Reviews on gear and software

Rogue magnetic flash system review

There are always those products where you think “that’s not made by photographers”. You probably know what I mean, it looks fantastic (on paper) but to use it in real life is of course something completely different.

Let’s face it, this isn’t the first magnetic system, but it’s probably the last one you need.

But let me first make something clear. This is a very flexible set. And although I use it in the studio for this review and the enclosed live stream, it’s the perfect tool for weddings, events etc because it’s not only flexible but also a very fast system….. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

If the name Rogue sounds familiar to you… that’s very well possible, Rogue released the flashbender on the market years ago, and together with Rogue we have put together the Frank Doorhof signature Flashbender which I actually used almost exclusively on my speedlights, until now ……

The Flashbender is great, let’s be clear about that, and I still use the Flashbender on my speedlights, but not exclusively anymore….

Rogue Magnetic flash system
As mentioned, there are more magnetic systems, but Rogue has listened very carefully to the complaints and wishes of the photographers using them and adapted their system exactly to what a photographer needs. So, let’s take a look at the system.

First, you should know that this system is designed for the wildly popular “round” flashes such as Goddox, Westcott and the Profoto A series for example. Special adaptors are available for both Profoto and standard rectangular speedlights. I use the standard speedlight adapter for my Nissin speedlights, the adaptor is available in “standard” and “small”, for most speedlights “standard” will work perfectly. In the case of the Nissin speedlights I did remove the zoom head (it also works with the zoom head on the flash but without the zoom head everything is a lot firmer) Note… not every speedlight has a separate zoom head.

I am going to review the complete set in this review, but you can also buy parts separately of course.

You can see the kit in 3 parts.
First we have the Dome.

The Dome
Let’s get straight to the point.
Of course, we are not going to get super soft light from a small light source, everyone who promises such a thing is not aware of how light works. A small light source will always give a harder light than a large softbox.

But still, the Dome does something very beautiful.
Due to the entire structure of the Dome, the light becomes omnidirectional instead of focused and this makes a HUGE difference. I’m not going to say that you get the effect of a large soft box, but this is very close to what you can expect from a medium/small soft box. This is actually a very smart way to turn a small light source into something that comes very close to really soft light, and that in such a small Dome, I’m impressed.

The “disadvantage” is that the light goes almost everywhere, but this will not be a problem for most people, on the contrary it helps enormously with lighting up the entire scene or a large part of the model, I use the dome also as fill in for color gels and it literally does a perfect job for that.

During the livestream of Digital Classroom, I used the system for the first time, the reason was actually very simple, I wanted to give people an impression of how easy the system is to use, even if you have never worked with it before. I could already predict the light, but I had the Dome, well it could go both ways, especially since using something like a dome is not really my thing. But as you can see in the stream I became more enthusiastic with each photo.

Using the dome and gel for fill in with color is absolutely awesome with this system

The Dome is perfect for a beauty portrait, as you can see in the examples.
But where the Dome really comes into its own is as a fill in with or without colorgels. During the livestream you will see me doing this as well. And the beauty of the Dome here is without a doubt that you can illuminate the entire scene with standard or colored light without too much effort. This gives a lot of flexibility in terms of highlighting a model / set but also a lot of creativity by using the gels. If you still use shadows in your RAW convertor, start using fill in flash, trust me you’ll thank me very soon.

And then we of course arrive at the gels.
Under the dome I usually mount the gels.
Changing gels is super simple, you remove the ring with the dome and place the new gel and… well you click the Dome back and done.

The gels themselves are from the well-known brand Lee and are super strong and specially coated so that they do not tear (easily). This is a problem with many color gels, but the Rogue kit feels nice and strong and if you buy the special gel package you get a huge selection of cool named colors, if your favorite color or shade of that color is not among them it would surprise me.

Besides the colorgels there is also an extensive color correction set available. These are a must have for every photographer that needs to balance the strobes with other light sources.

