/4" or 3/8" threading - it connects to a lightstand tip. I used it on a regular lightstand as well as the Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand Replaces Manfrotto 001B (Black) and both worked great (the Nano was not too lightweight to hold this up).
Another benefit of the Ezybox is that it won't blow away as easy as an umbrella (so you don't need to weight it down as much).

One downside is that the bracket does not tilt on it's own - On a lightstand, it's pretty much stuck point straight forward. If you want to angle it, you'll want a Manfrotto 026 Swivel Lite-Tite Umbrella Adapter (the price keeps going up for this thing!)

It does not include any sort of handle (and they sell a pricey one). I simply used a 7101 Minipod with a Manfrotto 119 Female Spigot for 026 1/4-Inch 20 Female and 3/8-Inch Female 31mm Long Adapter - Replaces 3108 attached to the top to work as a handle.

The adapter above will also let you use this item on a Monopod or Tripod (the monopod makes a great "boom light"!)

So is this worth it?

I will say it's one of my favorite lighting accessories. For on-the-go, it's my new go-to accessory. It's very pricey for what it is (if you look even here on amazon, you'll find similar items by no-name companies for 1/4 the price.. the thing I've learned from these are that it's usually best to go with the original product as it has the R&D behind it.. the others may have a color cast, a poor bracket (the ePhoto beauty dish above, for example, is a scary thing to use since it always seems like it will come crashing down), MUCH MORE light loss (the Rayflash knockoffs, for example), or just poor build quality that won't last). I feel terribly spending almost 200 bucks on this, but it works and I don't have to worry about it too much (except that coldshoe...)

It's more expensive than the Softlighter (which provides a much larger light source), but it sets up so much quicker and is much more portable.. not to mention it holds up better in the wind.

The fact that I can carry it in a bag, unfold and set it up in 30 seconds and be ready to go is what sold it for me.

You can keep the bracket attached to the flash/lightstand to save more time (it won't affect the flashes usage either).

The things holding me back from 5-stars:

* The coldshoe - they seem to have gone a proprietary route, moving away from 1/4" threading that almost EVERY flash/lighting piece of equipment uses - this leaves open the possibility for a very expensive flash to fall down. What makes this worse is that the Mark 1 (metal) version used this 1/4" threading.
* Price..
...The bracket itself is very pricey - and necessary - for what it is. If you lose one of the pieces or forget part on home/on location (since you do need to disassemble it to store it), you can't use this item.. and another will run you almost 100-bucks.
...The accessories available for it (grids, handles, etc..) are all very pricey on their own.. an extending pole to hold this on (which is very flimsy) runs 100-bucks, grids run 100-bucks, handles run 30-40 bucks..
...you also need a Flash, Transmitter/Cable, Lightstand and Swivel bracket (all sold separately)
* Despite being able to fold up, it doesn't fold up quite enough to fit into a bag and is a bit bulky to carry on it's own all day (this was a disappointment as watching videos online, they show it folding up much more compact, but that must be a different version in the same line - they don't specify).

I give this between a 4 and 4.5 - I don't regret it by any means, but it's not perfect. For someone on the go, it might be the best you'll find though. I recommend it.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions about this item!
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2010
Verified Purchase
I've been using the Ezybox for a few months. The difference in my photos vs. using a plain flash -- or a flash with a small diffuser -- is incredible. No unwanted harsh shadows -- the fill is so much much more natural. It sets up in about 30 seconds from the compact blue zip-up bag (1 pound or so, same diameter as a small Frisbee but much thicker). I wish the bracket which holds the flash extended a little bit more -- another inch -- in order to fit a flash + PocketWizard + PW RF shield, all stacked.

Note that unlike some photos of the product you might see, there is *not* a handle included. There is a clamp (non-rotating), so you can stick in any tripod, light stand, or even wooden dowel to improvise a handle. Or you can buy Lastolite's handle.

