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.
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.
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.
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.
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.