A good flexible system also needs a grid, and as expected… the grid is of course also present in the kit. If you (like me) use a lot of focused light and want to have a bit more flexibility in terms of grids, you can of course just stack a few grids on top of each other for a super focused light source.

Speedlight adaptor

As mentioned before I’m using the system on standard speedlights, and that’s where the adaptor comes into play. The adapter is made of a flexible material and slides easily over the speedlight when you stretch it. When fitted, it is “fixed” but is also easy to remove by stretching it slightly again.

With the new magnetic system Rogue puts a product on the market that solves many problems which photographers encounter in real life. Sometimes it’s little things like the way you click the rings together, they click together very easily but try to remove them in a straight movement, and you really have to pull it off, but once you understand the trick you literally click them loose with ease, just push it up on one side and it’s easy to remove the ring, place a new gel or accessory and back to shooting in seconds.

Personally, I find it important that the system really locks, I do not want parts to come off during a photo shoot, but I also don’t want to be messing around with changing color gels because I can barely get my system loose. This is literally the best of 2 worlds, it is both locked very tightly but can also be easily removed by the proper move, very cleverly done.

What will make many people very happy is the way the magnets are fixed inside the rings. This system is designed in such a way that the magnets remain stuck in the rings, so no magnets that fall out and have to be found again, they are fixed in there to stay.

Rogue has a super flexible system that will perfectly match any photographer who likes to work with speedlights or round flashes but does not want to limit him/herself to 1 style. With the magnetic system, a lot is possible switching from flat (beauty) light with the dome to very high contrast with the grid(s) and of course every combination and order, you can even take the dome off the ring.

If you also the color gels you will quickly understand why I became more and more enthusiastic during the livestream, this is really a system I am 100% psyched about. Personally, I use 3 speedlights on location with 2 magnetic systems and a flashbender with strip light and one color gel kit.

If I’m honest, I wouldn’t know what else you’d need.
And the best thing?
The whole system is affordable and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your back, in fact you can probably fit it in your pocket during the shoot.

The magnetic system is for sale via our webshop or in the better camera shop
For international sales please check
See the live stream where I introduce the system for the very first time here.

See the introduction video here.
Join the Home of Rogue Facebook group for loads of information and inspiration.

Transcend 4TB, what to look for in an external Harddrive

As many of you probably know, Annewiek and I ran a Computer shop for over 20 years and one of the main issues that always caused huge problems is data loss. And in essence it’s not that hard to prevent. That being said, everyone (including me of course) have suffered data loss over the years, the thing is to keep it at an absolute minimum and most of all the easiest way possible. But later more about that.

In this blogpost I’m going to take a look at the Transcend 4TB external harddrive (StoreJet 25M3C), and let’s be honest… a review about a harddrive doesn’t sound interesting right? what is there to say? well actually quite a lot, and that’s why I decided to combine the review with some tips you may or might not have thought about when buying a drive.

First off all let’s see what’s important when buying an external drive.

It goes without saying that this is absolutely vital when buying any kind datastorage.
When buying lose drives for a NAS/DAS we always advise to buy the drives from different suppliers/stores, or at least ask the seller to give you varying serial numbers. When we sold drives for this purpose we would automatically give the customers drives from different batches. The reason is simple, although harddrives have improved a lot over the years there is always a chance of defects. In our experience when something goes wrong, it often happened that we got more drives back from that one batch. So although this could be 100% bad luck we always advise to spread out your drives when buying drives to backup data in one device.

Do remember that when one drive fails in a NAS/DAS it’s not a real problem, but when 2 fail you are into trouble (depending on the RAID setup of course).

For external drives you don’t really have any control about what’s inside the housing so I would always advise to buy from a reputable company. As a consumer we have no idea what sellers/manufacturers can do with hardware/software manipulations, there are several examples about USB sticks and external drives where the 512GB versions only can store 128GB safely. So don’t try to save money the wrong way, you are better off getting a 2TB from a company that you trust instead of a 4TB at the same price from “Photographers top gear” (fake brand (I hope)).

