If you’ve been paying attention to photography blogs for the past five years, you’ve probably noticed the exploding popularity of speedlights. Versatile and relatively inexpensive, these flashes offer TTL support that simplifies exposing an image. Even though I find speedlights extremely convenient, I often find myself using traditional strobes for creative lighting. While I know that I can often obtain big-strobe results from smaller speedlights, I’ve found that mounting modifiers onto the small speedlights is almost always incredibly cumbersome. I’ve battled with rubber straps, double-sided velcro and adhesive glue, but I’ve always found the mounting process clunky. That’s why I was so interested in the MagMod system.
What makes the MagMod system so unique is the way various flash modifiers are attached. The MagGrip is a rubber sleeve that wraps (admittedly with some difficulty) over the flash head. On the front are two extremely strong magnets that are used to attach additional accessories. At first I was worried about the magnetic system, as it seemed like any quick motion or small bump would send the modifier flying off my flash, but the New Earth magnets used in the MagMod are very secure. And you don’t need to worry about ruining a wedding with a loud clack when the two magnets connect; the attachment is nearly silent.
As far as modifiers in the system, I tested the Basic Kit, which includes a standard MagGrip and a second mount that cleverly includes a slot for attaching a wireless receiver, like a Pocket Wizard. To change the quality of your light, the Basic Kit comes with a very solid gel holder, a set of coloured gels for colour correction and effect, and a grid. I found the ability to quickly pop a tungsten gel on and off as I moved from indoor incandescent lighting to window light hugely liberating, and the gel holder has a double-sided magnet, so it can be used in conjunction with other modifiers. The grid is made of rubber, so it’s extremely light, and you don’t have to worry about cracking the usually fragile honeycomb pattern.
I also had a chance to test the MagSphere, which works as a large flash diffuser. The MagSphere is collapsible, so it takes up next to no space in your bag. However, once attached it has a large surface area, making it great for direct or bounce flash. One thing I appreciated about the MagSphere compared to other flash diffusers is the minimal light loss. Usually I meter out about 2 to 3 stops of light loss when using a quality diffusor, but I only had about a stop of light loss using the MagSphere. The quality of light was excellent.
While I only had a chance to test a few modifiers, there are many more in the system. MagMod has already produced a large flash bounce and a snoot for producing an extremely tight flash radius. There is also a forthcoming fresnel flash booster, which should be brilliant for sports and wildlife photographers.
For me, the initial appeal of the MagMod system was the ease of attaching and removing components, but I was quickly won over by the quality of the modifiers themselves. The fact that all these creative tools take up next to no space in a bag is a huge benefit as well. If you’re into speedlight photography, you owe it to yourself to check out the MagMod system. You can find them at thecamerastore.com and magnetmod.com.