The Sundisc Could Be The Next Best Pocket Sized Light Modifier For Photographers

The Sundisc Could Be The Next Best Pocket Sized Light Modifier For Photographers

UPDATE:  ENDS TODAY! Have you ever wished you could have a decent sized softbox fit in the palm of your hand? Swedish photographer Vincent Palma and his team have created a 24 inch light modifier that folds down into a mere 8 inches. Using the same patented mechanism as our own Fstoppers Flash Disc, the Sundisc will give you even, soft light when carrying large, bulky softboxes is not practical. The Sundisc Kickstarter has already met its funding goal but that doesn't mean you can't get in on this first production run now before the campaign ends Wednesday, June 28th. 

The Sundisc looks to fill a gap between the pocket sized portability of the Fstoppers Flash Disc and larger softboxes that rely on umbrellas, rods, and unbendable frames. With a few creative designs, the Sundisc also has a few handy features tucked into its design.

Portability

The main advantage of a folding softbox like the Sundisc is that you can easily pack one, two, or even three into a relatively small area. As I mentioned before, most traditional softboxes are built around an umbrella frame (like the Westcott Apollo Box) or use softbox rods which are secured into a speed ring. There are some creative designs like Westcott's Rapid Box collapsable Octabox but these softboxes also rely on a speed ring and are best used mounted to a light stand. The beauty of the Sundisc is that it can fold up into itself the same way your everyday common reflector folds up. This allows each Sundisc to fold up into a very small package that can easily fit in your camera bag, checked luggage, or even attached to your belt if you are shooting a wedding. The guys at Sundisc claim the final production model will fold up to about 8" despite it looking a little bit larger in the Kickstarter campaign video. Also, since the entire collapsible softbox does not contain a significant amount of metal parts, the overall weight will be much less than a traditional softbox too.

The 24" Sundisc folds up to about the same diameter as a common speedlight

Quality of Light

Obviously without having a preproduction model in our hands, it's hard to say exactly what the quality of light will look like coming out of the Sundisc. As we all know, the larger the light source, the softer the light will appear on your subject at the same distance. Therefore, it is safe to say that the light produced by the 24" Sundisc will be a bit softer than from our own 12" Flash Disc. Neither of these portable softboxes are designed to completely replace a traditional softbox, but the Sundisc should get you close to the soft quality of light you would find in a small to medium sized softbox. The downside to this is that your flash is probably going to have to be set at much higher levels or even maxed out to produce the quantity of light produced from a traditional softbox. Having designed and tested our own Flash Disc extensively, I know it works well for small product shots, details at a wedding, headshots, and even full body shots at close distances (as seen in this photo here). The Sundisc should give you significantly softer light for full body portraits and even group shots as long as your speedlight has enough juice to property illuminate your subject.

Built in Gels

One cool feature that the Sundisc has built into its design is that it can be inverted quickly to give your flash a warmer color temperature. Most other light modifiers require you to carry small Rosco Gels in your bag and actually gel the flash itself. The Sundisc is lined with a silver reflective material in its normal operating configuration. However, if you want a warmer color of light, you can simply invert the entire Sundisc which places a gold reflective material on the inside. This handy feature allows you to have both daylight and tungsten colored light without having to carry any supplemental gels. 

By inverting the entire Sundisc, you can choose between daylight and tungsten lighting

Price and Availability

When it comes to photography gear, it seems like even a simple tripod can cost you an arm and a leg. Luckily this portable flash modifier isn't one of those crazy expensive items. During the Kickstarter campaign, you can buy one Sundisc for $47, two for $85, or four for $140 (some of the other options are already sold out). When the Sundisc is finally released, it is planned to retail at $69 each. For such a small and useful light modifier, you really can't beat the value you are getting especially if you pledge early. 

The expected release date for the Sundisc is Sept 2017 but from my experience with crowdfunding, I would anticipate a few extra months just to be safe and not disappointed. Also, these units ship anywhere in the world as part of the Kickstarter campaign but the full retail release might be limited to Europe and parts of Asia. So again, if you are looking for the absolute best price, now is the time to pick one (or four) of these up.

The Sundisc gives soft light even at reasonable distances

Our Overall Thoughts

One of the most commonly asked questions we receive almost on a weekly basis is, "When will you release a larger version of the Flash Disc?" The two main reasons we have not created a Flash Disc larger than 12" is because from our experience it becomes very difficult to make the two discs rigid enough to stay open while also remaining secure on your flash. The second reason is that the whole idea behind our own product was for it to easily fit inside your pants pocket. Because of this, I was never fond of using small reflectors was because they were always just large enough that I couldn't easily carry them on me. I'm not convinced that the Sundisc will ever easily fit inside your pants pocket but that doesn't mean that it cannot be a perfect portable alternative to a much larger studio softbox. If you are traveling where luggage size and weight limits are very strict, a few of these light modifiers would be awesome to throw into your checked bag or carry on.

