Reviews on gear and software

That beautiful old glamour light, nothing like it.

I’ve always loved one certain lightsource.

The Fresnel
It’s actually a funny story, one of the first times I demo’ed during a trade show I was actually using a Fresnel as a prop and also several demos as a main light source. And although at that moment in time I was not really yet into the more classical looks I immediately fell in love with the awesome look of the Fresnel.

The look of the Fresnel is really hard to describe (that’s why I use images), but it’s almost immediately recognizable.
Think about almost all the old black and white (and later color) images from the movie stars from the golden era and you immediately know what I mean right… well that era was dominated by the Fresnel look, you found them everywhere in studios. But now a days I hardly see them anymore. Mostly due to price but also I think because people just don’t know the funny looking Fresnel.

I always describe it like a mix between a very hard light source and a nice soft beauty light effect (told you it was unique and hard to describe)
The main thing about the Fresnel is however that it’s not a light source you can use in one way, you can actually zoom the modifier to create a wider or more narrow beam of light, but in some Fresnels you will also get a very nice/nasty spot in the center of the light which can be terrible (just zoom back a little) but if you really want to draw the attention to a model and she/he is sitting still it can work great.

As you probably guessed by now the main thing about the Fresnel is the lens. You probably already have several Fresnels in for example your speedlights, although often in speedlights they are more rectangular, or if you’re an avid nature photographer you might once experimented with a Fresnel lens in front of your speedlight to “throw” the light a lot further and lighting birds or other wild life on distances you normally could never use a strobe. The Fresnel makes it possible due to the unique design of the lens, and the fact (with studio lights) you can zoom the lightsource to create totally different looks depending on how the light hits the Fresnel.

On the other side of the spectrum (zoom the other way) you get a much wider and beautiful hard/soft quality of light. It does give deep crisp shadows but not with the intense look you can get when using a reflector with grid. It’s a more friendly light source with a bite 😀

Now you might wonder :
“why didn’t you use it more before?”
Very valid question.
The thing a lot of people don’t realise is that 95% of my portfolio is shot during the workshops I teach, events we visit for workshops etc. And when I teach I don’t think it’s very handy to demo setups with modifiers that nobody can afford, yes indeed a Fresnel can be incredibly expensive.

Nanlite Fresnel
Recently I started testing the Geekoto strobes and because these use a Bowens mount I was looking at modifiers and actually found that Nanlite was selling a really nice looking Fresnel for under 150,00 euros which is pretty cheap seeing I bought a theater spot online for 150,00 used and using that one with strobes is far from a working solution, well ok it works but it’s not something you easily setup, using two stands te be able to zoom for example 😀 so the idea of having something that works like a Fresnel for under 150,00 really caught my attention. So we ordered one.

The images you see in this blog post are all done with the Fresnel as main light source and as you can see they have that really nice Hollywood like style light quality.

For portraits like these the Fresnel is a great lightsource.
Add some accent lights for extra depth and you can keep them in color or convert them to Black and White, whatever your taste, the Fresnel will look great.

But it doesn’t stop with portraits.
I also love to use it for a more rough looking full body shots agains for example seamless. The shadows are very defined and sharp and you can play with them by angling the light and really create a nice combination of model and shadow.

As you can see here the Nanlite Fresnel has more than enough reach to light a full body model from app 3 meters distance, and the cool thing is of course that if you can really fine tune the look of your images by simply zooming the Fresnel.

Lets take a look at a few more images I shot with our model and awesome stylist Nadine.
All done with the Fresnel as main light.

But let’s take a quick look at the next blog post.
Because believe it or not, I used the Fresnel also for these shots….

For me the Fresnel is one of those light sources a lot of people don’t really know about but when they see it…. let me put it this way, since I’ve been using it several students immediately bought one after the workshop. So I think it was a logical solution to also add the Fresnel to our webshop.

On our webshop you can find of course our tutorials, books and presets, but also our own products IQwire tether cables (5-10mtrs), ClickPropsBackdrops, Rogue, Expoimaging and Geekoto but we also created a special category for the Nanlite accessories I’m using myself.

Here is a link straight to the Fresnel.
We can ship it ourselves in the Benelux, for outside orders check the Nanlite website for dealers in your area.

Our Geekoto GT200 on the Nanlite Fresnel


Yolobox pro live review

What’s in name…
When I hear the name Yolobox it’s not a professional device that pops into my mind, but as mentioned what’s in a name.

