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140 of 140 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon July 25, 2011
Verified Purchase
**UPDATE AT THE END OF REVIEW 03/12**
**FINAL UPDATE AT THE END OF REVIEW 07/13**

Okay so before I comment on these, I wanted to give some qualifications. I am a semi-professional photographer, who shoots mainly weddings, although I do a lot of portrait work in my spare time. I have used these both indoors and out, and they come on every shoot with me.

CONSTRUCTION
Let's start with this, repeat after me: "I spent less than a hundred bucks on these..." Ok, we are ready to proceed. These are not professional quality stands. They don't weigh much, and a misplaced foot could bend almost any part of the construction. That said, for the price range I was pleasantly surprised! I have worked with kits in the past costing 10x what this one did, and it's only when you get into the thousands that you see quality really change. In fact I compared these with a five hundred dollar kit...there wasn't much difference in quality. The stands themselves are fine, but as with most stands, you will need to buy some sandbags. After months of continuous use, the umbrellas are doing VERY well - I only had one accident shooting outside when the wind knocked the stand over, and bent one of the spines. It bent back nicely though. The bag has held up very well.

RESULTS
I have had many succesfull shoots with these umbrellas, both at weddings and in the studio. The umbrellas really do their job well, and I can't believe that you get two of each (reflective/shoot-through) with this kit!!! The spread of light with the shoot-throughs is uniform and the reflectors are pretty standard in what they do.

WHY 5 STARS??
- Compared to kits three-fours times the price they still hold up
- Months of use and they have held up very nicely
- 2 umbrellas alone normally cost the price of this whole kit! VALUE!
- The carry bag MAKES this kit.

OVERALL
Highly recommended by a semi-pro photographer, especially for those on a budget. I purchased these as an experiment, and it totally payed off. Do not hesitate, and remember what we said earlier? "I spent less than a hundred bucks on these..."

**UPDATE**
A year on, and this kit is still holding up nicely. The only deterioration visible is on the umbrellas, which are less straight on some of the rods compared to new. That said, I use these several times a week, so this is not abnormal wear. Now shooting professionally, I am looking to purchase a more expensive kit, however I stand by my initial reactions: for the amateur or even serious photographer, these are an excellent budget option!

**FINAL UPDATE**
Well, almost two years to the day that I wrote this review, two of the umbrellas broke within a week of each other. The first one developed a tear in the material that may or may not be fixable. The second mysteriously bent a spoke while I was extending it - I had not damaged it in any way, it had been sitting on the stand folded up in the corner of my office and when I went to open it, it simply caught, then bent in one quick (unavoidable) motion.

So, still five stars? ABSOLUTELY. The stands are still great, the reflective umbrellas (the ones I use less) are still great, and even if the whole thing was going in the trash today, I paid $35 per YEAR of use. That is a screamingly good deal despite some of the downfalls of this product!

Still, highly recommended. I'll be purchasing two new umbrellas and continuing my use of this kit.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2011
Verified Purchase
The tripods are pretty good quality. Umbrellas are not bad either except for the super thin shafts.
The shoe mount umbrella holes are drilled at 90 degrees to the shoe mount, this causes the flash
to aim half way between the center and outer edge of the umbrella.
It it supposed to aim at the center of the umbrella. I had to machine 20 degree "wedges" to go
under the shoe mount to correct the aim. Other than that its a good value
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2010
Verified Purchase
This set was the cheapest I could find for how much was included. Most other sets did not include a carry case, or choice of umbrellas like this one did.

The construction is certainly not the best available, but you wouldn't expect it to be for this low price. The parts are metal, however, which is important. When I was looking for a set to buy, I read reviews on a lot of them saying that a lot of parts were made of plastic and would just break. Although there is some plastic, the majority of this set, and the most important parts, are all made from metal.

One complain I have is actually how light it is. The stands are really easy to knock over because they are so light (even indoors... I wouldn't use these outside with any breeze), but if you just set something heavy on the bottom, that helps a lot.

The carrying case is amazing. I don't know what I would do without it.

Shortly after receiving this item, I was using it on a photoshoot, and one of the stands got knocked over. The flash stayed attached (thankfully) and was not damaged, but the umbrellas was bent. I managed to bend the umbrella back and it has been working fine since.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2011
Verified Purchase
I didn't expect great quality so I wasn't surprised with the set.
It serves the purpose if your not a pro but would like to experiment with studio type set ups.

I'm happy with it however the complaints about the bracket screws stripping are right on.

used once once and now it's stripped, however there is a type of clamp inside the umbrella mount that is tight enough to
hold the umbrella without the screw.
I might ask for a metal replacement.

5 stars for prompt shipping
1 star for quality
3 stars for 7 pc set for the money

3 stars
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2012
Verified Purchase
After reading all the reviews, I decided to order this kit. It's exactly as described many times below. While I find the stands not bad at all, of course they cannot compete with $100 light stands and are not meant to! The umbrellas are fine and two each is a great plus although perhaps a bit small(ish). They of course work just fine. The white one can be used either as a shoot through or reflected. Works as expected either way.

My goal as to build a quick inexpensive studio light set up. I use CowboyStudio flash triggers on a pair of Yongnuo YN-560-II strobes. The camera is a Sony a77. Which brings up a point worth noting. If you use Sony flashes, either the super expensive Sony ones or the Yongnuo (which are every bit as good as the Sony one for 1/4 the price!!!) be aware that the mounts included with this kit WILL NOT accommodate the Sony style hot shoe. Being the CowboyStudio triggers I'm using accept the Sony flash and then attach via a standard ISO shoe makes this a non issue. But if you are going to attach your flash directly to these mounts, all Nikon/Canon etc flashes will work fine, just not SONY!!

