The BAT Cave
SaberStrip Grid Test
I bought a SaberStrip a couple years ago in hopes of using it as a portable rimlight for my cosplay photography adventures. The SaberStrip is an interesting lighting modifier consisting of a 39-inch cardboard tube lined with mirrored paint and faced with a diffuser. It's much taller than it is wide, so my first thought was to use it as a rimlight but that isn't really its strength because light tends to spray out of the SaberStrip in a surprisingly wide arc. I believe this happens because of the cylindrical shape of the SaberStrip, the interior of which is basically a curved mirror which shoots light out the front at all angles.
So, since I already had other modifiers that gave me the look I wanted (and the SaberStrip is a pain to fly with because of its non-collapsible size), I put the SaberStrip aside and haven't used it. But a few months ago, a Google search led me to a prototype grid for the SaberStrip made by Honeycomb Grids Inc, I contacted them and they are indeed willing to make these for a nominal fee. I requested their 10 degree grid for a very tight spread, and just today I received it and tested it out.
The grid is a solid-feeling plastic, quite light, looks like good quality. Its edges are lined with velcro and two velcro'ed straps ship with the grid to attach it to the SaberStrip. I was impressed by how easy it is to attach and detach the grid from the SaberStrip, it takes seconds and isn't difficult at all. Note this is not a fabric "eggcrate" grid, it is hard plastic similar to grids made for beauty dishes. I got the black color for harder edges, I believe a softer white may also be available.
So, I took a series of photos with and without the grid. You'll notice that without the grid, the SaberStrip basically lights up the entire wall, there is no control at all. The grid controls this spill pretty well, although I was expecting a taller, more oblong spot than what it produces. If you look closely at the shadows, the SaberStrip produces a double vertical shadow that is soft, above a harder core, with the horizontal edges being pretty hard. I guess that makes sense considering the long, narrow shape of the modifier.
All pictures taken with my Nikon D7100 and an SB-900 flash inside the SaberStrip. Camera settings were ISO 100, f/8, 1/200 second. The front of the SaberStrip was exactly 5 feet from the wall. The SB-900 was manually zoomed to 120mm, this is to avoid a hotspot at the bottom of the strip where the flash sits inside the tube.
I'm not ready to draw any conclusions from this until I test it in a real shooting situation, the next one being San Diego Comic-Con 2013!
Test conducted June 26, 2013.
Click on the buttons below the image to see different power levels with and without the grid.
The SaberStrip head-on without the grid. The SaberStrip head-on with the grid.
The SaberStrip without flash just to show it. The HoneyGrid and velcro attachment straps.
My lovely and talented lighting assistant valiantly taking a flash to the face from the SaberStrip!
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