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LumiQuest Snoot XTR

Copyright 2011, 2014 by Wil C. Fry. All Rights Reserved.

Published: 2011.12.26, Updated 2014.12.15

All images in this entry are Copyright 2011 by Wil C. Fry.
Some rights reserved.

On a whim, I added the LumiQuest Snoot XTR to my Amazon wish list (link) just before Christmas (2011), along with a couple of other light modifiers. My wife chose this one as my Christmas gift, and I opened it on Christmas Eve.

It's about $30, which is considered throwaway money in photography terms — cheaper than a decent filter. As I'll discuss more fully below, it looks and feels cheap (cheaper than the price), but does exactly what the company said it would: it narrows the beam of light from your flash.

The snoot and included extender are shipped flat, and can be stored or transported that way in a camera case or backpack to save space. They're made of a material that feels like the shell of a Trapper Keeper binder (for you older folks) — a soft, polymer-type substance (the package doesn't specify the material), with Velcro fasteners.

Roll the extender into a tube and the Velcro holds it together; fold the snoot along the obvious lines and fasten it as well. There are included self-adhesive Velcro strips that attach to the head of a flash gun (or use the optional $8 "Ultra Strap") to attach the snoot to the flash.

Because you roll the tube manually and fold the snoot manually, they might not have the same exact shape as you'd see in an advertisement for this product. The walls of the snoot and extender weren't perfectly symmetrical in my tests. The snoot's rear opening was a trapezoid but became more rectangular after it was attached to the flash. The front opening was a squished oval.

I'm not rough with any of my gear, but this product feels like it wouldn't stand up to rough handling. I recommend peeling it open, rather than ripping it open.

Here's what the snoot looks like when attached to my LumoPro LP160 flash (my review of the LP160), without the extender tube:

With the extender (simply inserted into the snoot), the flash becomes far too front-heavy. So I had to prop it up with a lens cap:

At this point, you're ready to make pictures. Mount the flash on the camera's hot shoe, or fire it off-camera as I usually do. For the three example images below, I used a Cactus V4 wireless flash trigger to fire the flash off-camera.

When using any kind of light modification such as this (or softbox or diffuser or bounce card), I recommend using the Manual mode on your camera and manual settings on your flash. Any auto settings on the flash or camera might result in poor exposure because the camera's light meter is assuming the flash is unmodified. (And in fact, LumiQuest says as much on their website: "Automatic operation will be affected as illuminated area is limited; bracketing and/or testing is recommended.")

The first example image below is a control image: using the flash without a modifier. The LP160 was set to 1/64 power, at default zoom, and directed at the wall just above the toys.

Because it's direct flash, unmodified, you see harsh shadows beyond and to the left of each toy.

When I attached the LumiQuest Snoot XTR (without the extender tube), the beam of light from the flash doesn't change in power; it's just narrowed to a smaller portion of the wall.

As you can see, the light is oval-shaped and spread out a bit. The oval shape is due to the snoot's front opening. The fact that it spreads a little to the left is because the flash is coming at the wall from an angle (the flash is located off to my right).

When I inserted the extender tube, the beam of light is again narrowed, drastically.

There's very little ambient light in the room, so the toys that you saw in the other images are now shrouded in darkness. This is the whole point of using a flash with a snoot — to highlight just a portion of the image.

It's advertised by LumiQuest as being "great as a hair or accent light", and that seems accurate. With a 14-month-old toddler running around wanting to play with her Christmas presents (pictured above), I didn't have time to test more fully or set up any portraits. However, based on my very simple test, the Snoot XTR does what the company said it would.

It's simple to set up and attach to the flash; no tools or technical skills are required. All that's required is a flash gun with an average size head and the know-how to adjust your camera settings to the scene. It's simple to remove from the flash and fold flat for storage.

My only concern is how cheaply made it feels. Based on previous purchases of photography-related toys and trinkets, this feels like something that should cost about $10 or $12 instead of $30. However, I assume supply-and-demand have a lot to do with the cost; it's a fairly niche-type product, so the demand is low enough to keep the cost high.

(This review was originally published on my blog; I've moved it off the blog with my other reviews so it can have a more static page of its own.)

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