Another reason we have been hesitant producing a larger sized Flash Disc has to do with light efficiency. With small speedlights it becomes very difficult to light up an area much larger than 12" without having to fire your flash at full power at a reasonable fstop and ISO. Obviously in low light situations you can easily shoot wide open at 2.8 and set your ISO to 1600 to capture studio looking portraits. However, you aren't always going to find yourself in low light environments. One situation where we have loved using the Flash Disc is outside at the beach during family portraits. The 12" size is perfect for lighting up small children even in bright situations. I'm excited to try the Sundisc in similar situations to see both how stabile it is in the wind and also how powerful it can get in late afternoon sun. 

I was excited when Vincent and the team at Sundisc launched this Kickstarter because I really do think it will fill a void between smaller light modifiers like the Fstoppers Flash Disc, the ExpoImaging Rouge Flash Benders, and the much larger and expensive studio softboxes. Lee and I are tinkering with our own next version of the Flash Disc but we honestly have nothing planned in making it larger (at least not significantly larger), so we are excited to see how the guys at Sundisc do with their own larger product. 

 

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29 Comments

Tony Pardi's picture

Isnt the sundisc a giant Flash Disc?
btw love using my flash disc for all my ring shots :-)

Patrick Hall's picture

Yes it is a very similar design and because of that they are licensing the patent on the Flash Disc design. I'm hoping their larger surface area works well but we will have to wait to see. My main concern with a larger size is simply the stability of the unit and how easily it falls off the flash.

Tony Pardi's picture

im looking forward ot the giant flash disc coz it can fit my godox ad360, that was the only downside to the original flash discs... but thank you again for making the flash disc, i love using them for ring shots

Jay Jay's picture

If it just sits on the flash head alone, all it will take is a sudden light to moderate gust of wind to send that and the stand crashing to the ground. Sandbagging the stand still wont prevent the wind from pulling that thing off the flash head.

Patrick Hall's picture

It really depends on how top heavy it is and how strong the elastic band can hold onto the flash. I know with the Flash Disc, the wind does not pull the disc off the flash very easy if ever over the 10 years I've been using it. The reason is the Flash Disc is only 12" in diameter and the wind can't get inside the unit to pull it off. I live at the beach and shoot in moderate to strong winds often. Only time will tell if increasing the modifier size significantly like the Sundisc has done will cause the unit to be less stable.

Jay Jay's picture

I've got a couple of your flashdiscs, and though i've only used it once, they are small and lightweight. But a 24" modifier that's heavier and with a greater footprint to catch the wind with is something that should make most people nervous. Will be interested in seeing a review of it.

Patrick Hall's picture

Well like I said in the article, stability is one of the main reasons why we never increased the size of the Flash Disc. It should be interesting to test one of these in the field.

I have the flashdisc. It's really useful yet could have used a few improvements. The main one for me is the fact that it is very difficult to use gels with it. Attaching a gel on the flash and then slip it in the FD is nearly impossible. And gelling the flash after inserting it in the FD is cumbersome at best. My gels attach to a velcro band around the flash ... and that give me the idea to stick a piece of velcro inside the flashdisc so that it's supported to the flash that way instead of the elastic. Work nicely and is therefore easier to use with my gels.

As for the stability of a bigger flashdisc-like softbox, I have this one for my LED panels.
https://kamerar.com/products/d-fuse-softbox
It's huge and they came up with those collapsible rods for stability which are working great. They have an elastic going through them to prevent losing them and attach using a magnet. Very simple and efficient.

It also has a grid. And I really feel a grid should be available with all softboxes. I also regret there is none for the flashdisc sometimes.

Patrick Hall's picture

Thanks for the input. We are currently working on a gel option as well as toying with the grid. The problem with the grid is no grid we have found will collapse in a way that makes the Flash Disc portable. You would have to either have a second pouch for it or leave it in your bag altogether. We are trying to figure out a way to implement that into the next version.

As for the stability, I don't necessarily mean the stability of the "box" but rather making it stable on the flash itself. The current design allows you to hold the flash pointed down and the disc won't fall off. The bigger the modifiers get, the less stable that elastic band becomes.

