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One of the biggest challenges for amateur photographers is getting comfortable with shooting with off-camera flash. Not only does the technique take much time to master, but lighting equipment is expensive! This is where Polaroid is aiming to help out. The new Polaroid Pro Studio Digital Flash Umbrella Mount Kit might be a mouthful to say, but it is exactly what it says: a portable umbrella lighting kit. What it doesn’t mention is that it is also very affordably priced for the amateur photographer (under $65!). Find out more details about the new Polaroid lighting kit below!
Altogether, this lighting kit weighs a total of 8.5 lbs and runs $64.99 USD. According to the product description, the “Polaroid Digital Flash Umbrella Mount Kit includes all of the essential lighting equipment you will need.” These items include:
These Polaroid brand light stands are three-sectioned twist locks AND they are air cushioned. They fold down to 26 inches and can extend as high as six feet and hold up to 15 lbs. The weight of the light stands isn’t stated, but they’re not heavy at all. This means they travel very easy, but you’ll have to compromise some stability and support.
Umbrellas are one of the simplest, most compact ways to beautifully diffuse light. Polaroid smartly includes two white satin umbrellas with this lighting kit. Both umbrellas have a removable black backing, allowing you to use it as a bounce or shoot through umbrella. Best of all is the fact that the removable backing is stiffer, with sturdier end caps than competing (even higher-end) umbrella brands like Westcott. This makes it much easier to put the backing back on the umbrella.
These octagonal umbrellas are about 33 inches in diameter, which might be a miss for those who need a larger size. But based on the sturdiness of the light stands, you probably don’t want to stick overly large and heavy umbrellas on those stands anyway.
The last components of this lighting kit are the cold-shoe mount adapters. These allow you to attach the umbrella to the light stand, and mount a speedlight flash. Polaroid’s own adapters each have a swivel, umbrella socket, and a cold-shoe mount that should fit most standard speedlight flashes. The adapters are adjustable, allowing you to shift the angle of the whole setup.
One of the best parts about the Polaroid Pro Lighting Kit is that all of the above items come delivered in a perfectly sized carrying case. The bag is about 29 inches long, 8 inches wide, and 7 inches high. It’s also very lightweight and holds all of the lighting kit components, with room to spare. The inclusion of the carrying case is a really nice touch, as many other lighting stand providers almost never include a case.
You may have noticed that a few critical lighting kit items were omitted: a camera, flash units, and flash triggers. Thus, this does not include all of your “essential lighting equipment you will need,” so note the need to purchase these additional items. On the bright side, there are some affordable flashes and triggers on the market that you can add to keep your overall lighting kit inexpensive.
If you’re just getting started with off-camera flash and studio lighting equipment, the Polaroid Pro Kit is a great way to start out. The kit is affordable while providing you what you need. It may not hold up in the long run, but at this price, buying a second kit doesn’t hurt. Also, if you’re a pro photographer needing a lightweight, portable lighting kit for on-the-go shoots, this may meet your needs as well.
For photographers needing extremely durable lighting stands or umbrellas bigger than 33 inches, this kit probably isn’t for you. It costs $64.99, and you get what you pay for. If you’re needing equipment for a pro studio for daily use, spend more money on heavier-duty gear.
After testing out the Polaroid Pro Studio Digital Flash Umbrella Mount Kit, I fell head over heels in love with it. The kit isn’t much different from my current setup (two Manfrotto 5001B Nano light stands with Westcott umbrellas). While my Manfrottos feel sturdier than the Polaroid light stands, the price of one Manfrotto stand is nearly equal that of the entire Polaroid Pro kit. Not so terrible.
I used this lighting kit on a couple of on-location food photography photo shoots and was pleased with the results, plus the kit’s extreme portability. Sample photos taken with the Polaroid Pro kit are shown below. All images were shot with a Canon 5D Mark III with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and Canon 580 EXII Speedlight Flashes.
For simple professional jobs where I’d use a 33-inch umbrella, the Polaroid Pro kit is ace. However, if I were planning to work with bigger, heavier lighting units or modifiers, I’d definitely turn to a heavier duty option.
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