Tag Archive for: remote

Hensel views and thoughts on a new system

If you’ve been following my social media stream and youtube channel you probably already know that after many years being active as an ambassador for Elinchrom I’ve made the switch to Hensel. Let me first explain why this is.

In short, not a bad word about Elinchrom, they’ve been amazing and helped my career without any doubt and I still consider all of the dealers and head-office as close personal friends, and this will not change. Over the past year I’ve been in talks with Hensel USA and I feel that at the moment they are more in sync with what I want and need for both giving you guys a platform to learn and also the gear I use to create my work. But as you guys know I’m incredibly brand loyal and leaving a brand I’ve been in so close contact with from the start is very hard so it took us over a year to make the final decision but both Annewiek and I decided that Hensel is the company that first and foremost has the gear that I strongly believe will open up loads of creativity for photographers in almost every genre of photography, plus I’ve seen what’s coming and that made the switch A LOT easier to say it gently. Add to this the drive at Hensel to push education, help out with events and you immediately see why I’m so enthusiastic.

Photography is creating art, but also inspiration and education.
Hensel is a company that is willing to help me reach more people to help out with their photography, inspire and work with, in the end that’s the most important part for me as an educator, and I also believe it’s one of the most key elements in a brand, education and inspiration is key.

But that’s from my standpoint as an educator…. now why should YOU buy/switch or even look at Hensel. That’s of course the million dollar question. So I decided to make this blog post as a start in series of articles/reviews in both print and video. And don’t worry… it’s not an advertisement thingy, you guys know I never talk about gear that way because in essence there’s only one thing that counts…. how does the gear makes it easier for you to create your art and push new boundaries.

So here we go.
In this blog post I will give you some pointers on the system.
Do remember I’ve been shooting with Hensel for quite some time, one of my friends owns a studio that is 100% Hensel and I’ve taught some workshops there also the weeks before the switch I’ve worked with their gear, so it’s not something I write down after 2 workshops (heck I wouldn’t switch if I didn’t know the system well enough).

First off the mount
The mount is the best ever.
How often do you struggle with getting your heavy softbox on your strobe, or how often do you find out that it was not securely fastened with all the dangers connected (or not connected, pun intended). In the past I’ve worked a lot with Profoto gear and always loved the simplicity of their mount, but the Hensel mount ranks right up there. It’s a very simple and fast mount, you just pull a lever, put the modifier in and release the lever and well that’s it. And added VERY big advantage is that you can rotate every single modifier with ease. Especially great with striplights.

Here you can see the mount on an Integra, you can see the clamps and the lever on top, it’s really an incredibly easy and fast system. Especially when you change modifiers a lot (like me) this is a major strong point.

The reflectors
Reflectors are often regarded as the most basic modifiers but in essence they are very sophisticated. Did you know for example that choosing the right reflector outside can literally mean that you can twice as long on a battery pack?

Reflectors bundle the light and throw it on your subject.
If you look at my work you already know I love the high contrast look. You can achieve this with for example Fresnels, small softboxes with grids, but the best modifier for this look is for me personally the reflector (with or without grid). The cool thing about Hensel is that their reflectors are very prone to focussing the light right on the subject and are rather deep, meaning you get an amazing quality of light from them. Add to this the 14″ reflector which will give you a very focused beam of light outside plus a lot of extra power from your strobe and you see the reason why I actually ordered a selection of reflectors to play with.

The disadvantage of reflectors is that they are often, as people expect, a bit too harsh, too wide etc. The ones I got are actually the opposite and I think I’ll be using more reflectors than in the past for the simple reason they have an amazing focus and throw. It really fits my style perfectly. Add to this a nice selection of grids that is available for all of them and you can do whatever you want. (added bonus…. reflectors are actually often the cheapest modifiers, and therefore often overlooked by both the user and the manufacturer).


I love to have total light control and of the key elements for this is being able to steer the light. The best aid for this is called a grid or as some people like to call it a Honey Comb grid. Now in all honesty for most softboxes and reflectors you can get grids, but in a lot of cases these grids are not made for these modifiers and can cost you an arm and a leg plus extra work. For all the modifiers that I use Hensel actually already had grids so I could order them all from one location and they all fit the modifiers like a glove. Especially for softboxes and striplights this is a huge deal, but also for the 14″ reflector this was a delight.

