The installation info that came with my LumiQuest Softbox III was a bit terse and I am not the most intuitive guy when it comes to putting things together. So I found myself less than 100% sure that I understood how to complete the installation. And I knew I didn’t want to make a mistake, since I was going to be applying sticky—and permanent—strips of velcro to something or other.
Fortunately, LumiQuest customer support (in the person of a very helpful lady named Roberta) responded quickly to my email. Actually, Roberta called me back by phone. With her help, I was able to figure out what I needed to do. After getting off the phone, I decided I would take a few photos as I put the Softbox III together and post them here, for the benefit of all mankind.
Velcro, yes, adhesive, maybe?
The Softbox III has four tabs with velcro on the “inside” that fasten to velcro on the outside of your flash unit. LumiQuest provides you with the necessary velcro strips to glue to your flash unit. Or you can buy a non-adhesive cinch strap that apparently does the job just as well.
Should you buy a cinch strap? It’s a separate purchase and costs about $5-$10. On the other hand, with the cinch strap, you won’t have to glue velcro strips permanently to the head of your flash unit. Aside from the cost, the cinch strap is probably a good idea. I have a pair of ’em on order, but I decided to go ahead and glue the velcro hooks that came with my Softbox III to one of my old Pentax AF-540FGZ flash units.
I’ll use the cinch strap when I want to attach the Softbox III to my newer and more expensive Metz 58AF.
The inside connection: attaching the hooks to your flash
If you have a non-adhesive cinch strap, you can skip this section.
Inside the SoftBox III package, I found two items: the softbox itself, and a 6″ strip of velcro that had some other, shorter pieces of velcro attached to it. I set the latter aside, as it isn’t needed until later.
Here’s a picture of the Softbox III opened up, with my 540FGZ flash unit sitting on it for display. Note that I have already removed a piece of velcro from the inside upper tab of the Softbox III and glued it to the back side of my flash. That was step 1.
Next, I removed the velcro strip from the bottom tab of the Softbox and glued it to the front of my flash unit:
If you look closely, you may notice that the Pentax AF-540FGZ has a couple of small screws near the business end on this side of the flash, so I had to place the velcro just slightly lower on this side than I did on the other. If I had noticed the screws earlier, perhaps I would have placed the velcro “hooks” the same distance from the end on both sides, but I don’t think it makes a big difference.
Finally, I removed the smaller hook strips from the left and right side tabs of the Softbox III, and glued them to the sides of the flash unit. Notice that the velcro has a “grain,” that is, the velcro appears to have rows. I didn’t worry about this on the longer sides, because it was obvious how the strips should be placed, but with these short sides, I placed the velcro so that the rows aligned along the flash’s long axis:
Attaching the Softbox III to the flash
Once the velcro hooks have been glued to your flash—or, if you have a cinch strap, then after you’ve attached and tightened the cinch strap—you can attach the Softbox III. Take the top tab, and place its white inner velcro patch to the velcro on the upper side of your flash. Then attach the other tabs of the Softbox III to the other sides of the flash. When I was done, this is what it looked like:
In the picture above, you will also see the 6″ velcro strip with the three smaller pieces of velcro attached to it. That’s what we’ll use next.
Securing the Softbox III from the outside
Roberta from LumiQuest explained that, while the process described above fastens the Softbox III to your flash pretty effectively, some photographers, perhaps holding the Softbox III in their hands and moving it around a bit, reported that the velcro connections tended to become a bit loose over time. So LumiQuest now throws in what I would describe as a “belt” that you can use to keep the connection tighter. LumiQuest calls this 6″ extra piece of velcro the “loop”.
In the picture below, I’ve got the Softbox III attached to my flash, and the flash is mounted on a Pentax K20D camera. Below the “LumiQuest Softbox III” logo on the softbox, you can see (well, can see if you enlarge the photo) the words “Made in USA” on the outside top tab.
I removed the longest of the three small velcro strips that were originally attached to the loop. This is a roughly 2 1/2″ strip of velcro with adhesive, similar to those we glued earlier on the sides of the flash. But this piece gets glued to the outside of the Softbox III’s tab. Here’s the placement:
And after sticking that piece on the top, wide tab, I removed the two smaller strips from the 6″ loop and glued them to the outside of the right and left tabs. Then I took the 6″ loop,centered it carefully above the wide velcro hook, pressed it in place, and then pulled the sides around and fastened them snugly, too. Here’s the finished installation:
Notice that the “Made in USA” declaration is now hidden.
This outer belt or loop clearly provides additional security for the connection. Roberta at LumiQuest recommended that I leave everything in place for 24 hours before trying to tear it all apart, that is, before pulling the Softbox III off the flash unit. I presume this is so that the glue attaching the velcro hooks to the flash can set. Of course, I’m not going to be able to remove those velcro hooks.
Of course, I could not help myself at this point. I had to take a quick picture. Here’s a shot of the Pentax K10D that I used to take all of the pictures above. This picture was taken with the K20D, but I decided to remove the flash unit and hold it in my hand, a little off to the side. The Softbox III is about 12″ from the camera in the photo.
It ain’t gonna win me any prizes, but I’m pleased with this first test. Direct flash from this distance would have produced a very high key, high contrast photo. And using the Softbox III is a lot easier than the alternatives, such as using an umbrella, or trying to bounce. I’m looking forward to using the Softbox III in some upcoming portrait sittings.