Really want one now! I think the sundisc looks like it was made with the godox ad200 in mind. I own the flashdisk and it works great with a hotshoe flash but I really think the extra power of the ad200 will compensate the size of the sundisc vs. the flash disc. This could be the perfect setup for shooting full body portraits in the afternoon sun. I hope the combination of the ad200 and sundisc will have enough power to let me feather the light and make it even softer…if the first reviews confirm that it is stable enough and light distribution is even I will buy at least one.

Patrick Hall's picture

That's an interesting idea. I have never used the godox ad200 but at 200 w/s I wonder how much more powerful it is from a flagship speedlight? From a marketing stand point, I think it would be a mistake to make a product like this that is primarily designed to work with a single flash and not a host of different flashes. I'm curious to get my hands on one and test it out.

Matt Rennells's picture

Most flagship speedlights (Nikon SB-900/910, Canon 580, etc.) are in the 50-60 w/s range.

Matt Rennells's picture

I have a the concern with of quality of light out of this. I wonder how even of a spread it is top to bottom. The Fstoppers flash disc is small enough that it really shouldn't matter that much, but with this larger version could have issues.

Ebay is loaded with softboxes like the one pictured below. They come in all kinds of sizes, and I personally have the 12x12 and 32x32 versions of it (looking at adding a 24x24 as well). Prices range from $20-40 for the softbox kit with bracket and carrying case. While it is not completely pocketable due to the bracket, you're probably going to have a lightstand with you anyhow that you can leave the bracket attached to. Both the 32" and 12" will fit into the roughly 10x6x3 carrying case of the 32" version once folded up like a reflector, and I have that attached to my camera bag strap with a clip. Quality of light is actually pretty good out of these, with only a mild blue color shift, and gelling the light is just as easy as gelling a speedlight. I even purchased a cheap speedring adapter and am able to use it with my studio strobes as well.

Just another option out there for a small pocketable diffuse light source.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah these things are great but from my experience these brackets break ALL THE TIME. Over years of shooting, I wound up buying one of these brackets because it is built like a tank and can hold 2 flashes or a flash and a pocket wizard. The downside is that it won't work with the softbox above and it can only accommodate softboxes with 4 rods and not anything like an octa.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/124818-REG/Chimera_2785M_Speed_Ri...

The Sundisc might have a slight uneven spread but with the larger box shape it might actually be pretty even. Because the flash fires straight up and bounces around, you get a pretty even spread...at least more than you would think.

Again, these products are aimed at convenience, portability, and size. We use ours for detail shots at the wedding where I either hand hold mine in my left hand or have an assistant hold it. In tight wedding locations I don't want the bulk of a softbox and I def don't need a light stand. If you are shooting portraits on the beach, sure it makes sense but the Flash Disc was originally made for quick shoots like macro ring shots, the cake, the food, shooting children, small tabletop product shots where the flashes sit on the native hotshoe stands, etc. We also used it heavily when bounce flash wasn't an option and you want to shoot night life or dancing photos with some slight off camera lighting by hand holding it in your left hand while you shoot. A big softbox in a tight club or dance floor isn't ideal for that either.

Matt Rennells's picture

I agree, and I would totally recommend the Fstoppers flash disc for the tight shooting situations you listed above, macro, on camera bounce, tight dancefloor, etc. Your product is ideal in those situations over the all of the various "Fong" based products of the world.

You said it yourself, "If you are shooting portraits on the beach, sure it makes sense [to use the other style softbox]." The demo video and promotional photos above show the Sundisc being used almost exclusively for off camera portrait lighting (especially outdoors). I merely presented another solution which will produce the same, if not better quality lighting, takes up roughly the same storage space, and costs the same or less money.

As far as the breaking of the brackets go, did you get the ones with the all metal brackets? There are some with plastic brackets and some with all metal (prices seem to be the same). The all metal ones are very durable from my experience with one exception -- the ball joint that allows the softbox to tilt. I fixed that issue with a $0.13 screw and a standard umbrella holder with a female stud.

Patrick Hall's picture

Yeah I've had the all metal ones. The issue for me is that they use all these screws, adapters, and thin parts that over time will bend or screws will fall out. I'm actually considering making a new speedring adapter that will never break and solves all the headaches I've had with these brackets.

Matt Rennells's picture

Sorry to bring up an old post, I've been out of town in the land where internet forgot for a few days. Back on topic about the Sundisc.... what is their mount? Is it included? I only as as I see this very cantilever style mount shown in some of the demo video, and they actually appear to wrap the Sundisc around it, yet it is not shown in the video part where they pack all of the "gear" needed into the brown leather bag.