Easy battery replacements
This might sound like a “Yeah… well what do you mean” kind of thing.
But try to replace a battery in the freezing cold or blistering heat, some battery systems are far from perfect. Now I won’t say that something is perfect but the Hensel comes pretty darn close. Take a look at the picture of the Porty for example. You just click and pull and it’s out and you can charge it in little over 2 hours. That sounds not that impressive but…. this a 1200W strobe which actually packs 300-350 pops on full power.



The remote is simple but works.
You can select 3 groups and with a small but easy to use switch you can select 1-2-3 or all.
Via the remote you can change the output of each strobe and turn the modelling light on or off plus trigger the strobe for a test. As far as I can see now the performance is very good but let’s be honest now a days a remote should indeed just work, the time of line of sight or shoot 10 and miss 2 should be way behind us.

This is probably the only thing I’m really gonna miss from the Elinchrom system, the new Skyport system is incredibly handy in the way that you can see all the strobes (if compatible) and you can easily change outputs. But changes are coming I’ve heard.

The thing that I do really like is the alternative remote control called the “wifi remote”.
This is very cool and would be great for people that do a lot of fixed setups where they have multiple strobes and want to be able to just switch between sets, let’s say only the back, only the front, a mix with sides etc. etc. you can store presets and call them back incredibly easily.

We actually mounted a small android tablet on a Tethertools holder and have the software running you can see all the strobes and changing settings is fast and easy. The cool thing is that due to two way communication if you change something on the remote you can see it also on the wifi remote. For my kind of work it’s cool but it’s not a necessity, I’ll have to see if I still use it after a few months, but again for other setups that use more fixed setups this is absolutely awesome.

Speed, speed, and did I already say speed…..
At the moment we have 3 expert 500D strobes in the studio and those are crazy fast, and I mean crazy fast. Yesterday we shot with some cameras that handle 14 frames per second and they didn’t even blink or missed shots and trust me that was not on a lower power setting. I’ve done similar tests on other systems and although for example the ELCs are real speed demons too they don’t have the short flash duration of the expert 500D.

Now of course you have the flash duration that the manufacturer tells you, but in all honesty you can just forget about those. The faster the flash duration the more stopping/freezing power and the crispier your shot so it’s important to really “hype” that speed.

In all honesty if your strobes are above 1/2500 of a second you’re fine. You can use it for freezing motion with hairs and jumps, but just don’t expect to have perfect frozen “everything” but you’re fine. I always held 1/2500 as the bare minimum for what I wanted. It gets really interesting when you break that 1/5000 barrier. Images get a certain crisp or micro contrast whatever you want to call it but it just looks different. And when you let a model move the motion is frozen perfectly.

Now comes the “not so fun” part.
Often manufacturers will claim insanely high flash durations but they don’t tell you that it only works at the lowest power setting… which well is absolutely useless because you can’t make a model jump and shoot her on f2.8 ISO400 there simply isn’t enough depth of field to have focus correctly. For a portrait it will work but a jump or movement will never be spot on when you don’t have some field of focus where the model can move in. So you need that stopping power on at least half and preferably even on full power. The last two workshops I’ve used my Sekonic 858 in the “metering speed mode” and I’ve actually never seen the Experts drop below 1/4000 of a second, but I’ve metered a top speed on 1/12000 (that’s insane) and that was not on the lowest setting but I believe somewhere at slightly above midpoint. Next week I’ll do a small test with the Sekonic and make a video on this.

Now you might say that this is only important when you freeze motion, but please read the first part again. It’s very hard to explain but you really see a difference between a really fast strobe and a slower one. The images just come out a bit more crisp. For me this is perhaps one of the points where I’m most enthusiastic about.

Build quality
For most people not that important, for some very important so I’m just gonna say it.
They’re build like fricking tanks. Same goes for the Porty and it’s heads, you just know it will be with you for years and if you drop it…. well don’t but if it happens… you can probably just continue shooting like nothing happens (no I’m not gonna try it). And to be fair in all these years I only dropped an Elinchrom a few times and they always continued working I only broke off a handle once. But I’ve seen some other brands that literally scattered in a million pieces after a very low drop.