We’ve been live streaming for as long as I can remember.
It all started many years ago via special live-streaming software (YouTube didn’t support live streaming at that moment) and a webcam. I would start in the morning with placing the webcam in the makeup room with the model, after that we took the same camera and moved it to the studio to show the photoshoot. All via 1 camera, and the cool thing…. people were staying online the whole day, interacting, sharing ideas and chatting with each other and me. Sometimes someone fell asleep due to time differences, but it was an awesome experience.

Oh did I mention our internet speed at that time was app 0.5 up (if the wind was right).
Fast forward at least 15 years and we are now surfing the internet with a blazingly fast fiber connection of 160/160 and… we are still live streaming.

One webcam has morphed into 4 cameras inside the studio and one extra camera for me behind the desk.
During the live stream people can also see my desktop via another input device and of course picture in picture screens in different sizes. And of course people can interact plus we are streaming live on Facebook and YouTube simultaneous where people can directly interact.

For our live streams we use a pretty nice setup (if I may say so).
We have our HDMI’s coming into a RGB minilink which is connected to an external screen to show the previews. Software wise we are running Wirecast on my MacBook Pro and we also use an external monitor on this setup for the comments and the preview of YouTube studio.
Works like a charm and we are super flexible, but I can’t show retouching on my laptop while Wirecast is running without live stream issues when I use more demanding plugins.

Enter the Yolobox Pro
Let me start with a warning.
When I do a review, paid or not (in this case not) I’m brutally honest.
This means that I will not sugarcoat problems I encounter, but also take into account that those are often problems that I encounter in OUR situation, so make sure to take that into account. I just feel a review should be just that, and with a proper review there will always be positives and negatives.

During a recent dealer event I met up with the Dutch distributor of the Yolobox and really liked what I saw so we asked for a review unit. Today the review.
Although that you probably already guessed.

So what is the Yolobox pro?
In short you can get rid of all other hardware (except the cameras of course) and stream straight from one device.
Sounds way to good to be true right?
Well, now a days a lot it possible so why not and let’s be honest having one small device that does it all sounds absolutely awesome, so I could not wait till I could start testing.

Some cool things
Let’s start by looking at some things that I find very interesting in the Yolobox Pro.

First of all you can connect 3 HDMI sources.
This was my first problem I encountered with the Yolobox pro.
But there is a very easy solution. For our Digital Classroom setup I’m using a Magewell capture device for my iPad/Desktop and the Yolobox Pro also sports an USB input port, so I tested the Magewell with an 1080P camera and that worked like a charm, also my iPad and Desktop worked without any problems.
This means that you can work with 4 different sources, which for most people should be more than enough.

Zoom meetings
Since the Pandemic we are doing more online than ever, and you see that a lot of meetings are now also held online instead of going into the office. But as a teacher I also often encounter problems with streaming services for clients. Some clients are ok when we stream via YouTube on our account, but sometimes we also are asked to use dedicated software, and trust me some of them are really really limiting, often a webcam and if you’re lucky your desktop and that’s about it. But don’t worry, the Yolobox pro can output its video stream not only via HDMI but also via an USB output port and …yes it works in Zoom, Teams etc. it just things you’re using a webcam. So next time you will blow everyone away with stunning presentations, green screens and layovers, zoom effects…. oh sorry got carried a way a bit…..

Of course you need effects during the livestream, and the Yolobox Pro doesn’t disappoint.
You can chose some nice fade effects, create “custom” overlays, change the borders and backgrounds inside the Picture in Picture screens and you can even overlay score cards, social media comments etc. they have a lot of options that should be more than sufficient for everyone.

One of the things I love about Wirecast (but didn’t yet use) is to invite a guest.
You can just give them a link via the build in Guest module and during the live stream the guest just has to click there and he/she is live with you.
If you want to travel light and have internet you could use this function to use 1-2 extra phones as cameras, do make sure you disable audio for those phones if you don’t want them to be mics.

But we are not done yet.
Audio is of course incredibly important, and boy does the YoloBox Pro understand this.
I love it when you can setup audio the correct way and although there is no support for plugins like a compressor/limiter or de-esser at least you can setup the audio per input and use delay per channel (well done) and even use an auto follow method. Very nice.

With the Yolobox Pro it’s also possible to stream to several services at the same time. And you don’t need the YouTube live stream studio to be open (to go live) with the internal software, that is a huge plus, you can also use the RTMP service option if you want to do something besides the included services.

