Just For Fun: DIY Dual Flash Brackets

While searching for items to fill my Amazon wish list, I kept coming across flash brackets. Since I love off-camera lighting, they caught my attention. The cheapest multi-flash bracket I found was this one ($19.99), which — even in the company’s slick photo — looked a little flimsy. Then there were $50 flash brackets (Lastolite, at B&H), and others, all the way up to the $250-300 range (like the Novoflex Duo Flash Holder, at B&H).

I kept thinking, there must be an easier way to get both stability and low cost. So I searched for DIY flash bracket and started finding more options. Like this one, a simple T-plate from a hardware store, with a few screws.

Naturally, I was at a few hardware stores the next day.

◊ Corner Brace Flash Bracket

The first one I built used a 4-inch corner brace ($2.87), two winged screws ($1.13 each), and a wing nut I had lying around the house.

Corner Brace Winged Screw
4-inch corner brace (left) and 1/4″-20 winged screws (right)
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

The stud on the end of my light stand has a standard 1/4″-20 male thread, which fit right through the pre-drilled holes in the corner brace, and a wing nut held it tightly in place.

Corner Brace Locked in Place
Wing nut holding the corner brace to light stand’s top stud
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

Then I simply used the winged screws to attach the flashes (I first used an eye bolt for some reason, but the big eye just got in the way). The flash shown in the following image is the ProMaster 5550DX Digital flash, using an optical slave module, which has a female 1/4″-20 thread built into its cold foot, but for any flash with a normal hot foot, you’d need a cold shoe adapter, like this one ($5.99 each). My other flash was mounted on a Cactus radio trigger, which has the same thread in its cold foot.

First Flash Attached
ProMaster 5550DX Digital flash attached to corner brace with winged screw
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

And, with both flashes:

DIY Flash Bracket 2
Dual flash bracket made from 4″ corner brace
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

One flash is triggered via the Cactus V4 and the other is slaved to the first one’s burst of light.

(Note: Under normal circumstances, using two flashes instead of one would double your light, giving you an extra stop of leeway in your settings. But the ProMaster pictured above is less than half has powerful as the Canon 420EX Speedlite that’s also pictured. It would best serve tilted toward the subject for some fill light, or bounced off a wall or reflector nearby for just an extra touch.)

The entire thing cost me about $5.13.

◊ T-Strap Flash Bracket

The second bracket I made was using a 6″x6″ T-strap ($2.80 at Ace Hardware), the same winged screws as pictured above ($1.13 each), a 3/8″-16 wing nut ($0.39), and a few fender washers ($0.22 each), for a total of $6.99 or so.

It could have mounted on the light stand like the previous bracket, but the light stand was currently holding the other bracket, so I used my Manfrotto 190XDB tripod for this second bracket. After removing the ballhead, I’ve got a male 3/8″-16 thread sticking up, which fit perfectly in one of the pre-drilled holes of the T-strap, and the wing nut held it down.

T-Strap Attached
Wing nut holding T-strap to the tripod
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

This it was a simple matter of connecting the flashes with the winged screws, just as I’d done before. (I used a regular screw at first, until I realized that the winged screw would be much easier to attach or remove — doesn’t require a screwdriver to tighten.)

Second Flash Attached
Dual flash bracket made from 6″x6″ T-strap
(Copyright © 2013 by Wil C. Fry. All rights reserved.)

The washers were required as spacers; the T-strap wasn’t as thick as the corner brace. But don’t worry; it’s solid. These metal hardware bits were manufactured to hold together lumber in major projects like furniture. The T-strap is even used in houses and buildings. It’s not going to fold under the weight of a couple of flashes.

I do plan to drill another hole near the middle, for attaching it to the stand/tripod. Then I can use the remaining hole to attach a third flash. That’ll bring the cost to near $9 (extra winged screw, few extra washers).

(Update, 2013.12.14: I did indeed drill a hole and put three flashes on it)

◊ Conclusion

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before: the whole point of this exercise is the fun of the exercise. For me, it’s fun to fiddle with nuts and bolts, to figure out different ways of doing things. Especially if it doesn’t cost much.

Both of the above brackets were made for less than the cost of the cheapest one I could find for sale. Both are sturdy and I can rely on them to hold my flash units. Both disassemble or reassemble within mere seconds, and the pieces easily tuck away into corners of the camera bag — something you can’t say for the factory-made brackets I found for sale.

I do plan to add cold-shoe adapters, for any flashes or radio trigger that don’t have a female 1/4″-20 thread in the foot. Like all the other parts, the cold-shoe adapters will be easily removable and won’t take up much space.

Much like the parts of my very first DIY flash bracket, all these parts can be used in many applications. They’re all interchangeable, with standard photography thread sizes of 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16.

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