Photographers are an interesting bunch… We chase dreams, covet light, and are always in search of the next amazing piece of gear that we just can’t live without. A couple of months ago I was introduced to the Sunbounce line of light modifiers, specifically the Sunbounce Micro-Mini and the Bounce-Wall; both of which are now staples of my ever growing list of lighting tools. While I’m constantly looking for ways to make shaping light easier, faster, and better, I don’t know that it gets much better than the Sunbounce approach to reflectors. The Micro-Mini, Mini, Pro, and Big are some of the sturdiest, easiest to use that I’ve found; and when it comes to on camera flash modification, there is no better system or option than the bounce wall. If you’re an event photographer that is “running and gunning” at events (where there aren’t always walls or ceilings to bounce off of) the bounce wall is a godsend. If you’re a wedding photographer shooting reception photos, often times in dark halls with little to no bounce options you can’t go wrong with this system either. It gives you a constant, reliable source of bounce light no matter what your surroundings or what your subject. No matter what style of photography you do, if you need to reflect, bounce, or diffuse, Sunbounce has you covered.
When I got my Sunbounce Micromini in the mail the first thing I noticed was the relative lightweight of it. For a reflector that is 2X3 feet wide and can withstand even the strongest of wind gusts, it’s very lightweight and not bothersome to carry all day long. It’s made of a lightweight aluminum frame that stretches the reflective material taught from side to side, end to end. It’s not quite as light as a traditional reflector but it is BY FAR the strongest, most robust reflector that I’ve ever used. Being made from a rigid aluminum frame, the Sunbounce Micromini will hold up in windy situations that would collapse traditional reflectors. As a professional, the piece of mind knowing that this won’t fail at the worst possible moment is huge to me! The reflective material comes in all of the traditional reflector colors; black, white, silver, gold, silver “zebra”, gold “zebra” etc. Just about anything that you could want. The cross bar is sturdy and easy to hold with one hand or two and can be easily positioned vertically or horizontally. Setup takes about a minute but the first time that assembled it, it took a little longer. They ship directions with it and you’ll want to use them the first time you assemble it. After that, you should be able to set the reflector up in a minute or less. I know what you’re thinking “a whole minute?! My other reflectors just spring to shape in 5 seconds”. This is true, it does take slightly longer to setup the Sunbounce than a traditional reflector, but that extra time is a good trade off for the extra rigity.
Another area that these reflectors shine is versatility. From hand held, to lightstand mounted (as shown above) the Sunbounce can be positioned in many, many different locations and angles. I used a “Justin clamp” to position it in the above setup but a super clamp would work just as well if not better. Add in a super arm, or friction arm and the mounting possibilities are endless! Whether hand held, or lightstand mounted this reflector rocks! In an attempt to help users of small flash, or speed lights out they also added an optional flash bracket to allow photographers to use he Micromini as a source of bounce light. Attaching to the frame via a clamp the arm is extendable to 45cm to get proper distance between the light source and the reflective material. The flash bracket is the perfect accessory to the reflector kit.
When it comes to event photography “run and gun” is the name of the game. Don’t confuse this with “spray and pray”. Run and gun means that you have to be light on your feet and very mobile. You usually don’t have the luxury of setting up lights, using big modifiers, or controlling the environment. As such, many event photographers rely on ceilings, walls, or some other source to bounce their light off of. They try to position themselves with the largest amount of bounce area around them that they can and go with it. Unfortunately there isn’t always a bounce source available. The other plaguing issue for event photographers is color. Sometimes you find a white wall or ceiling, but most of the time they have some sort of color to them. This is terrible for photographers because this means that our bounce light will take on the color of that wall or ceiling and give the subject a tint. Seeing a need Sunbounce decided “wouldn’t it be nice if you could create your own bounce surface, with the color temperature that you want”, and the Sunbounce Bounce-Wall was born. The bounce reflector itself is made of a plastic material coated in color corrected reflective material. Just like the Micromini the colors range from silver, white, gold, “zebra” and more! The frame of the Bounce-Wall is made of a hard composite material that is adjustable for the correct angle and light direction. The traditional angle of 45degrees and above is easily achieved almost every time with this reflector. The light source for the Bounce-Wall is any on camera TTL flash with a head that can be angled and turned. The bracket is not model specific so it is compatible with almost any brand of DSLR. While I’m not a huge event photographer (maybe 2-3 a year) I do a TON of weddings (34+ a year) and the Bounce-Wall is perfect for receptions because for all intents and purposes receptions are exactly the same thing shooting wise as events. So if you’re a wedding photographer, event photographer, or if you just plain like having every available option in your lighting arsenal, you should add a bounce wall to your lighting bag!
When it comes to my photo shoots, I usually have a time constraint whether it’s the client’s schedule, the wedding timeline, or some other unforeseen issue. I can’t afford to be wasting time with sub-par quality products and I certainly can’t spend my time worrying whether or not my products are going to fail on me. Sunbounce has, with the Bounce-Wall and the Sunbounce line of reflectors taken away the stresses of product quality, and made it easy for me to find a bounce source when there isn’t one already. The reflectors are top quality and the build is second to none. If you haven’t already done so, check out the Sunbounce line of products. I’m certain that they have something that fits your lighting style and needs.