Transcend goes without saying is a brand that fits in the “we can trust” category.

Don’t be fooled.
A housing is not…. just a housing, there is a lot going on.
Just think about it.
Of course we have the harddrive (generating loads of heat), but also the interface, seeing there are no USBc harddrives. So besides just enclosing the interface and harddrive there is also the problem of heat dispersion, but also (with spinner drives) some damping is needed because an external drive is of course very easily moved, or someone moves/hits the table and although a drive also has it’s dampers the housing should really be designed to take some hits. And finally it also has to be small, sturdy and feel good.

Let’s be honest we don’t want drives that look they went to war after a month, but we also don’t want to drag around a brick. And finally… something that’s slippery is never a good idea, but you also don’t want it to be a dust magnet (we all know the material that feels great but looks like some worn-out rubber after a few weeks)

I think the Storejet will please even the most critical people.
The material feels very nicely, it’s firm but still a bit flexible, I really like that for a harddrive, it often means the material is pretty scratch resistant, but it also keeps the drive stay nicely in its place on the table and you can wipe dust off easily without it sticking to the housing. I do have to add that in about a month I will update this part if something chances in the test period.

Ease of use
As you can see in the images there is a button on the case, so why is it there?
When you buy the StoreJet you get some really nice software, it’s already on the drive so the first time you connect it you can install the software (make a backup) and format the drive after that to the preferred format.

There are two apps
The first one is RecoveRx and is aimed at recovering Photos you might have deleted by accident or from corrupt drives. But don’t be fooled by the label Photos you see at the splash screen, this is a full data recovery package including photos, videos, documents etc. I always really appreciate it if recovery software is delivered for free with a drive or card, it can happen very easily by a failing battery or a full card while using video that something goes wrong with your files and in my experience this kind of software is always very successful in recovering data.

Transcend Elite is aimed at backups.
And this is also where the button comes into play.
One of the things that we always experienced with customers in the computer store was that they often knew they had to make backups but….. there was always an excuse, but it always boiled down to the fact that there were too many things they had to do for a backup to start (and even when we automated it for them…. well when you have ever worked in IT you know what I mean).

Now this is where the button is used for.
In the software you can create a task, and when the button is pressed it will start that backup task automatically, you can create several ones and assign them to the button in the software, it works really easily and it makes it possible to create the tasks for someone that is able to switch the tasks but not to create them. This makes the backup process incredibly easy, oh and if you don’t want to press a button… there is also a scheduler available, so they got you covered.

At the moment I think it’s easy.
We need a USBc type connection.
But also here there is a difference between external drives.
When buying a drive always look at the quality of the connectors used, also the enclosed cable also tells you a bit about the kind of quality you buy.

The Storejets USBc connector looks very solid, the enclosed cable is a bit short but is from a thick and sturdy quality.

The reason I mention this is the fact that most external drives are connected and disconnected several times per day during a shoot or when traveling, and every time you put some stress on the port. A well designed port will take this abuse without any problems but (trust me) there are also ports that literally already start to bent after a week and before you know it the USBc cable (which is a pretty solid connection) starts to wiggle and the problems with data corruption and disconnects start. So please always check the quality of the ports.

In all honesty this will vary a lot per person.
When we travel I use the external drive as a backup for my laptop but also for movies/comics/magazines which I can copy to my iPad to watch/read. So the 4TB means I can take everything with me I would ever need during the trip and still don’t have to worry about running out of space. If you just use it as a backup 2TB should be more than enough for most people.

Part of the data protection you can do yourself by making backups and buying external drives like this one from a reputable source. And with a reputable source I mean the store you buy the product, there are several examples online where people think they buy new products but end up with refurbished drives or even worse the housing from the brand they ordered but inside a much cheaper interface and memory sticks instead of a SSD, so please beware of where you buy.

