Woohoo! The day has arrived, ironically just when we've had our first sunny day in England (i.e. less opportunity for me to use these), where my new Magbounce and Magsphere arrived in the post! For those who are not familiar with the system, you can check out my Magmod Maggrid and Maggel review here. Essentially it's a light modifier system where you shuffle a magnetic attachment into your speedlight, and you can then instantly switch the light modifiers out. From their first kickstarter run, Magmod brought out a grid and gel attachment, which was way better than the fiddly velcro-flying-in-the-wind scenarios.
The Magsphere and Magbounce
On this second round they've brought out a Magsphere- essentially a round baker boy hat type rubber modifier which is most likened to the Gary Fong Lightsphere. The magbounce is a bounce card that the creators say is superior to the inbuilt bounce card. My personal reasons for investing in these modifiers even though I currently have a lightsphere are as follows:
1. My lightsphere is kind of a pain to fit into a fullish camera bag
2. I find it a little fiddly to get onto the speedlight (I have an older version)
Why not just bounce you might ask? Most of the time when I'm using on camera flash I will pretty much always bounce. However there have been a few occasions like weddings with red as heck walls, bar mitzvahs with black curtain walls etc. where I find something like the lightsphere is a great alternative to being forced into a direct flash scenario.
So having said that, let's start with an unboxing- my packages arrived in two simple boxes with magnetic closes. I paid 94USD for one of each as I wasn't sure which I'd have preferred and I also dual shoot. I've photographed the back so you can read the claims and purposes from the mouths of the manufacturers themselves! The Magbounce is on the left, the Magsphere the right
When you open the boxes up, you see two folded rubbery things with grey carrying pouches tucked in between. The material of the pouches is a proper lens cloth type fabric, it is an upgrade from the yellow plasticky bags that came with the original magmod. I also received a trifold wallet which I *think* is for my mag gels?
Pulling them out, the Magbounce is super massive, the Magsphere is much more discrete, and my first thoughts were "the magbounce looks ridiculous" and "the magphere is more invisible than the fong dong". I've added a photo next to the older lightsphere for size comparison.
Also, here's photos of them on a Nikon SB-800 on a df for comparison
Another few initial thoughts:
The Magbounce has quite a big gap between the rectangular shaped attachment and the rounded bottom of the Magbounce- would you lose some light through those gaps?
The switching process is really nice and quick, whip on, whip off!
Magmod have made many claims about how much less light is lost through their products compared to their competitors- this is important to us wedding photographers as we want our batteries to last as long as possible, and I knew the lost stops in light was a criticism of the fong dong.
To try it out for myself, I took it into a darker room using my gorillapod as a subject. All settings are on manual and exactly the same.
For a basline, here is simple bounce, no modifiers
Here is the Magsphere.
Compared to normal bouncing, I feel it's a little stronger in light, especially from the front (bear in mind I'm in quite a small room), whereas normal bouncing seemed to spread the light further around the room. This is with the Magsphere pointed up light how you'd use a lightsphere, you could easily point it forwards as well for more punch.
Here is the Magbounce throwing the light forward, in other words with the white rubber at the back acting as a bounce card.
As you can see this is a lot stronger in light, which you'd expect as there's no material for the light to diffuse through. The shadows are stronger.
One of the selling points the manufacturers name is that the Magbounce can be rotated 360 degrees, pushing the light around to create some direction.
So I tried turning it so the white was at the front- this makes it quite similar to the Magsphere. If you only had the funds to buy one or the other, this could be helpful to know!
Turning it to the left and the right does give some direction, but I felt the difference in the light on each side has quite a strong fall off. Not sure why but it feels like there's a clear line in the photo where the flash is quite strong vs. the rest of the light. Notably again I am in a smaller room than you'd ever be in at a wedding, I wonder if the Magbounce is just so powerful and amplifying that in a larger room you wouldn't see so a distinct difference within a frame.
And last but not least, I couldn't not show the Gary Fong Lightsphere. Compared to the magsphere I think it has stronger shadows and I think to the naked eye it has lost a little bit of light.
So, in conclusion I am personally really really chuffed with the Magsphere and Magbounce. I think the manufacturers are true to their word and I for one will be selling my lightsphere to make room for the bounce and sphere. It's worth mentioning that although the Magbounce is very large popped up, it folds down to just as small as the Magsphere and both are much smaller than the lightsphere, which solves me problemo numero 1.
I don't really have any cons for the Magsphere, to me it is a smaller, softer, better light output lightsphere. My only con for the Magbounce is that I feel it looks a little silly being so large and stark white, but then again I suppose it's not bigger than something like a Lumiquest softbox and that's the contending product Magmod are comparing the Magbounce to. I don't use an on camera softbox, so I'd be more inclined to use the Magsphere. I'll still hold onto the Magbounce though for big party rooms which 1. might merit the extra light output and 2. the harsher light look would be fine.
I might buy a second Magsphere...
What do you think of these products, are you considering buying them? Any pros and cons you've found?