The MagMod system was introduced over two year ago after a very successful kickstarter campaign. The Mag Mod system is a range of Speedlight modifiers (compatible with about every Speedlight flash unit). MagMod calls them the sexiest Speedlight modifier system available. Well, I don’t know about the sexy part, but it is smart and versatile. In this review I’ll tell you more about the MagMod 2 Basic kit, the MagSphere and MagBounce. I’ve received the version 2 of the MagMod system, which has got the improved mounting of the magnets .
Besides the product’s I’ll tell you about in this review MagMod also offers extra sets of gels with different colours and the MagSnoot, to further expand your possibilities.
The MagMod 2 Basic kit
The Basic kit consists of the basic ‘sock’ with the magnets in it you mount on to you Speedlight called the MagGrip 2, the MagGrid 2, MagGel 2 kit and one radio transmitter band.
The MagGrip is a rubber band you slide over the head of your Speedlight. It’s supposed to fit virtually every Speedlight on the market right now. I’ve used it around the small head of my Nissin i40 flash, and I was a little afraid the head of the i40 would be to small, but it fits like a charm. The band is tight enough using the small i40, so I can imagine the fit will be very tight and secure if you have a bigger flash unit.
The MagGrip does make the flash unit a bit bulkier as the magnets are housed in the sides of the grip. The magnets are very strong, even ‘freakishly strong’ according to MagMod. So it’s a good idea to keep them away from materials that can be damaged by magnets like credit- or bankcards. Despite the strong magnets the weight of the MagGrip is limited, so it doesn’t feel heavy when you have it attached to your Speedlight.
The MagGrid 2 focusses the light of the flash unit. It is small, lightweight and almost indestructible. It’s completely made out of flexible rubber, so you don’t have to worry it will break. Attaching it to the MagGrip couldn’t be easier, just hold it in front of the Grip and let the magnets do their job. Once attached the amount of ‘hold’ is very good. Enough to keep if from falling off unwanted, but you can take it off without pulling the MagGip off your flash. When using the MagGrid you’ll get a 40 degrees wide beam of light. When you add a second grid the beam will decrease to about 20 degrees. That gives you a lot a of creative options. As you can see in the photo the MagGrid does bow a little because of the smaller width of the head of the i40, but this doesn’t have an impact on the performance.
The MagGel 2 kit consists of the MagGel holder and a set of 8 coloured gels. You’ll get a Full CTO, ½ CTO, ¼ CTO, ½ Blue, ½ Straw, ½ Plusgreen, Opal frost diffusion and a 8x neutral density. The colour gels are made of rigid plates of plastic (poly carbonate?) that feel very durable. You can stack multiple gels in the holder at once to create different effects. And of course you can use different Mag Mod accessories at once, like the Grid combined with the MagGel.
The Basic Kit also comes with one transmitterband, which is an 8-shaped big rubber band you can use to attach a transmitter.
The MagMod Basic kit costs about 80 euros, and you get a nice pouch with it to store it in when you don’t need it.
The MagSphere is an omnidirectional flash diffuser. It is an alternative for the omnibounce-style diffusers most people have in their bags. The MagSphere does have some advantages over those basic diffusers. Of course it is much, much bigger giving you a softer diffused light. Because of the thin material the MagSphere is very battery efficient because it doesn’t waste any of the light keeping the used flash power down.
When using the MagSphere the effect you get is that of a very large bare bulb flash. This gives you an evenly spread light source, but also gives you nicer reflections in the eye’s when you shoot portraits. Because of the big size the diffuser does look a bit strange, especially when attached to a small flash like my i40. Luckily the Sphere doesn’t weigh a lot and the weight is close to the flash unit, so it doesn’t affect the balance of your flash too much. But the effect isn’t any less impressive. Because of the soft material it is made of you can easily fold the MagSphere when you don’t need it so you can tuck it away in your bag.
The MagSphere also has a slot to add the gels from the MagGel kit, so you don’t have to stack the MagGel and the Sphere to achieve the colour you want.
The MagSphere costs about 50 euros, and it comes with a pouch to store it in.
I’ve added a snapshot of our dog to show the sort of lighting you can achieve with the MagSphere. As you can see it is very softly lit, with a nice round reflection in the eye.
The MagBounce is the biggest and heaviest of the Mag Mod accessories. It is designed wo work as a very big bouncecard. The MagBounce increases the size of your flash light by about 300%. Because of the big size the unit almost acts as a small softbox, giving you a very pleasing reflection in the eyes of your subjects.
The Magbounce is also made of a very soft silicone material. You can fold it, crush it or even squeeze it and it will easily jump back into its original shape. This makes this big unit easy to store. The MagBounce is fitted with 4 magnets on each corner, so you fit it in 4 different directions. I really like the effect when I pointed my flash upwards with the MagBounce attached backwards (with the opening to the back), bouncing most of the light via the ceiling and walls behind me but aslo using the big surface of the MagBounce to light your subject.
My i40 did suffer under the load of the big MagBounce, because the weight of the MagBounce is pretty far away from your flash unit. It did manage to keep the selected angle, but when I moved around it would sometimes fall back to the horizontal position. With the MagBounce attached the small Sony A7 with the small i40 did feel a little unbalanced. I can’t say it is unusable, but I think it will work better with a bigger camera and bigger flash unit.
The MagBounce also costs 50 euros, and just like with the Basic kit and MagSphere it comes with a nice pouch.
This snapshot shows you the effect you can achieve with the MagBounce. The light is evenly spread, but a little more light on the subject than you have with the MagSphere, were the light is spread more over the whole scene.
The MagMod system is a great way to expand the possibilities of your Speedlight. You are only limited by your own creativity as you can stack different MagMod accessories to create new effects. Play with different gels, use them with the grid or combine the gels with the Sphere. The possibilities are virtually endless.
The mounting, using the strong magnets is very practical. Especially when comparing it to the clumsy mounting of other systems that use Velcro strips to attach the accessories to your flash. With those you also have to tape Velcro to your flash to attach them. When using the MagMod system you don’t have to use tape or anything else. This also means you can easily switch it over to another flash unit.
Because of the soft materials the MagMod accessories are made of you can fold them and store them in your camera bag. Because of this they don’t use up a lot of room in your bag, and there is no reason not to take them with you. Add that to the nice materials they’re made of and the practical use of magnets and you have a very useful flash modifier system.
The system works well on about every flash unit, though the big MagBounce was a little large and heavy for my small i40. I don’t think you’ll have that problem with bigger flash units. The only other drawback I can think of is the price. The Basic kit isn’t cheap, and the extra accessories like the MagSphere and MagBounce add to the total cost of the set. This isn’t a kit for a beginner, but more advanced amateurs or professionals will love the MagMod system, and will find it’s worth the money.
Special thanks to VDH Photo Supplies for supplying me with the MagMod kit for this review. For more information about VDH Photo Supplies please check their website at: www.vdhphoto.be.