Green Screen
Maybe you need it, maybe you don’t but it’s awesome it’s inside a one box solution, and it works like a charm 😀
Just put a green piece of paper or whatever behind you and select a cool background and you’re there…. well ok you know what I mean.

This function I absolutely love.
During the live stream people often ask questions, with the Yolobox Pro you can chose to show the comments in the live stream. And the selecting or deselecting works really well. I always would advise to not show every comment, some people can’t handle the option to share their “opinion” during a live stream if you know what I mean, and editing it out later is often not possible. Luckily selecting the comments is super simple.


My conclusion
One might think that it’s impossible to replace a laptop with a lot of outboard gear for just one box, and well let me be honest, it is.
BUT, let’s take a look at why and if it’s really a problem.

For Digital Classroom I could replace everything when we look at sources.
I could work with 3 cameras and the iPad.
I would need a small switch for the desk camera, but this is no problem because the desk camera is never used when I’m shooting, and a cheap HDMI switch can even be used without power.

Also the overlays are great and I can’t imagine needing different ones or more designs. Of course it’s nice to have options but the options they give you are really versatile.

GreenScreen is not something we use but if you do I can say that the quality is great, it’s easy to setup and for streaming it looks great.

The comments as mentioned in the review are a real cool addition and in todays market it’s actually something that should be included. The way it’s done in the YoloBox Pro makes it super simple to operate even during a hectic live stream.

Batterylife it more than enough for a 2 hour live stream, but I would highly advise to have power available just to be safe, but a 2 hour stream was no problem at all, we still had juice left.

The operation of the box is a breeze, you don’t really need a manual.
You start with a blank canvas and can add sources and this is where it goes wrong for me.
To add a source you select the source from a menu and it’s added to the main page. When you start to stream switching between these sources is super easy and fast. But this is also a huge limitation which I personally can’t work around.

As mentioned before we use 3 cameras and an iPad on the YoloBox Pro.
But the selection is limited to pairs.
Meaning if I want to show all 3 cameras picture in picture with my iPad this is not possible.
I can select 2 Picture in Picture options side by side, but after that you can’t select more (they are greyed out as soon as you select one), so for the third camera you would need to choose a different picture in picture mode, and this where it shows the biggest limit.

The side by side options are ok. You can’t change the size of the windows, but they just take up 50% of the screen with room on the top and bottom where you can show a nice background. So far so good. But the other picture in picture options are not usable for me. The small Picture in Picture will always be projected on top of the active screen meaning in photoshop I will block certain menus that are vital, and because you can’t change the layout to be next to each other (slightly smaller main screen and small extra) it doesn’t make sense to use that for presentations or retouching.

Also the other Picture in Picture options must have looked nice on paper but are useless in real life, I can’t imagine anyone being able to work with 3 cameras next to each other but only showing a rectangular slide of video, this is impossible for the videooperator but also for the presenter who has to stay exactly in that space and the video operator will have to use a slider on the preview to know what is seen on the screen and remove that again when the video switches to another view. For static setups this might work, but I don’t think for anything else.

The same problem I have with videos.
Digital classroom uses a bumper to start, and that takes up one video spot.
But during the broadcast I also show at least 4-5 videos during the setup switch and if I have to visit the little room in the studio. With the YoloBox Pro I can’t add more than 2 videos so I have to be really fast or stitch 2-3 videos in a row which would limit my break to one. Or show the same commercials twice, or switch the commercials very fast during a live stream, meaning if you do something wrong the commercials start to play.

BUT… that being said
I absolutely LOVE the YoloBox Pro it’s awesome to see that with only one device I can go live during events, trade shows, in the middle of a location shoot and while traveling with the RV, as long as I have Internet I’m ready to go (using my phone as a hotspot).

It’s not a cheap solution, but it opens up so many possibilities for going live it’s mind boggling and I’m 100% sure that I would have used it during live shows or location shoots.

If you want streaming to be complete and simple but most of all being able to stream from most locations the YoloBox series is really well fitted for these tasks with the Pro giving you the most connections and options I think it could replace a laptop with Wirecast without any problems in most situations. For us the only limitations would be the video sources and the picture in picture solutions.

But let’s take one thing into account, because I’m not 100% fair here.
I also connected our RGB minilink to the YoloBox and that opens up a boatload of options.
We now have 7 sources and I only need one Picture in Picture source when I switch all the cameras via the RGB minilink. The only problem with this solution is that you will need an extra monitor for the switcher unless you own a switcher with a display like the RGB minilink. And we still have the issue that the picture in picture option is not sizeable. But the combi of switcher and YoloBox totally changes the game for people that need more cameras and Picture in Picture options. By using the external switcher you also have much better control over your cameras and you can also use the options from your switcher.