One reviewer noted that the umbrella mounting hole is 'too low". Indeed it is! If the umbrella is attached there, the flash will not be centered. Interestingly enough, the flash trigger has it's own umbrella mounting slot and the included umbrellas fit in there just fine. So, for me the kit (even with using Sony flashes) is 100% useable.

I'll have to agree with one reviewer about the included case. It's terrific. I'm not sure what I would do without it. Everything fits in it easily with room for the flashes and perhaps even a few more items. It's constructed fairly nicely too!.

So, overall all I highly recommend this package if you understand that it's not going to compare to a true professional kit of stands, mounts and umbrellas. Of course, that would cost 100X more. It deserves 5 stars for what it is, but overall as a product I give it 4 stars. I hope this helps someone! If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2011
Verified Purchase
I bought this after reading all the rave reviews about how good of a kit this is for the money but let me tell you, there are better kits than this for the same if not less money.

At the time of posting (and my purchasing) this kit is $70. It is indeed a good price for what you get, if it were not for a small detail. The umbrella/flash mounts are cheap plastic RUBBISH. They will do for indoor shooting, but if you take them outside, the wind will pull the umbrellas right out with the slightest breeze. This is because the cheap plastic material does not allow the tighteners to hold the umbrella poles in place. Even with the slightest tightening, the plastic just stripped and the tightener became useless; this was on the very first time I used it, and it was the same exact story on the second mount despite my extremely delicate handling. They literally stripped the plastic threading off before even applying the slightest bit of tightening.

Everything else in the kit seems solid; the stands, umbrellas, and even the bag are all great.

Now why shouldn't you buy this kit?
Simple, the same exact kit (literally the same kit, probably same manufacturer) is sold by Cowboy Studios for $65. In fact, they sell 3 of the this same exact kit with only difference being their selection in mounts. One option is these same rubbish plastic ones. The other two hae metal mounts.
Long story short, I emailed them very nicely and convinced them to send me two of those metal mounts for free, and they were very nice and did so. They are head and shoulders above the cheap plastic ones that come in this set.

Do yourself a favor and buy a set with different mountings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2013
Verified Purchase
I'm just getting into off camera flash photography and let me say this is a great way to get started! I love my flash kit. In my opinion with a little care these stands, brackets, umbrellas, and carry bag will last a long time. I have been able to use these about a half a dozen times now and have given me great results. I would not recommend using these outside without some weights. Also note, that these are not built to be used by a gorilla! As with all products there is a limit to how much abuse something can withstand before it fails, so if you are one to over tighten and carelessly toss, knock, and throw stuff around don't expect this product to last very long. Great product at a great price!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2011
Verified Purchase
I bought the set of stands and umbrellas because I wanted a more convenient and effective way to have off camera flash than I previously had (extra tripod and tiny softbox). Given the price you can't expect anything too great, but these will do the job nicely.

Pros
- Cheap (allows you to start experimenting with studio lighting without costing too much)
- Nice carrying case
- Easy to set up
- Good results, especially with the shoot through umbrellas

Cons
- Cheap build quality (the rods on the silver umbrellas are hollow and can pinch easily, the shoot through umbrellas have better, solid rods)
- Extremely light stands (I am using homemade "sand bags" by using bags of rice to hold them steady)
- Stand are not air cushioned (so make sure to lower them slowly so you do not jeopardize your flash)

In short, if you are unsure whether to buy this or not, I say go ahead. I am happy with this set, and I have received a significant increase in business recently due to the better quality photos I can now provide.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2011
Verified Purchase
For the price you pay this set is a great way to get started with flash photography. The included bag is big enough to also hold a small tripod. Stands are pretty sturdy and having two sets of umbrellas definitely increases the value of this set. Umbrellas seem pretty sturdy. The only downside is the mounting holes for the umbrellas are not angled so the umbrellas don't line up with the flash quite the way they should. Even so, these still work well and the shoot through umbrellas diffuse the light very nicely. I'm very happy with this set. It gives me the ability to take great indoor portraits that I could never make without them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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This set is ok for the price. My main concerns are that the black/silver umbrellas are not truly opaque. This will result in not all the light being bounced back into the scene. The white shoot throughs work fine. The umbrellas all have caps on the ends but they are not solid shafts. This is easily remedied by taking the caps off and putting a pencil up inside, then replacing the caps with a bit of glue. This will help them last longer. They have ball caps on the umbrella ends which is nice because they don't poke into each other in the bag. Be gentle with this set and it should be fine. The stands are very lightweight which is part of what I like about them but I plan to put a set of tent spikes in the bag to hold them down in the light wind outside. This is much easier than lugging around sandbags. The main reason I use speedlights and not flashheads is to reduce weight. This set is nice and light. The zipper stitching on the bag needs reinforcing after just a few uses but the bag is a good size and weight. It might be nice if it were a touch larger to fit a tripod, but mine straps to it fine and I can carry them together easily with the bag straps.
Overall this set is about what I expected-a decent lightweight travel kit. It lost half a star for the bag's zipper stitching and one and a half stars for the opacity of the black/silver umbrellas.
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