Honl Photo Speed System (Review)

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


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.


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

Some Older Comments

  • Jim August 18, 2009 12:27 pm

    Got them all..use them all..satisfied with them all..Enough Said..Great Stuff.

  • sirshannon August 17, 2009 06:24 am

    disclaimer: I bought one of the gel kits, a couple of the velcro straps, 2 snoots and a grid. I would recommend all of them except for the gels because, as you said, you can DIY your own very easily and $30 for 10 gels isn't a very good deal.
    I think the grid and snoots are a great deal for the money. I've made my own before and none looked as good or were nearly as portable as the Honl versions.

  • sirshannon August 17, 2009 06:21 am

    not sure why you're recommending the $30 gel kits, they don't actually come with the velcro strap so you'll need to buy that separately. Your own advice is "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 " so I am not sure why 10 gels for $30 would be a recommended product.

    If the $30 gel kits included a velcro strap for the speedlight, I could see why you would recommend it, but they don't.

  • Ian August 17, 2009 03:53 am

    The Honl Photo Speed System takes creating images with a Speedlite to the next level - control over the position, quantity and quality of the light from your hotshoe flash or strobe. A worthwhile investment.

  • Layo August 17, 2009 03:31 am

    I have yet to buy a strobe...they're costly, not as much as a decent lens but still

  • Albert Hebert August 17, 2009 01:08 am

    Wish I could use fill lights and larger flash my Fuji s700 does not have that option. Wish I had waiting and exlored more before buying. The images of the Belly Dancer were wonderful and much more dramatic with the colered gels. Totally diffent outcomes....................

  • Scott August 17, 2009 12:57 am

    I love mine and use it quite often. I also have a lot of their other attachments that I also use. Great system even though you would probably make parts of it for cheap, I am also going to support them as I want them to keep churning out the nifty tools