But it’s not only the strobes. The softboxes, reflectors, grids etc. they all look like they will last years and years.
Giving the pricepoint of the modifiers I think this is a great selling point. It’s not cheap, but compared to the build quality of only slightly lowered priced alternatives there is a huge difference that would be well worth the investment.

I’ve mostly ordered the soft-boxes in the grand series because I just LOVE deep octas. And I think that with the 85 for location, 90 and 120 you can do almost anything when you combine them with grids. If you need bigger there’s also a 190 Grande, but I think I would hardly use that one myself, but if you’re into more softer and broad light that one would be absolutely awesome. Oh and there is one thing I do have to add concerning the soft-boxes. You probably know that most deep octas have a diffusion panel on the inside and outside right? Well these also have that of course but the inner diffusion panel is actually a translucent reflector which can actually help you out on location when you want to shoot with ambient light… just take out the diffuser and use it like you would normally use a reflector…. awesome idea.

I also ordered two 30-120 strips with grids by the way, just in case you wanted to know.

Beauty dish
One of the modifiers I use most is the beauty dish, it’s a sort of “it will always work” modifier.
I’ve always used the Elinchrom beautydish for a lot of my work and really liked it, but it was not one of the most “refined” modifiers. In essence it’s just a dish with a deflector and a one sized grid. I tried the larger beautydish a few times but never liked it and always returned to the smaller silver one.

The beauty dish from Hensel is something you really should check out. I was deeply impressed the first time I saw it.
It’s not just a dish with a deflector but it actually has some really well thought out light modifiers inside and the deflector part also has a holder for a gel which will come in incredibly handy because I love to use gels. Where some modifiers don’t differ that much the Beauty dish really is a HUGE step up for me.

I love modifiers that are versatile and this is a really well though out modifier.
But I can talk about it… let’s just see some images.
I actually ordered the silver one. There is also a grid that covers the complete dish by the way.
Want a lot of looks from one modifier?
Well here you go.


Not really my thing “yet” for the simple reason I simply don’t take the time to spend hours extracting hairs. But if that would be easier…. well I would really like to play with it some times like for example with our cos-players, or what if you’re shooting children or working as a school or event photographer. Wouldn’t it be cool to just take a shot and not think about it and get a “perfect” cut out in Photoshop ready to placed on a backdrop (or even better, in the case of events, just do it automatically)?

Well enter… freemask
You do need strobes that are compatible, and you do need a special remote (and optional software, although you can also do it in Photoshop yourself). But when you invest in the remote and you already have compatible strobes (most Hensel gear is freemask compatible) it’s incredibly simple.

In short you use two groups.
One you just light your subject the way that you want.
The second one lights the backdrop.
Now when you shoot you shoot 2 frames (set camera on continues)
First the front will fire, and secondly the backdrop.
Now you have your model and a silhouette.
Do some magic and voila you have a perfect cut out.
Yep it’s that easy.

Again this is not a selling point for me, but I can imagine that if you’re indeed into shooting events, cos-players, schools, families etc. this is a HUGE money maker, but also for commercial photographers of course, no more money spend on extraction just shoot it and you’re done, well ok that sounds too easy of course, you still have to make sure the backdrop and subject fit together like shadows, lighting, composition, angle etc. but the extraction part went from “complicated and timely” to literally one shot.

Final thoughts
pffffff, I was planning on writing down just some thoughts and I ended up with a huge story, so sorry for this guys but I just wanted to be complete and while writing more and more ideas popped up, and I think that’s the incredibly cool thing about this, a brand that moves you, that literally pushes your buttons and gives you more ideas to get more creative that’s what in the end we all want. Take for example that freemask option, I started writing that it was not really for me, but while writing all these ideas popped up and now I also ordered a freemask remote… so let’s see what happens with that.

Now if this was the first time you heard about Hensel…. ok well…. I forgive you.
It’s a brand that has been on the market since 1963 and was the choice for many professional photographers for decades and watch my words you’ll hear a lot about them in the coming months, they have a very exciting strobe that is about to be released in the form of the Foris 400/800 which would be the perfect strobe for shooters that work both on location and in the studio and want to make absolutely no compromise on quality and easy of use or speed or…. well just check out the Foris here and that’s just the start, so keep your eyes out for updates.