The Yolobox Pro is literally a hub for the demanding streamer.
On location you take just the box and in the studio I would personally couple it with our RGB minilink to get even more inputs and control. There is only one feeling you get when working with the YoloBox pro…… real enjoyment

HIGHLY recommended.
But do check if you can live with the video limit and picture in picture options.
We did mention this to the manufacturer and got the reply that they are working on this and it would appear in a future upgrade possibly.


Shooting models in the sun with Geekoto Off-Camera Flash

Geekoto is the perfect off-camera flash to get full control over your light. In the studio and on location!  Read more about shooting models in the sun with Geekoto Off-Camera Flash.


During the location in Emmeloord workshop with Claudia, it was the first time I used the Geekoto GT200 and GT250 during a workshop. I only shot the first set with the set with Geekoto and after that, we switched over to the powerful Hensel Porty System which images I will upload tomorrow. The weather was great. So, we had to shoot model Claudia in the bright sun with Geekoto Off-Camera Flash.

Yes, the Hensel Porty system is with its 1200W and large reflectors a lot more powerful, but for those small strobes, the Geekoto’s surprised all the attendees including myself.

We started with just using the Geekoto and a reflector on the Bowens mount.
Now I have to add it was very sunny.

As you can see it’s pretty easy to push away the ambient light, and it’s easy shooting models in the sun with Geekoto Off-Camera Flash. And this was not even on full power but actually on almost the lowest setting, adding a reflector with highly reflective material really helps a lot.

For the next set, Claudia only moved to another angle where the sun was a bit more challenging especially because I decided to also add a red gel and our Rogue dome to the setup, now you have to realize that adding a gel will take away a considerable amount of light, but as you can see in the results, the system had no problem keeping the mood I wanted.

Now the original idea for us was to use the Geekoto system as a replacement for our Nissin system making it easier for me to demonstrate our Rogue products during trade shows and workshops/events on location where you would normally need speedlights. But the Geekoto’s impressed us so much for the price that we decided to go a few steps further.

Starting next week we will be the official distributor for the Benelux for them.
We are building the website and will add the products to our shop this weekend, so if you want to order please send us an email or wait till we add them to the shop in the coming days.

For the time being, we have built the pages

Backups and a new NAS release

As you all know I’m a big advocate for creating backups, Annewiek and I ran a PC shop for over 20 years and the misery that dataloss can give is something you never want to experience. We had people in the store literally crying because they lost everything. Trust me you never want this to happen. And it’s in essence very easily to prevent.
We all probably lost a few photos or videos and we all know how that feels, imagine losing all your work and images of loved ones, yes it happens daily.
So besides storing images on your internal drive (the dumbest thing you can do) it’s important to create a proper backup system. By the way, if you use a laptop and you see a C: and D: drive, this is NOT storing your images on a separate drive, it’s the same drive but divided into two (or more) partitions. It sounds ridiculous but we had several customers who used laptops this way and thought they were safe if the main drive crashed. 

The safe way
Remember that NO solution is 100% fool proof, and in the end YOU are responsible for making the backups, or at least automate the process.
My advise is to use a DAS next to the computer, this is a system that uses several drives to make sure that if one drive fails you don’t lose any data, as long as you replace that drive. It’s a super easy way to never think about storage space again, if it’s full you just replace a drive, and when you can’t add space anymore… well well done that’s a lot of data, now buy a second unit or a larger unit and connect them.
But it doesn’t stop there.
There should always, always at least be a second backup. Those backups are often placed on a NAS system.

The difference between a DAS is that a DAS is attached directly to your system and a NAS is on your network, the NAS also has it’s own IP address in your network.

The main advantages of a NAS is that you can work on it with several people, and even remotely.


During our years in the computer store we sold several brands, but the brand I always came back to as a problem solver or simply the best in its class was Synology.
So what do we do with our NAS?
We use several in our studio and home.
Mostly of course they are used for storage of our photos/videos and at home for my music.
The thing I personally really love about the Synology products is that even when you don’t know anything about setting up a network or external access Synology got you covered. It’s almost a matter of 1,2,3 to setup external access to your NAS so you can access your data from anywhere in the world. (safely of course)

But there are also a lot of apps that will make life even easier.
One of the apps we use a lot is the amazingly handy Photos app for example. Never worry about your photos on your phone anymore, as soon as we enter our home the phone starts to upload all new photos to the NAS. The only thing you have to do it download an app on your phone and make sure it’s active. (remember nothing is 100% safe unless you monitor it yourself). You can even create different albums that are accessible for certain people. For example a dedicated album just for your family.

