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Dual Flash Setup aka Twin Speedlights

There is two reasons (maybe more) to use two speedlights on a single umbrella. Although, the second reason involves the first.

1: To get more flash power (more light) from a single source. 2: To get faster recycle times for a given amount of light (my main reason).

Note: you can even use 3, or 4 speedlights for the same reason above


Let me address #1, more power, if your speed light is not giving you enough light to make your exposure, you can just pop a second speedlight on there and bam! Twice the light! (dp people still say bam?)

Now, the main reason you will see me with a Dual Flash setup, is for reason #2, because I want faster recycle times. Some people are unaware of this technique. (I wont call it a trick, because its not really)

First, lets understand recycle time. In simple terms, the batteries must charge up a capacitor in the flash, and this capacitor then dumps all its power into the strobe. That's how we get a flash.

The more you charge the capacitor, the longer the flash duration (appears as flash power). Now this takes time to charge, so if we charge it longer, then in must take longer, thus the flash will not be ready as fast.

Now, you can just turn down the flash power, and have faster cycle times. This is true, but when you do this, you no longer have enough light to get proper exposure. (thus we need item #1)

So, to get fast cycle times: Lower the output power of the speedlight Now, to get more light: Add an additional speedlight.

Ready? Now I like to add a battery pack to the mix, for two reasons:

1: More flashes 2: Faster recycle times (my main reason for using a battery pack)

Here we go again, #1, since its additional battery source, you can get more flashes during the shoot

Faster cycle times, #2, There is a power drain on the battery as the speedlight needs to convert the AA batteries voltage into a high voltage to store in the capacitor. An external battery pack has a higher voltage output than the batteries inside your speedlight, thus reducing the amount of charging time to get that capacitor charged.

I do all this so I get wicked fast cycle times, and decent output power. I even use this setup to shoot 7fps when I need to catch action shots on location.

Ok, lets get to it, here is how I build mine, this is the rig/kit I use:


Did you notice this piece? Its not an off the shelf item. I like having a box of parts, and I have a box of 15mm rail accessories that I used to build this flash rail.


Why do I use it? Because when you shoot a single flash (or sometimes two with bad mounting) the flash is off axis. Here is an example of how not to mount your speedlight, in a way that every speedlight is mounted.


Its odd, almost every umbrella kit out there comes with a mount to mount your speedlight incorrectly. Not sure what I mean, simple, point your umbrella at a wall and snap a pic, where is the light going? I bet it is not where the rod is pointing, but at some angle between where you want it and the floor.

Take a look of my pseudo scientific explanation here Correct Speedlight Axis in Umbrella or Softbox

So I use this rod setup to put both (or one) flash inline with the rod axis.


Ok, and here it all is on a stand, with battery pack and softbox/umbrella


Mike Bradley

Author: Mike Bradley

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