When you buy the StoreJet you already get recovery software, an automated backup workflow, a one touch backup button so you already know they take data protection serious and this is also translated into the housing itself, according to Transcend we could drop the drive from up to 2 meters and nothing would happen to the drive or data…. I uhh….. just take their word for it.

Ok we are almost there, I hope so far you enjoyed the review and the tips. But we have one thing left of course, how fast is the StoreJet.

Now I have to be honest.
For me the speed isn’t the most important thing, if you really want speed get an SSD version (and of course also pay SSD prices) but I also don’t want to wait forever of course. In use the StoreJet feels fast enough for an external spinner drive, both large and smaller files copy without any problems on or around max speed.

But the test is always better 🙂

I’ve given several tips about what to look for when you want to buy an external drive, and the StoreJet actually fits those topics very well so in my honest opinion I think Transcend has an awesome external drive solution for anyone that needs a reliable external drive with loads of storage where you don’t have to stress out when it drops on the floor.

I do want to add one more tip
During longer trips there is a moment where my laptop is full.
This would mean that my external drive is the only backup, this is why we always travel with 2 external drives, one 4TB and one 2TB

The 2TB is just for photos and videos we shoot, the 4TB also contains other data that we took from home. This is a pretty secure solution especially when combined with for example Lightroom CC and an Adobe subscription. But make sure that you don’t store the drives and laptop in the same bag (yes it happens).



The transcend StoreJet was send in for review, the review is however my honest opinion.

Introducing the black mist filter

We test quiet a few products during the year, and most of them are fun/creative/ok and some will actually end up in my workflow, but sometimes there are products that are so awesome that I just can’t get enough of using them.

When I was send a K&F Black Mist filter I must admit that it was not something I was looking forward to. I’m just not real big on filters, and don’t get me wrong I think there is a huge market for filters, but it’s just not really my thing… I do use a polariser sometimes and also a variable ND filter is very nice to have but that’s about it… so I thought.

When I first attached the Black Mist I didn’t really see a difference (and that’s a good thing), however when opening the photos I did find that the images with the Black Mist had a nice hardly noticeable glow over the skin, but everything else was still pin sharp… the story changed 100% when I started using backlights.

I just love the real lens flares, the silky/milky glow around lights is something that is almost impossible to achieve in Photoshop or other software, and yes you can do something that looks like it, but it’s still different, and for me actually looks fake most of the times.

But getting a real lens flare is pretty hard nowadays, most lenses are coated with antiglare/flare coatings and even in marketing it’s often hailed as the next best thing “No more flares”… well yeah they are right, normally you don’t want lens flare, but the fact is that when you want it, it becomes harder and harder to achieve.

Some solutions are for example using vintage lenses, or very cheap third party lenses without the proper coating, but there are a lot of disadvantages with this, first of all vintage lenses are super cool, but are also limited in focus speed (via an AF convertor (only for Sony at the moment)) or are 100% manual including aperture. So focussing on f11 can be a real problem with some lenses. Another solution is LensBaby, an awesome line up of creative lenses and accessories, but also here you are pretty limited.

So what if I tell you that with the Black Mist filter you transform EVERY lens into a flare machine.
And the cool thing is that when you take “normal” photos you hardly notice the filter, but as soon as there are some highlights, or backlighting in your set, the Black Mist really does it work.

I’m so impressed with the Black Mist filters that we actually added them to our line up of products we sell.
So if you also want one of the awesome filters check
We deliver the filter in different strengths and filter sizes, even a magnetic version.
If you need something else, please let us know.

For the release we also created two videos.
Here is the Dutch version
Here is the English version

LumeCube RGB Panel Go

It’s no secret I like the products LumeCube releases.
For me it started with the LumeCube, a small cube with a punch, I love using it on a selfie stick for some interesting lighting effects/angles, but it’s also very nice to add some light in positions where you need something really small, and they even released a full accessory pack for the light. Now why do I tell this.

A good manufacturer always thinks about what the creators/users need, and will adjust the products to the demands from the market, this in my opinion the reason that some brands grow really fast into a household name and for me LumeCube is one of those companies.

