It has always driven me insane that I had to stock multiple sets of softboxes that are largely identical but designed for use with either studio strobes (of a specific brand) or speedlights (via some sort of proprietary bracket). I even jerry-rigged some disconcertingly terrifying setups over the years involving a few Justin Clamps to mount my speedlights onto speed rings. Unsurprisingly, things didn’t go very well. That is until I discovered Cheetah Stand’s Speed Pro MKII bracket, which is a hefty bracket specifically designed to help you mount a small flash into Bowens-style speed rings.
Purchasing the Speed Pro MKII
My biggest complaint about the Speed Pro MKII was how difficult it was for me to get my hands on it. Cheetah Stand’s homepage greets every visitor with “We only ship to US address [sic],” in big, bold, red letters.
As a Canadian I was rather frustrated by this. We are used to paying a premium up here to have American products shipped north of the border, but it is rare that a company refuses to ship here at all. After going back and forth with Cheetah customer service trying to convince them to ship it to me, I eventually gave up and had them ship to a friend in the U.S. who ended up re-shipping to Canada on my behalf.
Right out of the box I was pretty impressed with the Speed Pro MKII. As soon as you lift it up you can feel the heft that speaks to a product that is built to last. With the exception of some of the knobs, the entire bracket is built using some sort of very sturdy metal. I’d be surprised if I ever managed to break one of these.
I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that the Speed Pro MKII ships completely assembled and is ready for use right out of the box. For someone like me that feels completely lost when handed a set of IKEA instructions, this was a nice benefit.
Mounting a Softbox
The mount, as expected, is pretty much the same as any strobe that supports a Bowens speed ring. I found it easy to use and the lever very nicely locked the softbox into place while being easy to release. In fact, I found the release mechanism to be nicer to use than the Bowens' mount on my old Impact strobes that have been gathering dust for a while now.
Attaching a Speedlight
The horizontal method of mounting the speedlight makes for a much more user-friendly and adjustable process than most speedlite brackets I have used. This allows the user to easily adjust how far the flash head sits into the back of the speed ring.
Furthermore, the Speed Pro MKII sports a fantastic optional arm that helps support the weight of the speedlight so that the majority of the stress isn’t on the hot shoe. I can’t think of any reason why you wouldn’t want to use it, but it is easily removable if you would prefer to save a few grams of weight.
The Speed Pro MKII in Use
Overall I have been very pleased using the Speed Pro MKII for the last few months. It does its job effectively and reliably. It does have a couple minor design problems though that I noticed as I used it more and more.
The first problem being that it does not compress at all for storage and transport. The Speed Pro MKII’s large size and awkward shape takes up an awful lot of room in a camera bag and doesn’t offer any easy way to make it smaller. If the MKIII ever gets created, I would love for it to be able to fold smaller when not in use.
The second issue was the weight. While the strong construction certainly makes for a juggernaut of a sturdy bracket, it also makes for a heavy rig that becomes a problem when the time comes to mount it on a boom. I quickly gave up hope of mounting it on a standard light stand boom, but I even sometimes have challenges with it on a hefty c-stand when used in conjunction with a large softbox.
What I Liked
- Easy to use
- No setup
- Built like a tank
What Could Be Improved
- Cannot collapse to save bag space
- Does not ship internationally
- Cannot mount multiple flashes in a single softbox
As a whole, I have been very impressed with the Cheetah Stand Speed Pro MKII and it has quickly found a permanent home in my portable lighting kit. With the exception of a few minor faults, it is certainly an excellent choice for anyone looking to mount their small flashes to a studio speed ring.
You can purchase the Cheetah Stand Speed Pro MKII through their online store for $79.95.
Always looking for tough gear. Too bad this one doesn't mount to the speedlight head (see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00MVGJLWO/). I usually have slippage concerns (and stories) with coldshoes.
I have a few of these mounts from Godox (not the Neewer branded ones), in the Elinchrom version. I love them. Have never had issues with the way these grip my speedlights, although have seen coldshoe mounts cause issues on location. I also find this type of mount much more compact than the Cheetah ones referenced in the article above. Not to mention that the Neewer/Godox mounts are much cheaper than the Cheetah option, and can be purchased from anywhere in the world.
The addition of the support for the speedlight up need the softbox mount on these Cheetah mounts is nice to see. I've seen too many of this type of bracket where there is no support, and with a FlexTT5 mounted speedlight, there is a lot of stress on an unsupported flash.
I'm heavily invested in Alien Bees but have recently been using more strobes outdoors.. Does this (or anything else) work with the AB softboxes?
You would need to buy a Bowens adapter for your AB speed rings from Paul C buff, but ya it would work great :)
Don't buy a Bowens adapter. Don't use the speedlight adapter either. The Cheetah Box attaches with the PCB ring.
He was asking about attaching a Paul C Buff softbox to the Speed Pro MKII, not a Cheetah Box. The Ring that comes with it to attach to the Cheetah Box is too large to fit into a Paul C Buff speed ring.
Just to clear this up, if I got the "Bowens Speedring Adapter" from PCB, you could use this mount on PCB modifiers? Like Mark, I went in on AB and would like to keep my setup consistent, so this would be great.
does that level adjust the width of how far it is into the softbox or does it tilt the bracket (up/down) for adjusting the light angles?
I also feel the pain of being Canadian and having trouble obtaining some items because of that, not to mention always feeling ripped off by duties, dollar conversion, etc.
About the item discussed in this article, I looked at this kind of items for a while and thought about getting that one : http://flashhavoc.com/phottix-hs-speed-mount-ii-released/
If you ever tried it (or somebody else here did), please let me know if you like it.
If you're Canadian, you can just go to Strobepro.com and order from there, and save some money while you're at it: http://www.strobepro.com/collections/speedlite-flash/products/flash-brac... or http://www.strobepro.com/collections/speedlite-flash/products/strobepro-... both are Bowens mounts. First one is $25, second one is $39.99. As an added bonus, the second one is flat, so it fits in a bag easily. You Americans can take advantage of our dollar difference.