Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out umbrella, but could be (slightly) improved, August 31, 2012
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This review is from: Westcott 2001 43-Inch Optical White Satin Collapsible Umbrella (Electronics)
The umbrella is nicer than I expected after reading the reviews. I wanted a moderately sized white shoot-through umbrella specifically to use while on the go. I decided on this instead of one with a removable cover (Westcott Compact 43" White Satin Umbrella with Removable Black Cover - Collapsible) because I think a shoot-through is sufficient for the majority of mobile applications. I also wouldn't bother with removing and putting a cover back on and would probably just leave a removable cover at home anyway.

The package comes with a clear plastic cover, and a black nylon sheath that is admittedly tight-fitting. I think this is good as it makes the whole setup more compact and protects the white surfaces completely. I use this with a standard Strobist setup: Manfrotto 5001B 74-Inch Nano Stand Replaces Manfrotto 001B (Black), Manfrotto 026 Swivel Lite-Tite Umbrella Adapter, and Stroboframe Accessory Shoe holding up a Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash and wrapped with 10pc Premium-Grade New Virgin Rubber 8" Bungee Ball Cords - Tarps, Canopy, Wrap Hose & Cords. With this setup everything is reasonably solid, the flash points directly in the middle of the umbrella, it's portable, and takes great photos.

PROS:
- It provides very nice, soft light. The "optical white satin" has a nice sheen to it and gives off very nice, diffuse light.
- It collapses very small, is light, and very compact when collapsed.
- It opens to a good size, and is competently built. It won't take abuse as it's a lightweight affair, but it will last if handled with care. You can't expect an especially strong shaft because it's hollow and therefore collapsible (with the exception of the reinforced tip for attaching to an umbrella holder). Any umbrella will break if knocked over on a stand enough times.
- The end of the shaft has been reinforced with a solid metal piece to keep you from accidentally crushing the hexagonal hollow shaft when attaching it to an umbrella adapter. The old workaround of glueing in a sawed off pencil is no longer required. This is a nice improvement made by Westcott recently and I applaud them for that.
- There is a lever-action "button" to snap the umbrella in the open position and close it easily. I really like this feature.
- The case is nice and tight fitting. It's pretty easy to get the umbrella in if you twist the fabric it closed tightly before inserting it into the sheath.

CONS:
- The "tips" around the diameter of the umbrella are a bit sharp, likely to accomodate a removable cover. I would prefer if the ends were capped in some way, or perhaps rounded at the ends. I may just cap the ends myself.

SUMMARY: A very nice umbrella with very minor drawbacks. I will definitely buy another one for back-up, and intend to get several more sizes and types.

*UPDATE (9/10/2012):
- A 2"Wx16"L mailing tube from the Post Office holds it perfectly if you prefer a sturdier case.
- After comparing the fabric and build quality on a few cheaper umbrellas, the Westcott is the one to get. The "Optical White Satin" provides very nice light, it has a nice sheen to it.
- Seeing the "spokes" in the catchlights bug me a little, but I fix that in post. I can't really blame the umbrella, though. At least the catchlights are round, which is what I personally prefer in most cases. For square catchlights I use a softbox (e.g. Lastolite LL LS2462M2 Ezybox M2 Hotshoe Kit (24-Inch X 24-Inch)). A softbox has less light spill, is more directional, and has nice square catchlights. On the other hand, it's 10x more expensive.

*UPDATE (12/27/2012):
- I still really like it, but now I wish I bought the Westcott Compact 43 inch White Satin Umbrella with Removable Black Cover - Collapsible. The cover is useless as a bounce umbrella, but the cover would be handy to partially cover the umbrella when you need to feather the light. The shoot-through gives very pleasing results, but it kind of sprays light everywhere which is a problem if you'd like to keep the flash off the background, for example.
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