I still remember the times when we started our YouTube channel, when we wanted light on location I needed to spend a lot of money and most of those sets where far from portable. Now don’t get me wrong, a good light quality is often achieved with a larger light source, but there is also a certain limit to what’s easy to use or just slows you down. So we were over the moon when the affordable led panels hit the market, but still it was a lot of carrying around, you needed power etc.

Let’s fast forward to today.
LumeCube just released their new RGB Panel Go.
Now we’ve used the Panel Go before this and it works like a charm on location for video light. But as you know… I also love to shoot photos with led panels, especially during the lockdowns shooting action figures, guitars etc. with led panels/tubes was something that got me through most of the lack of photographing people. And to be honest that also changed my opinion on what to buy a lot.

Where in the past I saw the smaller led panels really as video lights on location and the most important thing for me was long battery life on full brightness and the possibility to set the color temperature (of vital importance), my wishes has now changed more towards the realisation that what we always saw as “just” a video light can also be used creatively when it could also change colours for example……

Enter the LumeCube RGB Panel Go
As mentioned before we loved the Panel Go, and LumeCube did a huge upgrade to this panel.
Compared to the Panel Go, the new RGB Panel has of course (as the name suggest) the option to change colours (later more), but they improved a lot more.

The Panel Go used 112 leds and the new RGB panel Go now uses 210 leds.
Lightoutput is still 1080 Lux at .5 mtrs
Also battery life has been improved from 1.3 hours on full power to 1.5 hours on full power and 2.3 hours on 50% to 2.5 hours on 50%.

I actually like that LumeCube gives usable numbers, you often see adds where led panels are advertised with for example an insane battery life of 13-15 hours, but when you look closely it’s on 1% output… and well I don’t think anyone will use it on 1% except maybe as a nightlight, but than there are much cheaper solutions.

Charging the panel is done via USB-c (I think this should be standard on all devices) and takes app 80 minutes for a full charge.

The LumeCube menu is easy to navigate and gives the user a lot more options that the Panel Go, creating the colours you want is very easy and fast, but in the menu you can also access the special effects options of the RGB Panel Go including a police, fire, lighting, loop effect.

You might have seen this CRI value before, but what is it?
The letters means Color Rendering Index, in essence this means how close to real life you will see the objects colors when it’s lit with the light source. The range goes from 0 to 100 ra where 100 is as close to real life as possible (Day light).

To get the final number 8 colors are used and an average of these are calculated giving the light source it’s rating.
For home lighting for example anything above 80 ra is more than ok. But when lighting a painting, or something that is important for color representation it’s highly advised to chose light sources that are above 90 ra.

You probably already guessed that for a led panel lighting a subject it’s important that we have a higher ra rating than 80 which is ok for house lighting. Well don’t worry, the LumeCube RGB panel Go actually has a CRI rating of 96 plus.

Who should get the LumeCube RGB Panel Go?
For me it’s a no brainer one should always carry at least one location lighting solution in your bag, you never know when you need some light somewhere. And with the RGB addition to the Panel go I think LumeCube opens a whole new market for this panel.

You can still use it on the cameras hotshoe but by being able to also change colours to almost any imaginable colour it also opens a lot of options for more creative uses. I would love to bring one of the panels for an urbex session when you can light the rooms with any color you want, and the panels are powerful enough to mix with a little bit of ambient light in a room and create wonderful surreal images.

But also with model photography you can use one of them as a main-light and one as an accent light with a nice color.

And of course it still does what it was originally designed for, function as a very nice video light.

With the RGB Panel Go LumeCube offers an awesome lighting solution that is compact, affordable, outputs enough light, can create any colour you need on location, has a good battery life and is small enough to fit your hotshoe. I can’t wait to start using the RGB Panel Go in my work and will post some images in a later review video. But for now I wanted to share the test/review experiences.

For a limited time we have a special discount code for you guys.
Your discount code: FRANKDOORHOF10