Another thing we have setup on our system is that our Synology in the studio is syncing the retouched photos to our Synology at home, so we have the retouched photos also in a separate location and a separate database/library in Lightroom, something you can’t easily do with online backups (we also use SMUGMUG for online backups).
You could run a whole website from your NAS, but that’s something we don’t do (at the moment), what we did setup is special customers areas, using the double NIC on the Synology we’ve created a separate access to the NAS that is not connected to our home network, this speeds up the external access considerably, and makes it possible for clients to download their files straight from our NAS, especially for video projects this is a HUGE time saver, uploading 120GB to an online service and letting your customer download it sounds easy enough but customers often don’t want to install the app needed for that access. By setting up a client access area we create a totally separated part on our NAS which contains all the data for that client, they can access it and download it, and when we give permission also upload materials, especially with my music (hobby) this is awesome for collaborations between musicians.

A Synology NAS is way more than just a few disks that you use for storage, it’s (when setup correctly) a total eco system that is great for yourself and your customers, in all honestly we could not operate our business without a proper NAS.

Synology over the years have been a very reliable partner and the quality of their support and gear is without a doubt in a league of their own. So if you’re in the market for a solid and trusted backup solution, make sure to check them out.

And having said that… Synology just released a brand new NAS, the diskstation DS923+
This is a very nice NAS for anyone that uses the system for photography/video and music creation. It’s very fast and can store huge amounts of data, and you can extend the system with extra bays/NAS units. It’s really a system you can grow in. And I think that’s a vital part of what we should all work towards, not replacing a NAS because it’s too small, but being able to extend the NAS with extra bays or connecting them to other units is vital for business I think.

But let’s not bore you with all the details, take a look at this new NAS here.

I’ll be testing one very soon and keep you all updated about it, but in all honesty I expect it to just work, like they all do 😀

One more thing….
I already mentioned this, but lets do it again.
A NAS/DAS or even a harddrive is something you store valuable information on, and like with bitcoin, if you lose the data it’s gone forever with no means to recover it. Luckily you can always use recovery software or for example the recovery service of your manufacturer, but best is to just prevent data loss. Here are some very simple tips.


  1. Harddrives
    use NAS drives, these are designed for the use in a NAS and will run much longer than a normal drive.
    also don’t buy all your drives from the same supplier. Make sure if you need 4 drives you order from at least 2 different shops. If there is a fault in a batch it’s often in a series of harddrives. Luckily it doesn’t happen a lot, but it’s hardly any extra work to just order from two stores, or a week apart.
  2. Brand
    I know price is important, but in the total cost we are often talking about very minor differences, and let’s be honest… always ask yourself the question “how much would I pay to get all my data back?” compare that to the extra costs between a very good NAS and a NAS that is sold at the local grocery market as “weekend deal”
  3. UPS
    If you take care of your NAS it will serve you for a long time.
    If you live in an area with peaks in the power, or black/brown outs it’s very wise (almost vital) to invest in a UPS or filter for the power. The UPS will keep the NAS running when the power goes out, preventing harddrive crashes, often it’s coupled with software that will shut down the NAS nicely.
  4. Use the scheduler
    In most NAS system you will find a time scheduler, I know a NAS is designed to run for days and weeks and years, but it doesn’t make any sense to keep it running when you only use it in the weekends or only during certain days. Just use the scheduler and let the NAS also take some rest now and than.
  5. Use the vacuum cleaner
    Maybe the most important one.
    Just for fun, power down your PC/Mac/NAS etc. and take a look at the fans and air in/out takes. I think you will almost immediately understand why some systems just shut down after a few years. I would HIGHLY advise to clean the fans at least once a year, and if you dare also open up the case and clean the inside. Better is to just do it every month. Trust me it’s vital.

I hope you guys enjoyed this article.
Feel free to leave comments on our social media, or email us questions.

To be 100% open and clear.
We have been working with Synology for a long time in our computer business, when I started our studio we also used Synology. Later on I became one of their ambassadors and have been ever since. As with all the advise I give you guys, the products I promote I also use myself.