Want to know more?
Of course you want.

I started a facebook group on https://www.facebook.com/groups/273169130099901/ for English
Or a Dutch page that is actually run by the Dutch distributor https://www.facebook.com/groups/442891952854692/

Find Hensel at : https://hensel.eu/en/
And the official Dutch distributor at : https://www.hensel-studiotechniek.nl/

If you have any questions… feel free to ask.
If you want me to test certain things just let me know.

Here are two BTS videos we shot from the first two workshops with Hensel

And a small selection of the first series of photos shot with Hensel.

MIOPS camera triggering system

Do we need remote triggers?
With modern day cameras there are so many options that one would think no… but do read on you might be surprised….


You guys know that my reviews are always a bit different, I don’t really like to just sum up some specs and add a link to them, to be honest you can find that on the manufacturers website :D, I always like to give you my personal opinion about a product, so read this review as my personal view on the MIOPS, your opinion may be different.


A while ago I got the MIOPS remote trigger and because I’m not really a landscape shooter it will always take some time to really dive into remotes. “so why get a remote in the first place?” Yeah I hear you, well it’s actually very simple. Although you might not use it all the time there are those moments where you go “OH MY I wish….” and those moments happend too often for me so I want a really good remote.


Now as you know I love the triggertrap device, it’s very handy, has a great app but… you have to be pretty close to your camera because the camera is connected to your iPhone, so the triggertrap is a different device (and a very good one), the thing I like about the MIOPS is that you don’t need to be connected to your iPhone, you just connect the MIOPS and from there it’s all up to the app inside the MIOPS or your iPhone.


Let’s first talk about the MIOPS itself
The case itself is very sturdy and just small/big enough to be fitted as “oh yeah I have to take one too” in almost any case. Meaning there is NO excuse not to bring it. Controls are very simple and feel a bit outdated with todays touch screens etc. BUT… this is actually a good thing because it also means the MIOPS is a very affordable device, now at $239.00 you might think it’s actually not that cheap but wait till you see what this baby can do….


Let’s look at the app and what it can do
The MIOPS can be controlled from the unit itself but via the app everything goes so much better and smoother, and I must admit it all looks very very complete.


There are several options which I will briefly discuss and give some examples of when to use them.


First up we look at scenariosIMG_8455

In scenarios you can “write” your own order of things, or in other words, what do you want to happen in which order. In total 5 “events” can happen and sensors can be used for this, sounds complicated? well it’s more a matter of just putting them in and you’re done. In total you can store 3 different scenarios. Now you just have to think of something creative to use them on….


Second up is timed release

This one is pretty straight forward, just say WHEN you want to trigger the camera and it does it for you. You can use this for selfies (but there is a much better option for this), or just for any shot you want to take after a certain time.


Third option is press and lock

This is a very handy for those ENORMOUS time-lapse recordings, no need to keep the finger on the shutter, just press the button, the camera starts recording and locks, and it will stop as soon as you press it again. Of course the benefit of using it on a remote is that there is absolutely no camera shake, especially when using mirror lockup.


Fourth option is Press and hold


Pretty similar to the previous one but now you don’t need to lock you just keep your finger on the button and the camera will keep recording the image till you lift your finger.


Fifth option is “cable” release


The old fashioned cable release, but now without a cable 😀
Just press the button and the camera will take the shot, very handy for when for example you have the camera behind a goal and want to take that killer shot just in time but you don’t want to be there in the goal with the camera, or if your camera is mounted higher up in a sports complex or other area, a very handy tool.


Sixth option is HDR



With modern day sensors the need for HDR is often not as necessary as it was in the past, so IF we use it it should better well be very interesting, and the MIOPS does not disappoint, with a range of 7 shots it should be possible to make dynamic shots that even the Sony sensors can’t record (pun intended), but please…… don’t use HDR as Highly Destructive Retouching 😀


Seventh option (and we’re not done yet) is Time-lapse 


Now this is one I still want to play with a bit more because some of the results can be INCREDIBLE. You set the camera for a certain time period and a certain amount of images and you just walk away (although I would advise to always stay with the camera), at the end of the period you end up with a certain amount of images which you put into your favorite video editing software and voila you have an amazing overview of what happened during the time…. well of course it highly depends on what you record, I tried one on our living area and to be honest I could have captured it also with one shot :D… so this is one I’m sure I’m gonna test out this summer more when we are traveling with our RV again. We were planning on using it in New York but it was so cold that I was glad to just take one shot, let alone stand somewhere for a longer time.