Patrick Hall's picture

I'm not sure that any mount comes with the Sundisc since it works with the same elastic band the FlashDisc uses. They may have an accessory you can add as I do see a few instances of them using something in the promo video but I don't think that is part of the normal system. I could be wrong though

If you're looking for this type of softbox, don't look no further, buy this one. https://www.amazon.com/Neewer-Softbox-Bracket-600EX-RT-Speedlite/dp/B01L...

Best thing ever. The bracket is super sturdy, quick and very simple to use, with no loose parts (not like the one you linked above). You can use with bigger barebulb flashes too. The softbox setups/breakdowns quickly in a compact package and it comes with a grid. It holds down its own load perfectly when in use. Super bang for buck !

Patrick Hall's picture

That's an interesting design but there is no way I'd feel comfortable placing my flash into that vice style grip. My luck the screw would twist just a little and the flash would drop out entirely. The only mount I trust is the cold shoe adapters that allow the Nikon pin to drop down into the shoe itself. There was also that cold shoe adapter promoted heavily on Strobist years ago that physically locked the flash into it.

The other problem with this bracket IMO is if you are going to go all out and use a bulky softbox, why not go ahead and mount two speed lights to the setup for more power, faster recycle rates, and/or a backup flash if the batteries die?

Eduardo Francés's picture

I have that Godox adapter and to tell you the truth (and without wanting to rest merit to the Sundisc) it is really well designed and manuactured.

The vice has rubber above and below (or something similar) to not scratch the plastic of the flash and it is textured to avoid the flash from slipping.

This adaper is designed for the AD360 but has the flexibility to be used with almost any other flash.

I have uploaded a photo I found in google you can see the textured material on the bottom of the inner part if you zoom in.

I have used it hundreds of times witj my AD360's and my normal hot shoe flashes without a hitch.

I mean, with all due respect, you have to try it and test it before dismissing it at least

I really think the point of owning the sundisc vs. a softbox is portability and the time you need to set up before you can start shooting. Speed and portability are the main reasons I switched from the godox ad360 to the ad200 (no cables, internal battery, smaller size). If I only take a small light stand (lumopro lp605), the ad200 flash and the sundisc I should be able to have eveyrthing up and ready in 2-3 minutes without the need for an assistant. An outdoor shoot will also call less attention to itself that way and even if you do get unwanted attention while shooting you can pack up and leave within minutes. I own all kinds of softboxes in similar size but I hate putting them together and they also take away too much space in my bag when traveling alone.

I have to say that I think the gold is a big mistake.

If I want a less specular look the SunDisk does not give me the option. Think shiny skin or a person who is very warm or even waring glossy makeup. I would rather a silver and white version. If I need to gel the flash I put the gel under the flip-out diffuser and then fit the Flashdisk, it works. However, on the plus side I am really delighted to see a bigger version. I will be putting my name down for a couple, after I have read the reviews.

John

Patrick Hall's picture

Well the flash panel lighting your subject will actually be a soft nylon type fabric that is white. So even if the inside back panel is shiny silver or gold, the specular nature of the light will be reduced because of the diffusion cloth it has to travel through. It's much like adding a sock to a silver beauty dish, at that point you pretty much negate the silver element and make it look more like a white beauty dish or small softbox.

Rashed Ahmed's picture

Watching the video, I think an extra diffusion cloth will help a lot. If the photographer needs it, he/she can make the light more softer. One can also use like a strip light by adding 2 more on the same light stand.

Jeff McCollough's picture

My main octa is the Westcott Rapidbox 26". I love it for it's size and how it just works for me. My main problem with it is that even though it folds up small, it still won't fit all the way inside my backpacks. The attached photo was shot with the RB.

The other month I bought the Phottix Spartan BD 20". I haven't tried it yet as I am waiting on the Speedlight adapter but it does fold down a lot smaller and I am sure I will get similar results to my Rapidbox.

I like the idea of the Sundisc as I already own the Fstoppers Flashdisc but as the only sample pics are not that great I'm not sure yet.

Rex Larsen's picture

I often use a very small white shoot-through umbrella. It's very slim and light and no longer than the small lightstand it gets packed with. I imagine the results are fairly similar.

Patrick Hall's picture

The main problem with umbrellas is, as you said, they don't pack down small enough to put in a roller bag and sometimes a checked luggage. The other problem is they require an umbrella bracket to mount correctly/easily which is another piece of hardware you have to carry. It's not a big deal for local jobs or if you keep all that gear in your car, but for traveling, shooting in tight spaces, or shooting on the beach in windy situations they aren't ideal.

Rex Larsen's picture

The small shoot through umbrella I suggest is no longer than the lightstand in the video and requires a bracket no larger than the one holding the speedlight and SunDisk. I think it cost under $20. How the two compare in the wind is an open question.