I don't know why this thing costs as crazy much as it does. I think it's because it's made by well-paid Brits who invent, design, and build these things right there in the UK. I Looked at some cheap knock-off Chinese ones, which would cost less and work basically the same... they just rip off the Lastolite design and crank them out for less. But I'm happy to support Lastolite, so they can continue to design cool things like this. In the end the price is clearly worth it in terms of improved photos.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2010
I use only speed lights for my lighting as I am only a location photographer. So when I saw this soft box kit and learned that it was for speed lights, I bought one and was very excited to start using it. The construction of the box itself is great. It sets up and tears down very easy and is very compact and light weight. The reason I gave it a three star is because of the hot shoe holder on the bracket. It has absolutely no way to lock your flash to it, which resulted to me dropping my brand new $500 flash onto the pavement. My flash survived, but took some beating. Even though I gave this kit a three star, I still highly recommend it, as I haven't seen anything else on the market for the location photographer. If you choose to buy this kit, I suggest that you tether your flash to the bracket so that it doesn't take a nasty fall.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2009
Verified Purchase
I bought one of these units, liked it so much that I bought a second one. The setup is fast and the results are excellent. The new Mark II bracket fits perfectly with my Nikon SB 900's. Wish it were less expensive, but "you get what...". An excellent solution for in-studio and on location.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2010
Verified Purchase
As expected with Lastolite and for the hefty price, this softbox is very well built. I use it with the Canon 580EXII, and it fits perfect. Portable, adjustable, and great quality. I don't have much experience with other softboxes, so I can't comment on how the light compares, but I can say that it is very soft. I would definitely recommend this product. Go on youtube to find the video about how to fold it...very helpful!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
This is a nice softbox but if you're doing any outside shooting the box falls off the ring too easily. On my last engagement session, my assistant in the end was having to hold the box with one hand and the stand with the other. I've got it mounted on a SHUR-LINE paint extention pole and it works nicely. I'm currently looking for a fix to secure the softbox so it doesn't fall off so easily.
That's the only reason I give it four stars. Really appreciate any ideas on combating wind. Thanks!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Verified Purchase
Was looking for a replacement to using shoot through umbrellas outdoors, and this is perfect. Isn't affected by wind nearly as bad, so there less problems with light stands tipping over. Light quality is great. It's easy to fold up once you get the hang of it. Folds to an ultra portable size. So far NO complaints.

I've used this on most of my latest shoots. You can see some of it here...
[...]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2012
This product is amazing.

Light: Very soft. It contains two layers of diffuser.
If you want to maximize light output, attach none of them;
If you want soft light and do not want to lose too much light, attach the outer layer;
If your only consideration is soft light, then attach both of them.
Put some gels in front of your speedlite, than you can get any color you want.

Compare with umbrella: the light from this soft box is more directional than an umbrella(such as a 45 inch umbrella).For an umbrella, I always find light goes everywhere, in other words, it spread too wide. I am not saying umbrella is inferior to softbox, what I want to say is the light differences between these two products.

Set up: One man, Two hands(no tools needed), At most 1 minute.

Bracket: Although not mental(less weight), it seems very durable. The bracket could fit any kind of speedlites from nikon and canon. For other brands, I do not know. TT5+Sb900 fit very well on the bracket.

Wind resistance: Good. I use it together with manfrotto 1004bac, I do not need sand bag if wind is NOT TOO strong. Stronger wind resistance than a 45inch umbrella.

In conclusion, This one is an excellent and suitable light modifier for outdoor portrait(does not mean it is not good for indoor).

I would recommend it to a friend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2010
Verified Purchase
Love it - well made, light, durable, and produces great light! The shoe mount works well, everything about it is top-notch. Very good product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
Verified Purchase
I purchased this to supplement my off-camera flash tools. I had mostly been using a shoot-through umbrella, and while the quality of light from the umbrella is great, the light spills everywhere and is not easily controlled. This soft box produces a similar quality of light with control. I tried it out of the box and was very pleased with the results. Construction is very sturdy, and set-up takes less than 2 minutes. It's also very easy to fold-up and place back in the supplied carrying case, which is also very nice quality. I gave it 4 starts because you must have an umbrella light-stand adaptor and have an extra brass peg on hand to insert into the flash adaptor if you want the soft box to tilt on a light stand. I think this should be included, but chances are you already have one if you're buying this.
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