And we are already at number 8th which is LASER


Now don’t misread this, the MIOPS does NOT have a laser inside, so what is the laser option?
You can use any simple laser pointer (for example for presentations) and aim it at the MIOPS, now as soon as something passes the laser beam the camera will be triggered. This is amazing for shots of something flying through the air, something like security, a balloon that is shot by an arrow, an animal that sits somewhere or arrives, etc. etc. there are many different options you could use for this.


Number 9 in the row is even more interesting because it’s sound


The laser option is great but also takes some planning and you need something that hits the beam, with sound you just need the sound. Great for those moments where you throw something through glass, hit a board, drops something on the ground (or on your model and she screams, yeah have to work on that one) but also for the ultimate selfie…. just set up the camera and shout “HEY” make sure you don’t add Siri because…. well Siri will ask you what she should do which makes taking the shot a bit more difficult. For groups shots this option is awesome, everyone is standing nicely and now just let them all shout, great shots 😀


Now let’s look at number 10 already which is my personal favorite… lightning
IMG_8443We all have seen those amazing lightning shots and wondered “how did they do this” and we all tried it…. well I know I did, and in all these tries I might have captured maybe one or two that were decent, now I have to add that we hardly have any lighting here, but I know that as soon as we have I’m gonna set up the MIOPS and capture some of those bolts…. I think besides all the other options this is probably one of my favorite options because I’ve been wanting to take a shot with lightning for some time now…. now only hope it will happen soon 😀


Finally we have one more option and that’s called DIY
Now I have to be honest, I didn’t play with this one yet, but when I read the description it makes the MIOPS I think one of the most complete triggers on the market. “The DIY mode is the mode where you can hook up external sensors to your MIOPS. Your options are endless: Temperature, Pressure, Humidity etc. The advanced modes are Scenario and four different Cable Release modes. These features are only available if you control your MIOPS with the IOS application.


For some people remote controls are vital, some people claim they will never use them….. I think that last group is actually wrong. Of course an “old fashioned” cable release is not needed anymore, we have so many options in our cameras… however that is also the reason why many remote controls just end up in the closet with the dust, I also have some radio remotes that I never use any more for the simple reason that my camera has more options than the remote and thanks to the timer option I can literally do it “any” way I want.
So if you are a manufacturer and you want to release a remote that is a worthwhile investment, because let’s be honest $239.00 is not exactly a no brainer, you better step up your game and release something that is rocking… and in my opinion this is exactly what the MIOPS is, it’s compatible with most cameras, including the Sony series, and it works just as advertised, it’s fast, stable and has a overload on options and features, including a “build your own solution” which is of course great for people that want even more, think for example about people that work in labs or other industries and need very specific options, and I think for that group the MIOPS is actually very cheap.


For us “hobbyists” it’s an investment, but I think it’s an investment that is worth every single cent, the MIOPS is designed to stand a beating, it’s small and it’s loaded, I say “HIGHLY RECOMMENDED”. Find out more at MIOPS

Triggertrap review

Let me start of by saying I’m not really the kind of person that works from a tripod, but… as many of you probably recognize I’m always traveling with one and not using it, UNTILL that day you don’t travel with one… and you need it, that’s the story for me with tripods. It’s also the reason why at the moment I’m looking for a good carbon one…… well actually the reason is my Triggertrap, sounds weird right? until you read this review.


I’ve been seeing very positive reviews on the Triggertrap all over the net so I was very curious to test one out myself, because I’m shooting Sony I was very happy to hear that Triggertrap actually had a version for both my A7r and A99 (well done Triggertrap), now don’t get me wrong I LOVE shooting Sony but one of the frustrations is that a lot of companies simply don’t have accessories for Sony, take for example Camranger, this is a product I’m very interested in and I’ve been bugging them for years now to support Sony, the answer is always…. “next time we see each other”… and that’s well…. still not working (great product by the way) so back on topic…. Triggertrap does have a Sony version, and as soon as I got them in I started testing.

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