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Honl Photo Speed System (Review)

Has the recession ended? It depends on whom you ask, but good luck finding someone without an agenda before giving you an answer. To play things safe, I’m gonna keep pinching my Lincolns and continue to be prudent with my camera gear purchases (and recommendations). Last week we talked about how to make your portable flash units compete with even expensive studio strobes and soft-boxes. With a bag of tricks, you can really make a couple of flashes perform wonders.

This shouldn’t be news to avid DPS readers. In that article I introduced a new set of products called Speedlight Pro Kits. It seems their reception has been good as they are now on back order at MPEX. We’ll I’m here to tell you they aren’t the only solid product in town. In fact, there really is only one other kit I’d recommend you pack regularly, it goes by the name, Honl.

What are the Honl products?

David Honl is a well-known photographer who turned a need into a product and then offered it to the rest of us. Already this appeals to me and should to you too. If a product truly has its genesis from a photographer, chances are it may solve a need of your own. Or many. What Honl offers are snoots, grids, gobos and my favorite gels, all reasonably priced and all well made.honlphotocarryingbag

When my set arrived in the mail, I was impressed before I even pulled out my camera. It came with a sweet nylon zip-up bag with clip. I have most everything they sell and it all fits nicely into the bag. Honi must know how chaotic and unorganized my gear gets.

So it fits my “it must be compact” rule to be included on my photo outings. Beyond it’s compactness, I also appreciate that it is all made from industrial strength nylon. The same material your camera bag is probably made from. That includes the wrap-around snoot. No plastic to get bent out of shape in your bag, just heavy-duty fabric that can be easily stored. His 8″ snoot is also one of the longer snoots I’ve seen as well. The gobo is simple yet nice. To me a gobo usually refers to a plate with a shape cutout placed in front of a light source. The image is then projected wherever the light shines (think Batman). Honl uses the term to describe its velcro reflector card. One side is white, the other is black. I guess the name works since it is blocking portions the light. Not much else to say about it. When you need it, you’ll know.

The Gel Kits

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Where Honl really shines in my opinion is the gels. There are two gel kits each priced at $29, a color corrective kit, and a color effect kit. Once you have the velcro strap system, you could then go to any theater lighting store and choose from thousands of colors and with a little DIY work, make your own gels with velcro and all. I have both kits and each one comes with 5 different colors 2 each for a total of 10 gels. Awesome! You can either roll them up with a rubber band or keep them in the ziploc they come in. Seriously though, if you haven’t ventured into the world of colored light mods, Honl is where you should start.

In this video David Honl shows us the gels, a snoot and a gobo in action. Watching it really makes me want to start experimenting more with light colorization. Imagine the same image with standard flash colors. Yikes.

Conclusion

honl8inch_snoot1If you already have grids and snoots, there is going to be some overlap you should consider before buying. The Speedlight Kit for example has similar pieces. What I like about Honl is their simple velcro system and the easy on-off gels. Although I recommend all their products, I especially recommend the two gel kits.

Below is a quick demo of what they sell. They are available at Amazon for around $144. The US distributer is ExpoImaging. Their site has more information and different kit combination options as well.

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Chas Elliott

Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at www.chaselliott.com.

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